BEOWULF trans. Stephen Mitchell
A widely celebrated translator's vivid, accessible, and elegantly concise rendering of an ancient English masterpieceBeowulf tells the story of a Scandinavian hero who defeats three evil creatures-a huge, cannibalistic ogre named Grendel, Grendel's monstrous mother, and a dragon-and then dies, mortally wounded during his last encounter. If the definition of a superhero is "someone who uses his special powers to fight evil," then Beowulf is our first English superhero story, and arguably our best. It is also a deeply pious poem, so bold in its reverence for a virtuous pagan past that it teeters on the edge of heresy.