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Root and Branch — Approaches towards Understanding Tolkien

Cormarë Series No. 2

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The Monster, the Critics, and the Public: Literary Criticism after the Poll

Thomas Honegger

The Man in the Moon: Structural Depth in Tolkien.

Thomas Honegger.

In this paper, I look at 'structural depth' in Tolkien's work by means of discussing the various occurrences of the figure of the Man in the Moon. The development of high and low mythologies that have grown around this character in both the real world and Middle-earth are investigated in detail. I argue that Tolkien's multi-layered treatment of the motif imbues it with a complexity and depth that needs not shun any comparison with the real-world tradition that looks back over centuries.

Tolkien and his Critics: A Critique.

Patrick Curry.

My paper addresses the question of why Tolkien's work is simultaneously so enduringly popular with readers and so abhorrent to literary critics. It locates the answer in what I define as modernity, as a project to which the latter are heavily committed but about the former are very worried. Both sets of people are responding (in different ways) to the anti-modernism implicit in Tolkien's creation, which - I argue - has been justified by subsequent events, and in the light of which his book has assumed a new and urgent set of 'postmodern' meanings. I criticise Tolkien's modernist critics (including literary modernist, Marxist, feminist and psychoanalytical variants) in some detail, as well as sketching out those positive meanings.

Re-enchanting Nature: Some Magic Links between Margaret Atwood and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Christina Ljungberg Stuecklin.

Although, at first sight, Margaret Atwood and J.R.R. Tolkien would seem to have little in common, a closer look reveals some intriguing affinities. Both writers use classical and popular mythologies to discuss issues of fundamental human concern; elements of the fantastic appear throughout their narratives, and both endow their characters with archetypal traits. Atwood's investigation of the metaphysical nature of The Lord of the Rings in her PhD thesis where she fits into the English tradition of the metaphysical romance offers interesting inroads into the works of both authors.


Reviews of Root and Branch

Review published in Variations (literature magazine of the university of Zürich) No. 4 (2000).


Information on the first edition of this book (out of print) can be found here.

158 pages, Walking Tree Publishers 1999, second edition 2006, Cormarë No. 2, Editor: Thomas Honegger , ISBN: 978-3-905703-01-6.

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