Article excerpt

The majority of papers in this particularly hefty issue of Mythlore fall readily into three groups examining different kinds of influences on authors of mythopoeic fiction.

Our first three papers examine the ways in which scholarly expertise strengthens the works of Tolkien and Lewis. Their profound knowledge of the medieval world adds depth to their revival of particular symbols, themes, and techniques--a depth lacking in fantasy writers who merely use these devices as stage setting. K.S. Whetter and R. Andrew McDonald examine the legends and lore of famous swords in medieval Germanic, Norse, Celtic and English literature, and how Tolkien adapted and added to this rich history in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Chad Wriglesworth deals with C.S. Lewis's use of medieval legends and religious symbolism of the unicorn in two versions of a poem about the Ark and in The Last Battle and The Great Divorce. Mark F. Hall studies Tolkien's use of alliterative meter in his poetry, both that embedded in The Lord of the Rings and published separately elsewhere. Hall's remarks on "The Lay of the Children of Hurin" will be particularly interesting in light of the recent announcement of a forthcoming edition of The Children of Hurin, compiled as a stand-alone book by Christopher Tolkien.

Tom Shippey's claim in J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century that the traumatic changes of the twentieth century have led to the fantastic becoming our "dominant literary mode" is borne out by our next group of papers, showing the influence of modern intellectual ferment and global war on Tolkien and Dunsany. The disruption caused by a war of ideas is detailed in A.R. Bossert's paper on Pope Pius X and the Catholic Church's response to modernism in the early years of the century, and shows this controversy's clear influence on Tolkien's thinking in his letters and fiction. Michael Livingston examines Tolkien's World War I experiences and his uniquely sympathetic depiction of Frodo as a shell-shocked soldier. David J. Carlson looks at the effect of the Great War on another fantasist, Lord Dunsany, and his updating of the Quixotic romance in Don Rodriquez.

A third strong source of influence is the work of other authors. Teresa Hooper shows C.S. Lewis in dialogue with Rudyard Kipling about the themes of the Great Game and the Inner Circle, which Lewis resolves in the resonant image of the Great Dance. …


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