Essay about Analysis of 2 Translations of Beowulf

667 Words Dec 5th, 2012 3 Pages
Grendel’s Description Comparative Analysis Beowulf is a great piece of Anglo-Saxon literature that can be, and has been, translated in multiple ways. Of the many outstanding translations, two of which are by Burton Raffel and Seamus Heaney, different ways of writing are portrayed. Grendel’s description is written quite differently in both translations. Heaney’s translation is more similar to the Anglo-Saxon style of writing than Raffel’s translation. In Heaney’s translation, he uses a kenning to describe the Danes whereas Raffel uses simple wording to get the same story across. Heaney calls The Danish people “Ring-Danes” to get his translation to be closer to the Anglo-Saxon’s style of literature. This use of a kenning causes the …show more content…
An example would be, line one, “A powerful monster, living down.” By doing this, Raffel is turning what was initially a complex poem into a short story, setting it up in a way that is very similar to any modern novel. It is quite clear that Heaney’s choice of diction is far more complex and sophisticated than Raffel’s choice of diction, which is very simple. Heaney uses many words that may be hard to comprehend due to the fact that they are not often used in conversations or even in many other writings. An example of a word that Heaney uses in his translation that may not be understood right away is “prowler.” This word, which means stalker, is a word that may not be comprehended by someone with a weak vocabulary. It intensifies the story greatly, however, by allowing the reader to visualize Grendel sneaking up on his prey, showing that he has a deceitful personality. Raffel, on the other hand, simply describes Grendel’s actions. He skips from Grendel being a “powerful monster” to him growling due to the excessive noise from the hall. Grendel’s personality is not explained or stated as in Heaney’s translation. By Raffel missing this little piece of information about Grendel, the reader has an easier time comprehending what is currently occurring, though it is slightly less informative. Heaney and Raffel’s translations are both phenomenal works of literature. Heaney, however, concentrates more on how poetic and similar the
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