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
Charles Keeping illustrated many Rosemary Sutcliff children’s books. He won many book awards including, twice, the Francis Williams Prize and the Library Association’s Kate Greenaway Medal. Mabel George, children’s books’ editor at Oxford University Press, Rosemary Sutcliff’s publisher, Read More »
Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Mark of the Horse Lord, a historical novel with illustrations by Charles Keeping, is loved by many people, including Channing Tatum, star of the film of The Eagle of the Ninth.
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
Of the 1961 cover of Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘classic’ historical novel Dawn Wind Katherine Langrish writes: ” It looks more modern, perhaps because Charles Keeping, who illustrated nearly all her books, was such a strong and innovative artist. In fact, the art here is almost more important than the title, and the author’s own name all but fades into the dark shadows at the children’s feet. Read More »
The major illustrators of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s books were Charles Keeping, Alan Lee, Victor Ambrus, C Walter Hodges, Richard Kennedy, and Emma Chichester Clark. The books they illustrated included: Read More »