The epic story of this hero’s battle against dragons, monsters, and their mothers is particularly suited to being recorded as an audiobook given that for the first 300 years of its existence it was only ever spoken.
The first known (and indeed the only surviving manuscript) of the poem was written in AD 1,000. It survived Henry VIII’s attempts to destroy it (as a religious artifact) and a catastrophic fire that destroyed many other historical British documents - the marks of the fire are still visible on the manuscript, now safely housed in the British Museum.
But the poem and indeed its mythical original tale date back to the eighth or ninth century and before that to the mythologies of Scandaniavia. It is because this poem is in itself an adaptation of ancient sagas that we have allowed ourselves the only abridgement or adaptation on the website!
Julian Glover’s version takes the poem back to its origins as a spoken tale. He has taken the essence of the poem and, with a scholarly eye to the British Museum’s manuscript, created a truly bardic performance. Beowulf’s battles against Grendel (the monster who takes you in your sleep) and the original lethal female, his mother, who comes to avenge her son’s killing, are faithfully transformed from their singed original to a roaring reality.
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- Tad Davis