Tolkien in the Land of Arthur: The Old Forest Episode from the Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) (Essay) (Critical Essay) - Mythlore

Tolkien in the Land of Arthur: The Old Forest Episode from the Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) (Essay) (Critical Essay)

By Mythlore

  • Publication Date: 2006-01-01
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

Book Overview

For all its earlier medieval origins, serving--particularly in France--the needs of an essentially courtly and aristocratic society, Arthurian literature has far outlived that society. The old Matter of Britain has been incorporated into other texts, addressing other, newer readers. Just as its own themes were developed from far older myths, so its cultural legacy and the formalized nature of its textuality have been handed down to modern 'fantasy literature,' ever open to all forms of legends and beliefs. Much of our understanding of its survival into the present day, and much of our appreciation of its literary effect, depend upon a close analysis of the ways in which the Arthurian spirit is still capable of moving, and in turn of moving us. I have chosen to trace this persistent Arthurian influence in a single early episode in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: the "Old Forest" chapter in the first book of the The Fellowship of the Ring, the opening volume of the six-book Cycle. (1) Although much of the inspiration for the work comes from Tolkien's Old English scholarship and from his fascination with Celtic, Germanic and Finnish myths, (2) we must remember that he was also an authoritative editor of the classic Middle English Arthurian poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

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