British Library: Digitized Manuscripts: Cotton MS Vitellius A XV:
My thanks to Deb DeGeorge, who brought to my awareness that yesterday the British Library officially announced the availability online of the original manuscript of the myth of Beowulf.
British Library: Hwæt! Beowulf Online:
Here is what it includes.
“4th quarter 10th century-2nd half 16th century, This manuscript contains four separate items, bound together for Sir Robert Cotton (d. 1631):(i) f 1: Psalter leaf (now removed to form London, British Library, MS Royal 13 D I*, f 37); (ii) f 3: Medieval endleaf, containing historical memoranda; (iii) ff 4–93: Augustine of Hippo, Soliloquia (ff 4r–59v: imperfect); Gospel of Nicodemus (ff 60r–86v: imperfect); Debate of Saturn and Solomon (ff 86v–93v); homily on St Quintin (f 93v: imperfect); (iv) ff 94–209: Homily on St Christopher (ff 94r–98r: imperfect); Marvels of the East (ff 98v–106v); Letter of Alexander to Aristotle (ff 107r–131v); Beowulf (ff 132r–201v); Judith (ff 202r–209v: imperfect). F 2 is a 17th-century Cottonian endleaf.”
This is truly passionately exciting to so many. The story of Beowulf and Grendel is one of those that has never been abandoned by Western culture. It has inspired operas and films, television shows and games, comics and novels and bands and weapons. Recently, in the exquisite animated film, The Secret of Kells, there was a nod to the story in the plot and a nod to the artistry of the writing itself in the artwork.
The Secret of Kells – Official US Trailer
For me, though, if I was going to try to work my way through this online version, I would want to have an accompaniment of some other versions. Perhaps something in a more modern script, a more recent translation, and audio track? This is the sort of times we live in, that all of that is not just available, but expected. So let me give you some additional links to enrich your studies. Please note that the text titles from the Archive.org are usually available in a variety of e-reader formats.
Audio, read in Anglo-Saxon / Old English: http://archive.org/details/beowulf_354
LibriVox recording of Beowulf, translated by Francis Barton Gummere (1855-1919). http://archive.org/details/beowulf
Georgetown University (in Saxon):
McMaster University (In hypertext, both Old English and Modern) http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~beowulf/main.html
Slade translation, with original text facing modern translation (Beowulf on Steorarume):
A concordance to Beowulf (1911)