Luke Shelton PhD

— a blog by Luke Shelton

Luke Shelton PhD
Luke Shelton PhD

Why calling Tolkien’s work “A mythology for England” is wrong and misleading

12 February 2022 | Luke Shelton

The idea that Tolkien wanted to create a mythology for England’ is still a popular notion among fans, and it needs to be clarified (and, to be frank, popularized) that this is no longer the prevailing opinion among scholars.

As Jason Fisher points out in his entry for Mythology for England” in the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: This must surely be the most-often cited quotation that Tolkien never actually said” (445).

To find the source of the phrase, one must turn to the biography of Tolkien, written by Humphrey Carpenter. The idea of a mythology for England’ is prevalent in two sections. First, Carpenter describes how Tolkien read a paper on the Kalevala to a college society, and in it began to talk about the importance of the type of mythology found in the Finnish poems. These mythological ballads,’ he said, are full of that very primitive undergrowth that the literature of Europe has on the whole been steadily cutting and reducing for many centuries with different and earlier completeness among different people.’ And he added: I would that we had more of it left – something of the same sort that belonged to the English.’ An exciting notion; and perhaps he was already thinking of creating that mythology for England himself” (Carpenter, 59).…

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The best (and worst) reference books for Tolkien

19 February 2021 | Luke Shelton

There are so many books that propose to be authoritative and essential to studying Tolkien and/​or Middle-earth that I thought it might be helpful for me to put together a list of recommended books. This list is focused specifically on reference books: encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, guides, companions, etc.I have already addressed biographies in a separate post.

In a way, this will help readers interested in digging deeper to avoid texts that may have inaccuracies or fabrications.

I have split my list into books that I recommend and books that I do not recommend. There are, of course, many more reference works that I have not commented on. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. I welcome feedback and additions in the comments! …

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Authoritative information may be found here.

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date recorded 📅2022-01-13
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