At what stage in J.R.R. Tolkien's reading of other literatures and mythologies did he conceive of the fantastic mythology of Middle-earth that has become so deeply entrenched in contemporary culture? At what point did medieval epic and legend spark Tolkienian myth? The eighteen essays in Tolkien and the Invention of Myth examine the ancient Greek, Latin, Old Norse, Old English, and Finnish sources from which Tolkien appropriated the concepts, images, characterizations, contexts, and theories that inform his own fictional narratives The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion . Understanding his invented mythologies requires a rediscovery of those tales of larger-than-life gods and heroes found in northern myths. A well-rounded and essential reader for any Tolkien lover, the book includes several essays that provide background and context, explaining Tolkien's literary aesthetic and his interest in folklore, his love of philology, and the philosophical and religious underpinnings of his narratives. Among the contributors are well-known medievalists and Tolkien scholars Marjorie Burns, Michael Drout, Verlyn Flieger, David Lyle Jeffrey, Tom Shippey, and Richard West. Tolkien and the Invention of Myth identifies the various medieval mythologies woven into the elaborate tapestry of Tolkien's work, making it a vital contribution to the study of one of the twentieth century's most influential authors.
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Jane Chance, a professor of English at Rice University, specializes in medieval mythography and is general editor of three series, The Library of Medieval Women, the Praeger Series on the Middle Ages, and Greenwood Guides to Historic Events in the Medieval World. She is the author of more than eighteen books, editions, and translations, including Tolkien’s Art: A Mythology for England and The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power.Review:
"Well worth reading"―Modern Fiction Studies
"The written-down equivalent of a roundtable discussion. . . . They trace his back (to Norse myth-to old England-to the classics) and have a wonderful time doing so."―Rockland (ME) Courier-Gazette
"Shows how Tolkien gathers ancient and medieval sources, transforming them into a work applicable to and approachable by a contemporary reader mostly ignorant of any myths beyond the Disney-fied versions."―Seven
"A superb collection of insightful articles. . . . Provides valuable insight into the various traditions familiar to Tolkien, and from which he drew as he developed his personal mythology over the decades."―The Historian
"Every one of these articles provides valuable insight into the various traditions familiar to Tolkien, and from which he drew as he developed his personal mythology over the decades."―The Historian
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