Grendel

Posted: October 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

beowulf_vs_grendel_by_thefool432So to understand John Gardner’s Grendel, you first have to know the story of Beowulfbeowulf-translation-by-seamus-heaney . . . .and the Audiobook is here . . . . and a little taste of the Old English can be found here.  The Beowulf synopsis PowerPoint is here

John Garner’s Grendel can be found here: grendel-chapters-1-6 and grendel-chapters-7-12 if you don’t have a physical copy of the text.

What’s all this existentialism nonsense he dislikes so much?  Well, here’s my stab at it: existentialism.  And why does he hate it so much?  Well, for starters Gardner accidentally ran over and killed his brother with a tractor, so a philosophy based on the idea that there are no accidents and we choose every aspect of our destiny and identity wouldn’t exactly be his fave, ya know?  But, just like his use of astrology, Gardner points out that we would pave paths through Hell with our “lunatic” and “crackpot theories.”  Sometimes we have to test our crackpot theories against real world observation and applicability.  Concluding, thanks to Descartes, that “I alone exist” (22) doesn’t really help stop the pain when someone’s bashing your head into a wall.  Maybe we all need to have an accident so we can wake up and realize this — “‘Poor Grendel’s had an accident,’ I whisper ‘so may you all‘” (174).  Secondly, if you take existentialism to its conclusion, you end up at nihilism and who really wants to be a dragon with no purpose but to “seek out gold and sit on it” (74)?

Once upon time (before John Gardner died in a motorcycle accident) some students wrote a letter to him and here’s his response: letter-to-miss-wests-class which really sheds some light on the text.  a-critical-look-at-john-gardners-grendel-11102016154606 is also a good read and confirms a lot of what we said in class.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s