Comparing Beowulf And Burton Raffel

1042 Words5 Pages
Literary translation is either similar to a piece of caramel or a spoonful of ice cream; literal definitions are sticky, hard to read, and need to be chewed on and pondered for a long time. Descriptive translations and those that take creative liberties are similar to ice cream, sweet tasting and easy to eat, but often lacking substance or valuable information. The old epic poem Beowulf has been translated by many authors throughout the years, and each differs from the next in terms of style, consistency with the original text, use of literary devices and vocabulary. While Burton Raffel’s translation of Beowulf may not be the most literal translation of the text, it is by far one of the “sweetest” to read while also maintaining the integrity…show more content…
The result is a text that is easier to read with word usage that is easier to comprehend, which is a great advantage to Raffel’s writing. The Old English version uses a caesura, which is, “a pause near the middle of a line” (Webster). Raffel excludes the caesura from his writing to make the sentences flow, without using the pause as a poetic flourish. While the vocabulary in Raffel’s essay may not be the most advanced, it is one of the most successful at portraying the story even though it is not the most literal translation. Gummere’s version reads, “Then laughed his heart; for the monster was minded, ere morn should dawn, savage, to sever, the soul of each life from body…” (730) While the language in this section is beautiful and descriptive, some of the meaning is lost in the way the words are ordered. Raffel’s translation reads, “And his heart laughed, he relished the sight, intended to tear the life from those bodies by morning…” (730). In this quotation, the way the line is structured allows for easier interpretation for common readers. Raffel’s structure may stray from the Old English, but for his purposes, he was successful at writing a text that was simpler to comprehend and

More about Comparing Beowulf And Burton Raffel

Open Document