Beowulf

Suggestions for Further Reading

Baker, Peter S. The Beowulf Reader: Basic Readings. New York: Garland Publishing, 2000.

This collection of critical essays provides a thorough overview of recent Beowulf scholarship, considering the poem through a range of different critical lenses.

Bjork, Robert E., and John D. Niles. Beowulf Handbook. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, reprint edition 2007.

This overview takes a different approach, organizing its summary of existing Beowulf scholarship around different themes and problems in the poem.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Beowulf: Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House, reprint edition 2007.

Revered literary critic Harold Bloom compiles a selection of critical essays to provide an overview of scholarly approaches to the poem.

Chambers, R. W. Beowulf: An Introduction to the Study of the Poem. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1959.

Chambers’ study of Beowulf, first published in 1921, remains the most thorough examination of the poem. Subsequent additions ensure that this edition is up to date with current archaeological and historical knowledge.

Fry, Donald K., ed. The Beowulf Poet: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.

This collection of essays considers the technique and artistry of Beowulf’s author, from a number of different angles.

Grigsby, John. Beowulf and Grendel: The Truth Behind England’s Oldest Legend. London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2006.

Grisby theorizes that Beowulf contains more pre-Christian English mythology than is generally supposed. His book provides useful background information on Northern European paganism.

Irving, Edward B., Jr. Introduction to Beowulf. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969.

Irving’s study weaves useful background information and critical interpretation into a scene-by-scene commentary on the poem.

Niles, John D. Beowulf: The Poem and Its Tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983.

This influential study argues that Beowulf was composed not by a monk as a written text, but as a text to be performed by a bard. Niles sees Beowulf as an essentially non-Christian poem which celebrates pagan heroic culture.

Pearsall, Derek. Old English and Middle English Poetry. London: Routledge, 1977.

Pearsall attempts to reconstruct the poetic context in which Beowulf was written, and provides a useful overview of what we know about Old English poetry.