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Grendel by John Gardner
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Grendel (original 1971; edition 1989)

by John Gardner

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3,896711,318 (3.84)134
Member:DamnMyBrainDied
Title:Grendel
Authors:John Gardner
Info:Vintage (1989), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction

Work details

Grendel by John Gardner (1971)

20th century (52) American (49) American fiction (15) American literature (54) Anglo-Saxon (20) Beowulf (181) classic (24) classics (24) epic (19) existentialism (21) fantasy (268) fiction (648) folklore (21) Gardner (17) Grendel (26) historical fiction (31) horror (18) John Gardner (17) literature (100) monster (14) monsters (55) myth (22) mythology (106) novel (118) own (21) paperback (32) read (63) retelling (54) to-read (54) unread (31)
  1. 30
    Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (sturlington)
  2. 30
    An Absolute Gentleman by R. M. Kinder (ehines)
    ehines: Another fine "from the monster's point of view" kind of story.
  3. 20
    Mickelsson's Ghosts by John Gardner (stellabymoor)
  4. 10
    Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (mcenroeucsb)
  5. 10
    Beowulf by Beowulf Poet (sturlington)
  6. 21
    Gojiro by Mark Jacobson (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another autobiography of a real monster.
  7. 10
    Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright (infiniteletters)
  8. 11
    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
  9. 00
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both books explore the philosophical subjects of fate and free will.
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» See also 134 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Beautifully written. I will never think about Beowulf and Grendel in the same way. ( )
  Me-chan | Jun 19, 2014 |
Amazing book - really brings something to life. Shame the author died (motorcycle accident) as I'd like him to have written more. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
My favorite thing -- not book, thing! -- in the entire world is Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, which takes the myth of the Herakles-slain monster Geryon and turns it on its head, creating an epic romance instead of an epic myth. Consequently, I've always had a soft spot for mythical monsters turned into protagonists, and I've wanted to read Grendel for a while... and I finally did. Thank God! I've also had the joy of reading Gardner's The Art of Fiction, and something from that book that has stuck with me is Gardner's emphasis on the sound of prose lines, which he scans as if they were poetic... and it's so obvious in this book that he walks the talk, too. Some phrases in this book -- like "this one frail, foolish flicker-flash in the long dull fall of eternity" -- literally make me pause to savor their sounds. Grendel is your typical monster, complete with unabashed killing of various living things, though he's also well-educated, introverted, sensitive, and Existential. This may perhaps say a bit more about me than I should, but I really identified with him, perhaps even more than with Geryon -- except on the killing people thing, you know. Ultimately, Grendel won't replace Autobiography as my favorite anything, but I will have to get two cats now, once I officially become the local crazy cat lady gay man -- one to name Geryon and one, of course, to name Grendel.

Why I Finished: Uh... because it was freaking awesome?!? And way too short. And tragic at the end, since I liked Grendel more than anyone else in the thing... though I always tend to like the villains better in the books. That's why they're villains. ( )
  inpariswithyou | Apr 21, 2014 |
Interesting read. This was a heavy book to get through, deep with philosophical thinking. Gardner gave a very in-depth look into Grendel's mind in this retelling of Beowulf. Overall, it was good. I would have liked to see more action in the text. For the most part, Grendel mulls over life, but nothing really seems to happen on the whole. The text is interesting to read as it combines stream of consciousness with aspects of poetry and plays. Profoundly intriguing book. ( )
  CareBear36 | Apr 14, 2014 |
A retelling of the Beowulf saga from the point of view of Grendel. In the novel, Grendel is portrayed as an antihero. The novel deals with finding meaning in the world, the power of literature and myth, and the nature of good and evil. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jan 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Gardnerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antonucci, EmilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kassner, WendyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leonard, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Penberthy, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
And if the Babe is born a Boy
He's given to a Woman Old,
Who nails him down upon a rock,
Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.
-- William Blake
Dedication
For Joel and Lucy
First words
The old ram stands looking over rockslides, stupidly triumphant.
Quotations
I touch the door with my fingertips and it bursts, for all its fire-forged bands--it jumps away like a terrified deer--and I plunge into the silent, hearth-lit hall with a laugh that I wouldn't much care to wake up to myself.
The sun walks mindlessly overhead, the shadows lengthen and shorten as if by plan.
And so begins the twelfth year of my idiotic war. The pain of it! The stupidity!
I understood that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly—as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back.
What was he? The man had changed the world, had torn up the past by its thick, gnarled roots and had transmuted it, and they, who knew the truth, remembered it his way--and so did I.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Grendel is a 1971 parallel novel by American author John Gardner. It is a retelling of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf from the perspective of the antagonist, Grendel. The novel deals with finding meaning in the world, the power of literature and myth, and the nature of good and evil.

AR 5.9, 6 Pts
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679723110, Paperback)

Grendel is a beautiful and heartbreaking modern retelling of the Beowulf epic from the point of view of the monster, Grendel, the villain of the 8th-century Anglo-Saxon epic. This book benefits from both of Gardner's careers: in addition to his work as a novelist, Gardner was a noted professor of medieval literature and a scholar of ancient languages.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:32 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic BEOWULF, tells his side of the story.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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