Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Nom de Blog

This is a post I made on my other blog, but just as relevent here.

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep I thought: "I really should write a blog post to explain why 'Grendel' is my blogging name".

Then I had a truly original thought "Hey - a blogging name is a 'Nom De Blog'!"

Of course, when I Googled 'Nom de Blog' this morning I found 59,400 results, this post will make that 59401 - so much for an 'original thought'!

Sadly I have not coined a new term, and has even been defined in online dictionaries.

Ah well - doesn't change the purpose of this post!


Grendel is a march-stepper, a 'boundary-land walker', and an antagonist of the hero Beowulf. He is described in an early anglo-saxon epic 'Beowulf' that is found in the Nowell Codex and as such represents one of (if not the earliest) anglo-saxon work of fiction written and recorded.

JRR Tolkien - a professor of the Anglo-Saxon language, knew the saga well and inevitebly elements of the story found their way into his own fiction.

A march-stepper was one who wandered the desolate reaches of a land and they could be both admired and feared for they spent their lives away from the closeness of a village existing amongst the monsters of the mind and the night that anglo-saxons feared.

Years ago, I was studying to be an english and science teacher and while much of the literature we discussed was modern, we did have a lecturer with an interest in earlier works. References to Beowulf, Grendel and Heorot were made and peaked my interest for I had only recently read a science fiction story by Larry Niven called 'Legacy of Heorot' in which a creature that comes to be known as a 'grendel' terrorizes the recent arival on a planet.

All of a sudden I had some context for the modern story from the early one and my interest in the characters and situation of the early anglo-saxon tale has continued since that time.

My career has in some ways also stretched my comfortable boundaries making me a 'march stepper' to myself and at times I seemed to end up working 'on the edge' of situations more often than not.

Now of course my life is a lot more settled and the wildernesses that I range now are more of the imaginative and intellectual types.

When choosing a name to use online, I chose Grendel - I still don't really know why, but I've used it in online games, forums, bulletin boards, chats and blogs for a decade now and I notice that there are a lot of other 'grendels' out there these days. It seems the character has become quite popular and used in modern literature and event comic strips. There is a computer array known as a grendel and more recently a number of movies about the events at Heorot.

It seems that one of the earliest stories and its characters will live on for quite some time. Googling images of 'Grendel' delivers a bewildering array including some wonderful sketches of a dark and mysterious monster, lurid covers from comic books and even (curiously) a small white child's shoe with flowers on it.

Nothing at all to do with coffee or scrapbooking eh?


Karen said...

Beowulf is one of my favorite stories and when I first read your blog, I was intrigued on why you would use Grendel as your name.

Thank you for sharing this even though it wasn't scrapbooking related.

By the way, me and my husband have been enjoying reading your blog.

Anne-Marie Cox said...

mmmmmmm... my DD has the shoes you speak of LOL... curiouser and curiouser... I am feeling rather educated now... love your blog... good for the general knowledge brain cells me thinks!

Rhi said...

I love your blog, it makes me smile, giggle, laugh out loud and sometimes even splurt my tea out! I've nominated you for a smiley award, pass it on if you have time!

sharon said...

It cant be just me coming by every day to see if youve written anything new to make me giggle. Surely!?

Dee Dee said...

I thought for sure the reference was to scrapbooking as a desolate land where there were no manly landmarks and comforts. ;)

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