Beowulf on the Internet

In our modern age, it is possible to find almost anything on the Internet. And information about Medieval epic Beowulf is not an exception. There are quite a few sites about Beowulf on the net, and they can be very helpful in understanding the piece. Most of the sites I concentrated on were the sites that contain information I could use in addition to the reading instead of in place of the reading the epic. Some of the sites contained text of Beowulf, in Old English or in translation, some contained information about the manuscripts rather than the text, and some provided helpful explanations of Anglo-Saxon terms and culture. For me the most useful sites were the ones that provided some general information about the epic and did not try to present their interpretation of it. It was a nice supplement to the reading broadening my understanding of Medieval times. I think that to study some work thoroughly it is very important to take a look at the original text of the work. The best site from the ones that provided text of Beowulf is the site from The World. It contains a full text of Beowulf in Old English on a public FTP server. Anyone can access it and try their skills in reading Old English. Some of the sites provided information about Beowulf manuscripts rather than the text itself. The other interesting supplement to the reading was The Electronic Beowulf at University of Kentucky. The site is dedicated to Electronic Beowulf Project, a project started by the British Library of scanning all Beowulf manuscripts and putting them in public domain on the World Wide Web. It was very interesting to read about the difficulties of restoring the manuscripts that were through a lot (a fire to name one thing.) Even though the sites listed above did not provide any help in interpretation of the epic, they gave a very comprehensive background on the origins of the manuscripts and difficulties in translating it.

The other sites on Beowulf tried to present their interpretation or translation of this Anglo-Saxon work. I found Tutorial for Mrs. Dye to be the most useful site. It contains character analysis, terms to remember, and a brief history of Beowulf. It is a very comprehensive site on Anglo-Saxon terms that are the most important to the poem, like wyrd or thane. It also gives a short description of each character, from Grendel, Dragon, and Cain to Beowulf, Ecgtheow, and Abel, and, what is the most useful for me, the site provides pronunciation for the names of Geatish characters. On the low side, this site contains a number of spelling errors, which probably points to the fact that it was a rush school project. In any case, this site proved to be very helpful in understanding characters and background of Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon culture.

There are quite a few sites on the Internet about Beowulf, but not all of them can be useful. I found that studying sites that provide additional information to the poem itself is very useful. However, if one wants to substitute reading the epic by studying about it on the net from other people's interpretations, he only wastes his time since only reading original work can provide an impact big enough to transmit Beowulf's power.