Troubling race, ethnicity, and masculinity in Beowulf
‘guest’) are taken from Beowulf , where it is used to describe Grendel (102a) and the dragon (2312a). It is not hard to imagine that an oral performer could have played on the quasi-homonymy of gæst and gǣst as well as the semantic sliding between the threatening and the benign senses of the former word to underscore the blurring of the lines between them in everydaylife.
My point is that Grendel and his mother would have been seen not necessarily as demonic, but as
, however imperfectly, takes its audience outside of the
norms and conventions that structure everydaylife; this may simply be
a liberation from real-time and real-space, but equally it provides an
opportunity for the radical formation of new times and spaces.
A polemical introduction 15
Fictional worlds necessarily have limits – the limits of what is (for audience and author) possible – but, generally speaking, the more flagrantly
a text promotes itself as fiction, the greater are its opportunities to test