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The Monsters and the Critics

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The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays
The Monsters and the Critics.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (editor)
Released1983 (1st edition)

The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays is a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien's scholarly linguistic essays and lectures. The book was published posthumously in 1983, edited by Christopher Tolkien.



Some of the essays included in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays had been published before, while some appeared for the first time in print.

The book also contains a foreword by Christopher Tolkien.

Relation to the Legendarium

As these essays are of a scholarly nature, there are scarcely any direct references to the legendarium of Tolkien. However, the essay "A Secret Vice" contains a final section of Notes by Christopher Tolkien, where he points to references to The Book of Lost Tales and also reprints a later version of one of the Elvish poems, being "one of the major pieces of Quenya"[2].

Editions, selection

  • 1983: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  • 1984: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • 1997: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. HarperCollins. ISBN: 026110263X. Paperback, 256 pages.

From the cover/back

The seven 'essays' by J.R.R. Tolkien assembled in this new paperback edition were with one exception delivered as general lectures on particular occasions; and while they mostly arose out of Tolkien's work in medieval literature, they are accessible to all. Two of them are concerned with Beowulf, including the well-known lecture whose title is taken for this book, and one with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, given in the University of Glasgow in 1953.

Also included in this volume is the lecture English and Welsh; the Valedictory Address to the University of Oxford in 1959; and a paper on Invented Languages delivered in 1931, with exemplification from poems in the Elvish tongues. Most famous of all is On Fairy-Stories, a discussion of the nature of fairy-tales and fantasy, which gives insight into Tolkien's approach to the whole genre.

The pieces in this collection cover a period of nearly thirty years, beginning six years before the publication of The Hobbit, with a unique 'academic' lecture on his invention (calling it A Secret Vice) and concluding with his farewell to professorship, five years after the publication of The Lord of the Rings.


  1. Scull, Christina & Hammond, Wayne G., The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology, p.817.
  2. Chistopher Tolkien, "Foreword", p.4.