Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages: Holly Ordway

— review by Martin Simonson

15 October 2021 | Journal of Inklings Studies, Volume 11, № 2, 260

When attending a Tolkien seminar in Jena in 2007, I remember talking with a medievalist scholar and friend who had recently researched Tolkien’s readings in the Bodleian archives. At the time, I was putting the finishing touches to a book about the dialogue between different narrative genres in The Lord of the Rings, both ancient and modern, and I was feeling a little frustrated about the lack of serious scholarship on Tolkien’s engagement with post-medieval literature. When I asked my medievalist friend if all he found were references to Old and Middle English texts, I was overheard by another colleague, sitting next to us. Why, of course,’ the latter exclaimed with an astonished smile; what did you expect?’ I agreed that the medieval emphasis was only to be expected in Tolkien’s professional life but then went on – to my second colleague’s barely concealed mirth – to express a wish to see a full list of Tolkien’s personal readings. There was more to a writer’s education than just his professional life, and I felt that something was missing in the overall picture of his influences. My incredulous colleague now laughed out loud.…

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date recorded 📅2022-01-27
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