Liuzza and Heaney's Beowulf: A Comparison

Although Seamus Heaney and R. M. Liuzza have both translated the literary work Beowulf from Old English text, subtle differences appear throughout their works that reveal the unique perspectives held by each author. When one compares the different translations, it becomes apparent that although Liuzza and Heaneys translations closely resemble each other, slight disparities exist that define the specific focus and purpose of each author.

The most glaring difference between Liuzza and Heaney's works is in their writing styles. Heaney's translation is a somewhat more modern approach to the story. While this makes the book more attractive to the first time reader, as it is easier to understand, translating the text into more contemporary language removes some of the richness of the story line. For example, lines 3069-3075 in Heaneys text are as follows: "The high-born chiefs who had buried the treasure/ declared it until doomsday so accursed/ that whoever robbed it would be guilty of wrong/ and grimly punished for their transgression,/ hasped in hell-bonds in heathen shrines./Yet Beowulfs gaze at the old treasure/ when he first saw it had not been selfish." The lines flow smoothly enough, and the meaning is quite...

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