The Nowell Codex is a manuscript of old Britannia dating from the first millennium A.D. -- before the Norman invasion and conquest of England in 1066.
This manuscript contains several pieces: a telling of the life of Saint Christopher; a description of foreign lands and even more foreign animals; a copy of a letter from Alexander to Aristotle; and a poetic translation of the Book of Judith.
What makes it famous is an untitled epic poem from the 8th century which tells the story of a Geatish hero and his slaying of a monster, the mother of the monster and a dragon.
This epic saga is, of course, the story of Beowulf.
Beowulf was originally strictly an oral story, probably told to the sound of harp music. Read from paper, the story of Beowulf is odd and confusing -- most people don't finish the saga.
Recited out loud, by someone who is not only familiar and fond of the story, but well-versed in the tricks of the story-tellers art, Beowulf is thrilling, mournful, haunting, gripping and everything in-between.
I see that Hollywood has taken another hack at this ancient saga. Half of me really, really wants to go see this movie.
The other half of me is terrified that Hollywood is going to turn one of the earliest and finest examples of Western literature into unwatchable screaming drek.
I'm probably going to go see it, but I swear I'm going to be packing a horsewhip and a trout. If that same pompous, illiterate, hack poseur Philistine shows up and kvetches about the "simplistic plot", "lack of personal growth" or even mentions the words "interpersonal dynamics of the main characters" during this movie like he did for 'Troy', I'm going to beat him to death right there in the peanut gallery.