Masters Thesis

A Lexical and Syntactical Analysis of Beowulf: a comparative analysis between the original manuscript and many translations of the 19th- and 20th-centuries

Little is known regarding the reliability of translations of epic poems such as the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf. This is partly because of the time period in which the Beowulf manuscript was created, approximately 1000 A.D. For this manuscript, most Anglo-Saxons were unable to read it because of the low literacy rate of their time period. Although the vast majority of today’s population in the United States is literate, very few can read Old English (OE), the language of Beowulf. Contemporary readers are forced to rely exclusively upon a translated edition of the work. By doing so, it is unknown whether the translations remain faithful to the original manuscript of Beowulf. This is a cause for concern amongst not only scholars, but every day readers. How can they be certain that they are reading a translation that is faithful to the original manuscript without having to learn the language of the poem?

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