Sorry if my original comment seemed to imply otherwise.
Data is like nuclear waste. Everything you do online leaves a pattern of behavior that is unique to you. Your only saving grace is no one cares about you specifically, until they do.
Considering this occurred in 1974, I can only imagine that techniques for de-anonymizing authors have gotten much better due to how much written text individuals post on social media sites, like hn. Uh oh.
Feed your text once or twice to GT, then re-correct it just enough to make it understandable.
(Apologies for the vernacular but I am attempting to conceal my digital signature)
After looking, it looks like the brother turned him in after having this sort of analysis done to confirm his suspicions. So it does look like there's a tie to the story, but the analysis wasn't done blindly in that case.
Then you can just run all your naughty words through the russian styliser.
Does not seem to preclude it originating as a series of verbal tales.
According to the article, doubts about single authorship began to be raised in the 19th century. This was a time when a lot of people thought that they were living at the pinnacle of history, and that cultures of the distant past must have been strictly inferior to the modern one. Troy could not have possibly existed; no single person in such a barbaric age could possibly have produced great poems like the Homeric epics -- or Beowulf.
Well, we found Troy. We also found evidence of great devastation at Troy right around the time when the Homeric war supposedly took place. It seems that people of the distant past did possess the ability to tell a great story after all, moving freely between history and mythology, filled with allegory and philosophical depth. Just like Tolkien did, but hundreds or even thousands of years earlier.
It's hard to imagine that that idea could have fallen out of favor, given the incredibly sparse written record of the Germanic tribes. They didn't produce enough literature to have a non-oral tradition.
Which suggests that some of the perceived
homogeneity may stem from the scribal style,
rather than the oral style.
I'm imaging this methodology applied across many other literary works. So many insights can be generated throughout the ages!
"Like Beowulf, the Greek epics Iliad and Odyssey have also generated much debate about their authorship and composition.
Conventionally attributed to a single author—Homer—both works
nevertheless clearly originate in a long oral tradition and show signs
of considerable evolution in the course of their transmission history,
including the possible influence of written versions[37,38]. Since the
two Homeric epics have numerous features in common, we hypothesized that they might also have a similar pattern of sense-pauses.
However, as shown in Fig. 2a, the Odyssey has a higher proportion of
intraline sense-pauses relative to the Iliad. This difference suggests
a slight change of compositional practice between the two Greek
poems, whether due to a single poet’s stylistic evolution or natural variation across the oral tradition. "
Academic pursuits should have more meaning than trying to dunk on other people's belief systems when those belief systems are fairly harmless.
Reading a chunk of Beowulf in the original was, along with learning Maxwell's equations and reading Gibbon one of the best things I ever did for myself. It's ... fairly obvious it's one person. The latter half with the dragon could have been an add-on.
Heaney's translation felt like he took Tolkien's "The Monsters and the Critics" to heart with his understanding, and clear love of the source.
Rebsamen is closer to something like what was actually written.
You may want to try dislodging the stick from your wart ridden anus.
That film would likely not have happened if not for the success of the Lord of the Rings films, and most people likely never heard of Beowulf until then, unless they dimly remembered having to read it in class once.
And no translation of anything, much less any book without a big media tie in, gets anything close to "quite a bit of attention" in the mainstream press. Coverage in literature sections of the newspapers or dedicated literary sites are far from mainstream.
And this is an article in Ars Technica, which to HN may seem mainstream, but which is far from it for the masses. A quick Google of "Tolkein Beowulf single author" brings up little in the way of mainstream coverage, with the Ars article being on top.
Don't get me wrong, I love Beowulf and Seamus Heaney's translation is one of the few books I'll reread regularly, but elfakyn is correct. If Tolkein's name weren't involved, no one would be covering this at all, and really, almost no one is now.
Nothing to do with LotR films, more to do with an intellectual giant well known in the field (who also wrote LotR). The books were far better anyway.
Neither is it Tolken's fault Beowulf is considered the most significant work from Old English. Often discussed in the broadsheets I once read, not ever likely to reach those who read the Sun or the Mirror. Still doesn't stop it being a highly significant work (without Tolken or Jackson).
The Beeb trot it out regularly - not buried in dusty literate sections that no one normal would encounter, which seems to be what you're driving at.
Mind it probably even reached down to tabloid readers from time to time. There was a fun Australian cartoon version, narrated by Peter Ustinov retelling from Grendel's point of view. Managed to become a bit of a cult classic in its day. There's been a couple of TV mini series. Probably a game and festival too for all I know!
That particular film may not have been made, but it’s not hard to imagine an adaptation being made by someone even in the absence of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, which riffs on the Beowulf story, got a film adaptation (as The Thirteen Warrior) in 1999. The Beowulf story isn’t The Dream of the Rood or other esoteric Old English literature; it has adventure elements that will attract ordinary audiences from time to time.
> Coverage in literature sections of the newspapers or dedicated literary sites are far from mainstream.
Literature sections of mainstream newspapers are mainstream reporting, even if many readers are going to skip over those columns. And are you seriously arguing that mags like e.g. The New Yorker or The New York Review of Books are not mainstream? Those may be bought by a certain demographic of bookish people, but those mags are sold at ordinary newsagents. They are not specialist journals.
Maybe. Most people read neither nowadays. Unless my understanding of the definition of "mainstream" is flawed, that makes them essentially niche publications.
But that wasn't actually my argument. My argument is that most people don't care about literature beyond anything not tied into a popular media franchise, non-literary books or books by famous authors, and Beowulf is none of those things.
> In an afterword in the novel Crichton gives a few comments on its origin. A good friend of Crichton's was giving a lecture on the "Bores of Literature". Included in his lecture was an argument on Beowulf and why it was simply uninteresting. Crichton stated his views that the story was not a bore and was, in fact, a very interesting work. The argument escalated until Crichton stated that he would prove to him that the story could be interesting if presented in the correct way.
Michael Crichton is a famous enough author that people are more likely than not to see a movie based on his work because it's a "Michael Crichton movie" and neither know nor care about the source material. To most people, the Beowulf movie is just a fantasy movie where Angelina Jolie plays a sexy demon, not the adaptation of Beowulf they've been waiting for years to see, the way people were waiting to see (or dreading to see) the Lord of the Rings.
Beowulf just isn't that significant or relevant in popular culture - it just isn't. I don't even know why this is controversial.
Not everyone slept through their high school English class and failed to notice when characters in movies they were watching were named "Beowulf."
And we're talking about one of the few things that is examined in almost every high school English class.
I don't think this comes close to being true. Maybe in Britain.
Ancient epics and ancient languages are a primary interest for me, but no school class ever covered Beowulf.
How interesting. In that case am I right in guessing that your coverage of the Medieval part of the canon was limited to Chaucer and didn't include anything else? I'm just curious how much things have changed.
I did have a high school English class covering (among other, non-medieval works) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the story of Tristan and Iseult. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was read in translation, but Tristan and Iseult was a fairly modern reimagining (set in the original period), with an author's introduction discussing how she chose to omit the magic that was present in the original because she thought it detracted from the agency of the characters.
Edit: found it - it was this one. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0374479828/ . "Tristan and Iseult: an inspired retelling of the legendary love story".
I'd have slotted Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in with Beowulf in the "medieval" part of the literary canon but I could be off-base there. I remember reading Beowulf in high school but not the other. That might be a function of which one I found more interesting at the time, I'm not sure.
Beowulf is from around the 8th century; I guess that's technically "medieval" but I think of it as belonging to some nameless period that's older than "medieval". There's a huge difference between Old English of the 8th century and Middle English of the 14th.
In terms of story quality, Sutcliffe's Tristan and Iseult was in fact quite good. And it gave me a bit more appreciation for this: https://arthurkingoftimeandspace.com/1020.htm .
Memory is unreliable but I recall my high school class using a pretty good textbook that included Beowulf with both old English and modern translations, but also the chapter of The Hobbit where Bard shoots the dragon, which stylistically invited some interesting comparisons. It was a pretty good lesson for a high school kid who was also a fan of Tolkien, back before that was something you could be without reading any books.
And yes, more people more or less slept through English class than not.
I dunno, all those superhero films are doing pretty well.
I'm criticizing the premise that Beowulf is as well known as Tolkien's works in popular culture, or even that well known at all outside of niche literary circles, as counter to the claim that Tolkien's attachment to the story has no relevance to the degree of its coverage, which, itself, is limited to begin with.
But it would be an interesting story for many of us without the Tolkien connection. Beowulf is an important artifact in the history of the language many of us are deeply attached to. And better than a potsherd, this artifact literally speaks to us from the distant past (literal if you consider writing of this sort to be a form of speech, as I do.) If the claim is implying that most of the coverage is due to the Tolkien angle, and it would have little to no coverage without it, I believe that to be incorrect. But I don't know if that is what was meant, and the explicit interpretation of the claim is probably correct.
At least the tend to get downvoted relatively fast