Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I've been overwhelmed, and underwhelmed ... but never whelmed. Until I read Beowulf. And maybe not even then.

I have now seen, for the first time in my life, the use of the word "whelm."

According to the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, Whelm means:

1: to turn (as a dish or vessel) upside down usually to cover something: cover or engulf completely with usually disastrous effect

2: to overcome in thought or feeling, to pass or go over something so as to bury or submerge it


Probably should have looked it up while I was still reading Beowulf.

I'm done now. Don't really understand the fuss about it ...

Beowulf goes to help out the Danes.

Wounds Grendel. Big Celebration is held.

Grendel's mom comes and seeks revenge for the wounding and kills some Danes.

Beowulf goes and finds Grendal's lair under the sea and finishes off Grendel.

Big Celebration.

Beowulf goes home and mostly lives out his life.

Some foolish person plunders the local dragon's lair.

Dragon gets angry and goes on a rampage.

Beowulf kills dragon and is mortally wounded in the process.

Beowulf dies.

Beowulf is cremated.

End of story.

Did I miss anything?

I think that from now on I'll leave the works written in Middle English to scholars of Middle English.

I was, shall I say, underwhelmed. But I finished it.

Next on the classics list: The Time Machine.

(I've been alternating reading modern junk fiction with classics on my BeBook. Now I'm reading some Barbara Michaels to clear my head of Beowulf. Then back to H.G. Wells who I've really enjoyed so far.)


Cookie said...

Nope. You got it.

I watched the Clash of the Gods last night on him and had the same reaction. At least, I finished a mitt while watching.


Ina said...

How's this: Beowulf is a good man and a hero in his time because he fights monsters rather than people and doesn't slaughter members of his own community when he's drunk. Have we evolved different expectations for our heroes? Maybe, maybe not. The appropriate use of violence is still an important measure of civilized manliness. Monsters and what we call PTSD have always posed challenges to a peaceful, constructive society.