>We are all familiar with how Tolkien's scholarship influenced his
>fiction, but recently a thought occurred to me: Is it possible that the
>influence went the other direction as well?
>Specifically, I am thinking of "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics"
>essay. Is it possible that it was the experience of writing what would
>become "The Silmarillion" that gave Tolkien the insight that
>revolutionized Beowulf scholarship?
Coincidentally, I was just finishing re-reading Verlyn Flieger's "Interrupted Music" when I read this query. Near the end of her book she quotes "The Monsters and the Critics" where JRRT says:
"It [Beowulf] is a poem by a learned man writing of old times, who looking back on the heroism and sorrow feels in them something permanent and something symbolical."
Flieger then points out that the same could have been said about Tolkien himself. Quoting a further passage, she says: "...his own mythology is meant to give its readers 'the illusion of surveying a past, pagan but noble and fraught with deep significance -- a past that itself had depth and reached backward into a dark antiquity of sorrow.'"
Coupling this observation with the knowledge that JRRT began work on the legendarium decades before he delivered that Andrew Lang lecture, it certainly seems *possible* that he had drawn on his own experience of his attempts at telling a story meant to be perceived as already ancient, and possibly projected his own feelings about it onto the unknown Beowulf poet.
Nothing can be proven, of course, but it's a plausible speculation.
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