American medieval historian explains how Tolkien inspired her love for Welsh folk tales


An American medieval historian has explained how J. R. R. Tolkien inspired her love for Welsh folk tales.

Rebecca Fox Blok, who worked at the Medieval Institute, at Western Michigan University, said the theories of the linguist, scholar and author of the Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy encouraged” her to study Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi (The Four Branches of the Mabinogi).…

In an article for the North American Welsh Newspaper, Ninnau, she explained how Tolkien, who held a professorship of English language and literature at Oxford, gave a lecture in 1955 called English and Welsh”, which she says, argued that English philologists ought to study Welsh as carefully as they do Norse or French”.…

Unsurprisingly, the lecture is mostly about languages and their history — how English and Welsh impacted one another in their development — but it is also very revealing about Tolkien’s ideas of ethnic identity and the value of a language that many Englishmen of his era pooh-poohed as irrelevant, out-dated, and ugly.…

But in his lecture, Tolkien, unexpectedly, rejects such ignorant perspectives.… To be ignorant of Welsh is to be ignorant of an important part of the history of English, Tolkien argues.

But he concludes, the real reasons that Welsh ought to be more studied are these: Welsh is of this soil, this island, the senior language of the men of Britain; and Welsh is beautiful.’ …

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source URL 🌐Nation.Cymru - A news service by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales.
date recorded 📅2021-08-25
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