Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript

Kevin S. Kiernan
With a new foreword by Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe
Takes the crowning work of medieval Britain into the twenty-first century


The story of Beowulf and his hard-fought victory over the monster Grendel has captured the imagination of readers and listeners for a millennium. The heroic Anglo-Saxon story survives to the world in one eleventh-century manuscript that was badly burned in 1731, and in two eighteenth-century transcriptions of the manuscripts.

Kevin S. Kiernan, one of the world's foremost Beowulf scholars, has studied the manuscript extensively with the most up-to-date methods, including fiber-optic backlighting and computer digitization. This volume reprints Kiernan's earlier study of the manuscript, in which he presented his novel conclusions about the date of Beowulf. It also offers a new Introduction in which the author describes the value of electronic study of Beowulf, and a new Appendix that lists all the letters and parts of letters revealed by backlighting.

This important volume will be a must-read not only for the scholar of early English history and literature, but for all those who are interested in practical applications of the new technologies.

Kevin Kiernan is Professor of English, University of Kentucky.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . Kiernan's bold scholarship has opened an extremely fruitful reconsideration of the relationship between the poem and the manuscript which will, no doubt, continue to inspire research and debate. Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript remains an important and provocative contribution, and one might hope that its release in a revised edition will encourage further the lively debate occasioned by its initial appearance."

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 360pp.
  • 2 drawings, 26 photographs.
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Our edition is available in Canada, Philippines, Puerto Rico, United States, Virgin Islands (U.S.)


  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08412-8

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  • $43.95 U.S.