The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays by J.R.R. TolkienThe 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 with Beowulf, including the well-known lecture whose title is taken for this book, and one with Sir 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.
Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics
Beowulf the Monsters and the Critics by J R R Tolkien
In he delivered this lecture about Beowulf to the British Academy. By historians, philologists, archaeologists etc it has been mined for information about Germanic customs and religion and clothes and warfare. But Beowulf is not a historical document: it is a poem, a work of art. It is indeed a curious fact that it is one of the peculiar poetic virtues of Beowulf that has contributed to its own critical misfortunes. For these critics, the Beowulf poet was guilty of crass bad taste in banishing these moving adult tragedies to the periphery and placing at the centre of the poem a series of childish folk tales, dealing with creatures out of fairy story or nursery rhyme.
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The Record of a Curious Learner and Education
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Today, the prevailing wisdom is that folklore and mythology are the keys to spiritual enlightenment. They are handy watering places for us as we follow our Road To Bliss. Tales of magic, monsters and the like nourish us, for they clue us in to bits of reality that we cannot grasp through the scientific method. Moreover, they felt that there was something childish about mythology. Tolkien, however, argues that in his encounters with these creatures from Hell, Beowulf confronts evil in its most pure form.
Tolkien on literary criticism on the Old English heroic epic poem Beowulf. It was first published as a paper in that year in the Proceedings of the British Academy , and has since been reprinted in many collections. Tolkien argues that the original poem has almost been lost under the weight of the scholarship on it; that Beowulf must be seen as a poem, not just as a historical document; and that the quality of its verse and its structure give it a powerful effect. He rebuts suggestions that the poem is an epic or exciting narrative, likening it instead to a strong masonry structure built of blocks that fit together. He points out that the poem's theme is a serious one, mortality, and that the poem is in two parts: the first on Beowulf as a young man, defeating Grendel and his mother; the second on Beowulf in old age, going to his death fighting the dragon. The work has been praised by critics including the poet and Beowulf translator Seamus Heaney. Michael D.
Critical Lens : Tolkien writes before the easily divisible schools of literary criticism have appeared. They are a kind of shorthand for physical manifestions of very real cosmic evil, an evil that is enhanced by the echoes of real battles and other legends that the poet has decorated the corners of his work. Ultimately, Tolkien argues, the poem is more an elegy than an epic, a poem of contrasts young and old; beginning and ending than a narrative. Passages Unpacked: Tolkien tends to talk in general terms about Grendel and the dragon rather than about the specific fight sequences. Beowulf brings his fight back to his home, and thus gives us a hingepoint for the poem, a sense of a young warrior on the rise and eager to share his gifts contrasted with the suddenly years-into-it king who must fall to his final opponent. You are commenting using your WordPress.