Review: Gardener somehow manages to portray Grendel as a likable beast. But unlike many recent adaptations of the story, Grendel is not seen as a misunderstood creature. Grendel is a monster.
At his core, this protagonist is a nihilist. He initially thinks that only he exists, but abandons this view when he sees things beyond his own experience. But still, he persists in his own complete self-absorption.
John Gardner made a choice to tell the story with modern English, and also uses inter-textuality to tell the story. We see prose, poetry and even a stage-script or two appear in the story. Some of this works better than others. Unsurprising, the narration parts work much better than anything else.
The humor took me off guard in the book. It’s not throughout the book, but when it hits I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“Now and then some trivial argument would break out between [the men at the mead hall], and one of them would kill another one, and all the others would detach themselves from the killer as neatly as blood clotting, and they’d consider the case and they’d either excuse him, for some reason, or else send him out to the forest to live by stealing from their outlying pens like a wounded fox. At times I would try to befriend the exile, at other times I would try to ignore him, but they were treacherous. In the end, I had to eat them.”
Fans of either Beowulf or good solid literature should check this title out.
Rating: 4/5 (I Really Liked It)
Find it here on Amazon.