The Monster and the Dragon

“The malevolence of Grendel is hot, like malice always is. The rage of the dragon is cold, like the gold it is acquiring or defending. The dragon hates, but it is nothing personal. Grendel hates, and everything about it is personal. With the dragon, killing is a means to an end. With Grendel, killing is the end itself. The dragon is a night-flying outsider. Grendel is a cannibal. So this society is surrounded—hot enmity within and cold enmity without”

Beowulf, p. 127

Allow Me to Ask What Many Think But Are Not Allowed to Ask

Introduction: At times it may appear to us that America is like that fat kid in boot camp, and God is acting the part of a drill instructor who won’t lay off, with an apparent insatiable desire to get that kid to throw up two more times today. To change the metaphor (you’re welcome), it …

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Beowulf’s Inner Child

“But to represent this epic poem as a portrayal of the internal subjective struggles of a narcissistic modern is as anachronistic and foolish as to start looking for Beowulf’s inner child. The poet is addressing a problem which this people as a people knew they had. A poem like this should not be used as a blank screen on which we project problems that we know we have. Maybe Hrothgar was actually worried about global warming or high cholesterol”

Beowulf, p. 123

Putting on Our Coates Coats

Introduction: The only real science involved in all the corona-panic anymore is the science of crowd control. And however poorly our governments may have done with regard to the virus itself, having run out of rest homes to put the contagious in, they have done a marvelous job when it comes to manipulating and all-round …

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Nobility at the End of Its Tether

“The paganism that is so evident throughout this poem is presented to us by a thoroughly Christian poet, and he does not show us this paganism in order to say, ‘See, pagans can be noble, too—even without Jesus!’ Rather, he is doing precisely the opposite—he is refusing to engage in a fight with a heathen straw man of his own devising. He acknowledges the high nobility that was there, but then he bluntly shows us that nobility at the point of profound despair . . . This is nobility at the end of its tether”

Beowulf, p. 114