Figure in the poem Beowulf

Grendel is a 1971 novel by John Gardner. It retells Beowulf from Grendel's point of view.

Chapter One edit

  • And so begins the twelfth year of my idiotic war. The pain of it! The stupidity!
  • (Talking, talking. Spinning a web of words, pale walls of dreams, between myself and all I see.)

Chapter Two edit

  • "I understood that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly—as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back."
  • "That night, for the first time, I saw men."

Chapter Three edit

  • What was he? The man had changed the world, had torn up the past by its thick, gnarled roots and had transmuted it, and they, who knew the truth, remembered it his way--and so did me

Chapter Four edit

  • "He reshapes the world," I whispered, belligerent. "So his name implies. He stares strange-eyed at the mindless world and turns dry sticks to gold."
  • "The Shaper may yet improve men's minds, bring peace to the miserable Danes." But they were doomed, I knew, and I was glad. No denying it. Let them wander the fogroads of Hell.

Chapter Five edit

  • He closed his eyes, still smiling. "Pick an apocalypse, any apocalypse. A sea of black oil and dead things. No wind. No light. Nothing stirring, not even an ant, a spider. A silent universe. Such is the end of the flicker of time, the brief hot fuse of events and ideas set off, accidentally, and snuffed out, accidentally, by man. Not a real ending of course, nor even a beginning. Mere ripple in Time's stream."
  • “Nevertheless, something will come of all this,” I said.
    “Nothing,” he said. “A brief pulsation in the black hole of eternity. My advice to you—”
    “Wait and see,” I said.
    He shook his head. “My advice to you, my violent friend, is to seek out gold and sit on it.”
  • All pigs eat cheese.
    Old Snaggle is a pig.
    If Snaggle is sick and refuses to eat, try cheese.
  • “You improve them, my boy! Can’t you see that yourself? You stimulate them! You make them think and scheme. You drive them to poetry, science, religion, all that makes them what they are for as long as they last. You are, so to speak, the brute existent by which they learn to define themselves. The exile, captivity, death they shirk from—the blunt facts of their mortality, their abandonment—that’s what you make them recognize, embrace! You are mankind, or man’s condition: inseparable as the mountain-climber and the mountain.”
  • "Personally," he said, "my great ambition is to count all this," --he waved vaguely at the treasure around him--"and possibly sort it into piles."
  • "Importance is derived from the immanence of infinitude in the finite."

Chapter Six edit

  • "I've never seen a live hero before. I thought they were only in poetry. Ah, ah, it must be a terrible burden, though, being a hero--glory reaper, harvester of monsters! Everybody always watching you, weighing you, seeing if you're still heroic. You know how it is--he he! Sooner or later the harvest virgin will make her mistake in the haystack." I laughed.
  • "Hey!" he yelled. A forgivable lapse.
  • "Such is life," I said, and mocked a sigh. "Such is dignity."

Chapter Seven edit

  • Pity poor Hrothgar,
    Grendel's foe!
    Pity poor Grendel,
  • Grendel is crazy,
    Thinks old Hrothgar
    Makes it snow!
  • Pity poor Grengar,
    Hrothdel's foe!
    Down goes the whirlpool:
    Eek! No, no!
  • I will count my numberless blessings one by one.

    I. My teeth are sound.
    I. The roof of my cave is sound.
    I. I have not committed the ultimate act of nihilism: I have not killed the queen.
    I. Yet.

Chapter Eight edit

  • (O hear me, rocks and trees, loud waterfalls! You imagine I tell you these thing just to hear myself speak? A little respect there, brothers and sisters!
(Thus poor Grendel,
anger's child,
red eyes hidden in the dark of verbs,
brachiating with a hoot from rhyme to rhyme.)
  • "All systems are evil. All governments are evil. Not just a trifle evil. Monstrously evil."
  • "If you want me to help you destroy a government, I'm here to serve. But as for Universal Justice--" He laughed.

Chapter Nine edit

  • The trees are dead. The days are an arrow in a dead man's chest.
  • Something is coming, strange as spring. I am afraid.
  • "It is I," I say. "The Destroyer."

Chapter Ten edit

  • Tedium is the worst pain.
  • I am not the only monster on these moors.
    I met an old woman as wild as the wind
    Striding in white out of midnight's den.
    Her cloak was in rags, and her flesh, it was lean,
    And her eyes, her murdered eyes...
  • Nihil ex nihilo, I always say.

Chapter Eleven edit

  • I am mad with joy.--At least I think it's joy.
  • O happy Grendel! Fifteen glorious heroes, proud in their battle dress, fat as cows!
  • His voice, though powerful, was mild. Voice of a dead thing, calm as dry sticks and ice when the wind blows over them. He had a strange face that, little by litte, grew unsettling to me: it was a face, or so it seemed for an instant, from a dream I had almost forgotten. The eyes slanted downward, never blinking, unfeeling as a snake's. He had no more beard than a fish. He smiled as he spoke, but it was as if the gentle voice, the childlike yet faintly ironic smile were holding something back, some magician-power that could blast stone cliffs to ashes as lighting blasts trees.
  • I understood at last the look in his eyes. He was insane.
  • The Geats build up the fire, prepare to sleep.
    And now, silence.
    It is time.

Chapter Twelve edit

  • Grendel, Grendel! You make the world by whispers, second by second. Are you blind to that? Whether you make it a grave or garden of roses is not the point. Feel the wall: is it not hard? He smashes me against it. Hard, yes! Observe the hardness, write it down in careful runes. Now, sing of walls! Sing!
  • "I sing of walls," I howl. "Hooray for the hardness of walls!"
  • Terrible, he whispers. Terrible. He laughs and lets out fire.
  • “As you see it it is, while the seeing lasts. Time as coffin; dark nightmare history. But where the water was rigid, there will be fish, and men will survive on their flesh until spring. It is coming, my brother. Believe it or not. Though you murder the world, transmogrify life into I and it, strong searching roots will crack your cave and the rains will cleanse it. The world will burn green- sperm build again. By this I kill you.”
  • "Poor Grendel's had an accident," I whisper. "So may you all."

External links edit

Wikipedia has an article about:

Wikipedia page on Grendel the monster