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Grendel [Paperback]

John Gardner
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 12 1973 Picador Books
The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic BEOWULF, tells his side of the story.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

George Guidall's crusty but spirited narration is perfectly suited for the monster Grendel. Gardner's 1971 classic takes the Anglo Saxon Beowulf epic and uses varying translations of the poem and other writings from the period to tell the story from the poor monster's viewpoint. Most first-person narratives translate well to the audio format, and Grendel especially enchants, casting a spell not unlike a grown-up "Lord of the Rings." The monster observes humans from a revealing and telling vantage. Just like a child in the schoolyard, Grendel picks up certain curse words and takes joy in repeating them. This has resulted in Gardner's book being challenged at the many schools where it is rightfully part of the curriculum. Guidall's voice is familiar enough for a still-fresh tale. This is storytelling at its best.?Gerald A. Notaro, Univ. of South Florida, St. Petersburg
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Grendel Oct. 31 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm going to be truthful in the fact that I did not enjoy the epic poem, Beowulf . Yet, I did enjoy the modern novel, Grendel. Grendel was a story less about egotistical men and more about a tormented creature trying to find the point of his isolated life. Due to the fact that I found the characters in Beowulf self-absorbed, I was humoured by Grendel mocking and torturing them. In addition, this tale was enlaced with nihilistic views that questioned existence. This agonized soul ponders the purpose of being: is there any point in living if everything is predestined? Not only did it question life, but also government, religion, ethics, and morals. I would recommend this novel due to the fact that it is intriguing with an underlying theme that is simple and direct.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Serious angst!!! June 5 2004
Format:Paperback
This is the Beowulf story from the monster's point of view and, in some sense, the coming of age story for the monster. He starts out as a young monster briefly lost from his mother and trapped in a tree by the future king and his group. He's saved at the last minute, and becomes fascinated with the strangely acting humans who are somelike like him but mostly not.
From forest shadows, he views--through his primal lens--the duplicitous, scheming and barbaric true nature of the king's growing empire and the warring clans around it. No animal, points out Beowulf, would treat his own kind so cruelly.
Later in the novel, as Grendel grows out of young adulthood into complete monster maturity, he begins to interact more fiercely with the humans. He wants to show them how wrong they are, how vulnerable, how false their gods. To his surprise, however, the beauty of Beowulf's queen--who is completely inaccessible--enchants him. Rather than seriously persue the queen, however, he views the king as unworthy of her and this feeling builds his resentment toward the king and his domain.
Outside of the monster Grendel, there are two arresting figures in the book. The first is the dragon, who sits in a subterranean lair and, more importantly, stands outside of time and thus can see eons of events at glance--before and after they occur. From this perspective, the dragon attempts to school the young monster in the finer points of space-time. This is an entertaining sidetrack from the novel's main thrust, and the dragon's viewpoint of time (analogous to surveying a plain from a mountaintop) leaves a lasting impression on the reader. To Grendel, of course, the concepts are beyond him and the dragon becomes upset at Grendel's obvious boredom and disquiet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Grendel: Apples and Pain Dec 11 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Grendel has a sarcastic and cynical mind, which serves to entertain both him and the reader. Through his expositions of situations, we see humor where others would simply see violence, and irony where others only fact. These others are the humans, the Danes, unwitting neighbors of Grendel, forced to stand night after night of slaughter. What is a traumatic and terrifying experience for them, is simply a game to Grendel, and the reader. Grendel bursts in on the Danes, ready to kill, and they squeak. They are funny in their fear, laughable in their drunken fighting. The reader is focused on Grendel's perception of the Danes. The deaths go by easily, because of the humor involved. It does not cross the reader's mind that these are people Grendle is killing. The humor allows the reader to sympathize with Grendel's position, that of the predator. The prey is not meaningful, only nutritious and entertaining. It is a macabre humor, which accentuates how no death is noble, it is simply death. By making the Danes un-heroic and un-ideal, cowards and drunkards, the author is presenting the reality through the humor.
In contrast to the drunken lurching of the others, Unferth comes toward Grendel with speeches and bravery. He is a puffed up as a peacock, proud and ready to die for his king, his people, his ideal. Grendel simply states, "He was one of those." Grendel sees Unferth with a clear and unbiased mind. He is ridiculous. His exaggerated heroism, his words, even his first move, to scuttle sideways like a crab from thirty feet away, is laughable. Grendle does with him what he does with no other Dane in the story, he talks.
Unferth offers Grendle death, and Grendle sends back taunts. The reason this scene is funny is because the taunts are sharply accurate.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The existentialist monster Nov. 10 2003
By A.J.
Format:Paperback
John Gardner's "Grendel" shines an odd spotlight on English literature's earliest antihero. When reading "Beowulf," who really ponders the character of the monster Grendel, who after all is not so much a literary character as an object for Beowulf to defeat as an exhibition of his heroism? Gardner sees the shaggy, anthropomorphous monster as a painfully self-conscious creature bellowing in rage at the forces of nature in agonistic protest against his miserable existence as a descendant of the cursed race of Cain.
Grendel is sad, lonely, and bored. His only friend (besides his mother, who offers little conversational companionship) is a wise ancient dragon who sits on a massive treasure hoard and mentors the young beast in the significance of being a monster, that having the power to terrify and brutalize is just as much an affirmation of life as killing to eat. And killing is Grendel's forte: He repeatedly targets the thanes of Hrothgar, king of the Danes, who, as descendants of the blessed race of Abel, intrigue him; voyeuristically he spies on them in their meadhalls, sardonically observing their folly, believing that he provides for them a healthy challenge to their complacency. He particularly enjoys the ineffectual assaults of a warrior named Unferth who seeks hero status by trying to slay Grendel numerous times and whom Grendel always spares out of spite, to dishonor him and amplify his ineptitude.
If Grendel were human, he'd be called a sociopath. He hates himself, men, and the world, but he turns his extreme negativity into a strange attitude of superiority -- he likes to show his enemies that he can always beat them, that they're defenseless against his aggression and foolish as well.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars GRENDEL LIVES!
This is a great reworking of Beowulf. I read it before I read the original, and drove my Anglo-Saxon classmates in university completely crazy because I continued to root for the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eli Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Great the first time through, and even better the second.
Clever, touching, creative, and thought-provoking, _Grendel_ is a work of art that, through the perspective of a naive monster, comments on the hypocrisy and anthropocentric nature... Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Caradae Linore
5.0 out of 5 stars Grendel should have been cute
This book made the wings of my nostrils flare like an angry priests.
Published on Feb. 25 2004 by Tablet Pen
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea - Disjointed book
The idea of a book about the other side of Beowulf intrigued me. John Gardner depicts Grendel and not the epitome of evil, but a complicated creature that is both humanistic and... Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2003 by sporkdude
5.0 out of 5 stars A Monster, His Mother, and The Meaning Of Life
I found John Gardener's Grendel to be a very good read. It was the kind of book that you could just read, and leave it at that, or you could also go deep into it and discuss it in... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Grendel
Spinning-off from human history's original epic, Grendel tells the story from the monster's perspective. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars John Gardner's GRENDEL
John Gardner's GRENDELis a retelling of the epic poem BEOWULF from the monster's point of view. It paints a touching picture of Grendel's (the monster) struggle between his need to... Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars they had the faces of rats
I read beowulf before reading grendal as everyone should. grendal is the perfect villain he is tormented inside and in turn takes pleaqsure in causing others pain. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Grendel
I enjoyed reading Grendel more than Beowulf. Its much more interesting and had more of a plot to follow. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003
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