Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013, Poet and Interpreter of Beowulf

If you haven’t read Seamus Heaney’s version of Beowulf, do so now.

The Irish poet has passed away, but his works will live on.

Here’s the New York Times review of Heaney’s Beowulf.

From the article: At the time he was first approached he had been teaching at Harvard, where he found himself exposed to what he describes as ”the untethered music of some contemporary American poetry.” Translating ”Beowulf,” he hoped, would serve as ”a kind of aural antidote,” a way of ensuring that his ”linguistic anchor would stay lodged on the Anglo-Saxon sea-floor.”

But the work soon slowed to a halt. What was lacking was a sense of connection to the work, ”an excitement that would amount to an entitlement.” This occurred only when Heaney came upon an Anglo-Saxon verb for suffering, ”bolian”; while its descendant ”thole” had dropped out of modern English usage, it was a word that he had learned as a child in Ireland. Heaney’s ”right of way” into the poem was further secured when he realized that his earliest poetry, which broke with the conventional English pentameter line, ”conformed to the requirements of Anglo-Saxon metrics.” ”Part of me,” Heaney saw, ”had been writing Anglo-Saxon from the start.”

Here’s a good profile of Heaney from Literature Resource Center.

Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013, Master Mystery and Western Author (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight)

Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013, was a great American craftsman of mysteries and westerns. Leonard wrote Out of Sight, 3:10 to Yuma, Be Cool, and many other novels.

From Literary Reference Center:

Although Elmore Leonard became a published novelist with film credits within the Western genre, his lasting contribution to world culture will certainly be his crime fiction in the distinctive Leonard style — reticent, understated prose and evocative but understated descriptions — and the film adaptations of his works. The quality of Leonard’s storytelling is enhanced by the insights and complexities with which he invests his characters. Although he is known for his exact descriptions of Detroit and the sordid characters who populate industries from organized crime to filmmaking to the recording industry, Leonard is able to create characters who are white and male (Chili Palmer) as well as those that are black and female (Jackie Brown) and characters who are vulnerable males (Vince Majestyk) as well as indomitable females (Karen Sisco).