Grendel and a Smoking Pipe : Beowulf

2 Feb

Going through the 101 Greatest Books List put together by the College Board. Their original list is in alphabetical order. I am approaching it in no particular order of my own….

I decided to begin at the beginning in my journey through the 101 Greatest Book List.

So I begin with Beowulf. I remember reading parts of Beowulf in high school. It was not a life altering experience. I remember we learned a brief history of the English language with the unit and then blazed through Beowulf and moved on down the time-line of English Literature probably onto Canterbury Tales.

However, my relationship with the hero of ages gone changed drastically in college. The second semester my Freshmen year I entered Dr Martin’s class as a wide-eyed English major taking my first upper-level English course. Dr Martin was an icon on campus. The kind of professor you see in the movies. He had a deep raspy voice, white tasseled hair, and smoked a pipe. I remember he smelled of tobacco, tweed, and dusty paper. I loved him from the start. I had Dr Martin in his last semester of teaching before he retired. So guess what professors do on their last tour of duty before they hang up their hats? They teach exactly what they want, the way they want with no apologies.

So, we read Beowulf in its original Old English for two months. Softly, deeply he read the great poem. I was in awe. I tried to follow along.

Somehow the two great men have been intertwined in my memory. So Dr Martin has become the great hero who battles the monsters and becomes king as he smoked his pipe and recited the thousand year old lines from his worn copy of Beowulf.

Have you read Beowulf? What is your story with the text?

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2 Responses to “Grendel and a Smoking Pipe : Beowulf”

  1. Kelly Efurd Lawson February 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Ooh…interesting place to start! And also, I LOVE that you're doing this. What a great idea! I'm totally jealous. And I think I've read maybe 20 books on the list. Not 68. I'm impressed! And Beowulf is not one of the ones I've read. Let us know how it goes!KL

  2. Becca Barnes February 2, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    Thanks Kelly. I have to admit I am not planning on rereading most of the ones I have already read. I just want to reflect on each of the books I have read and bust out the ones I haven't.I have already picked out my next 100 books list… gotta get to crackin'.

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