Teacher Guide

Grendel Lesson Plan

Introduction to Grendel

Grendel was first published in 1971. The novel serves as a retelling of the famous Old English literary work Beowulf, narrated from the perspective of the monster (the titular Grendel). Gardner intended Grendel to be considered a philosophical novel, exploring the “main ideas of Western Civilization” (Joe Don Bellamy & Pat Ensworth, "John Gardner," in Conversations With John Gardner, Allan Chavkin, ed., University Press of Mississippi, 1990, p.10). Its nihilistic and sometimes inconsistent antihero is said to have been inspired by the French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre.

Key Aspects of Grendel


Narrated by its titular character, the novel’s verbose and flowery style very...

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