The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays
|The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays|
|Publisher||George Allen and Unwin (UK)|
Houghton Mifflin (US)
|Released||3 March 1983 (UK)|
1 April 1984 (US)
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 edited by Christopher Tolkien and published posthumously in 1983.
All of them were initially delivered as lectures to academics, with the exception of On Translating Beowulf, which Christopher Tolkien notes in his foreword is not addressed to an academic audience.
Seven essays are included in the book, some of which had been published before, while others appeared for the first time in print.
- Foreword by Christopher Tolkien
- "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" — lecture delivered in 1936, looks at the critics' understanding of Beowulf, and proposes a fresh take on the poem.
- "On Translating Beowulf" — published in 1940, looks at the difficulties in translating the poem from Old English.
- "On Fairy-stories" — lecture delivered in 1939, a defence of the fantasy genre.
- "A Secret Vice" — lecture delivered in 1931, talks about creating imaginary languages, giving background to Tolkien's Quenya and Sindarin.
- "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" — lecture delivered in 1953, a study of the medieval poem of the same name.
- "English and Welsh" — lecture delivered in 1955, a survey of the historical relationship between the two tongues, including an analysis of the word Welsh.
- "Valedictory Address to the University of Oxford" — lecture delivered in 1959, given upon his retirement.
From the publisher
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.
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".
Publication history and gallery
- UK Editions
- George Allen and Unwin hardcover (1983), pp. 240. ISBN 0048090190
- HarperCollins paperback (1997), pp. 256. ISBN 026110263X
- HarperCollins paperback (2006), ISBN 026110263X
- Om Beowulfsagan ("On the Tale of Beowulf", a 1975 Swedish edition)
- Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, together with Sellic Spell
- Tolkien On Fairy-stories
- A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo
- Chistopher Tolkien, "Foreword", p.4.