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J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Monsters And The Critics: And Other Essays

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,101 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Sześć z siedmiu esejów prezentowanych w niniejszej książce J.R.R. Tolkien wygłosił podczas publicznych wykładów przy przy różnych okazjach, i choć w większości nawiązują one do studiów nad literaturą średniowieczną, są zrozumiałe nawet dla osób bez profesjonalnej znajomości tematu. Dwa z nich dotyczą "Beowulfa" - jeden, powszechnie znany dał tytuł całej książce; drugi, dot ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 3rd 1983 by HarperCollins (first published 1936)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nikki
Oct 24, 2011 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tolkien was a pretty devastatingly smart guy, who didn't only create a world and languages of his own, but was a serious and intelligent scholar who knew many languages, modern and archaic, and had a wide interest in different literatures and mythologies. This volume contains seven of his academic essays: for a modern academic, the volume of his work -- however influential and inspiring -- would be insufficient, with the pressure to publish all the time. Good thing he isn't a contemporary academ ...more
Neil
Prior to the delivery and publication of these lectures in 1936 the poem of Beowulf was mined by scholars looking to find information on Germanic antiquities, some for nationalistic reasons and others out of a genuine interest in the past, but few explored the poem for its own literary merits.

Major publications on the poem included works by Axel Olrik and R.W. Chambers, while both books made vast explorations into the origin of the legends and comparisons between Scandinavian material, neither
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Dana
Jul 05, 2008 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish had Professor Tolkien around to pick his brain, but this book is an adequate substitute, and, I think, indispensable for anyone who teaches Beowulf. Tolkien's titular essay is largely responsible for changing the attitude toward Beowulf in literary circles. The epic was considered important for what it could teach us of the Anglo-Saxons, but it was Tolkien who convinced the literati that it had literary merit, too. Highly recommended to fans of Beowulf.
Snowfalcon
Mar 11, 2009 Snowfalcon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title essay is approaching 90 years old and remains both readable and important.

In a few pages Tolkien elucidates a few principles which are still incompletely grasped.

First, that the art and acts of our ancestors were not crude, quaint and haphazard.

Second, that a thing -- be it poetry or a tree -- should be taken for what it is, and respected by exploring what it is without preconceptions. Let a thing stand on it's own a bit before rushing to prop it up.

Third, upon those themes he guides
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Ron
Oct 29, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary collection of Tolkien essays from the 1930s to 1950s. Make no mistake, these addresses were serious presentations to serious, and qualified audiences; which the casual reader is not.

His essays on Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight changed my perception of those works. His essay on translating Beowulf adds to my appreciation of the challenges of both translators and readers of translated texts. His On Fairy tales I have lauded elsewhere, was it appears also in The Tolkie
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Francesco Scarlata
Uno studente del professor Tolkien di Oxford ricorda così: “Non credo di averle mai detto quale indimenticabile esperienza fosse per me, da studente, ascoltarla mentre recitava il Beowolf. La sua voce era la voce di Gandalf.”
Leggendo i saggi contenuti in questo bel volume curato dal figlio Christopher, ci si immerge in modo diretto nella mente di uno dei più grandi scrittori del ‘900. E sembra davvero di essere seduti in un’aula dell’università di Oxford, con di fronte un simpatico stregone, dal
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Bryn Hammond
May 12, 2014 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-and-romance
The title essay (still going for best title of a critical essay) together with 'On Translating Beowulf' capture that poem, at least if you are a romantic like me. Gloriously written and elegiac in mood, these may rob your heart, and perhaps you can cheat, read them instead of Beowulf and yet understand.
Jenny
Jan 23, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the last three essays in this book much more than the first few. Tolkien's analyses and arguments for his value of Beowulf and Sir Gawain came off to me pedantic and overly intellectual. His passion was clear, but I didn't find the narrow topics interesting enough for a general readership. These essays would make sense as reading assignments in an English graduate-level course, but I couldn't get into them just for fun. The last few essays were much more interesting to me. I enjoyed th ...more
Brandon
5 stars but only for people interested in either Beowulf, Tolkien, or Bilbo (if you read it in his voice, this essay is quite endearing).
Lucinda
Feb 11, 2016 Lucinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*review to be posted*
Erin
Mar 29, 2009 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Defenders of Myth
Recommended to Erin by: Same professor in Anglo-Saxon class where I read Liuzza's Beowul
The first time I read it, I swooned. Then I revisited it in grad school, and I swooned again. There is only one author I've ever read who would not only understand but also think to write the following:

"And in the poem I think we may observe not confusion, a half-hearted or a muddled business, but a fusion that has occurred at a given point of contact between old and new, a product of thought and deep emotion.
"One of the most potent elements in that fusion is the Northern courage: the theory of
...more
Krzysztof
Nie była to prosta i przyjemna lektura.

Tolkien sam przyznawał, że nie był specjalnie dobrym wykładowcą - i niestety lektura jego wykładów to potwierdza. Choć jego pasja dla podjętych tematów jest jasna, to sposób w jaki wykładał był bardzo chaotyczny. Skakanie od tematu do tematu, złożone sformułowania, nonsensowne wtrącenia i ogólne ścieżki rozumowania - wszystkie te elementy składają się na tekst który trudno jest zrozumieć gdy się go czyta, a co dopiero słucha. Ma tutaj znaczenie fakt, że bez
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Joel Mitchell
Jan 17, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As you read through these essays you can see how Tolkien's work as a philologist (both in the sense of a professional linguist and as someone who truly loved words) was one driving force in his fiction.

This is especially apparent in "A Secret Vice" and the last 6-7 pages of "English and Welsh." In these two places he shares with us his hobby of creating imaginary languages (based partly on what letters/phonemes/sounds he deems aesthetically pleasing) which demand/create their own mythology/hist
...more
Edoardo Albert
Sep 13, 2014 Edoardo Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many reviews already about this, and not much to add to those, so I thought I'd pick a different angle: Tolkien's thought, was it more like Gandalf, or more like Saruman? A strange idea, but reading in particular the essays on his field of professional study there is a sense of a mind at work very like Saruman's, at least before he becomes ensnared by the desire for the Ring, a mind subtle and proud, a mind seeing deep into the hidden workings of language and thought and there seeking scholarly ...more
Phillip
Oct 05, 2015 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Tolkien's "The Monsters and the Critics" was a speech he gave when he received one of his academic chairs. The speech single highhandedly revived the discipline of Anglo Saxon studies from a dying thing to something we are still studying.
This speech presents one of the few times the author used allegory.
Michael
The edition I got from the library was not the complete edition which has been most recently published (also including "On Fairy-stories", "English and Welsh", "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", "On Translating Beowulf", "A Secret Vice" (about imaginary languages), and an Oxford Valedictory address), but an old library edition containing only the title essay. This work on the Beowulf poem was itself very fascinating, although I would have liked to read the others as well. In it Tolkien explores ...more
Melora
Jun 24, 2014 Melora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this for the title essay, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics," and also the one on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Those did Not disappoint, and "On Fairy-Stories" was also very good (I'd read it before, but it had been a while!). With the other essays in this collection, there was always Some interesting stuff, but also a fair lot that was either beyond my understanding (especially the case with "On Translating Beowulf," although, having just read Tolkien's newly released Beowulf, ...more
Burt
Jan 28, 2014 Burt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scholarship
This brief monograph was the first external work of scholarship I read by JRR Tolkien. What a master thinker and writer he was! It is my understanding that this work led to the "resurrection" of scholarship for Beowulf and it's almost universal appearance in literature texts today. A marvelous, though a bit dense, read. The date for my reading this monograph is pretty accurate for the year, but the month and day are purely random.

Tolkien was a professor of Old English at Oxford and it is largely
...more
Eadweard
Fantastic essays, Tolkien's love for languages and myths permeates through all of them. I specially liked "Welsh and English".
Gloria Sun
Mar 12, 2016 Gloria Sun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uh. I understood about half of this lecture. I'll come back after I've mastered Old English and read The Aeneid. But I feel like I definitely have a deeper appreciation of the work as "an echo of an echo". I found it pretty illuminating that Tolkien argued that "it is just because the main foes in Beowulf are inhuman that the story is larger and more significant than this imaginary poem of a great king's fall." And he got to the heart of myth itself; "myth is alive at once and in all its parts, ...more
Devero
May 06, 2015 Devero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una raccolta decisamente interessante di saggi del Professore, tra cui spiccano "Sulle Fiabe" e "Tradurre Beowulf", ma anche "Un Vizio Segreto" e "Inglese e Gallese". Anche se decisamente tecnico, dovrebbe esser letto da qualunque vero appassionato dell'opera di J.R.R.Tolkien.
“Beowulf, il mostro ed i critici” è una critica a tutti coloro che in passato hanno criticato il testo, non capendo di partenza di che cosa si trattava, cioè di poesia.
“Tradurre Beowulf” è correlato alla sua opera di revis
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Nicholas Whyte
Sep 01, 2013 Nicholas Whyte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2154968.html[return][return]This is a collection of seven lectures by Tolkien, of which I think I had previously read only "On Fairy Stories" and "A Secret Vice". As always, they are an interesting insight into how his mind worked, or at least how he wanted us to think it worked. The more academic pieces (in particular the second, "On Translating Beowulf") are somewhat moored in academic controversies of their time, which may or may not have subsided by now and whic ...more
Haplila
Jul 06, 2014 Haplila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I already loved LOTR, and this book made me love that series even more. My favorite essay out of the collection was "On Fairy Stories." Whether you're a writer or a reader, it's definitely worth investing some time into. You'll walk away from it with a new appreciation for the significance of stories in our lives.
Kay
Mar 23, 2015 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting lecture, but perhaps addressing issues which are no longer relevant. However, it was an excellent short introduction to a great many themes and aspects of the poem.
Vicky
Jun 20, 2015 Vicky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many great things in here to dip into, whether you're a Beowulf, fairy-tales, or language buff, and of course if you're looking for clues on how he came up with the LOTR story.
Jacopo Piermattei
Chi vuole conoscere il Tolkien filologo, medievista, e linguista deve passare da qui, qui dove il creatore della terra di mezzo lascia spazio dall'accademico.
Gretchen
Oct 11, 2015 Gretchen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Tolkien is brilliantly insightful on a level that few achieve. His knowledge of language and literature shine in these essays. The five star rating is for a literary scholar. For a fan only of Tolkien's fiction, this may or may not be interesting. But for anyone interested in Anglo Saxon or medieval lit, or in linguistic distinctions, this book is a treasure.

Essays include an analysis of Beowulf as a poem, Gawain, the process of creating languages, and drawing distinctions within the discipline
...more
Jana
May 08, 2016 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All of these lectures and essays were extremely interesting. I feel my interest in Tolkien only grow as I myself study linguistics as well as Scandinavian Studies, two subjects Tolkien himself was very involved in as well.
Mariana
May 28, 2016 Mariana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Y lo terminé. Duré como casi 2 meses leyéndolo y eso que no es lo que se dice largo pero es que era a veces denso y definitivamente, no es un libro para leerlo de corrido ni rápido.
Pero eso no quiere decir que sea malo, a mí me encantó leer los ensayos y/o discursos de JRR Tolkien (uno de mis autores favoritos de todos los tiempos), fueron muy interesantes y los temas captaron toda mi atención y que sí, es un libro más académico y de análisis pero igual me encantó y mi ejemplar quedó lleno de p
...more
Seth Holler
Jan 09, 2016 Seth Holler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of fun. Hear-hear for readable scholarship. Skipped the appendices.
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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
...more
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