Tolkien, Race and Cultural History

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Tolkien, Race and Cultural History:
From Fairies to Hobbits
Tolkien, Race and Cultural History.jpg
AuthorDimitra Fimi
PublisherBasingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan
Released20 November 2008 (28 July 2010)
FormatHardcover (Paperback)
Pages252 (256)

Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits is a 2008 book by Dimitra Fimi.

The book was the winner of the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies for 2010 (Mythopoeic Society, USA), and was shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award for 2009 (Folklore Society, London).[1]

From the publisher[edit | edit source]

'Tolkien, Race and Cultural History' explores the evolution of Tolkien's mythology by examining how it changed as a result of Tolkien's life story and contemporary cultural and intellectual history. The book considers Tolkien's creative writing as an ever-developing 'legendarium': an interconnected web of stories, poems and essays, from his early poems in the 1910s to his latest writings in the early 1970s. Consequently, the book is not restricted to a discussion of Tolkien's best-known works only ('The Hobbit', 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Silmarillion') but examines the whole corpus of his legendarium, including the 12-volume History of Middle-earth series, which has received little attention from critics. This new approach and scope brings to light neglected aspects of Tolkien's imaginative vision and addresses key features of Tolkien's creativity: the centrality of the Elves and the role of linguistic invention in his legendarium, as well as race and material culture in Middle-earth.

Contents[edit | edit source]

  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Conventions and Abbreviations

1. Introduction

  • His 'private and beloved nonsense': The Silmarillion and the 'Silmarillion'
  • A Victorian beginning and a modern end
  • 'I hold the key': constructing a 'biographical legend'

Part I. How It All Began...

2. In the Beginning Were the Fairies...

  • Fairy-things and fairylands
  • The creation of a saga
  • Fairies and elves in Tolkien's children's literature

3. 'Fluttering Sprites with Antennae': Victorian and Edwardian Fancies

  • 'Flower-and-Butterfly Minuteness': the fairy painting imagery
  • Peter Pan and the Cottage of Lost Play
  • Fading, passing, departing: the fairies' farewell

4. The Fairies, Faith and Folklore

  • 'Natural' fairies and romantic religion
  • Brownies, nymphs, mermaids and the 'elementals'
  • Fairies, folklore and the 'mythology for England'

Part II. Ideal Beings, Ideal Languages

5. The Cat and the Whiskers: Tolkien's Linguistic Creation

  • A multi-lingual novel
  • Examining the corpus

6. 'Linguistic Aesthetic': Sounds, Meaning and the Pursuit of Beauty

  • Theorizing language invention: A Secret Vice
  • The theory of 'inherent linguistic predilections': English and Welsh
  • Language attitudes
  • Sound symbolism and sound experiments

7. Ideal Language and Phonetic Spelling

  • The myth of an universal language
  • Aspects of linguistic creativity: language change and language decay
  • Invented alphabets, universal alphabets and phonetic spelling

Part III. From Myth to History

8. The Claim to History

  • A changing cosmology: form a flat to a round world
  • Reconsidering the 'framework' of the mythology

9. A Hierarchical World

  • 'Race' and racial anthropology
  • Tolkien's views on Nazi Germany, race and language
  • Focusing on Middle-earth: constructing new hierarchies
  • Racial mixture: the problem of the Half-Elven
  • The face of evil: the origin and appearance of the Orcs
  • Tolkien and the change of racism

10. Visualising Middle-earth: Real and Imagined Material Cultures

  • The idea of European prehistory and historical 'cultures'
  • The culture of Gondor: ship burials and winged helmets
  • 'Chambers', 'Windows' and the Anglo-Saxons
  • Victorian countryside and relics of the industrial revolution: the material culture of the Shire
  • Romancing archaelogy

11. Epilogue: From Fairies to Hobbits

  • Mistakes and inconsistencies
  • The rise of the hobbits and the fairies' fate

  • Appendix: 'And the Wither Then?': Stepping into the Road
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

External links[edit | edit source]