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Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J. R. R. Tolkien's Fiction [Paperback]

Elizabeth Solopova

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Book Description

30 Jun 2009
Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary background of J. R. R. Tolkien's Fiction introduces languages and literatures which were particularly important for Tolkien as a writer. Tolkien was a university professor, specialising in early Germanic languages, such as Old English, Old Norse and Gothic. He also, on many occasions, wrote about his fascination with the Finnish language and epic poetry. As is well known, these professional and literary interests had an enormous influence on his creative writing, including his mythology and invented languages.

Languages, Myths and History provides brief introductions to Old Norse, Old English, Gothic and Finnish languages and literatures, and discusses key aspects of their influence on Tolkien's fiction. The book demonstrates how Tolkien's literary-critical, philosophical and moral ideas, particularly his understanding of heroism and courage, were inspired by medieval literature and folklore. The book offers an overview of Tolkien's invented languages and his principles for language creation. In addition it provides a summary of Tolkien's academic career.

Features include:

- chapters on languages and literatures which inspired Tolkien as a writer;

- a discussion of Tolkien's literary-critical and philosophical ideas influenced by medieval literature, such as his 'theory of courage';

- a detailed overview of the history and language of the Goths, rarely offered as part of university courses, and little known to students of literature;

- an extract from Jordanes's Gothic History and a discussion of its influence on Tolkien;

- an introductory discussion of Tolkien's languages and alphabets, a notoriously confusing subject, rarely approached in an accessible, non-technical way;

- further reading' sections with suggestions for additional study.

This book is a clearly written introduction to some of Tolkien's most important ideas, as well as more specialist aspects of his fiction, such as its grounding in linguistics and medieval culture. The book is essential reading for students of literature and anyone with an interest in Tolkien as a writer.

Product details

  • Paperback: 107 pages
  • Publisher: North Landing Books (30 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981660711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981660714
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14.6 x 0.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 898,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Dr Elizabeth Solopova works in the Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University. Her research focuses on medieval manuscripts, literature, historical linguistics and the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien. She is a co-author, with Dr Stuart Lee, of The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and Key Concepts in Medieval Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 30 Oct 2010
By G. Boyd - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I highly enjoyed this short book. It was well written and very informative. If there is ever a second edition, an added feature of sample text with translation for all the languages presented should be considered. This was partially done in the chapter on Gothic, and was an excellent little sample of one of the languages that served as Tolkien's influences. I've recently ordered the collaborative effort by Elizebeth Solopova and Stuart Lee, and I'm very much looking forward to it.
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