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 Beowulf Remake [Beowulf - Poem]

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Denethor



Join date : 2014-04-29

PostSubject: Beowulf Remake [Beowulf - Poem]   Thu May 01, 2014 10:11 am

[Can't post link. It's on fanfiction.net]

This fic is made infinitely funnier by the sheer pretentiousness of our teenage author. Bad fics are one thing; bad fics done in the belief that they are God's gift to literature are quite another.

Here is the summary:

Quote :

This a shortened and darker version of the ballad, Beowulf. WARNING: The ballad is darker and the narration does not side with the hero. Contains: blood, mild gore, and character deaths. Reader discretion is advised.

Oh dear. Now, the original Beowulf is 3182 lines. This "version" (let's be generous) is 159. So it's certainly shorter, but that's the point at which accuracy ends. You see, Beowulf isn't a ballad. Beowulf is Old English alliterative poetry, which, as you can probably guess, is based off alliteration. The more modern ballad format is based on iambic metrical feet and end-rhyming; Beowulf doesn't rhyme, and doesn't use iambic metrical feet. To be fair, our author uses neither alliteration, rhyme, nor iambic feet, but that's because he doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

All this from the first line of the summary.

As for the twice-promised darkness, well, I think the original beats this version quite comfortably. But we'll get to that.

Quote :

Disclaiming Notification: I do not own the rights to the original Beowulf by any means. The following is more modern in terms of dialect and, in a sense, darker.

The thing about disclaimers is that they actually have no legal effect at all, but they're normally polite acknowledgements of borrowing from a current author. In this case, we are dealing with source material from the eighth century, which means that not only is Beowulf public domain, the poem predates the concept of copyright by nearly a millennium. So including a disclaimer here just makes the author look silly. As does the claim that the following is more modern in terms of dialect. Beowulf is written in Old English - it's a different language from Modern English, not a dialect.

Oh yes, and we are promised darkness. For the third time.

But let's get on to the actual "poem" itself:

Quote :

A powerful monstrosity lies in vexed wait
As music rang loud in guest hall.
Hrothgar's men lived day by day
In that lively and song-filled hall;

The first four lines. As you can see, no (deliberate) alliteration, no metre. Just badness. No, he's not even trying to rhyme hall with hall - it's just that our poet doesn't own a thesaurus, so it's accidental repetition. And how on earth is Grendel waiting vexedly? Obviously our poet needs a dictionary to go with the thesaurus.

Quote :

Until Grendel, the monster, came

The fic is rated M on fanfiction.net, but sadly this isn't Grendel slash. It'd be a good deal better if it were.

Quote :

From that murky moor called its home
As night no longer yielded to the day

Possibly the most awkward and redundant way of describing nightfall outside a Christopher Paolini novel.

Quote :

To feast on the flesh of Herot's warriors, young and old.

Yes, this would definitely be better as a slashfic.

Quote :

Fighting the righteous and one against many,
Grendel won. He ruled with fear
And seeks unrighteous reparation from any
Of those who try to outlive the living terror.

"Unrighteous reparation" - sounds dirty, alas isn't. "Outlive the living terror"? Not only is it a bloody horrible line, you can't outlive a living terror. If you do, the terror's no longer living, right?

But it gets better.

Quote :

... Hrothgar and his council sought Satin's aid
To drive off Grendel where God had not.

This is the first time our poet has departed from the original. He has the Danes try to summon the Devil (or at least someone called Satin) to deal with Grendel. It'd actually have been a more interesting fic if Satan (or even Satin) had showed up, and much less of a weak summary of stuff that was much more interestingly told in the original, but our poet isn't that bright.

Quote :

... Hearing this told
Beowulf, the strongest of the Geats, went to the king by sail
To seek the reprisal of Grendel, a fiend.

So Beowulf hears Hrothgar's trying to summon the Devil, and decides to go over and see him. Does this make Beowulf the Devil in this fic? That'd be an interesting twist too.

(I also don't think reprisal means what our poet thinks it means).

Quote :

Hrothgar saw that Beowulf comes in friendship.

He's certainly not coming in consistent tenses.

What follows is a succession of dull and misapplied sentences. Our poet is simply summarising Beowulf, sucking all the grandeur, darkness, and beauty out if it, and leaving us with a nauseating husk.

Fast forward to Grendel's next attack:

Quote :

As he was about to perform his evil
Rite upon the man, Grendel was grasped by a strong-hearted man.
Beowulf had Grendel in his grip.
Grendel knew this man, whose grip cracked his claws, was not normal.
And for once it was Grendel who felt fear's iron-grip.
Nevertheless, he attempted to flee from this human, who was not normal.

I don't think this bit uses the words "man", "grip", or "normal" enough. And Grendel performs evil rites now? I thought it was Hrothgar who was supposed to be summoning the Devil around here.

[It's late here, so I'll do the second half of the poem tomorrow]
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Denethor



Join date : 2014-04-29

PostSubject: Re: Beowulf Remake [Beowulf - Poem]   Thu May 01, 2014 7:41 pm

OK, so Grendel dies. Enter Grendel's mother:

Quote :

Beowulf is called to save the people of Herot,
Once again, of which he shall be greatly rewarded for it.
Carrying his sword, Hrunting, Beowulf goes to the lake
Where Grendel's mother has her underground lair.

No poetry; not even grammar. We aren't told about how Unferth gave Hrunting to Beowulf. We aren't allowed to reach our own conclusions based off show-don't-tell. All this is a weak narrative summary. So much for being "darker" than the original.

Quote :

He leaped into the lake and came to the muddy bottom of the lake
Where he finds the greedy she-wolf who attempts to tare
Him apart. Having failed, she carried him to her residence.

Clumsy lines, typos, and the problem of what happens when you divorce terms from their context. You see, Old English (and Old Norse) poetry uses what are called kennings - elaborate poetic metaphors (these can get extremely complex; fortunately those in Beowulf are pretty straightforward). "Greedy she-wolf" is a kenning lifted straight from the original (I thought our poet was trying to be modern...), however since this is the first time this version has used this sort of metaphor, and we're over half-way through the poem, it just looks strange. Almost as strange as the bit where Grendel's mother just carries Beowulf to her residence - without proper context, accuracy of meaning is lost (*why* is she carrying Beowulf?).

Quote :

The sea-witch and him wrestled viciously with each other as opponents

"Sea-witch" is another lifted kenning. Again, the change of style is just weird. And I never would have guessed that when Beowulf and Grendel's mother were fighting, they were opponents...

Quote :

Grapping the sword by the handle and swinging it at the mother of Grendel,
The sword decapitated her causing her to drop down dead.

Unnecessary and misspelt words really are a dime a dozen in this poem (decapitation normally kills someone unless special notice is given, and if you drop dead, you normally drop downwards). Again, where is the poetry in this poem? Summaries (with some devil-summoning added) aren't poetry.

Anyway, fast forward fifty years (literally fast-forward - our poet simply goes from the scene at the bottom of the lake to the fight with the dragon. You'd think Beowulf had sat at the bottom of a pond for fifty years without doing anything in-between).

Quote :

A dragon who was angered by a thief
Who stole a jewelled cup from its treasure horde.

Who stole the cup? The thief or the dragon? Hooray for precision of language.

Quote :

Beowulf, the prince of the Geats, came with his warriors.

No, still not a slashfic.

Quote :

To fight this draconic beast. Beowulf's ancient blade shattered
As it failed to successfully pierce through the scaly skin of the draconic lizard.

Are we absolutely sure that our dragon is draconic?

Quote :

Beowulf's fight with the dragon seemed to have turned
For the worse, until young Wiglaf gave aiding
To his aged king, Beowulf, to help him fight the dragon.

"Gave aiding?"

Quote :

Together, Beowulf and the young Wiglaf slayed the draconic beast.

Our poet likes draconic as an adjective. A shame he couldn't find (or even create) a proper kenning for the critter.

So Beowulf dies victorious, and is cremated. At his funeral

Quote :

Twelve of the bravest Geats rode their horses
Around the tower, telling stories
of their dead king.

They told stories while riding around the tower? Were they shouting? In the original they chant a dirge, which is rather different from telling stories.

Quote :

... His greatness is unmatched.
He lives on in this story.
Beowulf the Geat who is unequalled.

Not exactly sure Beowulf wants to live on in *this* story.

To backtrack a bit, we were told at the start that the narration doesn't side with the hero. I rather think calling someone unmatched and unequalled is siding with them. I mean, the poem certainly doesn't side with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the draconic beast the dragon.

And then there's the darkness question. Well, weakly summarising a text doesn't make your summary darker than the original, but I thought I'd do what the poet doesn't and provide a bit of illustration. Here's a translation of a scene from Beowulf's funeral in the original:

Quote :

THEN fashioned for him the folk of Geats
firm on the earth a funeral-pile,
and hung it with helmets and harness of war
and breastplates bright, as the boon he asked;
and they laid amid it the mighty chieftain,
heroes mourning their master dear.
Then on the hill that hugest of balefires
the warriors wakened. Wood-smoke rose
black over blaze, and blent was the roar
of flame with weeping (the wind was still),
till the fire had broken the frame of bones,
hot at the heart. In heavy mood
their misery moaned they, their master’s death.
Wailing her woe, the widow   old,
her hair upbound, for Beowulf’s death
sung in her sorrow, and said full oft
she dreaded the doleful days to come,
deaths enow, and doom of battle,
and shame. — The smoke by the sky was devoured.

Beowulf's people know that without their lord, they are doomed. That's how the story really ends: nice, depressing, and genuinely dark. Far darker than this stupid 159 line excuse for a "remake".
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Denethor



Join date : 2014-04-29

PostSubject: Re: Beowulf Remake [Beowulf - Poem]   Sun May 11, 2014 12:54 am

Can post link now. Here it is:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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