Review: Beowulf by Burton Raffel

August 16, 2014 1 Stars, Reviews 6

Title: Beowulf
Author: Burton Raffel
Genre: Classics, Poetry, Action, Epic Hero
Pages: 128
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 1 Star
Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.

Before Reading Beowulf

I have to read this for my AP Lit summer homework and I really don’t want to read it. It’s just not something I can enjoy. Ugh!

After Reading Beowulf

Yep. I am not being dramatic, I promise.

Yep. I am not being dramatic, I promise.

I expected to hate this book, and I was right. It was a totally MISERABLE read. I could not wait to be finished with it. I dreaded starting this book and if it wasn’t required reading for my AP Lit class, I would have DNF’d it right away.

“No female, no matter how fierce, could have come with a man’s strength, fought with the power and courage men fight with…” (Lines 1282-1284)

First, I get that it’s old. Really, really old. So old there’s no known author, but I was so frustrated with the way women were treated and spoken of. I get that that’s how things were, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be upset by it. And I was. And, in all honestly, Grendel’s mother was pretty fierce and despite her being the bad guy, I liked her more than Beowulf.

“And how great a sin for a women, whether fair or black, to create fear and destruction, for a women, who should walk in the ways of peace…” (Lines 1940-1944)


Of course, I totally hated Beowulf.  All he wanted was fame, and I just wasn’t down with that. And come on, did they really have to go on and on and on about how heroic he is? I got it the first time, thanks.

I may not have appreciated the book the way others do, and I don’t care. I just do not like this book. I don’t care what historic value it has or how important it is to literature. Not something I would ever enjoy.

Unfortunately, I have to study and prepare to be tested in on it next month. Yikes. (This is probably the angstiest and most ranty book review I’ve ever written.)




About Jessica

Jessica is an twenty year old blogger who lives in Michigan. She's currently a junior in college. She's a full-time student and part-time employee. She loves to read young adult fiction, especially contemporary, romance, and dystopian. Feel free to drop by and say hi by leaving a comment on one of her blog posts- she'll be sure to reply!

6 Responses to “Review: Beowulf by Burton Raffel”

    • Jessica

      Thanks! I hope you don’t have to read it. Are you in high school? If so, what grade are you in? If you don’t mind me asking. I had to read parts of it for 11th grade english and then the whole thing for AP Lit. Hopefully the next school book (A Doll’s House) is better!

  1. Leila @ LeilaReads

    I remember reading Beowolf. I sometimes wonder why we are forced to read such things. I honestly don’t think that my literary knowledge or appreciation was increased in any way by spending my time on it. I think it’s fabulous that you reviewed a book you had to read for school, especially one as ancient and terrible. And the angsty tone was refreshing.
    Leila @ LeilaReads recently posted…Trapped at the Altar by Jane FeatherMy Profile

    • Jessica

      I think I understand why I was asked to read it (again), since the second book I have to read for my class is the total opposite. I think it was like a comparison thing, but who knows, I guess. I’m totally with you on that. The only thing I MAY have taken away from this book was info about epic heroes or whatever. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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