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

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Rosemary Sutcliff book illustrator Charles Keeping | Died May 20 1988 | Sutcliff Discovery of the Day

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He hadn’t understood it, then.  He did not really understand now–his head only knew that when it had to be one or the other, there was not much else you could do but pay away your own life for the Tribe’s.  But something deep within him understood that it was not only among those who had followed the dark, ancient ways of the Earth Mother that the King died for the People; only among the Sun People the King himself chose when the time was come. (From The Mark of the Horse Lord, quoted by The Children’s Book Quote of the Day

Charles Keeping cover for Rosemary Sutcliff historical novel Dawn Wind

illustration by Charles Keeping

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