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Grendel Essay

1231 words - 5 pages

In 1971, American author John Gardner wrote Grendel. With a mastermind of creativity, John Gardner successfully retells the classic epic poem, Beowulf. He captures the reader by giving an interesting view of order and chaos, good and evil, hero and monster, allowing the monsters point of view to be seen.

On July 21, 1933 John Gardner was born in Batavia, New York. He was the son of a preacher and diary, and his mother taught English. They were very fond of Shakespeare and loved to recite literature. Gardner spent his early days attending school, playing French horn, and working on his dads farms. In April 1945, Gardner's brother was killed in an accident with a cultipacker on their family farm. Gardner was driving the tractor during the team of the accident. He took the guilt for his siblings death, and as a result he suffered from nightmares and flashbacks. Taken over by the guilt and self-hatred, he beings to perfect his playing of the French horn; he use the instrument as a blockade from the outside world, allowing him to withdraw from his family and other forms of company(Winter 13).This feeling of guilt will be transfer into his writing, such as in the short story "Redemption", which recounts the accident (Winter 13).

Gardner graduated from Batavia High school, and enrolled into DePauw University. He married Joan Louise Patterson in 1953, and went in to attend Washington University. After graduating from Washington University in 1955, he went on to attend the University of Iowa, where he studied medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature(Howell 1). After receiving his doctoral degree, Gardner spent a period of time teaching at Chicago State College, Oberlin College and San Francisco College(Howell 2). In 1965, he became an associate Professor at Southern Illinois University, where he specialized in teaching medieval literature. (Howell 2).In addition to teaching and writing, he also edited scholarly books for the Southern Illinois University Press; he was a creative and talented teacher, author, and editor.

Although the promotion of Gardner's first novel The Resurrection (1966) wasn't a hit at all, and The Wreckage of Agathon (1970) apprehended a mixture of reviews. It was the appearance of Grendel in 1970, however, that brought him true fame and recognition. Richard Locke of the New York Times called Gardner "a major contemporary writer" and other viewers were just as enthusiastic (Howell 2). John Michael Howell comments that though Grendel may have been written in a short period of time, its natural resonance suggests that the monster-hero (Grendel) has been lurking in Gardner's imagination for a great deal of time (Howell 61). Which in all reality not only makes the story successful but also intriguing.

Beowulf is an epic poem that was originally told between the eighth and eleventh centuries. It is the first surviving epic to be written in the English language. The single existing copy...

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