Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grendel by John Gardner

I'd like to share with everyone one of my favorite books, Grendel by John Gardner. It's a excellent story about the monster from the Beowulf saga. Every time I read it, I find new passages that poke and prod my understanding of myself, of humanity, and of the gods.

Do not think my brains are squeezed shut, like the rams, by the roots of horns. Flanks atremble, eyes like stones, he stares at much of the world as he can see and feels it surging in him, ... His hindparts shiver with the usual, joyful ache to mount whatever happens near ... I cannot bear to look. "Why can't these creatures discover a little dignity?" I ask the sky. The sky says nothing, predictably. I make a face, uplift a defiant middle finger and give an obscene little kick. The sky ignores me, forever unimpressed.
(used without permission)
One of the ideas of the book is that Beowulf is just as much a monster as Grendel. I have argued that the Shaper is the true villain of the book, but that might be my mistrust of Organized Religion and Mass Media.

It's only 150 or so pages, and well worth the read. I'm reading again, for I think the 12th time. the only book I've read more is The Hobbit. The margins are filled with notes and asterisks, highlighting a particular thought for further digestion. There is a bit of swearing in the book, and it's a shame that some school systems are banning the book from study just because of a stray F-Bomb or two.

I'll try to post other reviews of my favorite books from time to time, hope you enjoy them.

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