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The need for a cogent theory is addressed by a general discussion on source criticism followed by two chapters on the methodology behind the approach.

Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays

This includes answering fundamental questions about the technique. How should source study be undertaken, and more importantly, why? What are its limits? What did Tolkien, and what do other literary critics, have to say about the prac- tice? These studies have been written by a constellation of luminaries in the scholarly community, representing different parts of the world with accordingly different backgrounds and approaches to Tolkien.

Moreover, many of the essays in this collection address lacunae in Tolkien source criticism. At the same time, they remain rooted in the scholarly traditions that have emerged over the past several decades. Indeed, between them, the essays which follow refer to more than three hundred other works, both primary and secondary. In addition, I hope that the collection will inspire other scholars to peer into new corners as yet un- or under-explored.

It was his work, furthermore, that inspired me to begin source studies of my own, and his published works on Tolkien still represent the standard against which effective source criticism should be judged. Equally important, he explains why the discipline is still going strong today. Next, two chapters bookend the methodology of source criticism. Risden has less to say about Tolkien himself; rather, Risden explains the his- tory, background, evolution, and use of source study in a more general sense. But this is valuable for two reasons.


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Second, over the course of the development of literary criticism in the past century, source crit- icism has fallen somewhat out of favor replaced, one after the other, by a whole litany of other approaches ; but as Risden demonstrates, there is no reason to throw source criticism out, nor should it be looked down on when it is done well. In my own chapter on the methodology of source criticism, I pick up where Risden leaves off.

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How do we establish that Tolkien used a particular source? We must be able to demonstrate that Tolkien knew the work in question, so how do we do that? My essay serves to set the stage and establish a set of ground rules for the source studies that follow. These make up the remainder of the collection, and I have arranged them in chronological order by source. The comparison is usually made in a negative sense: the diction is archaic, a dizzying array of one-dimensional characters come and go, it deals with gods and monsters, and so on. But this is not really fair, and Nicholas Birns takes up the comparison in earnest.

Tolkien and the Study of His Sources

Apart from having provided a few proper names, the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Langobards, and other related tribes of Continental Europe have not often been put forward in Tolkien source criticism; however, it is lately becom- ing clearer there are reasons for doing so. From here, we move into the Middle Ages. This period of history, for many reasons, has spawned a disproportionate number of source studies including many of my own , but in the interest of balance I offer just one essay to represent it here. Tolkien himself claimed that the resemblance was only incidental.

Judy Ann Ford takes up another neglected niche in Tolkien source crit- icism: English literature at that liminal point where the late Middle Ages blos- somed into the Early Modern period.

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This is but one case in a series proffered as evidence that Tolkien may have been inspired by The Golden Legend. Moving forward in time, but continuing the exploration of underrepre- sented works in Tolkien source criticism, John D. Rateliff updates a classic comparative study of Tolkien and H. Rider Haggard. Rateliff Reading John Buchan in search of J.

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Interview with Jason Fisher about Tolkien and the Study of His Sources

USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. About the Author Jason Fisher is an independent scholar specializing in J. Long About the Contributors Index Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Green Suns and Faerie: Essays on J. A major contribution to the growing body of Tolkien scholarship With the release of Peter View Product.