Wednesday, November 28, 2007
He doesn't like it too much. This paragraph summary is entirely predictable:
If artists were not allowed to revisit the great works of the past, we would not have Dante's Commedia, or Joyce's Ulysses, or, for that matter, John Gardner's Grendel. But surely we could hope for a more intelligent and respectful visitor than this one. Beowulf is the oldest epic in our mother tongue, something very valuable yet by accident of time made accessible only to arduous study. This is the reality that gave us the King James Bible, Chapman's Homer, and even Heaney's Beowulf. But if one sets out to compete with genius, one must be either be armed with genius oneself, or win absolution through a redeeming humility. For every person who will ever read Beowulf, a thousand will see this film. Any teacher must feel a sense of lost opportunity.
Yet, for me, the most entertaining part of the review was this aside: "In light-hearted mood, medieval scholars debated such questions as this: "If you are to be married to a mermaid, which half do you want to be fish?" I must admit, I had never heard of this or even thought of it. A good question, though!