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After 90 years of waiting, Tolkien translation of Beowulf will hit the presses. Here are excepts from The Guardians full story:

Almost 90 years after JRR Tolkien translated the 11th-century poem Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings author’s version of the epic story is to be published for the first time in an edition which his son Christopher Tolkien says sees his father “enter[ing] into the imagined past” of the heroes…

Tolkien himself called the story “laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination”, saying that “the whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real.”

Although the author completed his own translation in 1926, he “seems never to have considered its publication”, said Christopher Tolkien today, announcing the Tolkien estate’s new deal with HarperCollins to publish Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary on 22 May. The book, edited by Christopher Tolkien, will also include the series of lectures Tolkien gave at Oxford about the poem in the 1930s, as well as the author’s “marvellous tale”, Sellic Spell…

John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, said the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf had “a deep and detailed impact on what Tolkien wrote – from his earliest poem of Middle-earth, written in September 1914, right through The Hobbit with the theft of a cup from a dragon hoard, and The Lord of the Rings with the arrival at the halls of Rohan”.

The author also, said Garth, changed attitudes to Beowulf “completely in a 1936 talk which rescued this marvellous poem from being treated as a mere quarry for historical enquiry”.

“It’s been known for many years that Tolkien had translated the poem, and there were rumours back in 2004 that this work would be published imminently. This is long-awaited, and hugely exciting for Tolkien readers,” said Garth.

The poet Simon Armitage, who hit the bestseller lists with his own translation of the Middle English epic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, called Tolkien’s Beowulf a “tantalising prospect”, adding that the author’s translation of Sir Gawain “is a master class in linguistic chicanery – some sections of it read as older than the original! Middle English meets Middle Earth”.

Read The Guardian‘s entire story.

HT: Brannon McAlister