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Tolkien On Fairy-stories

Tolkien On Fairy-stories
On Fairy-stories (expanded edition).jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorVerlyn Flieger, Douglas A. Anderson
IllustratorJ.R.R. Tolkien (cover)
Released1 July 2008

Tolkien On Fairy-stories is a book edited by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson, published in 2008. The work is an extended edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's essay On Fairy-stories, which explains Tolkien's philosophy on fantasy and thoughts on mythopoiesis.


[edit] Publication history

The essay first appeared in print, with some enhancement, in 1947, in Essays Presented to Charles Williams, compiled by C. S. Lewis. However it received little attention, and was out of print by 1955.[1][2]

On Fairy-Stories began to receive much more attention in 1964, when it was published in Tree and Leaf.[3] Since then Tree and Leaf has been reprinted several times, and On Fairy-Stories itself has been reprinted in other compilations of Tolkien's works, such as The Tolkien Reader in 1966 and The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays in 1983.

In 2008, expanded and commentated, it was published in its own volume.

[edit] Contents

This expanded edition includes:

  • The final published version of the essay.
  • Two manuscript versions of the essay.
  • Commentaries by the editors.
  • A history detailing the evolution of the essay.
  • Newspaper reports of the 1939 lecture.
  • A bibliography of works cited or consulted by Tolkien during his work on the essay.
Cover art

The front cover is a watercolor illustration by J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Shores of Faery", made in 1915.

[edit] From the publisher

‘On Fairy-stories’ comprises about 18,000 words. What is little-known is that when Tolkien expanded the essay in 1943, he wrote many more pages of his views that were originally condensed into or cut from the published version. An estimate is difficult, but these unpublished passages perhaps amount to half again as much writing as the essay itself. These passages contain important elaborations of his views on other writers, and their publication represents a significant addition to Tolkien studies. Included in this new critical study of the work are:
  • An introductory essay setting the stage for Tolkien's 1939 lecture (the origin of the essay) and placing it within a historical context.
  • A history of the writing of ‘On Fairy-stories’, beginning with coverage of the original lecture as delivered, and continuing through to first publication in 1947.
  • The essay proper as published in corrected form in Tree and Leaf (1964).
  • Commentary on the allusions in the text, and notes about the revisions Tolkien made to the text as published in Tree and Leaf.
  • Important material not included in the essay as published, with commentary by the editors.
Contained within ‘On Fairy-stories’ are the roots of the tree of tales that bore such glittering fruit in Tolkien's published and unpublished work. Here, at last, Flieger and Anderson reveal through literary archaeology the extraordinary genesis of this seminal work and discuss, in their engaging commentary, how what Tolkien discovered during the writing of the essay would shape his writing for the rest of his life.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide