Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm No Scholar

That statement will come as no surprise to some of you; indeed, some will see it as the belated acknowledgement of the painfully obvious. I had thought of myself as a scholar, but apparently I was wrong. This review of the Zemeckis Beowulf film in Christianity Today reads:
Scholars agree that when Beowulf was originally written, it was a distinctly pagan document later embroidered with Christian symbolism by the monks responsible for its duplication.

They do? Apparently I wasn't invited to the big meeting at Kalamazoo where all the scholars agreed on that. Heck, I wasn't even invited to the meeting when we agreed on the century in which it was originally written.

The only possible conclusion: I'm no scholar. I hang my head in shame.

Seriously, though, let's turn this thread into a collection of the biggest groaners about Beowulf you've seen in the press. Feel free to add wrong-headed quotes from other reviews.


  1. I spotted this in the Washington Post review, which doesn't credit the poem with much sophistication:

    When the original was assembled (written? collected? sung? chanted?) around the embers back in the good ol' 700s or so, no theory of psychology existed, so there was no storytellers' need to conjure coherent behavior patterns or fully realized plots. Man was so powerless and all nature seemed arbitrary, so stories could be arbitrary, none more so than the epic poem of the Anglo-Saxon peoples (even if it told of Scandinavian adventures): The great warrior Beowulf fights and kills first Grendel, then Grendel's ma; 50 years later he fights a dragon.

    Unacceptably episodic today. No arc. No growth. Where's the reveal? What's the back story?

  2. I can't remember where I saw this one, but one review called the poem "everyone's least favorite Old English epic poem." Um. How about "only" instead of "least favorite." And what's with that "everyone"? Speak for yourself, buddy! And even "epic" is debatable.

    And if one more review mentions the line from Annie Hall, I'm going to scream like Grendel in the movie!

  3. I can never get over this old and mindboggling misuse of the text: Beowulf disproves evolution

  4. re: highlyeccentric's comment

    Who is "Ruth Beechick" and why is she intelligencely-challenged?

  5. Matthew Gabriele- I have NO IDEA who this woman is, or why she is so intellectually deficient. I stumbled across her by accident some time last year... i keep the link handy for special occaisions. You never know when you need a dose of TOTAL INSANITY.

  6. Good grief! Where did they come up with that?? Totally pre-Tolkien.