Marty Peretz & Grendel’s mother. Same-same.

Beowulf & Grendel's mother. Or is that Marty Peretz?

Someone on Twitter reminded me today that I actually once discussed Grendel (the monster in the Beowulf story) and Marty Peretz (an Islamophic monster in modern letters) in a single breath.

I had no recollection of this at all, but it sounded so much like me that I googled “grendel peretz emily hauser” — and lo! There it was! On Balloon Juice.


A) How much do I love the internet and the Google subset of the internet? OMG, soooo much!

and B) This so amused me that I had to share the actual comment with you. Behold:

Monsters are not always monsters, not in every waking moment of their lives. Grendel’s mother loved him, and that’s why she came to avenge him. She was still a monster.

Which is to say: I loathe Marty Peretz, and made rather a stink about it when the anti-Muslim shit hit the fan. But it is possible that, in addition to being a loathsome xenophobe and racist, he is generous to a fault with those he likes, and possibly also good at cards. Who can tell.

Seriously. Who else do you know who would do such a thing? I’m a special snowflake, I am.

For your Beowulf/Grendel needs: Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (the Seamus Heaney version), Beowulf (a middle-school appropriate re-telling) and Grendel (a re-telling from the vantage point of the monster). And yes, I really have read all three — I read the second one out loud to the boy, and will read it to the girl in a year or two. Geek is as geek does, my friends!

h/t @HoldenDCat


4 Responses to Marty Peretz & Grendel’s mother. Same-same.

  1. Peretz certainly is deserving of being loathed. It’s a good thing the New Republic have basically shoved him off into a corner.

  2. ‘A middle-school appropriate retelling’. This book cuts out the genealogies and is half as long as the original? That’s not entirely snark. It could be a good story if you do that. Oral cultures’ love of implanting family trees in their legends didn’t survive into modern literature.

    • It is absolutely that. It manages to maintain the narrative and the punch and the humanity within the mythology without so much of what drags the original down for the modern reader. Anyone who wants to know the story without having to deal with the enormous difficulty of the original text is well served by this version (the illustrations are not consistently good, but that’s an entirely different issue!).

  3. Hey! What about Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead”, which is a “what if?”–as in, “what if the story of Beowulf had been an actual even witnessed by an Arab traveling with Vikings?”

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