Frequently exploring philosophical questions, his novels sometimes derive from literary sources. Gardner first gained notice with Grendel (1971), which recasts the story of Beowulf with the monster as the protagonist. In his controversial work of criticism, On Moral Fiction (1978), Gardner defends the importance of maintaining a high moral purpose in fiction and criticizes his contemporaries for indulging in cleverness at the expense of the traditional strengths of the novel. He also wrote On Becoming a Novelist (1983) and The Art of Fiction (1984). Many of his critical essays were collected in On Writers and Writing (1994).
See biography by B. Silesky (2004); studies by D. Cowart (1983) and L. Butts (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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