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Although Tolkien's literary works have, over the past few decades, attracted a considerable and varied body of criticism, much of this material is inaccessible, unreflective and repetitive. Most criticism has concentrated on his sources and biographical influences, but such studies generally do not look beyond his interest in mediaeval literature. Nonetheless, Tolkien's writings have links and resonances with the whole English literature from Old Norse traditions to contemporary literary thought. This book seeks to correct a striking imbalance in Tolkien scholarship by placing his works within a larger literary context. The volume ranges over the entire history of English literature, including oral narrative tradition, Anglo-Saxon poetry, mediaeval romance, Renaissance poetics, 19th-century adventure stories, modern art and contemporary fantasy. Each chapter is written by an expert contributor who demonstrates Tolkien's relation to an earlier literary movement and examines the literary resonances of his works from a variety of informed perspectives.
By grounding Tolkien's writings within the larger canon of literature, the book argues that his works actually fall within the mainstream literary tradition.
GEORGE CLARK is Professor Emeritus and Adjunct in English at Queen's University at Kingston. He has published a book on Beowulf and numerous scholarly articles.
DANIEL TIMMONS is Communication Instructor at Ryerson Polytechnic University. He has published articles and reviews on Tolkien, William Golding, and the theory of the fantastic.