Archive | October 26, 2007

Grendel’s Mom Has Got It Going On

I’ve finished reading the comic book adaptation of the new Neil Gaiman film version of Beowulf, so I can give a summary for those who want one.

a different Beowulf comic bookLet me first refresh your memory concerning the original story. The monster Grendel and his mum live in a lake near Heorot, castle of King Hrothgar. (No father is in evidence; our conservative friends would probably invoke this fact to explain Grendel’s troubled career.) Enraged by the sound of revelry (evidently Grendel is a Menckenite Puritan), Grendel periodically visits the castle to smash puny humans. No warrior is able to withstand him until Beowulf shows up to save the day. Beowulf lies in wait for the monster and defeats him.

But the castle’s troubles are not over. Next, Grendel’s fearsome mother attacks the castle to avenge her son’s death. Beowulf tracks her back to her watery lair and dispatches her as well.

Then Beowulf returns home and the story fast-forwards. Now he is an aging king who has to deal with a new menace: a fiery dragon, accidentally wakened by a treasure-thief, is ravaging the countryside. Beowulf manages to slay the dragon but, less robust than in his youth, dies in the process. He receives a cool Viking funeral and the saga ends.

So how close does the new movie stick to this plot? For the SPOILER-averse, I’ve buried the answer in the comments section.

The Madwoman in the Basement

Mary Wollstonecraft Regrettably, I’ve never gotten to London’s National Portrait Gallery (I only got as far as the plain old National Gallery nearby). But this story of the fate of Mary Wollstonecraft’s portrait therein is worth a read.

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