Ken Tucker
November 16, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

The best way to experience the original legend may be by listening to the Irish poet Seamus Heaney read his 2000 verse translation of Beowulf on CD. His warm burr spares none of the poem’s chilling suspense.

In 1971, John Gardner rewrote the Beowulf story from the point of view of the monster. In Gardner’s telling, Grendel is a noble creature who has to fight off a succession of animal enemies until he meets his match in Beowulf.

Benjamin Bagby’s ‘Beowulf’ If you want to go hardcore, check out the DVD of Bagby’s one-man performance of the essential parts of Beowulf, recited in Old English, accompanying himself on harp. Trust us: You’ll dig the drama.

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