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

by John Gardner (Author)

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4,594831,045 (3.83)154
Member:akwael
Title:Grendel
Authors:John Gardner (Author)
Info:Vintage (1989), 192 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
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Grendel by John Gardner (1971)

Recently added bypalaephata, lexrex1215, Oryphany, private library, Lepophagus, vcelestev, CMU18, daleducatte
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» See also 154 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
So, I've been told to read this book for quite some time from various people. I adored [a: Seamus Heaney|29574|Seamus Heaney|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1200407647p2/29574.jpg]'s [b: Beowulf|346518|Beowulf|Gareth Hinds|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1424230078s/346518.jpg|27204944], thought the [a: Neil Gaiman|1221698|Neil Gaiman|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1234150163p2/1221698.jpg] penned film was rather hilarious and a bit too overt in its symbolism, and was quite happy to see Grendel in the game [b: A Wolf Among Us]. It as an extra treat that you could beat him to death with his own arm in the game, too. Why not, right?

When I saw the book while looking for a copy of [b: Cryptonomicon|816|Cryptonomicon|Neal Stephenson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327931476s/816.jpg|1166797] I decided to finally pick it up. When I had a moment, I decided to finally read it. It proved to be an interesting, if ultimately slightly unsatisfying read.

I feel that other books have fed into the misunderstood monster trope in a more satisfying manner than this one - both before and after this time. Grendel's crying out for understanding wasn't as well deserved or ultimately interesting as Caliban's in [b: The Tempest|12985|The Tempest|William Shakespeare|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327793692s/12985.jpg|1359590] and the existentialism of the dragon, while interesting, was not really explored in a powerful enough manner to really move me.

Grendel would have moved me a lot more powerfully if I'd read it when younger, when I was deserving as Grendel was to be beaten with his own arm. The ultimate foolishness of his pursuits would be better sought in [b: On the Road|15299073|Japanese on the Road|On The Road Series|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|20954771], just about anything by [a: Kafka|5223|Franz Kafka|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1412460277p2/5223.jpg] or [a: Camus|957894|Albert Camus|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1416756630p2/957894.jpg]. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
This book was well told, and I'm not going to go into that because so many other have. What I want to note is the lack of realistic female characters. The women, including Grendel's mother, were flat, almost as if they were objects. For a story told from a different point of view, we certainly didn't get a new point of view about the women in the story. ( )
  SonoranDreamer | May 29, 2018 |
Spent the entire book with a headache thinking "WTF am I reading?" I wonder if at times the author forgot he was writing about an ancient monster, or maybe he let some of his philosophy class notes get mixed in with the manuscript. ( )
  shorte | Feb 26, 2018 |
I have to assume that a large majority of you studied the epic poem, Beowulf, when you were in high school. If you recall, this is often cited as the oldest example of an epic poem in Old English and it tells the story of the hero, Beowulf, who comes to aid a king who is plagued by a monster known as Grendel. It goes on to discuss Beowulf's homecoming and his continuing adventures (with a dragon no less). All I remember of the poem was a fight in a cave. (Clearly I was unimpressed with this work's historical lineage.) So it might come as a surprise that when I saw Grendel by John Gardner I was intrigued by discovering that it was a kind of retelling of the poem in narrative format...from Grendel's point of view. Straight out of the gate, this was an absolutely bizarre piece of literature. I came away from it thinking that it was too cerebral for me (Farewell hubris!) because there were many times I felt like I had absolutely no clue what was going on. I think part of this lies with the narrative style which mixed Old English language (like the original) with contemporary phraseology (curses galore, ya'll). I was nearly tempted to reread Beowulf for reference. (Spoiler alert: I didn't.) This is a philosophical novel that ponders the nature of existence and what it actually means to be 'good' or 'evil' because for something to be truly 'good' there needs to be a corresponding 'evil' to balance it...right? Grendel is a classic example of an antihero but boy does he jaw on and on and on about his place in the universe. I found him bitter and whiny but I don't know if that's due to characterization or if it's the author's 'voice' projected onto the character. I guess I'll have to decide if I want to read more of Gardner's works to find out the answer. It's hard for me to sum up my feelings on this one other than to say it wasn't an especially enjoyable time and I don't know who I'd recommend this one too because it's very niche. It's a 3/10 for me. ( )
  AliceaP | Dec 19, 2017 |
I enjoyed this in my 20s and in my 40s. Haven't read it for a long time now, though I probably will again now that it has been brought to my attention ( )
  quondame | Dec 2, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Gardnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
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 (1)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:47 -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 6 descriptions

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