Rob's Reviews > Grendel

Grendel by John Gardner
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's review
Jun 29, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: all-time-favorites, high-school, 2012, recommended
Recommended for: aspiring novelists
Read 2 times. Last read January 21, 2012 to January 24, 2012.

Something I had forgotten in the 20 or so years since last I'd read Grendel, was that it is not a necessarily a book about the solipsism of "the monster". No, Grendel is largely unconcerned with whether/not the Scyldings exist; his struggle is not with existence [1] but rather one with alienation and isolation. In some ways, he is the ultimate outsider: not human enough for the Scyldings, too human for the animals -- the only ones that will speak with him are an aloof dragon [2] and a senile/deranged priest. [3] Grendel is not evil so much as he is an introspective nihilist.

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[1] Making it "not really" an existential novel?

[2] Who further isolates him by granting him an apparent albeit apparently tenuous invulnerability.

[3] It is hard to count the conversations with Unferth and "the stranger" (Beowulf, the Geat); those challenges are more like lop-sided dueling soliloquies.

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original mini-review, per original reading (approx. April 1997):

Incredible work. Helped shape my goals as a writer at a pretty early age. For better or worse.
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Quotes Rob Liked

John Gardner
“All order, I've come to understand, is theoretical, unreal — a harmless, sensible, smiling mask men slide between the two great, dark realities, the self and the world — two snake pits.”
John Gardner, Grendel


Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 29, 2007 – Shelved
June 29, 2007 – Shelved as: all-time-favorites
August 19, 2007 – Shelved as: high-school
January 21, 2012 – Started Reading
January 22, 2012 –
page 25
16.45%
January 23, 2012 –
page 65
42.76% "Grendel's as the despair born of isolation/alienation. That said: decided not solipsistic."
January 23, 2012 –
page 65
42.76% "Grendel's as the despair born of isolation/alienation. That said: decided not solipsistic."
January 24, 2012 –
page 121
79.61% "The dragon's gift? Only *more* alienating."
January 24, 2012 – Finished Reading
April 1, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
March 10, 2017 – Shelved as: recommended

Comments (showing 1-2)




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Terry Must re-read this again. Have you read Gardner's _Freddy's Book_? It's another winner in a similar vein.


message 1: by Rob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rob Dulac3 wrote: "Must re-read this again. Have you read Gardner's _Freddy's Book_? It's another winner in a similar vein."

I have not! Looks like it just earned a slot on the "to-read" list.


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