It's been years since I read Beowulf, yet the story remains inside of my mind. A monster like no other. A hero who comes to the aid of others and smites the "dangerous beast". Good shall win while Evil will perish. Yet, what about the monster? Do we just watch him get killed without wondering about his life and background? Thankfully, John Gardner answered those questions.
Grendel is the most philosophical monster book I've ever read and I'm ashamed to admit that it's taken me this long to read it. Yet, it was quite a delight to read as I stumbled through the woods with Grendel, watched him eat the humans, and sat with him and his "mother" in the cave. From the time he is a child to his gruesome death, Grendel's view of the world is that of a hairy and brutal philosopher. He questions what he sees, chooses to believe what he wants to believe, and enjoys taunting the humans on an almost daily basis. I enjoyed the conversation he has with the cantankerous dragon as well as how he torments the would be hero Unferth with much mirth. The death scene was short yet Grendel's mind and thoughts continued to ramble on. He will live in eternity.
I look forward to sampling more of Gardner's works and views on Life and Death and the Absurdity of It All.