STEFAN EKMAN "I t is made of tales often told before and elsewhere, and of elements that derive from remote times" (MC 72). This is how J.R.R. Tolkien described the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but it is a description which would fit much of Tolkien's fiction equally well. The world of Arda and the many stories set therein carry within them echoes of earlier tales, and even though it would be terribly reductive to discuss Tolkien's work only in terms of its sources, knowledge of where the echoes come from contributes to our understanding and, perhaps more importantly, enjoyment of his world and stories. This is illustrated as much by the numerous university courses that discuss Tolkien and his literary roots as by the scholarship that examines Tolkien's texts in terms of medieval language as well as literature. Indeed, many readers take great pleasure simply in identifying an echo from "remote times," be it a connection between Merlin and Gandalf, the philological roots of the woses in Sir Gawain's wodwos, or similarities between the battles of Fingolfin and Morgoth in The Silmarillion, and Arthur and the giant in The Faerie Queene. Many echoes
Tolkien Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jun 14, 2009
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