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english literature books read online free

Hollyhock House

The Story of the Sun. New York, 1833-1918

The Story of the Sun. New York, 1833 1918

english literature books read online free

Philosophical Transactions, Giving Some Account Of The Present Undertakings,

Job and Solomon: Or, The Wisdom of the Old Testament

Job and Solomon: Or, The Wisdom of the Old Testament

english literature books read online free

The Art of Music, Volume Two (of 14)

english literature books read online free

Kardinaalin laulu

On the Border with Crook

On the Border with Crook

Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, Fifth Series, No. 27, Vol. I, July 5, 1884

Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, Fifth Series,

The Mischievous Typesetter

The Mischievous Typesetter

The Old Miracle Plays of England

The Old Miracle Plays of England

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20 Classic English Books Available as Free PDFs

If you’re looking for free English books online, either in PDF or e-reader formats, start with classic literature .

People have enjoyed these books for a long time, and they still enjoy them today. They contain themes and topics that are relevant to every human being, no matter whether they were born in 1600, 1950 or 2010.

And luckily, many of these books now belong to the public domain and available for free—that’s why you’ll find them readily available to download to your computer, phone or e-reader.

I’ve scoured the internet for some great options to get you started building your digital library. Enjoy!

1. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

  • 2. The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne
  • 3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • 4. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • 5. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

6. Heidi by Johana Spyri

  • 7. My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
  • 8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • 9. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
  • 10. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • 11. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • 12. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  • 13. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • 14. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  • 15. Emma by Jane Austen
  • 16. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • 17. The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
  • 18. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

19. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

  • 20. Dracula by Bram Stoker

And One More Thing...

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Doctor Dolittle loves animals. He loves them so much that when his many pets scare away his human patients, he learns how to talk to animals and becomes a veterinarian instead.

He then travels the world to help animals with his unique ability to speak their language.

2.  The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

The Red House Mystery

Does the name Winnie the Pooh sound familiar? Author A.A. Milne is best remembered for creating the fluffy, yellow teddy bear.

But before he became a famous children’s book author Milne wrote a few adult fiction books. “The Red House Mystery” is one of these.

In this mystery novel, the guests in a man’s home become detectives as they try to find a killer—who is one of them!

3.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden: The Original 1911 Edition (A Frances Hodgson Burnett Classic Novel)

“The Secret Garden” is a touching story about the power of friendship.

Mary Lennox is a spoiled and rude little girl sent by her parents to live at her uncle’s huge home. One day while exploring outside the home, she discovers a secret: a locked garden.

The secret garden helps her make a friend, and thanks to the love of their friendship she learns to be a better person.

4.  Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island

Everything you know about pirates probably came from this one book: wooden legs, parrots on the shoulder and treasure maps.

“Treasure Island” is the story of a boy who sails on a ship searching for treasure, but instead finds himself surrounded by terrible pirates. It’s also a story about growing up, full of action and adventure.

5.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty: The Original 1877 Edition (A Anna Sewell Classic Novel)

“Black Beauty” is one the best-selling books of all time, and for a good reason—this story about a horse teaches kindness towards animals and people.

The story is told by the horse. It describes his life and the many cruel people and difficult times he had to live through before finding peace.

It’s a great read even if you’re not a fan of horses.

Heidi

“Heidi” is a book often described as being “for children and for people who love children.”

It does a great job of showing the world through a little girl’s eyes as she explores the mountains in Switzerland. She makes many friends along the way, but also deals with the kinds of fears that a child would have, like being alone and away from the people who love you.

It’s a long book, but one that’s easy to fall in love with.

7.  My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

My Man Jeeves

These days not many of us have butlers (servants hired to care for you and your house) but whenever people talk about a butler, his name sometimes comes up as Jeeves.

That name comes from Wodehouse’s series of books featuring the perfect butler Jeeves, and the many humorous adventures he and his employer had.

8.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights: The Original 1847 Edition (A Emily Brontë Classic Novel)

Jealousy and revenge are the main themes of “Wuthering Heights,” which is the name of the farmhouse where the story takes place.

This book can be hard to get through, and it’s not because of the vocabulary. It’s a hard book to read because of all the cruelty in it. Still, this is a good book if you’re interested in dramas and passions.

9.  The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Robin Hood is a special kind of thief: he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. This book is a collection of stories about the legendary, kindhearted thief and his group of outlaw friends.

Be prepared for many fun and funny moments, and some with a more serious tone. This book is perfect for reading little by little, since the stories are only connected by their characters.

10.  The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

There are many war books that show how terrible war is physically—all the violence and death. “The Red Badge of Courage” talks instead about the psychological terrors of war.

It’s told from the point of view of a soldier in the Civil War who’s actually running away from the battlefield. It uses many symbols and metaphors to discuss the important themes.

If you can handle the advanced vocabulary, you can find much more meaning hidden in this book.

11.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

What if you could stay young forever? Dorian Gray makes a deal to stay young forever—while a painted portrait of him shows all the signs of aging.

Of course, it turns out this deal he made might not have been such a good idea after all…

12.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

After being thrown into jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Edmond manages to escape and become rich. With his new money, he tries to get revenge on the people who put him in prison, but his plans don’t quite go like he hopes.

“The Count of Monte Cristo” is about betrayal, love and letting go.

13.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer is a troublemaking little boy who’s always causing problems, having fun and enjoying many crazy adventures. In this classic tale by Mark Twain, Tom visits his own funeral, stops a crime and tries very hard to get a girl to like him.

Tom Sawyer is a well-known name in American literature and his stories of adventure are very fun to read.

14.  The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Being invisible sounds like fun, but is it really?

When a man learns how to make himself invisible, all he gets in return is problems and people betraying him. Maybe he should have just stayed normal…

15.  Emma  by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is perhaps best known for her novel “Pride and Prejudice,” which is about life and love for rich, upper-class people in the early 1800s.

“Emma” takes place in the same time period, focusing on the character of Emma who is “handsome, clever and rich.”

Emma thinks that she’s great at matching people up to get married, but she soon learns that maybe she shouldn’t interfere with (get involved in) people’s lives so much.

16.  Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan is a wild man, raised by apes in the middle of the jungle. This book tells about his life among the apes and other animals, and what happens when a wild monkey man meets other humans for the first time.

17.  The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

If you met Father Brown, you wouldn’t realize that he’s a great detective. He’s a small Catholic priest who always carries an umbrella—the kind of person who’s easy to forget.

He’s a great thinker, though, and he can see people for who they really are. “The Innocence of Father Brown” has 12 short stories where the little priest uses his knowledge of human nature to solve mysteries.

18.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Creating life from death is Dr. Frankenstein’s dream. When he finally brings a dead man to life, things don’t work out the way he wants.

If you know the Frankenstein monster, you might think he’s a terrible creature.

But this book tells the real story of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, named only “the monster.” It turns out that the monster might not be such a monster after all.

The Moonstone

If you love detective books, you’ll love “The Moonstone,” which might be the first detective novel in the English language!

It has everything that a good mystery needs—a precious jewel is stolen during a young woman’s 18th birthday party.

Who stole the jewel and where is it now? Follow the trail of the thief in this book.

20.  Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula

Dracula is one of the best known vampires of all time. If you’ve watched any movies about Dracula, you might be surprised at what the actual book is like.

It’s an epistolary novel, which means it’s written completely in the form of letters, and the story of Dracula is told through other people’s points of view.

It’s an interesting look at the first “modern” vampire, and it’s really a great read.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

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If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.

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english literature books read online free

english literature books read online free

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online

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Nikki VanRy

Nikki VanRy is a proud resident of Arizona, where she gets to indulge her love of tacos, desert storms, and tank tops. She also writes for the Tucson Festival of Books, loves anything sci-fi/fantasy/historical, drinks too much chai, and will spend all day in bed reading thankyouverymuch. Follow her on Instagram @nikki.vanry .

View All posts by Nikki VanRy

Want to get your eyes on MILLIONS of free books online?

If you’ve been following along, you already know that you can find free audiobooks online  (woop woop!). We talked about options like LibriVox and MindWebs that are offering readers free audio books and short stories.

Now, we’ve got 15 more sites where you can read free books online when earbuds aren’t an option. You’ll get beyond the classics (though those are cool too), with free YA books, graphic novels, fanfiction, children’s books, and more.

And all together these sites have a lot of great books. A lot. Like, in the millions. Seriously. Your TBR list may be crying, but at least your wallet is happy?

Where can I download free books Online?

We give more details about each one below, but the following sites all offer (or curate a collection with) free books online:

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online | BookRiot.com

1. Goodreads’ Free Shelves

While many of the books on the following websites are classic books and out of copyright, you can find more contemporary online books for free at Goodreads’ free eBooks shelves (either full or excerpts) or with the “ free-online ” tag.

2. International Children’s Digital Library

If you’re looking for free children’s books online, the ICDL is a nonprofit organization with a mission to: “promote tolerance and a respect for diverse cultures by providing access to the best of children’s literature from around the world.”

You can read freely and anonymously on their site, or create an account to keep an ongoing bookshelf. And there are books from all over the world (you can even search by countries on the globe). Look for great free books online like:

Related: 25 Free Amazon Prime Audiobooks

3. Internet Sacred Text ARchive

Dedicated to religion, mythology, and folklore, the ISTA online collection provides access to hundreds of sacred texts online. It also promotes religious diversity, tolerance, and scholarship baked into its mission (which is pretty rad of course).

You’ll find versions of the  Bible,  as well as the  Talmud ,  Vedas,  and more.

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online | BookRiot.com

4. ManyBooks

Just as the name implies, ManyBooks has loads and loads of online books for free. Over 30,000 in fact. The majority of their eBooks work for Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other readers.

You’ll find thousands of books, both classic and contemporary here, such as:

5. Open Culture

Open Culture connected readers with a curated list of free audiobooks, and they’ve created something similar for free eBooks. You’ll find 800 free and downloadable eBooks through their site, ready to download for iPads, iPhones, Kindles, or to read in your browser directly.

Some knockouts include The Stranger  by Albert Camus and poems from Charles Bukowski.

6. Open Library

Open Library offers over 1.7 million free eBooks online to users. It’s part of the Internet Archive, which also allows users to contribute (and correct!) books. They both offer free versions of full books and links to access paid books elsewhere.

Books to read online include  Sherlock Holmes  by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or  Matilda  by Roald Dahl.

7. Overdrive

The Libby App by OverDrive connects you with your local libraries to check out eBooks on your personal devices. You only need a library card and you’ll be able to check out classic and contemporary eBooks for free, anywhere and anytime. They host a catalog of over two million eBooks, as well as audiobooks. And, they’ve recently made it easier to transfer books onto your device.

Of course, since it’s connected to your library, you’ll also see free bestselling YA eBooks and other more recent bestsellers and other classics.

8. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg continues to be a fantastic resource for classic novels and obscure older texts alike that are already in the public domain. The organization is run entirely by volunteers who digitize and then also proofread works. In all, they’ve added over 50,000 free books online.

Whether you’re reading them online or downloading them to your device, you can dig into classic books like:

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online | BookRiot.com

9. Read Print

Read Print is a user-friendly website that allows users to read classics online. It also has a fancy bookshelf widget where you can track books read and books (so many books) that you want to read.

You’ll find free classic books like:

10. Riveted

Riveted offers YA books for free online, either full books or excerpts on a time-limited basis.

By signing into the site from Simon & Schuster and becoming a member, you’ll be able to read some sweet free books, download them to any device, join in giveaways, and discuss your YA favorites.

If you love all things science fiction and fantasy, check out Tor’s eBook club and weekly newsletters .

The publisher releases weekly original short stories from some of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy authors. And, seriously, receiving a smashingly fantastic short story in my inbox every week has been such a joy and has helped me find great new authors.

They also release the eBook of the Month club where you can get free access to one pick each month.

12. WikiSource

Got a jonesing for some original source material? Even if you’re not in academia, Wikisource is the ultimate place to do a deep dive on a topic. The site hosts almost 400,000 texts in English, with user-generated submissions allowed.

You can find texts from 1846 to 1941, from authors like Rudyard Kipling and Marie de France, on werewolves specifically. Or, discover new worlds with texts from Jules Verne and Philip Dick.

13. World Public Library

The World Public Library’s online Millennium Collection isn’t free, but for less than $10 a year for *ahem* millions of free books in over 300 languages, it’s basically free. They also offer free memberships for physically disabled or special needs members. You’ll find eBooks from all over the world, including:

Some of their knock-outs include  1984  by George Orwell,  Siddhartha  by Hemann Hesse, and  The Mahabharata  translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

Seriously, even more Free Books Online

These are mostly websites that share free books online that have at one time been traditionally published and disseminated. But, um, there’s the internet which means there’s more books available out there than you’ll ever have time to read.

Check out WattPad for stories by independent authors, historical fiction, fanfiction, and more. There’s also a huge active community over there to talk about books with. Here’s your beginner’s guide .

FanFiction.net is a hub for short story and novel length spin-offs of your favorite fictional worlds.

Phew, we’re not done yet.  BookRix is also a community of independent authors who publish free eBooks in any of your favorite genres. We’re talking fantasy, romance, sci-fi, children’s and more.

The Library of Congress also has a small collection of classic children’s books.

Finally, also make sure to follow your favorite authors on social media. They’ll often share links to eBook deals, excerpts to upcoming novels, giveaways, or free shorts set in the same universe.

Want To Find Cheap Books?

Other cheaper options ($10 a month or less) include Kindle Unlimited , some of the books on the Google Play store, Unlimited Library , and Scribd .

You can also follow along with Book Riot’s Deals of the Day “ Book Deals ” emails where you’ll get alerts about absurdly cheap eBooks and audiobooks.

Read Next: 50+ Ways to Get Free Books

It makes my heart swell a little bit that there are SO MANY places to find free books online. That’s a lot of literature, all with a simple internet connection.

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'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen

english literature books read online free

Pride and Prejudice is the rom-com to end all rom-coms. Just try not to fall for the awkward, rich, emotionally repressed Mr. Darcy as he goes about unintentionally ruining Lizzie's life (and finally, awkwardly, sweeping her off her feet).

'The Count of Monte Cristo' by Alexandre Dumas

english literature books read online free

The ultimate revenge tale still holds up over 170 years later. In Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, a man is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, and decides to deal with it by becoming fabulously wealthy and then utterly destroying the men who imprisoned him.

'Dracula' by Bram Stoker

english literature books read online free

Every sexy vampire in modern media owes a huge debt to the original Count himself. Bram Stoker's Dracula is rightfully known as one of the greatest horror stories of all time, complete with bloodsucking, shape-shifting, and one very charismatic Transylvanian.

'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll

english literature books read online free

The trippiest of classic children's books is still a great read for adults. Join little Alice as she falls down a rabbit hole and deals with all kinds of weird nonsense while continually eating unidentified objects and changing size all over the place.

'Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' by Arthur Conan Doyle

english literature books read online free

Sherlock Holmes is everyone's favorite irritating detective, along with his long-suffering sidekick, Dr. John Watson. Read all about their adventures in this collection of mysteries, and put your own deductive powers to the test.

'Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus' by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

english literature books read online free

You probably know Frankenstein's monster as that big flat-top fellow with the neck bolts. But if you read Mary Shelley's original novel, you just might discover that the real Frankenstein's monster is a sensitive giant baby-man who speaks French and just wants to be loved.

'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself' by Harriet A. Jacobs

english literature books read online free

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the collected memoirs of Harriet Jacobs, who survived slavery in North Carolina and seven years of hiding in a tiny, coffin-like room. She eventually escaped to reunite with her children in the North, and wrote this beautifully nuanced account of her life and her perilous road to freedom.

'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare' by William Shakespeare

english literature books read online free

Look, you don't really have to read all of Shakespeare. But you do have the option to, with this free edition of The Complete Works. Here you'll find every last Shakespeare play, from the classic tragedies to the forgotten comedies to the very, very long histories.

'Jane Eyre: An Autobiography' by Charlotte Brontë

english literature books read online free

Jane Eyre is a great book to read if you're considering getting married to your boss, but you haven't yet checked his attic for any lurking ex-wives. It's a classic coming of age tale, a Gothic romance, and a surprisingly modern take on being a young, independent woman.

'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde

english literature books read online free

The Picture of Dorian Gray teaches us all a valuable lesson: hot guys are evil and not to be trusted. Sure, there's a little more to it than that, but you'll just have to read it for yourself and find out.

'Anne of Green Gables' by L. M. Montgomery

english literature books read online free

One of the top two spunky redheaded orphans named Anne, Anne of Green Gables is that rare, delightful character who never seems dated. She's always there to cheer you up with her various scraps and fantasies and her bucolic Canadian country life.

'Ulysses' by James Joyce

english literature books read online free

Ulysses is famous for being long and confusing, but now you can test that reputation for yourself. Sure, Joyce's writing style is a little unconventional, but if you can get past the forty page run-on sentences, you might find that Ulysses is one of the strangest, funniest, most beautifully human books out there.

'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott

english literature books read online free

Four sisters grow up together in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, dealing with minor trials and devastating tragedies as they go. It's a coming-of-age story that puts sisterhood front and center, in all its joy and frustration.

'Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave' by Frederick Douglass

english literature books read online free

This is the first of Frederick Douglass' three autobiographies, and by far his most widely read. Douglass recounts his harrowing childhood under slavery and his escape to the North, where he became one of America's greatest orators and a national leader of the abolitionist movement.

'Les Misérables' by Victor Hugo

english literature books read online free

Victor Hugo revolutionized the idea of writing fiction for social change with his stunning (and very long) novel, Les Misérables. Hugo tells the stories of various French citizens, all revolving around Jean Valjean, a man who was imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread.

'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens

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One of Dickens' best loved works of fiction, Great Expectations has plenty of Dickensian orphans, reversals of fortune, poverty, crime, and one terrifying spinster in a rotting wedding dress.

'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' by Jules Verne

english literature books read online free

Let's clear this up once and for all: the twenty thousand leagues refer to distance traveled while under water, not depth. They are not twenty thousand leagues deep. Also it's one of the greatest hard sci-fi novels ever written.

'Poems by Emily Dickinson' by Emily Dickinson

english literature books read online free

Join your new best friend Emily Dickinson for a reclusive journey out into nature, where you might brush up against all manner of flowers and also probably Death itself.

'The Souls of Black Folk' by W. E. B. Du Bois

english literature books read online free

If you've heard the phrase "double consciousness" tossed around recently, that's a reference to The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois. One of the seminal works in the history of sociology, this book collects some of the foundational essays about race in America, still all too relevant today.

'The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1 by Edgar Allan Poe' by Edgar Allan Poe

english literature books read online free

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe can be found online in several disturbing volumes, complete with all of his creepy poetry, his murderous tales, and everything in between.

'The Awakening, and Selected Short Stories' by Kate Chopin

english literature books read online free

The Awakening is often credited as one of the first modern feminist novels. Chopin's heroine gradually "awakens" to the fact that she, and most women, are systemically oppressed by society. So Edna decides to take her life into her own hands, regardless of what her husband or anybody else wants for her.

english literature books read online free

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Featuring five of michael howe’s most terrible maps, “to become a poet is to step into the void.” brian henry on slovenian poet tomaž šalamun, with poems translated by brian henry, the poetry of chinese names, wendy chen on generation poems and the stories hidden in names, my mother will live forever in the stories of alice munro, jonny diamond on the timeless genius of canada’s greatest writer, remembering alice munro, who will finish your manuscript when you die, tessa fontaine on the ways writers can prepare for the worst case scenario, claire messud on writing the past that lives within us, jane ciabattari talks to the author of “this strange eventful history”, what happens when you read your mother’s x-rated novel, kate feiffer on female-authored erotica as a form of social critique, you are being lied to about gaza solidarity camps by university presidents, mainstream media, and politicians, what steven w. thrasher saw on college campuses, what’s wrong with pen america, and why we need it to survive, for maris kreizman, dissent is not censorship, in praise of pulitzer prize-winner jayne anne phillips, jonathan corcoran on the teacher who taught him that writing begins far from the page, inside the occupation of columbia’s hamilton hall, 1968 version, from charles kaiser’s “1968 in america”, read the 1962 short story that inspired this year’s met gala theme, j.g. ballard’s “the garden of time”, the literary film & tv you need to stream in may, because somehow it’s still raining, from austen to larkin: why writers could be more prone to hypochondria, caroline crampton considers the intersection of creative pursuits and health anxiety, the problem with giant book preview lists, maris kreizman on one of the necessary evils of book coverage, crash again, crash better: a brief history of failed attempts at human flight, joe fassler ponders our innate desire to rise above it all, survival of the wealthiest: joseph e. stiglitz on the dangerous failures of neoliberalism, in which “the intellectual handmaidens of the capitalists” are taken to task, yan lianke wants you to stop describing him as china’s most censored author, on state censorship, artistic integrity, and the market forces behind local and global publishing, “pale fire” (tavi’s version): notes on taylor swift and the literature of obsessive fandom, leigh stein considers tavi gevinson’s new zine, “fan fiction”, how much is enough on the writerly balance between money and time, for novelist ryan chapman, “there are wants, and there are needs.”, writing as labor: doing more with less, together, david hill on the myth of the middle class writer, the money diaries: real writers, real budgets, what writers spend in a week of their lives, in service: writers on making ends meet in the service industry, “it’s easy to remain clueless about how the world works for most people.”, what christiane amanpour—and the rest of us—can learn from palestinian journalists in gaza, steven w. thrasher on the myth of the “independent journalist”, contemporary literary novels are haunted by the absence of money, naomi kanakia wonders why nobody talks about the thing we all need, premonition in the west bank: ben ehrenreich on life in the village of burin, “sometimes you hear an echo of a sound that has not yet been voiced, of a shot that has not yet been fired.”, 50 ways to end a poem, emily skaja has some recommendations for making a strong exit, a woman out of time: rebecca solnit on mary shelley’s dystopian sci-fi novel the last man, in praise of a truly innovative writer, 10 great new children’s books out in april, caroline carlsonrecommends maple lam, felicita sala, laurie morrison and more, vampires, selkies, familiars, and more april’s best sci-fi and fantasy books, career retrospectives and historical fantasies from cixin liu, ann leckie, leigh bardugo, and others, the literary film & tv you need to stream in april, april showers bring opportunities to binge watch, here’s your 2024 literary film & tv preview, 53 shows and movies to stream and see this year, lit hub’s most anticipated books of 2024, 230 books we’re looking forward to reading this year, 24 sci-fi and fantasy books to look forward to in 2024, exciting new series’ and standalones from kelly link, lev grossman, sofia samatar, james s.a. corey, and more, we need your help: support lit hub, become a member, you get editors’ personalized book recs, an ad-free reading experience, and the joan didion tote bag, 40 books to understand palestine, from ghassan kanafani's "men in the sun" to adania shibli's "minor detail", what the nft phenomenon tells us about the monetary and creative value of art.

Zachary Small Explores the Intersection of New Technologies, Financial Speculation and Artistic Creation

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Unapologetically Free: A Personal Declaration of Independence From the Formerly Enslaved

Abolitionist and Writer John Swanson Jacobs on Reclaiming Liberty In a Land of Unfreedom

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On the Joys of Following Literary Instinct Wherever It Leads

Leah Hager Cohen Asks: “Can anything compare to the wonder of being lost?”

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Snapshots of Life: Storytelling and Outlaw Culture in Eastern Kentucky

Bobi Conn Explores Her Appalachian Family’s Long Tradition of Unreliable Narrators and Morally Gray Characters

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The Cosmic Library on Stories and Sleep

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Ersin Han Ersin on Making the Invisible Visible

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A More Imperfect Union: How Differing National Visions Divided the North and the South

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“ the world’s on fire ” by dena linn.

🏆 Winner of Contest #249

Trigger: Cancer My head rocks back, long hair sticks to sweaty shoulders and my tank barely holds my jiggling A-cups as I pound it out, dancing. I’m that “Girl on Fire,” a single mom gyrating to Ms. Keys. Flinging out one arm, hips swing and dip, fingers snap, eyes close, and my rock and roll fantasy, straight from a music video: my apartment’s clutter, with the snap of my fingers, flies to order. I burn, more than a flickering flame, heart thumps, shoulders shimmy, sweat drips into my pierced belly button. The fuchsia, sun-yellow and ...

“ Paradise Lost ” by Honey Homecroft

🏆 Winner of Contest #248

Calls for help came every day, in every language spoken from Alpha Centauri to Xanoid 10. Meteor. Famine. War!!! Help us, they pleaded. Whoever they was in that particular society that had figured out how to contact us. “Please remain calm,” I used to say. “A unit will be dispatched to your location.” But after our people went Silent, the calls went more like this:  “Hello? We need help.” “We're sorry, but Planetary Assistance is no longer available. Our thoughts are with you during your pending apocalypse. Goodbye.” “Wait —” And I woul...

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🏆 Featuring 12 prize-winning stories from our community. Download it now for FREE .

“ DANGER: UNSTABLE GROUND ” by Madeline McCourt

🏆 Winner of Contest #247

Do not ever step foot on the ground. Charlie had been told this his entire life, but it never really sunk in. He didn’t understand the deep-seated fear everyone else seemed to harbor. He thought it was incredible, a beautiful problem to be solved. Until he was laying on the floor of the lab staring at the ceiling and blinking away tears. The first time Charlie ever saw the ground consume a person he’d been twelve. What the tree-top teachers referred to as “live mummification” was a quick, disturbing process. Dirt crawling over skin to creat...

“ Hearts Are Trump ” by Sarah Coury

🏆 Winner of Contest #246

Uncle Abe and Uncle Will haven’t played cards together in years. If you want to get real technical about it, Uncle Abe and Uncle Will haven’t even shared the same room in years, but that ain’t news to anyone east of Livernois. By now, the entire city of Detroit knows about Abraham and William Haddad—at least those who regularly stop into the family party store for their weekly supply of meats, spirits, and fresh-baked pita. It’s old news. Two bitter brothers broken up over a girl who left town anyway. It’s been ages and the aunties need fres...

“ Everything is Connected ” by Olivier Breuleux

🏆 Winner of Contest #245

Many people don't believe that everything is connected. It's strange. They believe in magnets, in electromagnetic waves, in quantum action at a distance. They believe that the force of gravity makes the Earth revolve around the Sun, and yet they do not believe that the same forces can influence the smaller details of our fate. They believe that it is all up to them. That they have free will. They say that Jupiter can gently pull the Sun, yet it cannot move our infinitely smaller souls.A paradox.The stars are difficult to read, for sure. The ...

“ The Party ” by Kerriann Murray

🏆 Winner of Contest #244

My phone buzzed. I rolled over to look at the text my cousin Maya had just sent. Can you send photo you took of all the girls in costume last night? xoxo My head was throbbing. Hanging out with Maya was fun, but she was eight years younger than me and she and her friends loved to do shots. I needed to stick with beer only if I didn’t want the hangover. That’s what I'd do next time. I opened my photos app to find the picture Maya had requested. It was a group shot I had no memory of taking. It wasn’t everyone who’d been at the party - just th...

“ Ke Kulanakauhale ma ke Kai, or The City by The Sea ” by Thomas Iannucci

🏆 Winner of Contest #243

Ke Kulanakauhale ma ke Kaior,The City by the Seaby thomas iannucci Author’s Note: In this story I use Hawaiian words, as the story is set in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii. However, I do not italicize them, as I am from Hawaii, and so these words are not foreign to me. Growing up there were many English words unfamiliar to us in school, and they were never italicized; I would like this same standard to be applied to Hawaiian, which is, for better or for worse, also now a language in the United States. Mahalo for your kokua. “The city by the sea,...

“ Do Not Touch ” by Niamh O'Dea

🏆 Winner of Contest #242

Jen lived by the unwritten rules of being single but wanting a child. Don’t look at children. Don’t engage with children. Don’t talk about children. Don’t let other people talk about their children. And don’t, for the love of all that is holy, tell anyone you long for a child. A nearby suitor could be eyeing you up, biting their bottom lip at the sight of your untoned bum, lusting after your wide midriff, admiring your conical legs. They could be subconsciously sliding you through their mental mold of their dream woman, seeing you slot in j...

“ When I Read Beckett ” by Liz Grosul

🏆 Winner of Contest #241

…in…in this room…cursed room…loved?... cursed…. where she slept…half-grown in her hometown t-shirt…shorts…no shorts…t-shirt worn with holes…on the floor…he having thrown it…under the bed…dust collected and swept and settled again…. and again…who?... he… not she?...gracious!...there for the first time…assuredly last time…no boys in the room, father said…keep out!...nodded her head… but in the room…blue light hugging the window…scotch tape…peeling off the paint whether chipped or freshly laid or…exhumed…he found her in the— no, not found…held…...

“ Lost and Found ” by Jonathan Page

🏆 Winner of Contest #240

On my last shift as a lighthouse keeper, I climbed the seventy-six spiral iron stairs and two ladders to the watch room, the number of steps the same as my age. The thwomp and snare of each step laid an ominous background score. Something wasn’t right. At that very moment, Richie Tedesco was pointing a fire extinguisher at the burning electrical panel in the engine room of his boat a few miles offshore.The placard in the watch room read “Marge Mabrity, Lightkeeper—First lighted the depths on March 2nd, 1985, and hasn’t missed a night.” Alrea...

“ Metonymia ” by Gem Cassia

🏆 Winner of Contest #239

“God is dead.” “Which one?” “I meant it as more of a blanket statement, but if we’re getting into specifics, I guess I mean the one that I killed.” [When | the | god | of | cause-and-effect | is | slaughtered | in | cold | blood | everyone | knows | who | to | blame.]“People aren’t too pleased about that, you know.” “I’ve heard.”[Everyone | has | heard.]<...

“ Five Turns of the Hourglass ” by Weronika L

🏆 Winner of Contest #238

I tow my dead father with me to the scorched heart of a desert. His body guilts down my shoulders, heavier each time he doesn't tell me that I took the wrong turn, that I need to straighten my elbows, that I never do anything the right way so why does he even bother. My jeep sputters and chokes under our weight as it brings us to the parking lot in front of the hotel. Vipassana, reads the sign above the glass door, melted open at the hinges. The Silent Retreat. Heat slaps me across the face. I backpack my father around my waist and march to ...

“ Love.edu: Courtship and Coincidence in Modern Academia ” by Eliza Levin

🏆 Winner of Contest #237

Thursday, Jan 18 2:12 PMTo: [email protected]: [email protected]: Your (Brilliant) Paper on Mirrors/Jane EyreDear Professor Rhodes,I hope this email finds you well. I must confess that, although we have never met, I am a longtime admirer of your work—I was actually at your talk on Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell last year, which I greatly enjoyed.I write to you today to express my sincerest compliments on ...

“ Frozen Lemonade ” by Jennifer Fremon

🏆 Winner of Contest #236

Trigger warning: Contains underage sexual content, mentions of assaultYou know the movie Dirty Dancing? The one where Baby goes off to that fancy resort with her parents for the summer, and in the beginning she is a good, sweet girl who loves her daddy, and then by the end she is still a good sweet girl who loves her daddy but now she is kinda sexy too and can dance like a pro and is totally in love with that beautiful dance teacher. Why doesn’t anyone talk about how that teacher is clearly much, much older than Baby, and despite Patrick Swa...

“ KILLER IN THE WILLOWS ” by Kajsa Ohman

🏆 Winner of Contest #235

KILLER IN THE WILLOWSJust do it, so the T-shirts say. Just pick up the gun, pull the trigger—but maybe aim first, aim at the upper sternum and then pull the trigger, congratulating yourself that at last, in your long, passive life, you have shot somebody dead. So she did, and thus she became a murderer. She slipped through the night after that and disappeared into the willows to wash off any blood that spattered onto her clothing. The willows were thickl...

“ 6:47 PST ” by David Pampu

🏆 Winner of Contest #234

What has four faces, eight arms, and can’t tell time? The clock tower at Union Station. Four clocks on the tower and none of them run? I mean, what’re the odds? I peer up at the time and shade my eyes. It’s 6:47 pm. Always is, always will be. And all anyone knows is that on a Monday the world was a loud, frantic place and Tuesday it wasn’t. Tuesday? Really? The world should’ve ended on a Saturd...

“ Vegan Hamburgers ” by Ariana Tibi

🏆 Winner of Contest #233

Vegan Hamburgers February 1st 11:11pm WOW. I cannot believe that just happened. I went to AJ’s studio and almost walked out with a record deal. I was sober, too. He started rolling a joint and offered me some but I immediately said no. Last week, I had drinks at Lighthouse Studios and the executive was totally judging me when...

“ The Lantern of Kaamos ” by Jonathan Page

🏆 Winner of Contest #232

The melting Arctic is a crime scene, and I am like CSI Ny-Ålesund. Trond is the anonymous perpetrator leaving evidence and clues for me to discover, like breadcrumbs leading back to him. “Jonna,” he had said, the day we first met at the research institute, “If you are going to make it up here, don’t lock your doors.” It seemed like a life philosophy, rather than a survival tip.It is ironic. Out on Kings Bay, the coal miners came first, then the science outposts. Trond was already out here mining the Arctic when I was sti...

“ No Junior League ” by Mary Lynne Schuster

🏆 Winner of Contest #231

You are sure you want to do this?   Running away. Starting over.  It’s not as easy as people think. You have to give up everything.  Oh, that part’s easy. Everyone thinks we are all traceable, that you can’t really hide. But, see, everything is tied to your identity. Your papers. If you change those, you are a different person.  Fingerprints? If they’re in the system, if yo...

“ The Lop-it-off-a-me List ” by Ethan Zimmerman

🏆 Winner of Contest #230

The Lop-it-off-a-me List Count money in the envelope one more time. Make sure Marcel has his itinerary. Ask Alex if she will come by to feed Odin. Buy extra cat food and litter so Alex doesn't have to. Give her the spare key next time I see her. Kiss Odin and tell her she is the best cat in the world, even if she has always been destructive...

“ The Gingerbread Cookies ” by Aaron Chin

🏆 Winner of Contest #229

The Gingerbread Cookies Let’s go downstairs and bake some cookies, like mother used to make. The warm smell sits right at home in your nostrils, invading them like wild ax-murderers hacking and slashing their way through endless miles of human bodies that stand in the way of their inhumane, carnal desires. Shhh, shhh, but that’s too dark. It’s Christmas after all. So let’s go down...

“ Cooking Lessons ” by Molly Jenkinson

🏆 Winner of Contest #228

“That’s it petal, just push down a smidge more and it should cut right the way through it.” Mam’s standing above me as I’m trying to hack through the biggest potato the world’s ever seen. I’m sweating bullets at this point but she’s having none of it. “Can’t you just do it, Mam?” I’m absolutely knackered. I’ve been stabbing at this thing for (no joke) fifteen minutes but she just will not take...

“ The Winters of My Discontent ” by Warren Keen

🏆 Winner of Contest #227

I didn’t wake up on November 29th, 2023. The day prior I remember vividly. I drove two hours into western Minnesota to replace some fuses in a pad-mount transformer. Easy job when you bring the right fuses. I wasn’t prepared to stand outside in the freezing cold all day waiting for them. Waiting is the coldest thing you can do. I had checked the weather that morning, but I refused to acknowledge that it was lo...

“ Forthright Thursday ” by Chris Campbell

🏆 Winner of Contest #226

8:45PM Thanksgiving Day – GLOVES OFF: My mother, Mary, and her sister Alice were engaged in a wrestling match on the dining room table. Aloysius – my father - and Alice’s plus one; Jack, attempted to pry them apart, but both women had locked themselves into each other’s hair with vice-like grips, despite both their hands being splattered with custard trifle remnants. All I could do as an observing teenager was sit with mouth agape while holding my new Super 8mm silent movie camera, recording the whole scene. It was typical behavio...

“ The Day Alfred Googled Himself ” by Olivier Breuleux

🏆 Winner of Contest #225

Everyone has Googled themselves at one time or another in their lives. Even you, dear reader, I'll bet. Why did you do it? Curiosity? Validation? Finding your own LinkedIn profile? When Alfred did it, his reason was self-pity. He was nobody, he had nobody, and he had nothing. His immediate family had died years prior. His extended family did not remember he existed, nor did he remember the...

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Short stories may be small, but they are mighty! With the weight of a novel stripped away, great short stories strike directly at the heart of their topics. Often maligned as the novel’s poor cousin, the short story medium has produced some of the most beloved works of fiction. From the eerily-accurate predictions of Ray Bradbury to the spine-chilling thrills of Stephen King and the wildly imaginative worlds of N.K. Jemison, some of the best authors in the business have made their mark writing short stories .

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Free Online Novels: Discover Where to Find Your Next Great Read

R eading books has significantly changed from being done traditionally in print to digitally. The way we consume has changed dramatically thanks to the internet, which is also true of books. Readers now have the option of reading novels online for free, thanks to the development of online platforms. In addition to making literature more approachable, this change has made a variety of genres, such as visual novels and graphic novels, more accessible. We will explore the world of online novels in this post, talking about their advantages, variety, and ease, with a focus on the accessibility of free options.

The Rise of Reading Novels Online

A journey to the neighborhood library or bookshop, picking up a physical copy, and submerging oneself in the author's imaginary world was the conventional methods of reading novels. The ability to read novels online has challenged this convention in the digital age. Numerous benefits that adapt to the preferences and lifestyles of contemporary readers have resulted from this shift.

1. Convenience and Accessibility

The convenience of reading novels online is one of its most important benefits. Readers have quick and easy access to a vast library of international novels. This saves time and effort because there is no longer a need to travel to a physical site. Additionally, because internet platforms are available around the clock, readers can satisfy their cravings for literature whenever they want.

2. Variety of Genres

By offering a wide range of genres to accommodate different interests, online platforms have democratized the literary scene. The internet is a veritable gold mine of alternatives whether you enjoy science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, or modern fiction. This also applies to graphic novels and visual novels, which blend narrative with visual components to produce a distinctive reading experience.

3. Cost-Effectiveness

Cost is frequently a barrier to reading good literature. Online platforms have addressed this issue by providing a variety of free reading options. Now that novels are available online for free, readers no longer need to spend money on pricey physical copies. Because of this, reading has become more accessible to people who might not otherwise have had the wherewithal to engage in their reading habits.

Exploring Free Online Novels

The way we access and consume written information has completely changed as a result of the democratization of literature in the digital age. The availability of free online books has broadened the literary scene with the introduction of multiple online platforms, giving readers unmatched access to a diversified selection of high-quality literature. Let's look more closely at some of the well-known venues that have thrown open the doors to this treasury of literature:

1. Project Gutenberg

With its huge library of more than 60,000 free eBooks, Project Gutenberg serves as a guiding light for the literary past. A sanctuary for fans of classic literature, this platform specializes in hosting works whose copyrights have lapsed. Project Gutenberg offers free access to classic literature for modern readers, including Jane Austen's enthralling novels, Mark Twain's funny writing, and Charles Dickens' ageless works. Because of the platform's dedication to preserving and sharing cultural treasures, future generations will continue to be enthralled by these masterpieces.

Reading and writing are now a team effort, thanks to Wattpad. This platform gives prospective writers a platform from which to exhibit to the world their talent as writers. With a diverse readership, authors share their short stories, novels, and poems, encouraging interaction, criticism, and conversations. Readers, in turn, have free access to a wide variety of information. The interactive features of Wattpad make it difficult to distinguish between authors and readers, fostering a vibrant literary community where there are no restrictions on storytelling.

3. Librivox

Librivox provides services for fans of audiobooks who wish to become fully immersed in reading through spoken word. This website provides a substantial collection of free audiobooks with a concentration on public domain titles. Librivox makes sure that literature is accessible not only via reading but also through listening, preserving everything from the rhythmic cadence of Shakespearean soliloquies to the gripping storylines of classic novels. Librivox offers a simple and rewarding aural literary experience, whether during commuting, exercises, or leisurely strolls.

4. Kindle Unlimited

While Amazon's Kindle Unlimited subscription service does have a monthly fee, there are different methods of reading highly reviewed books for free. Right now there is a two months free promotion that will renew at $11.99 per month after the promotional period ends. Be sure to set a reminder and cancel autorenewal before you're charged. Another route to free reading pleasure is to simply search Free Kindle Books on Amazon. Having an Amazon Prime account also gives you access to over 3000 books free of charge without signing up for Kinde Unlimited. Books care be read directly from Amazon's cloud without the need to download to any of your devices.

5. ManyBooks

ManyBooks distinguishes out for its dedication to accommodating readers' varied preferences. This platform makes sure there is something for everyone with a wide range of free eBooks in different genres. ManyBooks has a handpicked selection that may satisfy even the most diverse readers, whether you enjoy romantic romance, spine-tingling mystery, thought-provoking science fiction, or epic fantasy. Users of the platform can easily find their next literary fixation thanks to the platform's user-friendly search and filtering capabilities.

6. Open Library

The literary gems of the past and the contemporary artistic expressions are perfectly merged by Open Library. This portal functions as an online library, providing access to both classic and modern literature in the public domain. Open Library connects these two literary worlds, whether you're looking for the nostalgic embrace of classic literature or long to discover the novelties of modern authors. For those who want to explore the rich history of literature while remaining aware of the pulse of contemporary storytelling, it is a virtual haven.

Looking for deeply discounted used books?

Check out Thriftbooks.com . They carry over 7 million books and stand as one of the largest online retailers in the United States for secondhand books.

Visual Novels and Graphic Novels: What's the Difference?

The digital age has cleared the door for creative storytelling formats that go beyond conventional textual narratives as they continue to transform the way we consume material. Prime examples of this evolution are visual novels and graphic novels, which provide readers with a multidimensional and aesthetically immersive experience in addition to reading.

In essence, the key difference lies in interactivity and presentation. Graphic novels are static, while visual novels offer choices and multiple paths, bridging the gap between literature and gaming. Both mediums offer unique storytelling experiences, catering to diverse preferences.

1. Visual Novels

Readers have a new way to connect with narratives because of the seamless blending of interactive components and storytelling in visual novels. These interactive stories frequently give readers decisions that influence the plot's course, allowing for a variety of results and engaging storytelling experiences. Intricate stories are at the heart of visual novels, brought to life through a seamless fusion of written text, visuals, and occasionally even voice acting and music. The combination of these factors produces an experience that appeals to both the reader and the gamer in all of us.

Readers are encouraged to reread and play through the story several times to explore the range of options because their choices can result in different storylines as they move through the narrative. Readers have the freedom to explore and experiment in the world of free online visual novels without being constrained by a limited budget. Access to graphic novels in all genres—from romance to mystery to fantasy—is available on a number of platforms. Because of its accessibility, visual novels are now a dynamic medium that encourages readers to get fully immersed in stories in ways that go beyond reading traditional text.

2. Graphic Novels

The success of graphic novels is proof of the effectiveness of visual storytelling. The reading experience is enhanced by these narratives' use of images to portray the story's storyline, characters, emotions, and atmosphere. The synergy between the visually striking artwork and the thoughtfully written dialogue relates to readers on many different levels. Graphic novels give readers a clear visual image, whereas traditional novels rely on descriptive writing to create a mental picture. This not only improves the reading experience but also makes it possible to tell more intricate stories that profit from the extra layer of visual signals.

Graphic novels provide a thorough storytelling experience, from the characters' rich world-building to their realistic facial expressions. Graphic novels have a home in online platforms, just as the world of traditional novels does so in the digital age. A large number of these platforms provide a variety of free graphic novels to download, opening up this appealing style to a larger audience. Readers now have more access to a variety of genres and aesthetic expressions, which has led to a renewed appreciation for the blending of narrative and visual art.

A new era of reading has begun in the digital age, giving readers unprecedented access to a vast body of literature. Reading is now a widely available pleasure for people all around the world, thanks to the possibility of reading novels for free online. The internet has a ton of possibilities to satisfy your desire for books, whether you prefer classic literature, modern fiction, visual novels, or graphic novels. The means by which we interact with literature will change along with technology, ensuring that the written word continues to be a dynamic and essential part of our lives.

Free Online Novels: Discover Where to Find Your Next Great Read

  • Preface vii
  • Bibliography of Translations xi
  • Glossary of Proper Names xiii
  • List of Words and Phrases not in General Use xviii
  • The Life and Death of Scyld  (I.) 1
  • Scyld’s Successors  (II.) 3
  • Hrothgar’s Great Mead-Hall
  • Grendel, the Murderer  (III.) 5
  • Beowulf Goes to Hrothgar’s Assistance  (IV.) 8
  • The Geats Reach Heorot  (V.) 10
  • Beowulf Introduces Himself at the Palace  (VI.) 12
  • Hrothgar and Beowulf  (VII.) 14
  • Hrothgar and Beowulf (continued)  (VIII.) 17
  • Unferth Taunts Beowulf  (IX.) 19
  • Beowulf Silences Unferth  (X.) 21
  • Glee is High
  • All Sleep save One  (XI.) 24
  • Grendel and Beowulf  (XII.) 26
  • Grendel is Vanquished  (XIII.) 28
  • Rejoicing of the Danes  (XIV.) 30
  • Hrothgar’s Gratitude  (XV.) 33
  • Hrothgar Lavishes Gifts upon his Deliverer  (XVI.) 35
  • Banquet (continued)  (XVII.) 37
  • The Scop’s Song of Finn and Hnæf
  • The Finn Episode (continued)  (XVIII.) 39
  • The Banquet Continues
  • Beowulf Receives Further Honor  (XIX.) 41
  • The Mother of Grendel  (XX.) 44
  • Hrothgar’s Account of the Monsters  (XXI.) 46
  • Beowulf Seeks Grendel’s Mother  (XXII.) 48
  • Beowulf’s Fight with Grendel’s Mother  (XXIII.) 51
  • Beowulf is Double-Conqueror  (XXIV.) 53
  • [vi] Beowulf Brings his Trophies  (XXV.) 57
  • Hrothgar’s Gratitude
  • Hrothgar Moralizes  (XXVI.) 60
  • Rest after Labor
  • Sorrow at Parting  (XXVII.) 62
  • The Homeward Journey  (XXVIII.) 64
  • The Two Queens
  • Beowulf and Higelac  (XXIX.) 67
  • Beowulf Narrates his Adventures to Higelac  (XXX.) 69
  • Gift-Giving is Mutual  (XXXI.) 73
  • The Hoard and the Dragon  (XXXII.) 75
  • Brave Though Aged  (XXXIII.) 78
  • Reminiscences
  • Beowulf Seeks the Dragon  (XXXIV.) 81
  • Beowulf’s Reminiscences
  • Reminiscences (continued)  (XXXV.) 83
  • Beowulf’s Last Battle
  • Wiglaf the Trusty  (XXXVI.) 88
  • Beowulf is Deserted by Friends and by Sword
  • The Fatal Struggle  (XXXVII.) 91
  • Beowulf’s Last Moments
  • Wiglaf Plunders the Dragon’s Den  (XXXVIII.) 93
  • Beowulf’s Death
  • The Dead Foes  (XXXIX.) 95
  • Wiglaf’s Bitter Taunts
  • The Messenger of Death  (XL.) 97
  • The Messenger’s Retrospect  (XLI.) 99
  • Wiglaf’s Sad Story  (XLII.) 103
  • The Hoard Carried Off
  • The Burning of Beowulf  (XLIII.) 106
  • Addenda 109

The present work is a modest effort to reproduce approximately, in modern measures, the venerable epic, Beowulf. Approximately , I repeat; for a very close reproduction of Anglo-Saxon verse would, to a large extent, be prose to a modern ear.

The Heyne-Socin text and glossary have been closely followed. Occasionally a deviation has been made, but always for what seemed good and sufficient reason. The translator does not aim to be an editor. Once in a while, however, he has added a conjecture of his own to the emendations quoted from the criticisms of other students of the poem.

This work is addressed to two classes of readers. From both of these alike the translator begs sympathy and co-operation. The Anglo-Saxon scholar he hopes to please by adhering faithfully to the original. The student of English literature he aims to interest by giving him, in modern garb, the most ancient epic of our race. This is a bold and venturesome undertaking; and yet there must be some students of the Teutonic past willing to follow even a daring guide, if they may read in modern phrases of the sorrows of Hrothgar, of the prowess of Beowulf, and of the feelings that stirred the hearts of our forefathers in their primeval homes.

In order to please the larger class of readers, a regular cadence has been used, a measure which, while retaining the essential characteristics of the original, permits the reader to see ahead of him in reading.

Perhaps every Anglo-Saxon scholar has his own theory as to how Beowulf should be translated. Some have given us prose versions of what we believe to be a great poem. Is it any reflection on our honored Kemble and Arnold to say that their translations fail to show a layman that Beowulf is justly called our first epic ? Of those translators who have used verse, several have written [viii] from what would seem a mistaken point of view. Is it proper, for instance, that the grave and solemn speeches of Beowulf and Hrothgar be put in ballad measures, tripping lightly and airily along? Or, again, is it fitting that the rough martial music of Anglo-Saxon verse be interpreted to us in the smooth measures of modern blank verse? Do we hear what has been beautifully called “the clanging tread of a warrior in mail”?

Of all English translations of Beowulf, that of Professor Garnett alone gives any adequate idea of the chief characteristics of this great Teutonic epic.

The measure used in the present translation is believed to be as near a reproduction of the original as modern English affords. The cadences closely resemble those used by Browning in some of his most striking poems. The four stresses of the Anglo-Saxon verse are retained, and as much thesis and anacrusis is allowed as is consistent with a regular cadence. Alliteration has been used to a large extent; but it was thought that modern ears would hardly tolerate it on every line. End-rhyme has been used occasionally; internal rhyme, sporadically. Both have some warrant in Anglo-Saxon poetry. (For end-rhyme, see 1  53 , 1  54 ; for internal rhyme, 2  21 , 6  40 .)

What Gummere 1 calls the “rime-giver” has been studiously kept; viz. , the first accented syllable in the second half-verse always carries the alliteration; and the last accented syllable alliterates only sporadically. Alternate alliteration is occasionally used as in the original. (See 7  61 , 8  5 .)

No two accented syllables have been brought together, except occasionally after a cæsural pause. (See 2  19 and 12  1 .) Or, scientifically speaking, Sievers’s C type has been avoided as not consonant with the plan of translation. Several of his types, however, constantly occur; e.g. A and a variant (/ x | / x) (/ x x | / x); B and a variant (x / | x / ) (x x / | x / ); a variant of D (/ x | / x x); E (/ x x | / ). Anacrusis gives further variety to the types used in the translation.

The parallelisms of the original have been faithfully preserved. ( E.g. , 1  16 and 1  17 : “Lord” and “Wielder of Glory”; 1  30 , 1  31 , 1  32 ; 2  12 and 2  13 ; 2  27 and 2  28 ; 3  5 and 3  6 .) Occasionally, some loss has been sustained; but, on the other hand, a gain has here and there been made.

The effort has been made to give a decided flavor of archaism to the translation. All words not in keeping with the spirit of the poem have been [ix] avoided. Again, though many archaic words have been used, there are none, it is believed, which are not found in standard modern poetry.

With these preliminary remarks, it will not be amiss to give an outline of the story of the poem.

Hrothgar, king of the Danes, or Scyldings, builds a great mead-hall, or palace, in which he hopes to feast his liegemen and to give them presents. The joy of king and retainers is, however, of short duration. Grendel, the monster, is seized with hateful jealousy. He cannot brook the sounds of joyance that reach him down in his fen-dwelling near the hall. Oft and anon he goes to the joyous building, bent on direful mischief. Thane after thane is ruthlessly carried off and devoured, while no one is found strong enough and bold enough to cope with the monster. For twelve years he persecutes Hrothgar and his vassals.

Over sea, a day’s voyage off, Beowulf, of the Geats, nephew of Higelac, king of the Geats, hears of Grendel’s doings and of Hrothgar’s misery. He resolves to crush the fell monster and relieve the aged king. With fourteen chosen companions, he sets sail for Dane-land. Reaching that country, he soon persuades Hrothgar of his ability to help him. The hours that elapse before night are spent in beer-drinking and conversation. When Hrothgar’s bedtime comes he leaves the hall in charge of Beowulf, telling him that never before has he given to another the absolute wardship of his palace. All retire to rest, Beowulf, as it were, sleeping upon his arms.

Grendel comes, the great march-stepper, bearing God’s anger. He seizes and kills one of the sleeping warriors. Then he advances towards Beowulf. A fierce and desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensues. No arms are used, both combatants trusting to strength and hand-grip. Beowulf tears Grendel’s shoulder from its socket, and the monster retreats to his den, howling and yelling with agony and fury. The wound is fatal.

The next morning, at early dawn, warriors in numbers flock to the hall Heorot, to hear the news. Joy is boundless. Glee runs high. Hrothgar and his retainers are lavish of gratitude and of gifts.

Grendel’s mother, however, comes the next night to avenge his death. She is furious and raging. While Beowulf is sleeping in a room somewhat apart [x] from the quarters of the other warriors, she seizes one of Hrothgar’s favorite counsellors, and carries him off and devours him. Beowulf is called. Determined to leave Heorot entirely purified, he arms himself, and goes down to look for the female monster. After traveling through the waters many hours, he meets her near the sea-bottom. She drags him to her den. There he sees Grendel lying dead. After a desperate and almost fatal struggle with the woman, he slays her, and swims upward in triumph, taking with him Grendel’s head.

Joy is renewed at Heorot. Congratulations crowd upon the victor. Hrothgar literally pours treasures into the lap of Beowulf; and it is agreed among the vassals of the king that Beowulf will be their next liegelord.

Beowulf leaves Dane-land. Hrothgar weeps and laments at his departure.

When the hero arrives in his own land, Higelac treats him as a distinguished guest. He is the hero of the hour.

Beowulf subsequently becomes king of his own people, the Geats. After he has been ruling for fifty years, his own neighborhood is wofully harried by a fire-spewing dragon. Beowulf determines to kill him. In the ensuing struggle both Beowulf and the dragon are slain. The grief of the Geats is inexpressible. They determine, however, to leave nothing undone to honor the memory of their lord. A great funeral-pyre is built, and his body is burnt. Then a memorial-barrow is made, visible from a great distance, that sailors afar may be constantly reminded of the prowess of the national hero of Geatland.

The poem closes with a glowing tribute to his bravery, his gentleness, his goodness of heart, and his generosity.

It is the devout desire of this translator to hasten the day when the story of Beowulf shall be as familiar to English-speaking peoples as that of the Iliad. Beowulf is our first great epic. It is an epitomized history of the life of the Teutonic races. It brings vividly before us our forefathers of pre-Alfredian eras, in their love of war, of sea, and of adventure.

My special thanks are due to Professors Francis A. March and James A. Harrison, for advice, sympathy, and assistance.

ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE NOTES.

B. = Bugge. C. = Cosijn. Gr. = Grein. Grdvtg. = Grundtvig. H. = Heyne. H. and S. = Harrison and Sharp. H.-So. = Heyne-Socin. K.= Kemble. Kl. = Kluge. M.= Müllenhoff. R. = Rieger. S. = Sievers. Sw. = Sweet. t.B. = ten Brink. Th. = Thorpe. W. = Wülcker.

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF TRANSLATIONS.

Arnold, Thomas. —Beowulf. A heroic poem of the eighth century. London, 1876. With English translation. Prose.

Botkine, L. — Beowulf. Epopée Anglo-Saxonne. Havre, 1877. First French translation. Passages occasionally omitted.

Conybeare, J.J. —Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. London, 1826. Full Latin translation, and some passages translated into English blank-verse.

Ettmuller, L. — Beowulf, stabreimend übersetzt. Zürich, 1840.

Garnett, J.M. —Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon Poem, and the Fight at Finnsburg. Boston, 1882. An accurate line-for-line translation, using alliteration occasionally, and sometimes assuming a metrical cadence.

Grein, C.W.M. — Dichtungen der Angelsachsen, stabreimend übersetzt. 2 Bde. Göttingen, 1857-59.

Grion, Giusto. — Beovulf, poema epico anglo-sassone del VII. secolo, tradotto e illustrato. Lucca, 1883. First Italian translation.

Grundtvig, N.F.S. — Bjowulfs Drape. Copenhagen, 1820.

Heyne, M. —A translation in iambic measures. Paderborn, 1863.

Kemble, J.M. —The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Traveller’s Song, and the Battle of Finnsburg. London, 1833. The second edition contains a prose translation of Beowulf.

Leo, H. — Ueber Beowulf. Halle, 1839. Translations of extracts.

Lumsden, H.W. —Beowulf, translated into modern rhymes. London, 1881. Ballad measures. Passages occasionally omitted.

Sandras, G.S. — De carminibus Cædmoni adjudicatis. Paris, 1859. An extract from Beowulf, with Latin translation.

Schaldmose, F. — Beowulf og Scopes Widsith, to Angelsaxiske Digte. Copenhagen, 1847.

Simrock, K. — Beowulf. Uebersetzt und erläutert. Stuttgart und Augsburg, 1859. Alliterative measures.

Thorkelin, G.J. — De Danorum rebus gestis secul. III. et IV. poema Danicum dialecto Anglosaxonica. Havniæ, 1815. Latin translation.

Thorpe, B. —The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Scôp or Gleeman’s Tale, and the Fight at Finnsburg. Oxford, 1855. English translation in short lines, generally containing two stresses.

Wackerbarth, A.D. —Beowulf, translated into English verse. London, 1849.

Wickberg, R. — Beowulf, en fornengelsk hjeltedikt, öfersatt. Westervik . First Swedish translation.

von Wolzogen, H. —Beowulf, in alliterative measures. Leipzig.

Zinsser, G. — Der Kampf Beowulfs mit Grendel. Jahresbericht of the Realschule at Forbach, 1881.

GLOSSARY OF PROPER NAMES.

[The figures refer to the divisions of the poem in which the respective names occur. The large figures refer to fitts, the small, to lines in the fitts.]

Ælfhere .—A kinsman of Wiglaf.— 36  3 .

Æschere .—Confidential friend of King Hrothgar. Elder brother of Yrmenlaf. Killed by Grendel.— 21  3 ; 30  89 .

Beanstan .—Father of Breca.— 9  26 .

Beowulf .—Son of Scyld, the founder of the dynasty of Scyldings. Father of Healfdene, and grandfather of Hrothgar.— 1  18 ; 2  1 .

Beowulf .—The hero of the poem. Sprung from the stock of Geats, son of Ecgtheow. Brought up by his maternal grandfather Hrethel, and figuring in manhood as a devoted liegeman of his uncle Higelac. A hero from his youth. Has the strength of thirty men. Engages in a swimming-match with Breca. Goes to the help of Hrothgar against the monster Grendel. Vanquishes Grendel and his mother. Afterwards becomes king of the Geats. Late in life attempts to kill a fire-spewing dragon, and is slain. Is buried with great honors. His memorial mound.— 6  26 ; 7  2 ; 7  9 ; 9  3 ; 9  8 ; 12  28 ; 12  43 ; 23  1 , etc.

Breca .—Beowulf’s opponent in the famous swimming-match.— 9  8 ; 9  19 ; 9  21 ; 9  22 .

Brondings .—A people ruled by Breca.— 9  23 .

Brosinga mene .—A famous collar once owned by the Brosings.— 19  7 .

Cain .—Progenitor of Grendel and other monsters.— 2  56 ; 20  11 .

Dæghrefn .—A warrior of the Hugs, killed by Beowulf.— 35  40 .

Danes .—Subjects of Scyld and his descendants, and hence often called Scyldings. Other names for them are Victory-Scyldings, Honor-Scyldings, Armor-Danes, Bright-Danes, East-Danes, West-Danes, North-Danes, South-Danes, Ingwins, Hrethmen.— 1  1 ; 2  1 ; 3  2 ; 5  14 ; 7  1 , etc.

Ecglaf .—Father of Unferth, who taunts Beowulf.— 9  1 .

Ecgtheow .—Father of Beowulf, the hero of the poem. A widely-known Wægmunding warrior. Marries Hrethel’s daughter. After slaying Heatholaf, a Wylfing, he flees his country.— 7  3 ; 5  6 ; 8  4 .

Ecgwela .—A king of the Danes before Scyld.— 25  60 .

Elan .—Sister of Hrothgar, and probably wife of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes.— 2  10 .

Eagle Cape .—A promontory in Geat-land, under which took place Beowulf’s last encounter.— 41  87 .

Eadgils .—Son of Ohthere and brother of Eanmund.— 34  2 .

Eanmund .—Son of Ohthere and brother of Eadgils. The reference to these brothers is vague, and variously understood. Heyne supposes as follows: Raising a revolt against their father, they are obliged to leave Sweden. They go to the land of the Geats; with what intention, is not known, but probably to conquer and plunder. The Geatish king, Heardred, is slain by one of the brothers, probably Eanmund.— 36  10 ; 31  54 to 31  60 ; 33  66 to 34  6 .

Eofor .—A Geatish hero who slays Ongentheow in war, and is rewarded by Hygelac with the hand of his only daughter.— 41  18 ; 41  48 .

Eormenric .—A Gothic king, from whom Hama took away the famous Brosinga mene.— 19  9 .

Eomær .—Son of Offa and Thrytho, king and queen of the Angles.— 28  69 .

Finn .—King of the North-Frisians and the Jutes. Marries Hildeburg. At his court takes place the horrible slaughter in which the Danish general, Hnæf, fell. Later on, Finn himself is slain by Danish warriors.— 17  18 ; 17  30 ; 17  44 ; 18  4 ; 18  23 .

Fin-land .—The country to which Beowulf was driven by the currents in his swimming-match.— 10  22 .

Fitela .—Son and nephew of King Sigemund, whose praises are sung in XIV.— 14  42 ; 14  53 .

Folcwalda .—Father of Finn.— 17  38 .

Franks .—Introduced occasionally in referring to the death of Higelac.— 19  19 ; 40  21 ; 40  24 .

Frisians .—A part of them are ruled by Finn. Some of them were engaged in the struggle in which Higelac was slain.— 17  20 ; 17  42 ; 17  52 ; 40  21 .

Freaware .—Daughter of King Hrothgar. Married to Ingeld, a Heathobard prince.— 29  60 ; 30  32 .

Froda .—King of the Heathobards, and father of Ingeld.— 29  62 .

Garmund .—Father of Offa.— 28  71 .

Geats, Geatmen .—The race to which the hero of the poem belongs. Also called Weder-Geats, or Weders, War-Geats, Sea-Geats. They are ruled by Hrethel, Hæthcyn, Higelac, and Beowulf.— 4  7 ; 7  4 ; 10  45 ; 11  8 ; 27  14 ; 28  8 .

Gepids .—Named in connection with the Danes and Swedes.— 35  34 .

Grendel .—A monster of the race of Cain. Dwells in the fens and moors. Is furiously envious when he hears sounds of joy in Hrothgar’s palace. Causes the king untold agony for years. Is finally conquered by Beowulf, and dies of his wound. His hand and arm are hung up in Hrothgar’s hall Heorot. His head is cut off by Beowulf when he goes down to fight with Grendel’s mother.— 2  50 ; 3  1 ; 3  13 ; 8  19 ; 11  17 ; 12  2 ; 13  27 ; 15  3 .

Guthlaf .—A Dane of Hnæf’s party.— 18  24 .

Half-Danes .—Branch of the Danes to which Hnæf belonged.— 17  19 .

Halga .—Surnamed the Good. Younger brother of Hrothgar.— 2  9 .

Hama .—Takes the Brosinga mene from Eormenric.— 19  7 .

Hæreth .—Father of Higelac’s queen, Hygd.— 28  39 ; 29  18 .

Hæthcyn .—Son of Hrethel and brother of Higelac. Kills his brother Herebeald accidentally. Is slain at Ravenswood, fighting against Ongentheow.— 34  43 ; 35  23 ; 40  32 .

Helmings .—The race to which Queen Wealhtheow belonged.— 10  63 .

Heming .—A kinsman of Garmund, perhaps nephew.— 28  54 ; 28  70 .

Hengest .—A Danish leader. Takes command on the fall of Hnæf.— 17  33 ; 17  41 .

Herebeald .—Eldest son of Hrethel, the Geatish king, and brother of Higelac. Killed by his younger brother Hæthcyn.— 34  43 ; 34  47 .

Heremod .—A Danish king of a dynasty before the Scylding line. Was a source of great sorrow to his people.— 14  64 ; 25  59 .

Hereric .—Referred to as uncle of Heardred, but otherwise unknown.— 31  60 .

Hetwars .—Another name for the Franks.— 33  51 .

Healfdene .—Grandson of Scyld and father of Hrothgar. Ruled the Danes long and well.— 2  5 ; 4  1 ; 8  14 .

Heardred .—Son of Higelac and Hygd, king and queen of the Geats. Succeeds his father, with Beowulf as regent. Is slain by the sons of Ohthere.— 31  56 ; 33  63 ; 33  75 .

Heathobards .—Race of Lombards, of which Froda is king. After Froda falls in battle with the Danes, Ingeld, his son, marries Hrothgar’s daughter, Freaware, in order to heal the feud.— 30  1 ; 30  6 .

Heatholaf .—A Wylfing warrior slain by Beowulf’s father.— 8  5 .

Heathoremes .—The people on whose shores Breca is cast by the waves during his contest with Beowulf.— 9  21 .

Heorogar .—Elder brother of Hrothgar, and surnamed ‘ Weoroda Ræswa ,’ Prince of the Troopers.— 2  9 ; 8  12 .

Hereward .—Son of the above.— 31  17 .

Heort , Heorot .—The great mead-hall which King Hrothgar builds. It is invaded by Grendel for twelve years. Finally cleansed by Beowulf, the Geat. It is called Heort on account of the hart-antlers which decorate it.— 2  25 ; 3  32 ; 3  52 .

Hildeburg .—Wife of Finn, daughter of Hoce, and related to Hnæf,—probably his sister.— 17  21 ; 18  34 .

Hnæf .—Leader of a branch of the Danes called Half-Danes. Killed in the struggle at Finn’s castle.— 17  19 ; 17  61 .

Hondscio .—One of Beowulf’s companions. Killed by Grendel just before Beowulf grappled with that monster.— 30  43 .

Hoce .—Father of Hildeburg and probably of Hnæf.— 17  26 .

Hrethel .—King of the Geats, father of Higelac, and grandfather of Beowulf.— 7  4 ; 34  39 .

Hrethla .—Once used for Hrethel.— 7  82 .

Hrethmen .—Another name for the Danes.— 7  73 .

Hrethric .—Son of Hrothgar.— 18  65 ; 27  19 .

Hreosna-beorh .—A promontory in Geat-land, near which Ohthere’s sons made plundering raids.— 35  18 .

Hrothgar .—The Danish king who built the hall Heort, but was long unable to enjoy it on account of Grendel’s persecutions. Marries Wealhtheow, a Helming lady. Has two sons and a daughter. Is a typical Teutonic king, lavish of gifts. A devoted liegelord, as his lamentations over slain liegemen prove. Also very appreciative of kindness, as is shown by his loving gratitude to Beowulf.— 2  9 ; 2  12 ; 4  1 ; 8  10 ; 15  1 ; etc., etc.

Hrothmund .—Son of Hrothgar.— 18  65 .

Hrothulf .—Probably a son of Halga, younger brother of Hrothgar. Certainly on terms of close intimacy in Hrothgar’s palace.— 16  26 ; 18  57 .

Hrunting .—Unferth’s sword, lent to Beowulf.— 22  71 ; 25  9 .

Hugs .—A race in alliance with the Franks and Frisians at the time of Higelac’s fall.— 35  41 .

Hun .—A Frisian warrior, probably general of the Hetwars. Gives Hengest a beautiful sword.— 18  19 .

Hunferth .—Sometimes used for Unferth.

Hygelac , Higelac .—King of the Geats, uncle and liegelord of Beowulf, the hero of the poem.—His second wife is the lovely Hygd, daughter of Hæreth. The son of their union is Heardred. Is slain in a war with the Hugs, Franks, and Frisians combined. Beowulf is regent, and afterwards king of the Geats.— 4  6 ; 5  4 ; 28  34 ; 29  9 ; 29  21 ; 31  56 .

Hygd .—Wife of Higelac, and daughter of Hæreth. There are some indications that she married Beowulf after she became a widow.— 28  37 .

Ingeld .—Son of the Heathobard king, Froda. Marries Hrothgar’s daughter, Freaware, in order to reconcile the two peoples.— 29  62 ; 30  32 .

Ingwins .—Another name for the Danes.— 16  52 ; 20  69 .

Jutes .—Name sometimes applied to Finn’s people.— 17  22 ; 17  38 ; 18  17 .

Lafing .—Name of a famous sword presented to Hengest by Hun.— 18  19 .

Merewing .—A Frankish king, probably engaged in the war in which Higelac was slain.— 40  29 .

Nægling .—Beowulf’s sword.— 36  76 .

Offa .—King of the Angles, and son of Garmund. Marries the terrible Thrytho who is so strongly contrasted with Hygd.— 28  59 ; 28  66 .

Ohthere .—Son of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes. He is father of Eanmund and Eadgils.— 40  35 ; 40  39 .

Onela .—Brother of Ohthere.— 36  15 ; 40  39 .

Ongentheow .—King of Sweden, of the Scylfing dynasty. Married, perhaps, Elan, daughter of Healfdene.— 35  26 ; 41  16 .

Oslaf .—A Dane of Hnæf’s party.— 18  24 .

Ravenswood .—The forest near which Hæthcyn was slain.— 40  31 ; 40  41 .

Scefing .—Applied ( 1  4 ) to Scyld, and meaning ‘son of Scef.’

Scyld .—Founder of the dynasty to which Hrothgar, his father, and grandfather belonged. He dies, and his body is put on a vessel, and set adrift. He goes from Daneland just as he had come to it—in a bark.— 1  4 ; 1  19 ; 1  27 .

Scyldings .—The descendants of Scyld. They are also called Honor-Scyldings, Victory-Scyldings, War-Scyldings, etc. (See ‘Danes,’ above.)— 2  1 ; 7  1 ; 8  1 .

Scylfings .—A Swedish royal line to which Wiglaf belonged.— 36  2 .

Sigemund .—Son of Wæls, and uncle and father of Fitela. His struggle with a dragon is related in connection with Beowulf’s deeds of prowess.— 14  38 ; 14  47 .

Swerting .—Grandfather of Higelac, and father of Hrethel.— 19  11 .

Swedes .—People of Sweden, ruled by the Scylfings.— 35  13 .

Thrytho .—Wife of Offa, king of the Angles. Known for her fierce and unwomanly disposition. She is introduced as a contrast to the gentle Hygd, queen of Higelac.— 28  42 ; 28  56 .

Unferth .—Son of Ecglaf, and seemingly a confidential courtier of Hrothgar. Taunts Beowulf for having taken part in the swimming-match. Lends Beowulf his sword when he goes to look for Grendel’s mother. In the MS. sometimes written Hunferth . 9  1 ; 18  41 .

Wæls .—Father of Sigemund.— 14  60 .

Wægmunding .—A name occasionally applied to Wiglaf and Beowulf, and perhaps derived from a common ancestor, Wægmund.— 36  6 ; 38  61 .

Weders .—Another name for Geats or Wedergeats.

Wayland .—A fabulous smith mentioned in this poem and in other old Teutonic literature.— 7  83 .

Wendels .—The people of Wulfgar, Hrothgar’s messenger and retainer. (Perhaps = Vandals.)— 6  30 .

Wealhtheow .—Wife of Hrothgar. Her queenly courtesy is well shown in the poem.— 10  55 .

Weohstan , or Wihstan .—A Wægmunding, and father of Wiglaf.— 36  1 .

Whale’s Ness .—A prominent promontory, on which Beowulf’s mound was built.— 38  52 ; 42  76 .

Wiglaf .—Son of Wihstan, and related to Beowulf. He remains faithful to Beowulf in the fatal struggle with the fire-drake. Would rather die than leave his lord in his dire emergency.— 36  1 ; 36  3 ; 36  28 .

Wonred .—Father of Wulf and Eofor.— 41  20 ; 41  26 .

Wulf .—Son of Wonred. Engaged in the battle between Higelac’s and Ongentheow’s forces, and had a hand-to-hand fight with Ongentheow himself. Ongentheow disables him, and is thereupon slain by Eofor.— 41  19 ; 41  29 .

Wulfgar .—Lord of the Wendels, and retainer of Hrothgar.— 6  18 ; 6  30 .

Wylfings .—A people to whom belonged Heatholaf, who was slain by Ecgtheow.— 8  6 ; 8  16 .

Yrmenlaf .—Younger brother of Æschere, the hero whose death grieved Hrothgar so deeply.— 21  4 .

LIST OF WORDS AND PHRASES NOT IN GENERAL USE.

ATHELING.—Prince, nobleman.

BAIRN.—Son, child.

BARROW.—Mound, rounded hill, funeral-mound.

BATTLE-SARK.—Armor.

BEAKER.—Cup, drinking-vessel.

BEGEAR.—Prepare.

BIGHT.—Bay, sea.

BILL.—Sword.

BOSS.—Ornamental projection.

BRACTEATE.—A round ornament on a necklace.

BRAND.—Sword.

BURN.—Stream.

BURNIE.—Armor.

CARLE.—Man, hero.

EARL.—Nobleman, any brave man.

EKE.—Also.

EMPRISE.—Enterprise, undertaking.

ERST.—Formerly.

ERST-WORTHY.—Worthy for a long time past.

FAIN.—Glad.

FERRY.—Bear, carry.

FEY.—Fated, doomed.

FLOAT.—Vessel, ship.

FOIN.—To lunge (Shaks.).

GLORY OF KINGS.—God.

GREWSOME.—Cruel, fierce.

HEFT.—Handle, hilt; used by synecdoche for ‘sword.’

HELM.—Helmet, protector.

HENCHMAN.—Retainer, vassal.

HIGHT.—Am (was) named.

HOLM.—Ocean, curved surface of the sea.

HIMSEEMED.—(It) seemed to him.

LIEF.—Dear, valued.

MERE.—Sea; in compounds, ‘mere-ways,’ ‘mere-currents,’ etc.

MICKLE.—Much.

NATHLESS.—Nevertheless.

NAZE.—Edge (nose).

NESS.—Edge.

NICKER.—Sea-beast.

QUIT, QUITE.—Requite.

RATHE.—Quickly.

REAVE.—Bereave, deprive.

SAIL-ROAD.—Sea.

SETTLE.—Seat, bench.

SKINKER.—One who pours.

SOOTHLY.—Truly.

SWINGE.—Stroke, blow.

TARGE, TARGET.—Shield.

THROUGHLY.—Thoroughly.

TOLD.—Counted.

UNCANNY.—Ill-featured, grizzly.

UNNETHE.—Difficult.

WAR-SPEED.—Success in war.

WEB.—Tapestry (that which is ‘woven’).

WEEDED.—Clad (cf. widow’s weeds).

WEEN.—Suppose, imagine.

WEIRD.—Fate, Providence.

WHILOM.—At times, formerly, often.

WIELDER.—Ruler. Often used of God; also in compounds, as ‘Wielder of Glory,’ ‘Wielder of Worship.’

WIGHT.—Creature.

WOLD.—Plane, extended surface.

WOT.—Knows.

YOUNKER.—Youth.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SCYLD.

Scyld’s successors.—hrothgar’s great mead-hall., grendel the murderer., beowulf goes to hrothgar’s assistance., the geats reach heorot., beowulf introduces himself at the palace., hrothgar and beowulf., hrothgar and beowulf.— continued ..

wáere-ryhtum Þú, wine mín Béowulf, and for ár-stafum úsic sóhtest.

This means: From the obligations of clientage, my friend Beowulf, and for assistance thou hast sought us .—This gives coherence to Hrothgar’s opening remarks in VIII., and also introduces a new motive for Beowulf’s coming to Hrothgar’s aid.

UNFERTH TAUNTS BEOWULF.

Beowulf silences unferth.—glee is high., all sleep save one., grendel and beowulf., grendel is vanquished., rejoicing of the danes., hrothgar’s gratitude., hrothgar lavishes gifts upon his deliverer., banquet ( continued ).—the scop’s song of finn and hnæf., the finn episode ( continued ).—the banquet continues., beowulf receives further honor., the mother of grendel., hrothgar’s account of the monsters., beowulf seeks grendel’s mother., beowulf’s fight with grendel’s mother., beowulf is double-conqueror..

The first passage (v. 1599 (b)-1600) I translate literally: Then many agreed upon this (namely), that the sea-wolf had killed him .

The second passage (v. 2025 (b)-2027): She is promised …; to this the friend of the Scyldings has agreed, etc . By emending ‘ is ’ instead of ‘ wæs ’ (2025), the tenses will be brought into perfect harmony.

In v. 1997 ff. this same idiom occurs, and was noticed in B.’s great article on Beowulf, which appeared about the time I published my reading of 1599 and 2027. Translate 1997 then: Wouldst let the South-Danes themselves decide about their struggle with Grendel . Here ‘ Súð-Dene ’ is accus. of person, and ‘ gúðe ’ is gen. of thing agreed on.

With such collateral support as that afforded by B. (P. and B. XII. 97), I have no hesitation in departing from H.-So., my usual guide.

The idiom above treated runs through A.-S., Old Saxon, and other Teutonic languages, and should be noticed in the lexicons.

BEOWULF BRINGS HIS TROPHIES.—HROTHGAR’S GRATITUDE.

Hrothgar moralizes.—rest after labor., sorrow at parting., the homeward journey.—the two queens., beowulf and higelac., beowulf narrates his adventures to higelac., gift-giving is mutual., the hoard and the dragon., brave though aged.—reminiscences., beowulf seeks the dragon.—beowulf’s reminiscences..

Hrethrel had certainly never seen a son of his ride on the gallows to feed the crows.

The passage beginning ‘ swá bið géomorlic ’ seems to be an effort to reach a full simile, ‘as … so.’ ‘As it is mournful for an old man, etc. … so the defence of the Weders (2463) bore heart-sorrow, etc.’ The verses 2451 to 2463½ would be parenthetical, the poet’s feelings being so strong as to interrupt the simile. The punctuation of the fourth edition would be better—a comma after ‘ galgan ’ (2447). The translation may be indicated as follows: (Just) as it is sad for an old man to see his son ride young on the gallows when he himself is uttering mournful measures, a sorrowful song, while his son hangs for a comfort to the raven, and he, old and infirm, cannot render him any kelp—(he is constantly reminded, etc., 2451-2463)—so the defence of the Weders, etc.

REMINISCENCES ( continued ).—BEOWULF’S LAST BATTLE.

Wiglaf the trusty.—beowulf is deserted by friends and by sword., the fatal struggle.—beowulf’s last moments., wiglaf plunders the dragon’s den.—beowulf’s death., the dead foes.—wiglaf’s bitter taunts., the messenger of death., the messenger’s retrospect., wiglaf’s sad story.—the hoard carried off., the burning of beowulf..

Several discrepancies and other oversights have been noticed in the H.-So. glossary. Of these a good part were avoided by Harrison and Sharp, the American editors of Beowulf, in their last edition, 1888. The rest will, I hope, be noticed in their fourth edition. As, however, this book may fall into the hands of some who have no copy of the American edition, it seems best to notice all the principal oversights of the German editors.

From hám (194).—Notes and glossary conflict; the latter not having been altered to suit the conclusions accepted in the former.

Þær gelýfan sceal dryhtnes dóme (440).—Under ‘ dóm ’ H. says ‘the might of the Lord’; while under ‘ gelýfan ’ he says ‘the judgment of the Lord.’

Eal bencþelu (486).—Under ‘ benc-þelu ’ H. says nom. plu. ; while under ‘ eal ’ he says nom. sing.

Heatho-ræmas (519).—Under ‘ ætberan ’ H. translates ‘to the Heathoremes’; while under ‘ Heatho-ræmas ’ he says ‘Heathoræmas reaches Breca in the swimming-match with Beowulf.’ Harrison and Sharp (3d edition, 1888) avoid the discrepancy.

Fáh féond-scaða (554).—Under ‘ féond-scaða ’ H. says ‘a gleaming sea-monster’; under ‘ fáh ’ he says ‘hostile.’

Onfeng hraðe inwit-þancum (749).—Under ‘ onfón ’ H. says ‘he received the maliciously-disposed one’; under ‘ inwit-þanc ’ he says ‘he grasped ,’ etc.

Níð-wundor séon (1366).—Under ‘ níð-wundor ’ H. calls this word itself nom. sing. ; under ‘ séon ’ he translates it as accus. sing., understanding ‘man’ as subject of ‘ séon .’ H. and S. (3d edition) make the correction.

Forgeaf hilde-bille (1521).—H., under the second word, calls it instr. dat.; while under ‘ forgifan ’ he makes it the dat. of indir. obj. H. and S. (3d edition) make the change.

Brád and brún-ecg (1547).—Under ‘ brád ’ H. says ‘das breite Hüftmesser mit bronzener Klinge’ ; under ‘ brún-ecg ’ he says ‘ihr breites Hüftmesser mit blitzender Klinge.’

Yðelíce (1557).—Under this word H. makes it modify ‘ ástód .’ If this be right, the punctuation of the fifth edition is wrong. See H. and S., appendix.

Sélran gesóhte (1840).—Under ‘ sél ’ and ‘ gesécan ’ H. calls these two words accus. plu.; but this is clearly an error, as both are nom. plu., pred. nom. H. and S. correct under ‘ sél .’

Wið sylfne (1978).—Under ‘ wið ’ and ‘ gesittan ’ H. says ‘ wið = near, by’; under ‘self’ he says ‘opposite.’

þéow (2225) is omitted from the glossary.

For duguðum (2502).—Under ‘ duguð ’ H. translates this phrase, ‘ in Tüchtigkeit ’; under ‘for,’ by ‘vor der edlen Kriegerschaar.’

þær (2574).—Under ‘ wealdan ’ H. translates þær by ‘ wo ’; under ‘ mótan ,’ by ‘ da .’ H. and S. suggest ‘if’ in both passages.

Wunde (2726).—Under ‘ wund ’ H. says ‘dative,’ and under ‘ wæl-bléate ’ he says ‘accus.’ It is without doubt accus., parallel with ‘ benne .’

Strengum gebæded (3118).—Under ‘ strengo ’ H. says ‘ Strengum ’ = mit Macht ; under ‘ gebæded ’ he translates ‘ von den Sehnen .’ H. and S. correct this discrepancy by rejecting the second reading.

Bronda be láfe (3162).—A recent emendation. The fourth edition had ‘ bronda betost .’ In the fifth edition the editor neglects to change the glossary to suit the new emendation. See ‘ bewyrcan .’

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    There are three easy methods. 1) Read on-line - just follow link. 2) Download a Pdf. to read using Adobe reader which can be downloaded for free here. 3) If you have e-book reader - e.g Kindle (or kindle app) download a prc file. Select by author.

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    Times. 19th century , 20th century , Early modern, 1500-1700 , 18th century , Middle English, 1100-1500 , 17th century , 16th century , Old English, ca. 450-1100 , To 1500 , 21st century. Prolific Authors. who have written the most books on this subject. Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every ...

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  8. Books in Harvard Classics (sorted by popularity)

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  14. 21 Classic Books That You Can Read For Free Online

    The Awakening is often credited as one of the first modern feminist novels. Chopin's heroine gradually "awakens" to the fact that she, and most women, are systemically oppressed by society. So ...

  15. Literary Hub

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  16. Bibliomania

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  18. English Literature by William J. Long

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  22. Free Online Novels: Discover Where to Find Your Next Great Read

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  23. Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear

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  24. The Project Gutenberg eBook of Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem

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  25. Best Free Book Reading Apps

    Reading books on digital devices is now becoming common. Let's discuss the best free book reading apps in 2023 and compare their features. Explore the Best Free Online Book Readers. In today's digital age, book lovers and bookworms have an abundance of resources at their fingertips when it comes to reading books, both old classics and new releases.

  26. Amazon.com: Books

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