Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Beowulf & Grendel: The Truth Behind England's Oldest Legend Paperback – January 1, 1999


Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$9.00 $0.01

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Watkins (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842931539
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842931530
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4
4 star
5
3 star
2
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 12 customer reviews
Be very careful when reading this book.
A. Holt
The author displays no deep understanding of (1) the language of the work he undertakes to explain (2) physical circumstances of the text he examines.
R. Weber-Hahnsberg
If you have any interest in Beowulf or Germanic, Norse, or Celtic cultural roots, this book is certainly worth a look.
Bruce Rhodes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A. Holt on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an inspiring work. John Grisby has brought a wide array of factors concerning early northern culture together to make his point. His understanding of culture and myth and his obvious enthusiasm for these subjects make this one of the more interesting (and fresh) books to appear on the subject in a long time. Before I go further, I would like to point out that I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Norse/Germanic Mythology. If you are not greatly interested in Germanic and Indo-European linguistics you will enjoy the book greatly, and needn't read the rest of this review. If you are interested in linguistics, please read on.

Be very careful when reading this book. As he is enthusiastic, he is also academically reckless. There are a lot of passages starting with "some have been led to believe..." or "some claim that..." that end with no citation or note - My question to these passages is always "Who believes that, and how do I know that "they" offering an opinion that can be trusted as objective?". Furthermore, he makes it obvious on several occasions that he is no linguist. He offers Indo-European etymologies that don't conform to any known transcription standard, and on several occasions he seems to have trouble discerning Indo-European forms from Proto-Germanic (there is a big difference).

My intention here is not to be harsh, disapproving, or unduly critical. The subject matter of this book resides in a field that has all too often fallen prey to misunderstanding. To exemplify the type of error I am talking about, and to add credence for my objectivity here, I would like to point out two linguistic oversights that can be illustrated without excess circumlocution.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stuart W. Mirsky on April 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book makes the interesting case that the Beowulf poem is less a dim recollection of a particular historical incident or of a strictly mythological tale, than it is a veiled recounting of a religious change that overwhelmed the cultural lives of the ancestors of the English. John Grigsby brings archeological and ethnological studies to bear on this effort to reconstruct the actual circumstances and practices of the peoples who were to become the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (who in turn became the Anglo-Saxons who became today's English). In so doing he suggests that the Norse mythos and pantheon, as we have it from later times, was, in fact, relatively late on the scene and that the proto-English, whom he identifies with the Ingaevones of Roman times, were agriculturalists with a religion that reflected agriculturalist predilections long before they worshipped Woden and Thunor (Odin and Thor in later Viking times).

According to Grigsby, the Beowulf myth is a dim echo of the era in which latecomers in the area, worshippers of the sky gods identifiable with large segments of the later Norse pantheon, overthrew the old ways, ways that required the annual sacrifice of a king to a fearsome goddess and her son. Grigsby makes many connections with the triple goddess worshipping neolithic age that apparently once predominated in the Mediterranean and European areas, with the old myths of the Nile valley and with the old faiths which suffused the area in which Rome arose.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Weber-Hahnsberg on September 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
A very poor effort. The author displays no deep understanding of (1) the language of the work he undertakes to explain (2) physical circumstances of the text he examines.

The work is sloppy. The main point of discussion concerns the historicity of Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel's Mother. Grigsby begins with an examination of the genealogy of Scylding dynasty found at the beginning of the Beowulf. He (as many others have) is drawn to the mysterious figure of `Sheaf', and uses the figure to springboard into what is really the main (and tiresomely repeated) theme of this book: that the fight between Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel's Mother is the dim echo of a ritual of a corn/fertility god's death and resurrection, encompassing both positive and negative aspects of a Neolithic cult's understanding of divinity.

There is very little material to work with from the era of Beowulf - either its mythological setting or the time the text was composed/copied (Grigsby blandly states it was the 11th century). To fill this very large gap, Grigsby turns to a method largely (and rightly) discredited among the majority of modern scholars, namely, comparative myth. Thus, we are taken on grand tours of ancient Egyptian myths about corn; to Greece where we learn about corn myths; to Stone Age burial mounds that we learn are connected to features recurrent in the corn myths. Grigsby's method is circular: if it fits with the corn cult he posits, it is related to the corn cult. Circumstantial evidence is enough to prove the underlying continuity of this surprisingly resilient cult of the corn god.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?