Tolkien Lectures: Week One


These notes were originally written by Erik Tracey, transcribed to MS Word by Erik Tracey, and HTMLized by Scott Powers. Enjoy!


The order of the reading is historical - it will follow the order in which it was written.

1937 Publication of Hobbit

1950 appearance in America, followed in a few years by the Trilogy

confusion on content: is it chldren fare or adult material?

Edmund Wilson ->major critic of Tolk. labeled as "escapist": characters not well rounded(?), too one sided- good or evil.

WH Auden ->defender of Tolk. '62 defense see's resonances of all mighty works including Bible

Ace Books published unauthorized version in '60s. Authorized version by Random House/Ballantine

Late 60's TOlk becam a "youth icon"; a must read for the counter culture.

Time Magazine July 1967 Frodo=Bhudda=Jesus

Subsequent authors get their start in wake of Tolk.

Early 70's; first "serious" look at the works.

Sept 73 Death of Tolkien
77 Publication of Silmarillion

John Ronald Ruel Tolkien (tolkuhn = fool hardy or half-witted)

Born South Africa 1892
bit by tarantula at age of 3
Tolkien's father died & buried in South Africa
Liked to read Arthurian and Norse Sagas
mother converted from Church of England to Catholicism
1904 Mother diagnosed w/ diabetes & died later that year
Invented languages w/ rules as a child based on Spanish & Gothic

1910 achieved scholarship to Oxford.

Hike in Switzerland and collected a postcard of mountains/tree/old man w/ beard and hat - pattern for Gandalf. He kept this card.

Joseph Wright - a prof who profoundly impressed Tolk at Oxford on further studies in languages.

Read Mabinogion and Kalevala.

Jan 3 1913, 21st bday, wrote to Edith and proposed.

Works of William Morris impressed TOlk to write of ancient times

Cnewulf Crist
"Eala Earendel engla beorhtast"
"Hail Earendel the brightest angel"

Tolkien impressed w/ this poem and to invent a story around this line.

1st day in WWI he saw a battle where 20,000 allied troops died. Wasted landscape and bodies influenced him so much he never wrote about them.

Coalbiter -> Inlkings
Tolkien, CS Lewis, Chas. Williams, Owen Barfield.

Tom Bombadil -> based on a child's doll who got flushed down the toilet and later rescued.


This page is maintained by:

Scott Powers
NCSA X Mosaic Lead