"It was dull work, you could see by their faces, but it was, for some reason, necessary." (129)

Pagination follows
the Vintage paperback Grendel. New York, 1989.

The Index

Annotated Terms


Related Links

Grendel's Vocabulary

The Grendel Projects

last modified
19 november 2011












An index is a tool, nothing more, nothing less: whether it is used to revisit a favorite passage, to "cheat" by not reading or by jumping to selected passages, or to locate passages for further study, it is not a moral instrument.

Lisa Mirabile, "Origins and Objectives of
An Index to The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje"

This index of John Gardner's novel is an amateur's work-in-progress. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


As a friend has observed, the real power of Learning on the internet is not found in the impressive and overwhelming mass of raw data that exists out here. Real Learning happens on a smaller scale, among the webs of personal connections shaped by common interests and a generous spirit. So I have people to thank.

Many thanks to Suzanne Morine, whose very practical Index to The Catcher in the Rye gave me the big idea - and whose link to the American Society of Indexers gave me a few more. The above-quoted article by Lisa Mirabile has also given me much to think about. Check out her Index to The English Patient.

Thanks to Fr. Bob Carroll for explaining some basic principles of calculus to me. Thanks to Dee Schulten for introducing me to Gardner's letter to Miss West's class. Thanks to the kind members of The John Gardner Discussion List (currently two lists, Gardner-L and Yahoo) who taught me a lot. Thanks to Tom Fasano for generously sharing his resources. Thanks to The Arch and the Abyss for a very useful Checklist of Secondary Sources. Thanks to Bernd Wahlbrink for pushing me to think about a connection between Grendel and Holden Caulfield. Thanks to Donald Buggert for lending a hand with some philosophical/theological intricacies (any goofs are mine). Thanks to Dannielle Spindler-Swart for steering me toward Norse mythology.

Tom Murphy, O. Carm.
Mahwah, NJ

learn more about indexing fiction
visit brtom.org

Written by Tom Murphy, O. Carm. 2000-2003. All rights reserved. Teachers, students, and readers at large may use for non-commercial, educational purposes only.