The British Library has the original manuscript of Beowulf that was published in the year 1000, most likely during the reign of King Æthelred the Unready. It is widely considered the best poem ever written and is available to read online.
In its present state, the poem, named after its hero Beowulf, contains more than 3,000 lines, and divides conventionally into three comparatively equal sections: Beowulf’s struggle with the monster, Grendel; the revenge of Grendel’s mother; and Beowulf’s final contest with a dragon, which was guarding a hoard of treasure. What marks out Beowulf is the gripping and highly developed story, and the richness of its language.
I think it’s important to remember that the tale of Beowulf would mostly have been spoken/sung aloud, and is fairly out of the ordinary to have it written down.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.