Wednesday, September 29, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 50

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Grendel
by John Gardner

GrendelI discovered this novel more than 20 years ago while in college. My main educational focus at the time was upon writing, history and philosophy, and a professor suggested Grendel as it wrapped together all my interests.

I couldn't have picked out a better novel for myself.

This novel is a re-telling of the Beowulf epic poem, told from the point of view of that poem's first antagonist, the monster Grendel.

Right up front I'll you this is not the easiest novel in the world to read, though it is short (for those of us with limited attention spans). It will help the reader to be more than a little familiar with the Beowulf poem, with astronomy, philosophy and to lesser extent history and literature. Gardner does not make this an easy read, but it's not meant to be; Grendel is ultimately a tale of woe that crosses the borders of sanity into existentialism and beyond, even into nihilism.

Don't expect happy endings, and don't expect a fun read. But you might find it an interesting read, perhaps even an enlightening one.

I've also found this novel an odd curiosity because Gardner himself carried a dark side, probably in part due to his involvement in the accidental death of his younger brother, though he also he a quite strong conservative streak.

If nothing else, this novel is an interesting re-hash of an epic story. It's not for everyone, and it's not entertaining reading, but it will get you to thinking.

Up next: Armed and Dangerous: A Writer's Guide to Weapons

5 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I too discovered this one in college, and loved it. I should reread it. I thought it was just a wonderful little novel.

on Chris said...

I found it hard to get into, but worth it in the end. Certainly an interesting novel.

I was wondering if we could change my blog tour date to the 11th, I'm having to postpone things.

Sorry.

on Chris said...

Shit, not logged in as me, it's Chris from Scathach Publishing, Dun Scaith blog. Sorry.

Ty Johnston said...

Chris, not a problem. E-mail me when you've got it ready. Thanks!

Scathach Publishing said...

I've not got your email. Mine is Chriskelly82 @aol.com without the spaces. You can send me your email if you don't want to post it here.