Vince Gotera's Reviews > Grendel

Grendel by John Gardner
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's review
Dec 16, 2011

it was amazing
Read in January, 1976

I first encountered this excellent novel in Professor George Tuma's "Fantasy Literature" class when I was an undergraduate ... probably around 1976 or 1977. If I had to name a lifetime "Top 10" list of books John Gardner's Grendel would definitely be on it.

I later read this book again in a graduate 20th-century lit class taught by Professor Eric Solomon. For a final paper in that class, I wrote a three-chapter parody of the book. Eric knew John Gardner personally and so I was able to send that parody to Gardner himself, who wrote me a nice letter back in which he referred to my study of literature this way: "Why don't you stop fooling around and write fiction?"

I highly recommend this novel to ANY reader, but particularly to those who have read Beowulf since the hero here is Beowulf's nemesis. When I taught high school in 1979, I taught Beowulf and some of my students read Grendel at my recommendation; I think their understanding of the characters of Beowulf and Grendel were really enhanced.

No spoilers here, but I would suggest paying close attention to zodiac signs in the novel because there are hidden astrological elements that will help you decode the novel and Grendel and Gardner himself for a fuller enjoyment of the book.

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