The online edition of the Old English text of Beowulf presented here is a new critical edition. It is in general a conservative edition--the primary text followings that of the MS in most places, even where emendations have been standard; but yet adopting some emendations where modern editions have not. I have, however, endeavoured to also provide a copious annotation of the text, and note the majority of suggested emendations and interpolations even where I do not adopt them, so that the reader will still have these at his disposal. Recent studies of the MS, in particular those of Kevin Kiernan, strongly suggest that the MS (supplemented by Thorkelin's transcriptions) in most places provides the optimal reading. I have marked the text where the reading is supplied by Thorkelin A/B; restored, interpolated or emended by an editor (see above or consult annotation key for conventions). In the accompanying notes I have provided references in the case of an emendation, interpolation or restoration by an editor. In many cases the notes also mention emendations made by other editors even when I do not adopt them myself.
In the case that a proposed reading has been confirmed by the study of Kiernan et al. (Electronic Beowulf - published by The British Library and University of Michigan Press ), I have generally passed over it without remark (the bracketing also reflects new confirmations made by Kiernan et al.).
Update: (December 2003)
I have restored the abbreviations of the MS., e.g.
However, word division has been normalised, and the text has been broken up into the usual arrangement of half-lines of editions.
I have adopted certain emendations, restorations, etc. and these are indicated by the notation apparatus show in the table above, and also usually remarked upon in the notes to the 'semi-diplomatic' version.
Those seeking a true diplomatic edition/transcription should consult the facsimile editions by Zupitza and by Kiernan et al..
Update: (June 2005)
I have re-edited the text and its apparatus to conform with the standard lineation of 3182, rather than Kiernan's 3184 lines. As I still agree with Kiernan about the lineation ll. 389-90 and 2228-30, this edition of the poem ends up with blank half-lines at 389b, 390a, 2228b, 2229ab, 2230a, in order to match the standard 3182-lineation. This change was partially inspired by Robert Fulk's (2003) article on the metrically necessity of the hypermetrical lines at 1163-8, 1705-7, 2995-6 (esp. Fulk 2003:10-13), as well as urging by Thomas Hart (pers. comm.).
Converting Line numbers from standard 3182 (Klaeber) and 3184 (Kiernan)