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Beowulf and the Critics (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Vol. 248)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  261 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Tolkien's famous essay was originally a Gollancz Lecture at the British Academy.
Hardcover, 461 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by Mrts (first published January 1st 1936)
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Beowulf by UnknownFinn and Hengest by J.R.R. TolkienThe Anglo Saxon Chronicle by VariousThe Year 1000 by Robert LaceyEcclesiastical History of the English People by Bede
Best Anglo Saxon books
8th out of 192 books — 29 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Oxford University
55th out of 286 books — 31 voters


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Nikki
Tolkien's original essay, Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, was amazing -- if only for its impact on the study of Beowulf. I'm hard-pressed to think of any other essay that changed the world of literary studies so completely. This essay basically sent scholarship in its current direction, rescuing it from the pitfalls of scholarship Tolkien saw in his contemporaries: the tendency to lament the way critics wanted the poem to be something it was not, or to assume that it was what they wanted, ...more
Shep
This academic work by J.R.R. Tolkien, presented in two lecture drafts, is difficult to read. I once tried to read it alongside a Beowulf text and never made it through the book. This past semester, while working on an academic paper about Beowulf, I gave it another go.

Tolkien's insight into the text is fascinating, and I thoroughly enjoy his text-based analysis which stands in sharp contrast to the more speculative critical analysis of his contemporaries. Tolkien desires to, for the most part,
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Jeremy
I didn't read this book, but the essay 'Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics' that came published in the Norton Critical edition of Heaney's translation. Couldn't find a single printing of this essay but it's so great that I wanted to list it separately.

As a life-long Tolkien fan and re-reader of his works, finally reading Beowulf was a revelation. It sheds light on so many aspects of Tolkien's world.

But this essay does the same. In it Tolkien describes the pre-Christian 'doom' that hangs ove
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Laura
An annotation of Tolkien’s lectures on Beowulf I read a few years ago. I jotted down a few passages that pleased me. They seemed to shed some light on why it seems to make cinemagraphic sense to have the “good” powers be Greco-Roman and the “bad” or “neutral” powers have more of a Germanic/Nordic/British cast. Though that may be changing. Hark:


“Of the fair gods of Greece we also hear rumour of wars with giants and great powers not Olympian. Yet this distinction is not clearly conceived. The god
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Flash Sheridan
This edition is a magnificent work of scholarship on Professor Drout’s part; his explanatory notes are worth checking even if you catch Professor Tolkien's references, since he provides copious detail and full contexts for the quotations. Scholars back then showed commendable nobility, and could write, even some of those Tolkien was refuting: “…only they are on the right side, though it is not the side that wins. The winning side is Chaos and Unreason; but the gods, who are defeated, think that ...more
Lisa
In Summary: Read Beowulf & The Critics (B) and Explanatory Notes (A).

I found the edition I read (edited by Michael Drout)a little unusual, and it seems as if it's more set up for someone who wants to study Tolkien's essay, rather than someone who wants to read it in order to study Beowulf. It is split into four main sections: Beowulf & The Critics (A), Beowulf & The Critics (B), Explanatory Notes (A), and Explanatory Notes (B).

Beowulf & The Critics (A) and (B) are the same essa
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Kate
Editor Michael Drout observes that this book will appeal both to Tolkien fans and to Anglo-Saxonists, and he offers his edition primarily to the readers who identify with both interest groups. As a member of that obscure demographic, I must say that Drout's contribution to the fields of Beowulf studies and Tolkein studies is enormous. By publishing two annotated versions of Tolkien's text, it is possible to see the development of The Professor's argument and to see the degree to which this semin ...more
Janelle
This paper helps explain Beowulf as a work of art, and how some of the more puzzling bits, including those that other critics had labeled confused or inept, actually skillfully help create the intended atmosphere of the poem. As a casual reader who'd just read Beowulf for the first time, I found it tough going at times, and he assumes his readers are fluent in both Old English and Norse.
Marloz Ponce
Beowulf es un poema épico anglosajón anónimo, que se considera un clásico de la literatura medieval. Decidí leerlo, o mejor dicho, tuve que leerlo porque va a venir en uno de mis exámenes de literatura. Y qué bueno que lo hice porque me gustó.

En lo personal, no disfruto mucho leyendo historias ambientadas en la edad media, son contadas las que me llegan a gustar. Anteriormente había tenido oportunidad de leer Beowulf, y a pesar de ser algo largo y sus innumerables personajes, es una historia int
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David Jones
This is the monograph that established Tolkien's reputation as an academic in the field of literature. While everyone else was trying (and failing) to interpret Beowulf as a disguised history of events at the time it was written, Tolkien recognized it for what Beowulf is: the first piece of imaginative (aka fiction) literature written in what was English back then.

Good reading if you're inclined towards literary theory and academic study of literature. I think it also illuminates some of Tolkien
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Darrell
This is an academic text that focuses on Tolkien's lecture about Beowulf. This book along with "Monsters and Critics" is credited with being one of the best and possible the first in describing the way to perform critical analysis on literature. It is a little hard to follow but if you are interested in Beowulf and critical review than this is well worth the time required.
Kristy
Oct 19, 2009 Kristy added it
This isnt the exact edition we read, but we recently read Beowulf. I normally read to the girls while we eat, but this was one I just could not read at the table! Pretty gory, pools of blood, guts, veins, it was pretty gruesome in parts. surprisingly, lots of moral teaching moments occured. I'd never heard of this book before and it was fun to read something so different.
Patti
I read Beowulf in Old English in a Norton Anthology text book. I've read it three times. It is our first example of the old Germanic hero in literature. I would recommend it to anyone. Of course, you don't have to read it in Old English like I did.
Melissa
This is an important critical essay and a watershed moment in the study of Anglo-Saxon literature that deserves to be read and taken into consideration by anyone interested in early medieval literature.
Kimberly
I did have to think about some symbolism and what the author was implying for certain aspects of the conflict however after understanding the literary language, this book was very enjoyable.
Lauma Lapa
An excellent read for both the followers of the Professor, and those who would like to gain a deeper insight into the problems of Old English poetics.
Sharman Wilson
I didn't read this version. We read Beowolf my junior year of High School in English literature.
Jessica
I had to read this 3 times for 3 different classes in college. I hated it every time!
Tara Williamson
I was shocked to find this in my study of Beowulf. Completely intriguing.
Jocelyn
good not great
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656983
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE, was an English writer, poet, WWI veteran (a First Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, British Army), philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English lan
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More about J.R.R. Tolkien...
The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe) The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

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“A man inherited a field in which was an accumulation of old stone, part of an older hall. Of the old stone some had already been used in building the house in which he actually lived, not far from the old house of his fathers. Of the rest he took some and built a tower. But his friends coming perceived at once (without troubling to climb the steps) that these stones had formerly belonged to a more ancient building. So they pushed the tower over, with no little labour, and in order to look for hidden carvings and inscriptions, or to discover whence the man's distant forefathers had obtained their building material. Some suspecting a deposit of coal under the soil began to dig for it, and forgot even the stones. They all said: 'This tower is most interesting.' But they also said (after pushing it over): 'What a muddle it is in!' And even the man's own descendants, who might have been expected to consider what he had been about, were heard to murmur: 'He is such an odd fellow! Imagine using these old stones just to build a nonsensical tower! Why did not he restore the old house? he had no sense of proportion.' But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the sea.” 75 likes
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