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Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays [Paperback]

Jason Fisher
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 22, 2011 0786464828 978-0786464821
Source criticism--analysis of a writer's source material--has emerged as one of the most popular approaches in exploring the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien drew from many disparate sources, an understanding of these sources, as well as how and why he incorporated them, can enhance readers' appreciation. This set of new essays by leading Tolkien scholars describes the theory and methodology for proper source criticism and provides practical demonstrations of the approach.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This critical collection provides a solid defense of the sometime-maligned literary discipline of 'source-hunting' along with outstanding examples of the value of this approach in understanding the depths of Tolkien's literary creation." --Douglas A. Anderson, author of "The Annotated Hobbit"

"A valuable book for anyone serious about Tolkien. It not only adds new, confirming material to what is known about Tolkien's sources but covers areas of influence previously denied or underplayed." --Marjorie J. Burns, author of "Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth"

"The most exhaustive examination yet published of demonstrable, probable, 1and conjectural sources for Tolkien's legendarium." --Verlyn Flieger, author of Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World

From the Back Cover

"This critical collection provides a solid defense of the sometime-maligned literary discipline of 'source-hunting' along with outstanding examples of the value of this approach in understanding the depths of Tolkien's literary creation." --Douglas A. Anderson, author of The Annotated Hobbit

"A valuable book for anyone serious about Tolkien. It not only adds new, confirming material to what is known about Tolkien's sources but covers areas of influence previously denied or underplayed." --Marjorie J. Burns, author of Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth

"The most exhaustive examination yet published of demonstrable, probable, 1and conjectural sources for Tolkien's legendarium." --Verlyn Flieger, author of Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (July 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786464828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786464821
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jason Fisher has been reading and thinking about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien for more than thirty years. Today, he is an award-winning writer and independent scholar specializing in J.R.R. Tolkien, the Inklings, and Germanic philology. He is also the editor of Mythprint, the monthly publication of the Mythopoeic Society.

Some of his recent publications include entries in the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (Routledge, 2006), as well as chapters in Tolkien and Modernity (Walking Tree, 2006), The Silmarillion: Thirty Years On (Walking Tree, 2007), Truths Breathed Through Silver: The Inklings' Moral and Mythopoeic Legacy (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien (McFarland, 2010), and Middle-earth and Beyond: Essays on the World of J.R.R. Tolkien (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011). Jason has published scholarly essays and book reviews in Tolkien Studies, Mythlore, Beyond Bree, North Wind, Renaissance, and other publications.

Tolkien and the Study of His Sources is Jason's first full-length collection. He has spoken at many universities and conferences, delivering lectures on J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings; contact him directly about his availability to speak at your college, library, conference, or convention. You can reach him at his blog, Lingwë - Musings of a Fish (http://lingwe.blogspot.com).

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend * * * * * * August 13, 2011
By J. Long
Format:Paperback
Jason Fisher has done an admirable job editing this collection of essays (he is also a contributor). This book remains the single best essay collection on Tolkien's sources. If nothing else, you should buy this book for the contributions by topnotch scholars Tom Shippey (author of The Road to Middle-earth & Tolkien: Author of the Century), John D. Rateliff (editor of the two-volume History of The Hobbit), and Diana Pavlac Glyer (author of The Company They Keep). All three of these writers have received the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for their books.

There are a number of other articles by lesser known Tolkien scholars, but they are just as interesting and astute. Beyond the three mentioned above, my personal favorites were Kristine Larsen's "Sea Birds and Morning Stars," and Thomas Honegger's "The Rohirrim: 'Anglo-Saxons on Horseback'?"

The one criticism I have of this collection is I wish that it was a bit longer--I personally would have liked to have seen at least one contribution from the editors of Tolkien Studies (Anderson, Drout, Flieger). And, of course, there is still much more to be said about Tolkien's sources--this book doesn't pretend to be exhaustive (is any book?), but it remains a worthwhile contribution to Tolkien studies in particular and source study in general.

I highly recommend this book to general readers and libraries alike. If you like books about Tolkien and his fiction, this is a must have and must read. It is multifaceted enough for everyone to find something enlightening, thought-provoking, or compelling. I, for one, found all three.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must read for academic Tolkien fans January 11, 2012
By Arador
Format:Paperback
"Tolkien and a Study of His Sources" is a collection of essays written by current Tolkien scholars, reflecting on different works and authors who may have influenced Tolkien. Three introductory chapters (written by Tom Shippey, E. Risden and Jason Fisher) address source criticism itself, to give the reader a better understanding of the topic. Included among the Tolkien topics addressed are: Biblical and Mesopotamian sources, ancient Greek myths and stories, Byzantium and Gondor, Anglo-Saxons and the Rohirrim, William Caxton's "ring" stories, the influence of H. Rider Haggard and John Buchan on Tolkien's writing. Each chapter is footnoted and contains a list of sources, for those seeking more information.

Though Tolkien himself did not like source criticism and he discouraged fans from trying to deconstruct his works I feel that this book has much to offer the modern reader. Modern readers are even further removed from the works that Tolkien studied and loved than when his books were first published, and I feel that this book helps regain some of the ground that has been lost. I am a fan of Tolkien's works and have done some academic reading on the Professor. This book contains academic essays, and I learned a great deal from it. Some chapters were of higher personal interest to me, such as the Anglo-Saxons and Byzantium, but the variety of topics benefited the book. It's definitely peaked my interest to read several of the works listed in the bibliography.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By D. Kane
Format:Paperback
The study of Tolkien's sources is a somewhat controversial topic, in large part because the author himself seem to suggest that source study was a dubious proposition, famously quoting George Webbe Dasent, who said "we must be satisfied with the soup that is set before us, and not desire to see the bones of the ox out of which it has been boiled." Yet as is true about so much about this complicated man, it is not so simple. Tolkien's creativity was sparked by so many different influences that it is impossible to comprehend how he created his immensely popular art without examining those sources, and how he incorporated them into his "soup". Jason Fisher has brought together some of the brightest lights in Tolkien scholarship to provide the most comprehensive examination of this important topic that has yet been gathered. And the best thing about this collection is that it helps to open the door to more; far from making any pretensions at being "complete" (which would be a foolishly impossible claim to make) this book leaves the reader both satisfied and ready for more!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for All Tolkien and Literature Lovers September 7, 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a must read book for all lovers of Tolkien and related literature and studies. I have long been a fan of Jason Fisher's blog Lingwe Tales of a Fish where he has explored narrative and linguistic links between key primary world source works and how they influenced Tolkien and the development of his legendarium. Now Jason has advanced this even further by putting together a book that is not only an excellent study of the types of source materials Tolkien used to cook his "soup" but also has given us a "how to" manual on how to work with source materials and how they may have or not influenced Tolkien. This is a book I will refer to many times and have already read some of the chapters twice The insights by such leading Tolkien scholars as Tom Shippey, Thomas Honegger, John Rateliff, Mark Hooker and Jason Fisher himself (among many others) are invaluable and this book fills a gap in Tolkienian scholarship that is much needed. I always judge the usefulness of a book by the number of highlights and underlnes in it after only the first pass at reading and believe me this book is well marked. i would recommend this first of what I hope will be many more books by Jason very highly to all and think it will be used and much referenced in Tolkien and related studies going forward.
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