Key Facts

Key Facts

Title: Grendel

Author: John Gardner

Type of work: Novel

Genre: Postmodern novel; prose poem; parallel novel; coming-of-age story (definition varies)

Language: English

Years(s) written: 1969–1970

Place written: San Francisco

Date of first publication: 1971

First publisher: Knopf

Narrator: Grendel

Narrator's point of view: Grendel usually narrates in the first person, sharing his thoughts and observations, but sometimes also narrates from the perspective of another character

Tone: Grendel tries to keep up a detached, satirical tone, but this is regularly prevented by sincere emotional outbursts

Tense: Present, though there are many flashbacks in the first eight chapters

Setting: The 4th century, A.D.

Location: Denmark

Protagonist: Grendel

Antagonist: Primarily Hrothgar and Beowulf, but every character besides Grendel can potentially fulfil this role

Primary conflict: Grendel grapples with the apparent pointlessness of the universe and his own place within it

Exposition: Grendel is a “ridiculous monster” engaged in an “idiotic war” with humanity.

Rising action: Grendel learns the philosophical views of the Shaper, who is the most important musician and storyteller in Hrothgar’s community, then speaks to a powerful dragon, who mocks those views and presents an alternative. The Shaper uses art to create meaning out of life, while the dragon accepts life as meaningless.

Climax: Grendel chooses to create meaning in his life through...

Sign up to continue reading Key Facts >

Essays About Grendel