John Champlin Gardner Jr. was an American novelist, essayist, literary critic and university professor. As a child, Gardner attended public school and worked on his father's farm, where, in April 1945, his younger brother Gilbert was killed in an accident with a cultipacker. Gardner, who was driving the tractor during the fatal accident, carried guilt for his brother's death throughout his life, suffering nightmares and flashbacks. The incident informed much of Gardner's fiction and criticism. Gardner's best-known novels include The Sunlight Dialogues, about a disaffected policeman, asked to engage a madman fluent in classical mythology and October Light, about an embittered brother and sister living and feuding with each other in rural Vermont. Grendel is his 1971 novel. It begins with the title character engaged in a twelve-year war against the human Danes. In the opening scene, Grendel briefly fights with a ram when frustrated with its stupidity. He then mockingly asks the sky why animals lack sense and dignity; the sky does not reply, adding to his frustration. In a 1973 interview, Gardner said that "In Grendel I wanted to go through the main ideas of Western civilization – which seemed to me to be about ... twelve? – and go through them in the voice of the monster, with the story already taken care of, with the various philosophical attitudes, and see what I could do, see if I could break out". Listen online to free English audiobook "Grendel” on our website to experience John Gardner’s novel.