Shep's Reviews > Beowulf and the Critics

Beowulf and the Critics by J.R.R. Tolkien
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Feb 09, 2010

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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, put aside all speculation as to the intent of the author and how much the story has been altered / changed, and instead interpret the story on its own terms, studying the dual pagan / Christian symbolism. This book is not easily accessible for the average reader, but it opened Beowulf to me in new ways and I learned a lot from it.
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