And After that it’s Elephants All the Way Done
Wagner’s Grendel is one of the most finely crafted pieces of postmodern fiction because it performs both of the functions with which postmodern literature is tasked. First, it is a work of literature that shines on its own, that offers a significant reward to the reader regardless of whether or not the reader is familiar with literary traditions. Second, the work addresses, incorporates, and analyses traditions of a particular literary form. Grendel is a delight to read while also allowing the reader to explore some of the most important and enduring narrative traditions in Western literature.
Grendel, which was published in 1971, is a parallel novel in that essential to its structure and meaning is another novel. Because it is beautifully written Grendel can stand on its own as a work of art. But because it is based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, if one does not have a familiarity of that work than one cannot understand Grendel in the way in which the author intended it to be read.
Reading Grendel without having read Beowulf is like watching The Wizard of Oz in black and white. The movie would make sense and possess no small amount of beauty, but to understand the movie the way in which the director intended it is necessary to have a color television so that one can see what happens to Dorothy when she realizes that there is more to the world than she was ever permitted to know before.
Grendel is a parallel novel rather than a reprise of Beowulf because while it is a story about the same characters and the narrative arc is the same, the meaning of the story is quite different. Wagner’s story is told from the viewpoint of Grendel, which means that unlike the original version of the story in which the narrator is omniscient and so has access to what every character thinks and desires and fears, the only things that we know are the things that Grendel knows. Among other consequences of this shift in perspective is the fact that when Grendel dies the novel stops. It does not continue to the end as defined in Beowulf.
Grendel tells the same story in a very different way, but the themes remain the same. The 20th century is a search for the differences between good and evil and the way in which we each seek to find meaning in life. (And sometimes even find it.) Wagner’s novel is also about the power of literature to help us make meaning, the ways in which literature creates meaning, and the ways in which different stories talk to each other. It is this last quality of Grendel that marks it most clearly as a postmodern novel, for postmodernism is based on the premise that none of us has direct knowledge of the world around us.
We have only indirect knowledge, and one of the ways in which we come as close to the world as possible is we acquire the best and most authentic is through reading the most important stories. This is the way in which postmodernism refuted the modernist claim that there is a simplicity of a world that can be known (and in large measure controlled) by each one of us.
Wagner could have written an entirely new novel: He was a highly productive writer and certainly did not lack the ability to come up with an idea for another novel that was original to himself. However, he chose to recreate Beowulf because he wanted to connect himself as well as his readers to an older tradition. Beowulf is one of the stories that exist in our collective mind. We all understand that the way in which Beowulf sets forth itself its vision of good and evil has been incorporated over and over again.
Every time we (at least those who grew up touched by Western culture) read a story written for the past 100 years, we are participating in the collective experience of living in a culture that has been influenced by the hero and his (and so very rarely her) quest to meet up with his fate and thus prove to himself his virtuous nature.
Gardner taught Beowulf for a number of years to college students, and it is impossible not to wonder if it was the fact that he himself told the story of the heroic Beowulf over and over again that prompted him to write his own version of the story. When one tells any story so many times, it begins to lose its sense of inevitability. A story told a single time has a particular type of magic; a story told repeatedly loses that variety of power, but allows a great power to rise within the story teller.
Wagner learned over time that any writer can lay claim to the archetypal stories. Beowulf — and Grendel — became his to possess. And once a storyteller comes into possession of a story, s/he do with it as they will. And what Wagner chose to do was to transform the story of a hero into the much more interesting story of a villain.
Other Parallel Novels
Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone is a novel very much along the lines of Grendel in that it not only tells a familiar story (the Civil War saga Gone with the Wind) but also tells it from the perspective of a character who cannot be considered a heroine within the world of the novel. Randall has chosen to tell the story from the perspective of a mulatta slave rather than from the view of Scarlett O’Hara, a privileged white woman. Cynara (the slave) is not a villain in the most obvious sense in the way that Grendel, but she is very much the outsider and outsiders are always suspect.
Cynara is a women between races in a world in which purity of race is essential. Cynara tells a story that the other characters have no access to, and tells it to these other characters who do not want to acknowledge the legitimacy of any perspective but their own. In the fact of compelling us to look at the world from a perspective other than that of the hero, we are forced to consider the very nature of heroism as well as considering our own personal desire (which we surely have each done) to be a hero (The Empire Writes Back: Jane Eyre,
Just as Wagner makes us keenly aware of the fact that there is a world in which Grendel would be the true hero, there is also a world in which Cynara would be if not the heroine at least the stand-in for Cassandra. Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea is another parallel novel that hinges on a character caught between races and thus at home in neither world.
Rhys’s novel serves as a sort of prequel to Jane Eyre, telling the story of Bertha Mason, the monstrous madwomen in the attic. Mason (who in this novel is named Antoinette Cosway) is pinned between the white European aristocracy of Jamaica and the black peoples of that island. Mason, already made fragile by her being denied by both white and black is crushed by the patriarchal worlds both Jamaica and England.
The introductory section of this paper refers to a mytheme (that is, a theme that appears in a number of mythical traditions in unrelated cultures to signify the idea that every idea is balanced on top of another idea. This concept of an infinite regression has often been used by the physicist Stephen Hawking who has said that the earth and the universe that supports it can be conceptualized as a turtle balanced on another turtle and so on into infinity. Any attempt to under the true nature of the universe will only end up in the discovery of another turtle that is precisely the same as the first one (Miller, 1974; Harcourt 1938).
Further study or thought or inquiry will thus produce no greater knowledge of the way in which the world operates. The search for the meaning of this World Turtle (which is central to important religious traditions of Hindi and North American models will produce no new knowledge. This does not, however, release us from attempting to know it better. Postmodernism in its various forms has as its primary goal the creation of links among separate forms of human creative. Put another way, postmodernism creates a conversation among books, pieces of art, music, architecture, a conversation to which we are allowed the chance to eavesdrop. A piece of metafiction like Grendel never lets us as the reader forget that they we are reading a book.
Metafiction describes the capacity of fiction to reflect on its own status as fiction and thus refers to all self-reflexive utterances which thematize the fictionality (in the sense of imaginary reference and/or constructedness) of narrative. Metafiction is, literally, fiction about fiction, i.e. fiction that includes within itself reflections on its own fictional identity. (Hutcheon, 1980; Neumann & Nunning, 2012)
The statement that authors in general try to draw us into their work on such a level might seem nonsensical given that we are generally aware of the fact that you are turning the pages of a book, or skimming through the latest Stephen King on your Kindle. But most authors want to draw you in to their story, to convince you that their characters are as real as your own family. Wagner is reminds you over and again that you can never be one of his family of characters but can never leave the story either until he is done with you as a complement to his story.
Wagner’s Grendel is having a conversation with us as the readers of his story, but as translated through either our previous reading of Beowulf itself or through the fact that even if we have not read the saga ourselves we have been immersed in its conventions. The equivalent of this is what is referred as “breaking the fourth wall” in theatre, as when as actor turns and speaks directly to the audience as if the audience members had become a part of the play even as the actors become a part of the audience.
This permeability of this dividing line between actor and audience has been growing for decades as the conventions that had governed the creation and consumption of art and different artists increase its permeability in different ways (‘Gone With the Wind’, 2001). So while Grendel and The Wind Done Gone are at their heart books about a writer writing a book, about the ways in which writers put words together to tell a story that will engage other people. Works like The Princess Bride by William Goldman, on the other hand, are books about reading books.
Other books that follow this strategy are Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, and The Princess Bride. In both cases — whether the writer reveals the process of how s/he writers or whether the writer continually reminds the reader that s/he is not in control of the story — the power control is shifted. Modernism — as exemplified by writers like Henry James — are in very firm control of the story. There is never any sense on the part of the reader of The Portrait of a Lady that the reader can head off the misery of Isabel’s life.
Waugh (1988) makes the argument that all fiction is metafiction, that every time we listen (either literally or through the reading), we are engaged in the process of acknowledging both that one person is creating a story and that another person has become a consumer of that story (Fludernik,1996, p. 58).
It would be seem to be a substantial leap from the above statement to Carrie’s (1995) contention that metafiction is not a bridge between artist and audience in which each luxuriate in a specific piece of art but rather a bridge between art and judgement. This is a regressive statement because it suggests that there is in fact something close to a real world out there that writers can connect with. Carrie denies the central tenet of postmodernism, which is that texts have nothing to do with the world outside of themselves.
Neumann & Nunning (2012) also argue, although from a very different direction, that the postmodern legerdemain of an author like Wagner is not in fact anything all that radical:
While metafiction has often been perceived as a primary quality of postmodern literature, Wolf & #8230;. stresses that (Western) narrative fiction has contained metafictional elements ever since its beginnings … From Homer to Salman Rushdie, from Don Quixote and Jacques le fataliste to The Remains of the Day, narratives have bared the conventions of storytelling and highlighted their constructed nature. However, its frequency and function vary depending on genres and epochs. The functions of metafiction range from undermining aesthetic illusion to poetological self-reflection, commenting on aesthetic procedures, the celebration of the act of narrating, and playful exploration of the possibilities and limits of fiction. (Neumann & Nunning, 2012)
Wagner, and his readers might strongly disagree. Metafiction is nothing more than storytelling, which, from the very beginnings of humanity has always existed on two levels, one of which is how we tell stories.
Currie, M. (Ed.) (1995). Metafiction. New York: Longman Group.
Fludernik, M. (1996). Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. London: Routledge.
“The Empire Writes Back: Jane Eyre.” Faculty.pittstate.edu. http://faculty.pittstate.edu/~knichols/colonial3c.html.
‘Gone With the Wind’ parody draws challenges, supporters.” http://www.cnn.com/2001/fyi/news/04/13/wind.done.gone/.
Kate, K. “Wide Sargasso Sea and its literary and socio-historic contexts.” Eng.fju.edu.tw.http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/worldlit/caribbean/rhys_eyre.html#Jane.
Hutcheon, L. (1980). Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox. New York: Methuen.
Neumann, B. & Nunning, A. (2012). Metanarration and Metafiction. In Huhn, Peter et al. (Eds.) The living handbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.
Randall, A. (June 2001). The Wind Done Gone. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Rhys, J. (2000). Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin.
Waugh, P. (1988). Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-conscious Fiction. New York: Routledge.
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!
We provide professional writing services to help you score straight A’s by submitting custom written assignments that mirror your guidelines.
Get result-oriented writing and never worry about grades anymore. We follow the highest quality standards to make sure that you get perfect assignments.
Our writers have experience in dealing with papers of every educational level. You can surely rely on the expertise of our qualified professionals.
Your deadline is our threshold for success and we take it very seriously. We make sure you receive your papers before your predefined time.
Someone from our customer support team is always here to respond to your questions. So, hit us up if you have got any ambiguity or concern.
Sit back and relax while we help you out with writing your papers. We have an ultimate policy for keeping your personal and order-related details a secret.
We assure you that your document will be thoroughly checked for plagiarism and grammatical errors as we use highly authentic and licit sources.
Still reluctant about placing an order? Our 100% Moneyback Guarantee backs you up on rare occasions where you aren’t satisfied with the writing.
You don’t have to wait for an update for hours; you can track the progress of your order any time you want. We share the status after each step.
Although you can leverage our expertise for any writing task, we have a knack for creating flawless papers for the following document types.
Although you can leverage our expertise for any writing task, we have a knack for creating flawless papers for the following document types.
From brainstorming your paper's outline to perfecting its grammar, we perform every step carefully to make your paper worthy of A grade.
Hire your preferred writer anytime. Simply specify if you want your preferred expert to write your paper and we’ll make that happen.
Get an elaborate and authentic grammar check report with your work to have the grammar goodness sealed in your document.
You can purchase this feature if you want our writers to sum up your paper in the form of a concise and well-articulated summary.
You don’t have to worry about plagiarism anymore. Get a plagiarism report to certify the uniqueness of your work.
Join us for the best experience while seeking writing assistance in your college life. A good grade is all you need to boost up your academic excellence and we are all about it.
We create perfect papers according to the guidelines.
We seamlessly edit out errors from your papers.
We thoroughly read your final draft to identify errors.
Work with ultimate peace of mind because we ensure that your academic work is our responsibility and your grades are a top concern for us!
Dedication. Quality. Commitment. Punctuality
Here is what we have achieved so far. These numbers are evidence that we go the extra mile to make your college journey successful.
We have the most intuitive and minimalistic process so that you can easily place an order. Just follow a few steps to unlock success.
We understand your guidelines first before delivering any writing service. You can discuss your writing needs and we will have them evaluated by our dedicated team.
We write your papers in a standardized way. We complete your work in such a way that it turns out to be a perfect description of your guidelines.
We promise you excellent grades and academic excellence that you always longed for. Our writers stay in touch with you via email.