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The Monsters and the Critics: And Other Essays. J.R.R. Tolkien Paperback – April 1, 2007
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This collection will appeal to you if you are any kind of devotee of medieval English literature. Even if Tolkien had never written his great fantasy novels, he'd be revered for his work in Old English, especially as a champion of the poetic reputation of "Beowulf," a poem he almost single-handedly wrested from historians and philologists and set in its proper place at the root of English literature.
He also makes an eloquent case for the essential connection between the study of language and that of literature. If you consider yourself a student of great writing, but have only read Anglo-Saxon poetry in someone's "translation," Prof. Tolkien will politely shame you out of complacency.
In his valedictory address, speaking as a native of South Africa, he says, "I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think White."
The book will also appeal to you if you have spent years immersed in the world of Middle Earth. Though there are scarcely any direct references to LotR in these essays, they illuminate the mind behind the masterpiece -- the quirky love of languages, the vision of fantasy as a godly act of creation, the deep Catholic faith.Read more ›
Of these essays, the two most interesting are undoubtedly the two that have appeared most often in print-- the first Beowulf essay and "On Fairy Stories". "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics", of course, is the most important article on Beowulf of the 20th century. Incredible as it may now seem, prior to Tolkien, Beowulf had been seen primarily as a curious linguistic-literary artifact, useful as a source of information about the early Germanic past (customs, language, laws, toponymy, etc.). Tolkien was the first critic to draw attention to the poem *as* a poem and to point out that the central literary structure of the tale revolves around the hero's battles with them monsters, which previous critics had dismissed as mere fabulous emendations to a tale whose primary value was historical.Read more ›
This knack, as T.A. Shippey, his successor in his position at Oxford, has argued in "The Road to Middle Earth," depends on "asterisk reality," or what JRRT calls here more delightfully "star-spangled grammar." (237) As his son and editor Christopher explains: "the reference is to enquiry into the forms of words before the earliest records; in those studies the conventional practice is to place an asterisk before hypothetical, deduced forms." (n. 3, 240) This may seem dry to non-academics or those lacking a fascination with philology. But for Tolkien and his audience, the invention of sustainable elements of his myth depended on the languages he concocted-- and vice versa.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Got it for the chapter, "On Fairy Stories." A little weighty, yet insightful. I enjoy fairy-tales, CS Lewis, Grimm, HC Anderson and my new favorite, "The Troll of... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Tony Foglio
There's much here of worth to the Tolkein scholar, not the least of which is the opportunity to see The Master's evaluation of the critics who did or did not see what he was up to. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Russell L. McCollom III
I recently bought and read Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, and found Tolkien's notes to the text wonderfully illuminating. Read morePublished 17 months ago by rd
I have not read this yet, but how can it not be interesting. Of course, he is the scholar who discovered Beowulf and brought the manuscript to life. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Threads
if you have a tolkien collection or know someone who does this book is a must have for that collection though not about middle-earth it is a great read about tolkiens studies as a... Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Tom Brooks
Tolkien is a careful commentator. All the essays and lectures in this book enhance the reading of his translations. Warmly recommended.Published on July 25, 2013 by Christopher Lawson
This book has the essay that is the reason why we still read Beowulf, namely, Beowulf: The Monsters and Critics. Read morePublished on July 16, 2013 by Greg Camp
Finally available after years being out of print, this book provides amzing insight into the development of fairy tales and modern myth. Read morePublished on March 19, 2013 by James Attwood
I had heard of this book and had hunted for it everywhere. So glad to find it on Amazon. I used it for my Brit. Read morePublished on January 13, 2013 by Rachel E. Moore