Beowulf and the Critics

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Beowulf refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Beowulf (disambiguation).
Beowulf and the Critics
EditorMichael D.C. Drout
PublisherACMRS Press (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies)
SeriesMedieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, vol. 248

Beowulf and the Critics is a scholarly book first published in 2002, edited by professor Michael D.C. Drout. It is the winner of the 2003 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies.

The book publishes J.R.R. Tolkien's full manuscript drafts of his lecture series on Beowulf, a much longer work of which Tolkien's 1936 lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" was a redaction. The main texts, existing in two versions (A and B), are presented in full, followed by the editor's extensive explanatory notes, and textual notes that record all editorial changes in the original manuscripts with remarkable detail.

A second edition was published in 2011 with revisions throughout the book. New additions include an identification of the critics referenced by Tolkien in his "Babel of Voices" passage, a tabular illustration of the evolution of the lecture, and a preparatory note to Text B found by Christopher Tolkien.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Preface
  • Description of the Manuscript
  • Introduction: Seeds, Soil, and Northern Sky
  • "The Babel of Voices" and the Structural Evolution of "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics"
  • 'Beowulf' & The Critics (A)
  • 'Beowulf' & The Critics (B)
  • Explanatory Notes
  • Textual Notes
  • Appendix
  • Works Cited
  • Index

From the publisher

J. R. R. Tolkien's "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" is the single most influential essay ever written about the great Anglo-Saxon poem. That lecture was a redaction of a much longer and more substantial work, Beowulf and the Critics, which Tolkien wrote in the 1930s and probably delivered as a series of Oxford lectures.

This critical edition of Beowulf and the Critics presents both unpublished drafts of Tolkien's lecture ("A" and "B"), each substantially different from each other and from the published essay, in addition to detailed textual and explanatory notes, a description of the manuscript, and an introduction that explains the significance of Tolkien's Beowulf scholarship in literary history.

Winner of the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies in 2003, Beowulf and the Critics has been completely revised and expanded for this 2011 edition, which includes a transcript of a previously unknown short note preparatory to Beowulf and the Critics found by Christopher Tolkien, a discussion of the rhetorical structure and evolution of the book and the lecture, and an identification of all the critics referenced by Tolkien in the famous "Babel of Voices" passage.

Beowulf and the Critics will interest students and lovers of Tolkien and scholars of Anglo-Saxon. This edition enables a reader to trace the evolution of an immensely influential critical argument giving us a glimpse of Tolkien's mind at work in his role as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford.

Publication history and gallery

2002 first edition
2002 first edition  
2011 second edition
2011 second edition  

See also

External links

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