Grendel is a novel by John Gardner that was first published in 1971. This stylistically and thematically postmodern novel is an example of a metafiction—fiction about fiction. Its plot and characters come from the 6th-century Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. Gardner’s twist on the tale is his choice to narrate the story from the point of view of Grendel, the poem's monster—transforming a snarling, terrible beast into a lonely but intelligent outsider who bears a striking resemblance to his human adversaries.


Read our detailed chapter-by-chapter Summary & Analysis or Full Book Summary of Grendel.


See a complete list of the characters in Grendel and in-depth analyses of Grendel, The Dragon, The Shaper, and Beowulf.

Literary Devices

Here is where you will find analysis of the major themes, motifs, and symbols in Grendel. as well as a listing of its genre, tone, and other literary devices.

Quick Quizzes

Test your knowledge of Grendel with quizzes about every section, major characters, themes, symbols, and more.

Deeper Study

Enhance your understanding of Grendel by reading background about John Gardner and the work, literary context about postmodernism, and mini essays about the structure of novel and its connection to the epic poem Beowulf.