Rosemary Sutcliff’s Beowulf still enthrals modern readers, young and old | Rosemary Sutcliff Discovery of the Day

Blogger Zornhau reads children’s writer and historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic retelling of Beowulf to his son Kurtzhau.

The two of us together live through the dragon fight, the flight of Beowulf’s thanes, all except Wiglaf who tips the balance in his lord’s favor. Now Beowulf lies dying, poisoned by dragon venom.

Kurtzhau and I both hold each other, sharing a blast of emotions from our ancestors’ cold Dark Ages.

Abruptly, Kurtzhau slips off the bed and rummages with his plastic figures.

“Oh well,” I think. “He’s done pretty well for a—”

He bounces back to join me and thrusts a Playmobil barbarian at me. “This guy can be Wiglaf from now on. Now read the end!”

Afterwards, he’s outraged that the story is so short, and we talk about how lucky we are to have the story at all, and about bards and praise singers, and the irony that the two episodes of Beowulf’s life to come down to us are the ones that emphatically did not happen.

“What happened to Wiglaf?”

I shrug. “Was there a theory he lead a Germanic tribe to Britain? Sorry – I can’t remember and we’ve no Internet access here. But if there were any poems about him, they’re lost.”

Kurtzhau considers. “Somebody ought to write a sequel.

Source: Zornhau’s blog

More about Beowulf on this site

Author: Anthony Lawton

Chair, Sussex Dolphin, family company which looks after the work of eminent children’s & historical fiction author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92). Formerly CEO, chair & trustee of various charity, cultural & educational enterprises in UK.

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