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Refining the Gold: Tolkien, The Battle of Maldon , and the Northern Theory of Courage

Refining the Gold: Tolkien, The Battle of Maldon , and the Northern Theory of Courage MARY R. BOWMAN n a work filled with acts of courage and even self-sacrifice, few such acts in The Lord of the Rings are more memorable than Gandalf 's confrontation with the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm. Blocking the Balrog with his body, his power, and his full authority as one of the Istari, he buys time for the rest of the Fellowship to escape, at the cost (however temporarily) of his own life. Like many other aspects of Tolkien's work, this scene, as Alexander Bruce has demonstrated in a 2007 article, was shaped in part by Tolkien's reading of a text important in his professional life, in this case The Battle of Maldon. Bruce argues convincingly that Gandalf 's refusal to allow his enemy to cross the bridge is a pointed response to a crucial moment in Maldon when the English earl Byrhtnoth allows such a crossing. While Bruce's article is an important contribution to our growing understanding of the role of Maldon, it gives only a partial picture of that role. In addition to revising Byrhnoth's behavior in this scene, Tolkien elsewhere rewrites the actions of most of the other characters in the poem. While http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Tolkien Studies West Virginia University Press

Refining the Gold: Tolkien, The Battle of Maldon , and the Northern Theory of Courage

Tolkien Studies , Volume 7 (1) – Aug 25, 2010

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West Virginia University Press
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Copyright © West Virginia University Press
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Abstract

MARY R. BOWMAN n a work filled with acts of courage and even self-sacrifice, few such acts in The Lord of the Rings are more memorable than Gandalf 's confrontation with the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm. Blocking the Balrog with his body, his power, and his full authority as one of the Istari, he buys time for the rest of the Fellowship to escape, at the cost (however temporarily) of his own life. Like many other aspects of Tolkien's work, this scene, as Alexander Bruce has demonstrated in a 2007 article, was shaped in part by Tolkien's reading of a text important in his professional life, in this case The Battle of Maldon. Bruce argues convincingly that Gandalf 's refusal to allow his enemy to cross the bridge is a pointed response to a crucial moment in Maldon when the English earl Byrhtnoth allows such a crossing. While Bruce's article is an important contribution to our growing understanding of the role of Maldon, it gives only a partial picture of that role. In addition to revising Byrhnoth's behavior in this scene, Tolkien elsewhere rewrites the actions of most of the other characters in the poem. While

Journal

Tolkien StudiesWest Virginia University Press

Published: Aug 25, 2010

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