"Grendel": John Gardner's Reinvention of the "Beowulf" Saga

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The relationship of John Gardner's novel Grendel to Beowulf presents a variety of intriguing problems, among them the extent to which the novel may parallel the poem, the irony created by inherent dissimilarities between the two works, and the overall location of Gardner's work within literary and critical traditions. Specifically, Gardner's creation of a protagonist from English literature's famed first monster is, by its nature, an ironic inversion. Whether such irony reflects Gardner's desire to critique modern society, and if such commentary leads the work toward a postmodern unraveling of the poem's ethical foundations---or if, indeed, it merely emphasizes them---remains a matter of controversy amongst scholars. Fueling this debate is the further question of how closely one should consider Gardner's heated polemic against postmodernism, On Moral Fiction. This dissertation examines Grendel as a reinvention of Beowulf, both as an ironic counterpoint and as a celebration of the poem. The focus concerns Grendel's character development from innocence to depravity, locating this within Gardner's views on artistic morality. Indeed, significant correlations exist between the novel's structure and the poem's sequence of three battles. Examining such parallels provides exciting answers to longstanding scholarly inquiries concerning Gardner's seeming departures from the events in the poem, as well as locating the novel within Gardner's theories on moral art.Then Panzer, according to Chambers, discusses Beowulf in relation to Beara#39;s Son and many other folktales (451-452). ... for the Beowulf poet, and, while he mentions Tolkiena#39;s allowance for possible discrepancies in the poem, quotes Tolkien, anbsp;...

Title:"Grendel": John Gardner's Reinvention of the "Beowulf" Saga
Author:Sandra M. Hiortdahl
Publisher:ProQuest - 2008


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