Grendel

Narrated by: George Guidall
Length: 5 hrs and 30 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (433 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

World renowned critic John Gardner has received prestigious awards for his wide range of literary achievements, including short stories, novels, and essays. When he turns his talents to retelling "Beowulf", the earliest epic in British literature, the result is a work that combines extensive knowledge with a marvelous strain of pure fun.

In Gardner's version of the epic, instead of lauding the helmeted hero, Beowulf, the spotlight shines on Grendel, a beast whose grotesque body and blood thirst condemn him to the life of an outlaw. Grendel is a horrible monster who greedily gobbles up warriors in the Danish mead hall guarded by Beowulf. But within Grendel lurks a soul that delights in dark humor, dramatic pirouettes, and pranks. Both young adult and adult listeners will revel in this powerful complement to a classic tale.

George Guidall's narration captures a surreal landscape that shimmers on the other side of the original epic's heroic mirror. What we see is that there's a little bit of Grendel living is each of us.

©1971 John Gardner (P)1997 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"George Guidall masterfully impersonates the grumbling momma's boy with deliciously sly humor and mock-tragic grandeur. Without ever striking a false note, he maintains throughout such a perfect balance of crudity and poetry that we laugh, cringe and weep all at once." ( AudioFile)

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What listeners say about Grendel

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Unselfconscious, powerful narration.

I love this book. I've read it several times in print. I never would have listened to it for fear that the narrator wouldn't be able to measure up to Grendel's "voice" my imagination -- the way you might hesitate to see the film version of a favorite novel -- but in the end I wound up buying the audio version so that my son could listen to it as we commuted. And in the end, I loved it so much that here I am, writing a review.

This novel is ultimately cognitive as well as sensory and emotional, and it is full of subtleties, but don't expect any restrained, intellectualized treatment of Grendel's thoughts and words here. George Guidall doesn't hold back; he goes for it in a way that feels raw and real. It is a true talent to manage so much intense emotion -- this narrator only sounds histrionic when Grendel does.

I often find "monsters" at least as human as the rest of us, and at least as able to show us the complexities and contradictions of the human state. If monsters appeal to you, don't miss this audiobook. If on the other hand you usually prefer human heroes and villains, but find yourself in the mood for something unusual, moving, comical, and tragic, consider this.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

The monster's point of view

This is a retelling of the Beowulf epic from Grendel's point of view. Grendel, as represented by Gardner, is an interesting character -- sometimes petulant and childish, sometimes witty and droll, sometimes a raging monster, sometimes an earnest seeker of enlightenment. There are parts that become a bit tedious (Grendel whines A LOT), but it's certainly a new way to look at the ancient tale, and Gardner, who was a noted literary author, does not even try to mimic the style of the original. The narration by George Guidall was good; I especially liked the dragon.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A must read for fans Beowulf.

This book made me contemplate my own morality, and what it means to be human. As the tale progressed I truly identified with the monster Grendel.

It was extremely well written, and contains many small references to the ancient tale of Beowulf beyond the obvious characters and locations. The author seems to have had a working knowledge of the actual ancient culture depicted in the original tale.

The narration was impeccable. The author gave the story a gruff tone which resonated well with the nature of the tale.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Monster's Point of View...

George Guidall's interpretation of Grendel provides superb narration of the darker side (the monster's point of view) of the classic epic Beowulf. To be enjoyed by age appropriate younger readers (Grade 8 and up) as well as adults!

10 people found this helpful

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Stunning performance of a spectacular book.

Wow. If only every audio book experience could be so enthralling. I had read Grendel twice before trying it this way, and now that it's done, I just might start over--it's really that good. A performance that truly draws out the genius of the original work. Bravo!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting view point.

Anyone who made it through Beowulf can appreciate another point of view. As we have learned from books like "Wicked", there is always another side of the story besides the hero's. Narration was ok. I didn't like the voice the narrator used for Grendel's thinking. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Grendel's psychosis and torment in this book. It was like a more current version of the MacBeth scene with the skull, except in this case it lasted for the whole book. As the reader you will take an exceptionally twisted trip in Grendel's mind. Enjoy!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Grendel

This book is a great expansion of the epic Beowulf. This was the second reading of Grendel for me. The last time was in the 70s when it first came out. I’ve read Beowulf many times over the years and now I’ve reread Grendel. I recommend it to anyone who loves Beowulf.

1 person found this helpful

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Great fun

Best conversation with a dragon since The Hobbit, and the chat with the priests around the ring of gods was reminiscent of the charm of Terry Pratchett. Some gruesome passages, and the light hearted banter of evil is never dull, filled with memorable lines and great pacing.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Best Listening speed is x1.25

I enjoyed the book, and it really helps to get me back into literature after being away from my education for a few years. Though I did use this for class purposes, I am glad to have used Audible for this. Only had 2 minor negative feelings about this audio-reading. First, as mentioned by my review title, is that the voice reader has a VERY slow speaking. I get it's in case anyone has trouble with understanding the literature at the usual speed, but I read faster than this in 3rd grade. (Granted, the language used in those books wasn't nearly as complex or requiring much thought to their meanings, but this still was really slow. I can't imagine it at the lowest speed.) The other negative is just how each audio chapter is actually 2. I can't say I hate that, as this is just me being picky, but it is easier if I need to go back to check notes for my class if it were just by single chapters. I'm probably being too harsh on this audiobook, but those are my thoughts.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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The dragon's speech is the best part

This is a clever but long-winded retelling of Beowulf from the monster's point of view. Grendel is brilliantly realized as a petulant child, a beast who fancies himself an intellectual, sometimes tries to overcome his brutish nature but inevitably succumbs to the temptation to act like a monster and then blames it on the universe. "See what you made me do?" Grendel seems to be saying throughout the book. The dialog is often clever, but I had the same problem I have with a lot of literary fiction: Gardner's descriptive prose sometimes becomes tedious, especially the interminable and largely irrelevant-to-the-story speeches from the dragon and the priest. I'd really only recommend it if you're a fan of the original Beowulf tale; otherwise it's just a story about a monster who occasionally goes on killing sprees between monologues and bouts of self-pity.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Wexler
  • 11-11-19

Interesting work of literature

Beowulf story from Grendels perspective. Very stream of consciousness at times, but also enjoyable. A different take on the saga

1 person found this helpful