Tolkien and the Study of His Sources

Critical Essays


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About the Book

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. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here

About the Author(s)

Jason Fisher is an independent scholar specializing in J.R.R. Tolkien, the Inklings, and Medieval Germanic philology. He is also the editor of Mythprint, the monthly publication of The Mythopoeic Society, and has written for Tolkien Studies, Mythlore, Beyond Bree, North Wind, Renaissance, and other publications.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jason Fisher

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6482-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8728-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Abbreviations      xi
Jason Fisher      1

Introduction: Why Source Criticism?
Tom Shippey      7

Source Criticism: Background and Applications
E. L. Risden      17

Tolkien and Source Criticism: Remarking and Remaking
Jason Fisher      29

The Stones and the Book: Tolkien, Mesopotamia, and Biblical Mythopoeia
Nicholas Birns      45

Sea Birds and Morning Stars: Ceyx, Alcyone, and the Many Metamorphoses of Eärendil and Elwing
Kristine Larsen      69

“Byzantium, New Rome!” Goths, Langobards, and Byzantium in The Lord of the Rings
Miryam Librán-Moreno      84

The Rohirrim: “Anglo-Saxons on Horseback”? An Inquiry into Tolkien’s Use of Sources
Thomas Honegger      116

William Caxton’s The Golden Legend as a Source for Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
Judy Ann Ford      133

She and Tolkien, Revisited
John D. Rateliff      145

Reading John Buchan in Search of Tolkien
Mark T. Hooker      162

Biography as Source: Niggles and Notions
Diana Pavlac Glyer and Josh B. Long      193

About the Contributors      215
Index      219

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Finalist, Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies—The Mythopoeic Society
  • “An intriguing work that provides another angle on one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century”—Midwest Book Review
  • “Well-written and well-edited volume…excellent…can serve as a how-to guide for both research and writing”—Beyond Bree
  • “The collection will be of interest to scholars and dedicated readers of Tolkien…the essays are well documented”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
  • “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, and conjectural sources for Tolkien’s legendarium.”—Verlyn Flieger, author of Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World