J.R.R. Tolkien discussion

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Criticism & Interpretation > Tolkien scholars

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message 1: by Gwyndyllyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Gwyndyllyn | 3 comments I want to put in a plug for Verlyn Fliger - author of many fantastic books about Tolkien's work. I have read Splintered Light, and am currently reading both her dissertation and Interrupted Music. She gets his work in a way no others that I have come across yet have.

Are there any other recommendations for good Tolkien scholars?


message 2: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Carl | 11 comments I don't really know of anyone else by name except Shippey. I've been meaning to read Fliger-- learned about her after reading Barfield's -Poetic Diction- and thought it sounded really interesting. I seem to remember her books being very expensive-- am I remembering correctly? I've seen journals on Tolkien before, but can't remember their names.


message 3: by Dorothy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Dorothy | 2 comments I read Interrupted Music for the English course I took on Tolkien last spring and it was so-so I thought. I don't think Tolkien ever intended to "finish" his mythology persay, which is the idea Flieger seemed especially concerned with. He created a real mythology and mythologies don't "end". Of course we want more but perfectionist that Tolkien was, we're lucky we got The Lord of the Rings at all. Tolkien's legendarium is so real to so many that in many ways the mythology has continued in the authors so deeply inspired by him. I really love what Gene Wolfe, an incredible fantasy author woefully unfamous but highly esteemed in literary circles, wrote about "Tolkien imitators" something we've all heard about in reference to other authors of the genre for all practical purposes born from Tolkien's pen:

"...I have shown you, I hope, what these books have meant to me. If you find echoes of them in my own books and stories...you will not have discomfited me--I am proud of them. Terry Brooks has often been disparaged for imitating Tolkien, particularly by those reveiwers who find his books inferior to Tolkien's own. I can only say that I wish there were more imitators -- we need them -- and that all imitations of so great an original must necessarily be inferior."


message 4: by Gwyndyllyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Gwyndyllyn | 3 comments They aren't terribly expensive. I think all her books are under $20.


message 5: by Gwyndyllyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Gwyndyllyn | 3 comments Interesting...I am reading interrupted music now. I'll have to wait and see what I think about it. I just read her dissertation, which was really insightful, and Splinted Light, I thought, was the best thing I've read so far. I'll have to take a look at Gene Wolfe. Thank you!


message 6: by David (new)

David | 4 comments The big names in Tolkien scholarship seem to be Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger (not "Fliger"), John Garth, Douglas A. Anderson, John Rateliff, and the team of Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull. These people all do exhaustive research (often on JRRT's original manuscripts and the like), and have published informative, highly readable works.

There are also good critical works by Michael Drout, Anne Petty, Marjorie Burns, Diana Glyer, Doug Kane.

Some would recommend Jane Chance, although personally I find some of her conclusions somewhat specious.


message 7: by Scott (new)

Scott Howard (howardsd) | 6 comments David wrote: "The big names in Tolkien scholarship seem to be Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger (not "Fliger"), John Garth, Douglas A. Anderson, John Rateliff, and the team of Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull. These..."

David knows what's up--those are all the names that I ran across while doing the research for my master's thesis as well. Just to add one idea, though, there is a fantastic yearly publication from WVU (I think) called "Tolkien Studies" which probably has the best new scholarship collected in one place.


message 8: by David (new)

David | 4 comments Scott wrote: "there is a fantastic yearly publication ... called 'Tolkien Studies' ..."

Thanks. I was about to mention that when I started feeling like my post had gotten long enough. TS is an academic journal, and each annual volume comes with a hefty price tag. So buy it if you're rich and/or fanatic enough, or see if your local public or university library carries it (or can be persuaded to if they don't already).

There are also some journals that publish Tolkien scholarship in addition to material about related writers such as C.S. Lewis and the other Inklings, George MadDonald, G.K. Chesterton, etc.. One such is Mythlore>, published by the Mythopoeic Society: http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore/


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne Gazzolo | 355 comments Mod
My favorites are Ralph C. Wood's The Gospel According to Tolkien, Verlyn Flieger (most especially Splintered Light, but like A Question of Time also), and Fleming Rutledge's The Battle for Middle-Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in LOTR. Those are the best. You can also check out Peter Kreeft's The Philosophy of Tolkien. I also like Jim Ware/Kurt Bruner - Finding God in the LOTR and Ware's Finding God in The Hobbit. Sarah Arthur's Walking with Bilbo is good too. She also wrote Walking with Frodo.

Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)


message 10: by John (new)

John Rosegrant | 50 comments Flieger's essay collection Green Suns and Faerie also has some very interesting insights.


message 12: by Tara (last edited Feb 22, 2018 11:04AM) (new)

Tara  | 41 comments I have to put a plug in for Corey Olsen who wrote Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. He has been dubbed the "Tolkien Professor." In addition to the above mentioned book, he also founded a university, Signum University, that offers graduate courses on Tolkien, Anglo-Saxon literature, philology, &c. He does podcasts on Tolkien's work, as well as other offerings in fantasy and science fiction. There are annual "Mythmoot" conferences, with the guests for this year including John Garth and Douglas A. Anderson. Tom Shippey has also taught some of the classes offered. I cannot recommend his work enough!


message 13: by Anne (new)

Anne Gazzolo | 355 comments Mod
Splintered Light is my favorite book from my favorite Tolkien scholar! Great stuff, especially beautiful about Frodo. :) I've read Corey Olsen's book too and am in the process of getting my Master's Degree through the online university he founded. One of the classes I took was John Garth using his Tolkien and the Great War. There's also going to be a class from Verlyn Flieger, which I highly recommend coming up next year. It's a repeat from one I took several years. You can audit it if you don't want to pursue a degree. https://signumuniversity.org/admissio...

Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)


message 14: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 41 comments Anne Marie wrote: "Splintered Light is my favorite book from my favorite Tolkien scholar! Great stuff, especially beautiful about Frodo. :) I've read Corey Olsen's book too and am in the process of getting my Master'..."

That is so awesome Anne Marie! Do you attend any of his weekly seminars? I have been participating in his slow and thorough reading of The Lord of the Rings in conjunction with the Lord of the Rings Online game, and we are also reading through The War of the Ring: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Three, which is really fun.


message 15: by Anne (new)

Anne Gazzolo | 355 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "Anne Marie wrote: "Splintered Light is my favorite book from my favorite Tolkien scholar! Great stuff, especially beautiful about Frodo. :) I've read Corey Olsen's book too and am in the process of..."

Hi Tara, no, I haven't done anything else but the classes for my degree. There is so much else I could do if I had the patience and time for a slow and through reading. I listened to a little bit of the beginning of it but haven't returned to it.

Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)


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