Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021



Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Epic Poetry. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.

1. The Odyssey


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

The great epic of Western literature, translated by the acclaimed classicist Robert Fagles A Penguin Classic   Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, presents us with Homer's best-loved and most accessible poem in a stunning modern-verse translation. "Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy." So begins Robert Fagles' magnificent translation of the Odyssey , which Jasper Griffin in the New York Times Book Review  hails as "a distinguished achievement." If the Iliad is the world's greatest war epic, the Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of an everyman's journey through life. Odysseus' reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.  In the myths and legends  retold here, Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer's original in a bold, contemporary idiom, and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox's superb introduction and textual commentary provide insightful background information for the general reader and scholar alike, intensifying the strength of Fagles's translation. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, to captivate a new generation of Homer's students. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition features French flaps and deckle-edged paper. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

  • Author: Homer
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 1999)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0140268867
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches

                 

2. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition)


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

New York Times bestseller and winner of the Costa Book Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.

  • Author: Seamus Heaney
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (February 17, 2001)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0393320978
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches

                 

3. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT , PEARL , AND SIR ORFEO THREE MEDIEVAL ENGLISH POEMS, WITH TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN   It’s Christmas at Camelot and King Arthur won’t begin to feast until he has witnessed a marvel of chivalry. A mysterious knight, green from head to toe, rides in and brings the court’s wait to an end with an implausible challenge to the Round Table: he will allow any of the knights to strike him once, with a battle-axe no less, on the condition that he is allowed to return the blow a year hence. Arthur’s brave favorite for the challenge is Sir Gawain…   Accompanying Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in this book are Sir Orfeo , a medieval version of the story of Orpheus and Euridice, a love so strong that it overcame death, and Pearl , the moving tale of a man in a graveyard mourning his baby daughter, lost like a pearl that slipped through his fingers. Worn out by grief, he falls asleep and dreams of meeting her in a bejewelled fantasy world.   Interpreted in a form designed to appeal to the general reader, J.R.R. Tolkien’s vivid translations of these classic poems represent the complete rhyme and alliterative schemes of the originals. This beautifully decorated text includes as a bonus the complete text of Tolkien’s acclaimed lecture on Sir Gawain.

  • Author: Christopher Tolkien
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (July 27, 2021)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0358652977
  • Dimensions: 5.31 x 0.67 x 8 inches

                 

4. The Iliad


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

The great war epic of Western literature, translated by acclaimed classicist Robert Fagles, and featured in the Netflix series The OA A Penguin Classic   Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace.   Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. He maintains the drive and metric music of Homer’s poetry, and evokes the impact and nuance of the Iliad ’s mesmerizing repeated phrases in what Peter Levi calls “an astonishing performance.” This Penguin Classics Deluxe edition also features French flaps and deckle-edged paper. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. 9780140275360

  • Author: Homer
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised ed. edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0140275360
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.9 inches

                 

5. The Divine Comedy (The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso)


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

The authoritative translations of The Inferno , The Purgatorio , and The Paradiso —together in one volume. Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise—the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation. Now, for the first time, John Ciardi’s brilliant and authoritative translations of Dante’s three soaring canticles— The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso— have been gathered together in a single volume. Crystallizing the power and beauty inherent in the great poet’s immortal conception of the aspiring soul, The Divine Comedy is a dazzling work of sublime truth and mystical intensity.

  • Author: Dante Alighieri
  • Publisher: Berkley; Illustrated edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0451208637
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9 inches

                 



6. Coming Home to Her: Poems about love, sexuality, and being human


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

Coming Home to Her  is a celebration of being human. It is a coming out journey, an exploration of sexuality, femininity, loving, and being loved. _____________________ ★★★★★  "This book reads as much about a love letter to a person as it does about being a love letter to life. I can’t wait to share with people. The words and concepts are beautiful." ★★★★★ "This book made me feel at home in my own skin. These poems are beautifully written, mostly longer pieces, and a much needed break from typical “instapoetry”

  • Author: Emily Juniper
  • Publisher: Independently published (March 7, 2021)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-1697643657
  • Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.32 x 8 inches

                 

7. Paradise Lost (AmazonClassics Edition)


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

In Paradise, God’s favored new creations—Adam and Eve—live in bliss, untainted by sin. In another realm, Satan and his banished rebel angels collude to destroy God’s tranquil new design. Into this idyll called Earth, and the confidence of Adam and Eve, Satan will instigate the fall of man. At the heart of this complex, audacious epic poem is a drama driven by the most recognizable human flaws. More than a story from Genesis, it is the extraordinary expression of Milton’s search for personal truth and the meaning of existence, written to “justify the ways of God to men.” AmazonClassics brings you timeless works from the masters of storytelling. Ideal for anyone who wants to read a great work for the first time or rediscover an old favorite, these new editions open the door to literature’s most unforgettable characters and beloved worlds. Revised edition: Previously published as Paradise Lost , this edition of Paradise Lost (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.

  • Author: John Milton
  • Publisher: AmazonClassics (August 8, 2017)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry

                 

8. Grendel


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic  Beowulf , tells his own side of the story in this frequently banned book. This  classic and much lauded retelling of Beowulf  follows the monster Grendel as he learns about humans and fights the war at the center of the Anglo Saxon classic epic. This is the book William Gass called "one of the finest of our contemporary fictions."

  • Author: John Gardner
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 14, 1989)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0679723110
  • Dimensions: 5.19 x 0.49 x 7.97 inches

                 

9. The Epic of Gilgamesh


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

N. K. Sandars's landmark translation of one of the first and greatest works of Western literature A Penguin Classic Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, and his companion Enkidu are the only heroes to have survived from the ancient literature of Babylon, immortalized in this epic poem that dates back to the third millennium BC. Together they journey to the Spring of Youth, defeat the Bull of Heaven and slay the monster Humbaba. When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh’s grief and fear of death are such that they lead him to undertake a quest for eternal life. A timeless tale of morality, tragedy and pure adventure,  The Epic of Gilgamesh  is a landmark literary exploration of man’s search for immortality. N. K. Sandars’s lucid, accessible translation is prefaced by a detailed introduction that examines the narrative and historical context of the work. In addition, there is a glossary of names and a map of the Ancient Orient. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

  • Author: Anonymous
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (December 30, 1960)
  • Genre: New, Used & Rental Textbooks, Humanities
  • ISBN: 978-0140441000
  • Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.3 inches

                 

10. The Canterbury Tales


Top 10 Best Books to Read in Epic Poetry - August 2021

Nevill Coghill’s masterly and vivid modern English verse translation with all the vigor and poetry of Chaucer’s fourteenth-century Middle English A Penguin Classic In  The Canterbury Tales  Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight’s account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath’s Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook. Rich and diverse,  The Canterbury Tales  offer us an unrivalled glimpse into the life and mind of medieval England. For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

  • Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Poetry
  • ISBN: 978-0140424386
  • Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1 inches