Mar. 9th, 2011

lady_branwyn: (Niphredil)
Most of Tolkien's scholarly output has been superceded by more modern research and translations. However, his lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" (which has to be one of the best titles of all time--my money is on the monsters) remains an influential work seventy-five years after its publication in 1936.
At that time, critics were more interested in the poem as an historical document than as a work of literature. References to magic and monsters were disparaged as irrelevant interpolations. In his talk, Tolkien champions the supernatural aspects of the story, saying that they are vital to its meaning. He also discusses the mingled elements of Christianity and paganism and the poem's nostalgic view of an heroic past (sound familiar?).
It is interesting that Tolkien's most famous and enduring academic work was published relatively early in his career, before the LOTR required his creative energy. I always wondered what his bosses at Oxford thought when they found out that he was writing a massive work of fiction!

Wikipedia article about "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics"

Text of "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics"

Note: One of the highlights of my undergrad career was finding an excuse to cite Tolkien in a paper. :D

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