Grendel by John Gardner Book Review

Book Review by Esha

Grendel is a book following a monster that is one of the few antagonists in a well known epic poem called Beowulf. It goes around his story, explaining why he is the way he is and shows his side of the story that opposes the way that the poem was so quick to denounce him as a monster. However, this isn’t the only thing the book is doing as it follows along in the story. Every chapter uses different philosophies and all of the zodiac signs, and in each chapter, it would bring in themes from both. Sometimes it would be in the dialogue or in the description. Sometimes it would be in the way that the characters behave which reflect both the zodiac sign and the philosophy. It introduces not only the well-known philosophies such as Nihilism and Existentialism, but it also introduces ones that might be new to the readers such as process philosophy or Sophism. In this way, it not only brings an interesting spin to a poem that’s been around for nearly a thousand years, but it also introduces topics that the reader might find interesting and could possibly even change the way that they view the world. Aside from these, it pulls in elements from the time period that the poem was written in, and shows what kind of society they lived in. It shows the beliefs of the characters, how important religion was to them, and the roles of the different people in the community. In many ways this story can be educative- from the themes that are present throughout and the way that it ties in the time period that the original poem was written in, it is an interesting read that ties in well to the writing that inspired it.

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