Tolkien's Middle-earth
Tolkien's Middle-earth
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His love of literature is contageous

  • Dec 13, 2010

Most of this book is spent discussing literature-- Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, fairy tales, etc. These are not hard-core philology lectures but rather discussions about the works and why they are important to the human condition.

Tolkein's love for these works and topics cannot be understated. He laments that too much emphasis is placed on dissecting rather than appreciating Beowulf, and his discussion of Sir Gawain is again full of love and awe. This is contagious, and one cannot help reading this and want to go back and read the works again.

While the fields of philology relating to epic poetry have moved ahead at a lightening pace since Tolkein's time, and hence some of his statements are rather dated, most of the material is still solid and the sense of appreciation lives on.

In the words of a Scandinavian poet:

Cattle die
Kinsmen die
The self dies too;
I know one that does not die:
The glory of the dead man.

These works are glorious and every medieval lit fan should read them.

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January 24, 2011
Sounds like a good collection. I'll have to check this book out someday. Nice review!
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review by . July 31, 2010
Finding out at the age of ten from the back covers of "The Lord of the Rings" that there were medievalists and that Tolkien was one, I vowed to study what he did. While unlike "Tollers" my doctorate did not lead me to a donnish tenure on an ivy-draped quad, I always admired the humanity and grace not only of his famed fiction but his patient letters and insistent essays. Re-reading his collected criticism twenty-five years after it first appeared, its engrossing paths through …
Quick Tip by . July 31, 2010
Even readers of "The Hobbit" & "Lord of the Rings" may be unfamiliar with Tolkien's scholarship. Collected here are medieval & philological studies that reveal the craft behind the imaginary worlds he created. A bit challenging for those not so learned as he was (and that's all of us!), but it may reward the patient student.
About the reviewer
Chris Travers ()
   I live in a haunted house Beneath a tall and mighty tree   With my wife Mia and my sons Wilhelm and Conrad   Where I write software and carve runes   It is a … more
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About this book


The seven 'essays' by J.R.R. Tolkien assembled in this new paperback edition were with one exception delivered as general lectures on particular occasions; and while they mostly arose out of Tolkien's work in medieval literature, they are accessible to all. Two of them are concerned withBeowulf, including the well-known lecture whose title is taken for this book, and one withSir Gawain and the Green Knight, given in the University of Glasgow in 1953.

Also included in this volume is the lecture English and Welsh; the Valedictory Address to the University of Oxford in 1959; and a paper on Invented Languages delivered in 1931, with exemplification from poems in the Elvish tongues. Most famous of all is On Fairy-Stories, a discussion of the nature of fairy-tales and fantasy, which gives insight into Tolkien's approach to the whole genre.

The pieces in this collection cover a period of nearly thirty years, beginning six years before the publication of The Hobbit, with a unique 'academic' lecture on his invention (calling it A Secret Vice) and concluding with his farewell to professorship, five years after the publication of The Lord of the Rings.

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ISBN-10: 0048090190
ISBN-13: 978-0048090195
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
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