Somehow, somewhere, you must have come across the name ‘Beowulf.’ Even if you know absolutely nothing about it, there is a very slim chance that you have managed to go through your life in education without hearing the word. Perhaps your curiosity spurred you on to search this mysterious thing on Wikipedia or perhaps you waited until you were forced to learn about it. Maybe you weren’t even forced to learn it and continue to think of it as some piece of literature from the past.
Well my intention with this post is not to give a lesson on it since I know very little about it myself as I have only began studying it. Instead, I would like you to answer the question my title poses but to do this you need to know what it means. Beowulf is an epic poem that was written around 750-1000, the scholars have yet to agree on a specific year but interestingly, the actual manuscript of the poem only became popular in the last hundred or two hundred so years. So why has its importance leapt to amazing heights?
You see, we only have about 5% of the literature from the times of Beowulf. Who knows what we have not been able to read of its time? Perhaps if Beowulf were to be compared to other works of its time, its status may simply be like today’s Biff and Chip stories or The Hardy Boys. Fun but hardly a masterpiece. The problem is, we have very little to compare Beowulf to and it is from Beowulf that we get some ideas of society during that time.
So the question is; if you had to pick one book from today’s time which would be the only book to remain from this era a thousand years later, which book would you want it to be? Which book best portrays a sense of our society and culture? Not academic writing or theoretical work, I am talking about creative writing, books, poems or plays.
A slightly less grave thought to contemplate is imagine if a book like Fifty Shades of Grey was to be the one that survived, what would that tell people about our society? Would it be an accurate portrayal?
Hmm perhaps that thought is quite a grave one after all.
Drop Your Thoughts, Until Next Time
A Worried Student