Sunday, July 12, 2009

Beowulf on the Beach

On NPR-affilliate WBUR's Here and Now - where, incidentally, you can sometimes hear my sister-in-law, Monica Brady-Myerov - Jack Murnighan talks about his book, Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits, which encourages people to read the "great books" but not to feel obligated to read every word of them. So, he advises what in these works to check out and what to skip.

At about 4:05 in, Murnighan talks about Beowulf, basically characterizing it as a short but super-macho story that marks how wimpy we have all become. OK, perhaps I'm not doing justice to Murnighan's point, but he makes the poem a bit too action-movie for me. After all, Beowulf is articulate and reflective. Besides, Beowulf alone is the stud of the text: everyone else is fairly ineffective. I shouldn't complain. Certainly Murninghan gives a better sound bite about Beowulf than Woody Allen did.

h/t to Peter Dendle on ANSAXNET.

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