According to new research, the infamous opening line of Beowulf has been misinterpreted for centuries.
The opening proclamation of ‘hwæt’ has been translated to read as ‘so!’, ‘listen!’, and other variations on this attention-grabbing theme. Dr George Walkden, a researcher at the University of Manchester, has argued against this popular wisdom to say that the opening line of Beowulf should be read as “how we have heard the might of the kings,” as opposed to “listen! We have heard of the might of the kings.”
While perhaps a subtle change, this different reading can give us some insight into Beowulf’s audience. Dr Walkden points out that perhaps the Anglo-Saxon audience were receptive to the story, rather than being cajoled into listening; “it doesn’t say ‘Oi you, listen to this!’ Perhaps they were more appreciative.” Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic, Archaeology and Anthropology and History students should look at the history behind the Beowulf epic to understand how historical fact fed into fiction.
English students should think further on the importance of accurate translations and the nuances of syntax when creating new adaptations, particularly looking at the varying translations of Shakespeare across time as an example of how literature is malleable through translation.
Translation is also a crucial area of inquiry for Theologians. Investigating some common difficulties in translations of the Bible is a way to begin understanding the variations in different versions of the Bible and why these are historically significant.
- Medicine, Maths, and Economics Puzzles We asked three of our top Medicine, Maths, and... Read more >
- English Language and Literature Reading List If you're applying for English, have a look at our... Read more >
- Oxford and Cambridge International Grade Requirements If you’re applying to Cambridge or Oxford but you’ve not... Read more >
- What’s so special about Oxford and Cambridge? Both Oxford and Cambridge have fearsome reputations. The Oxbridge system... Read more >
- ELAT mini mock paper If you’re applying to read English at Oxford, you will... Read more >
- University Admissions Tests: How Would You Reply? Here we have a few questions and answers to sample... Read more >
- Geography and Earth Sciences Reading Lists Whether you’re looking at Geography, Earth Sciences (Geology), or Land... Read more >
- The Differences Between Similar Courses At Oxford and Cambridge For some applicants, deciding between applying to Oxford or Cambridge... Read more >
- Economics & Logic Puzzle: ticket touts We asked top Economics blogger Resham Kotecha to challenge us... Read more >
- What You Need To Know About A Level Reforms The A Level system that has been in place since... Read more >
- The Most Competitive Subjects At Oxbridge (And How To Choose Wisely) Oxford and Cambridge are two of the best universities in the... Read more >
- Science Puzzle: experimenting with mice… We asked our Medicine graduate Jennifer to tell us a... Read more >
- ELAT overview If you’re applying for English, or its joint schools, you... Read more >
- Stats report: our annual survey Every year, we survey hundreds of applicants who applied the... Read more >
- TSA Cambridge mini mock & answers The Thinking Skills Assessment is required for a number of... Read more >
- March’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- MLAT mini mock paper & answers The MLAT or Modern Languages Test is required by Oxford... Read more >
- Pooling: Fast Facts You may have heard people talk about “pooling”, or maybe... Read more >
- Statistics: 2015 Annual Survey Want to find out what your chances are of getting... Read more >
- Oxbridge Open Day Guide With open days drawing ever nearer, applicants and parents alike... Read more >
- Music Reading List Applying for Music at Cambridge or Oxford requires a range... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: a game of chess We asked one of our top Maths Oxbridge tutors for... Read more >
- Music Scholarships There is a wide range of musical scholarships available to... Read more >