When the language in a work of literature such as "Beowulf" is difficult to understand, it is helpful to read from an edition that includes a commentary — an explanation or expansion or criticism added to the original material.

Editorials go hand-in-hand with commentaries, since both express a writer's opinions. Commentary can be oral as well as written. Each year, following the President's State of the Union address, you can tune into the networks for commentary from respected news anchors. In fact, political commentary has become so pervasive in our media that some feel it has replaced reporting.

Definitions of commentary

n a written explanation or criticism or illustration that is added to a book or other textual material

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(Judaism) an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures that is based on Jewish methods of interpretation and attached to the biblical text
annotation, notation, note
a comment or instruction (usually added)
poste restante
a notation written on mail that is to be held at the post office until called for (not in the United States or Canada)
acknowledgment, citation, cite, credit, mention, quotation, reference
a short note recognizing a source of information or of a quoted passage
footer, footnote
a printed note placed below the text on a printed page
N.B., NB, nota bene
a Latin phrase (or its abbreviation) used to indicate that special attention should be paid to something
PS, postscript
a note appended to a letter after the signature
Type of:
a message that is stated or declared; a communication (oral or written) setting forth particulars or facts etc

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