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Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World Paperback – January 28, 2002
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About the Author
Verlyn Flieger is professor emerita of English at the University of Maryland where she teaches courses on Tolkien, medieval and modern literature, and comparative mythology. She has written three books on Tolkien: Splintered Light, A Question of Time, and Interrupted Music (all published by The Kent State University Press). She has also edited a critical edition of Tolkien’s novella Smith of Wootton Major, and an expanded edition with notes and commentary of Tolkien’s most influential theoretical essay, “On Fairy-Stories.”
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Many of the essays in this work deal with Flieger's analysis of the influence on Tolkien of his fellow Inkling, Owen Barfield. Barfield had developed a linguistic theory of the fragmentation (or splintering) of meaning, which caused Tolkien to rethink many of his own ideas on philology. Flieger demonstrates that Tolkien used Barfield's concept throughout his writings, but most especially in the stories and tales which became The Silmarillion. Flieger's masterly retelling and analyses of many of those tales, especially those dealing with Feanor's creation of the Silmarils, their theft by Morgoth after his destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor, and the ensuing rebellion of the Noldor breathe fresh life into words that I have dearly loved ever since first reading them in 1977.
Splintered Light, like the rest of Flieger's work, is a highly scholarly but accessible and fascinating work. All lovers of the worlds created by J.R.R. Tolkien owe it to themselves to read and savor Flieger's fascinating analyses.
It has also in the later chapters much of interest to say about Frodo and how he was "broken by a burden of fear and horror - broken down, and in the end made into something quite different," as the Professor wrote in one of his letters. "Filled with clear light" he was to become, though we see but the beginning of that transformation and can only guess that it continued after he went West. There is also an analysis of "The Sea-Bell" poem which is my favorite of mine due to its association with Frodo. Another very interesting book from Flieger and my favorite of hers. If you only read one of hers, read this one!