Re: Inspiration the other direction?
- --- In email@example.com, "Merlin DeTardo" <emptyD@...> wrote:
> >>---"Morlin Saarinen" <ebadams2000@> wrote:
> << Specifically, I am thinking of "Beowulf: The Monsters and the
> Critics" essay. Is it possible that it was the experience of
> what would become "The Silmarillion" that gave Tolkien the insightthat
> revolutionized Beowulf scholarship? >>thinking
> Can you be more specific? What in the "Silmarillion" are you
> of, that might have influenced the "Beowulf" essay?there
> It has certainly been argued that "On Fairy-Stories" grew from
> Tolkien's experience writing fiction, and I vaguely remember that
> may be something similar written about "The Monsters and theCritics",
> but nothing in particular is leaping to mind. Maybe Randel Helms,in
> _Tolkien's World_? (However, Helms wouldn't have been discussing_The
> Silmarillion_, which hadn't yet been published.)As I understand it, prior to Tolkien, the norm for "Beowulf"
> -Merlin DeTardo
scholarship was to concentrate on the possibly historical elements
and de-emphasize the fantastical elements. Tolkien realized that the
fantastical elements were as central to the story as anything else,
and that the whole poem should be examined as a whole, unified epic.
It seems not unlikely to me that he may have come to this realization
while writing his own epic(the pre-Silmarillion writings), in which
one certainly would not be able to ignore the fantastical and
understand anything of it.
>We are all familiar with how Tolkien's scholarship influenced hisCoincidentally, 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:
>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?
"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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