12 Winters Blog

“Professor Tolkien’s Rebel Readings of Beowulf” by Ted Morrissey

Posted in Uncategorized by Ted Morrissey on March 26, 2015

An addendum to my review of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of “Beowulf” which ran in NAR 300.2.

390px-Beowulf_-_A_Translation_and_Commentary (1)

In my review (issue 300.2) of J.R.R. Tolkien’stranslation of the Old English poem Beowulf, I allude to the Oxford professor’s radical interpretations of certain sections of the poem; however, space limitations in the print magazine didn’t allow me to elaborate on those interpretations, so I spoke with NAR editors about using their blog to further discuss Tolkien’s rebel readings.

The word rebel is not used merely for dramatic effect. Scholarship devoted to Beowulf has been a thriving subculture in the academic world for more than 150 years. Opinions are often held passionately, and challenges to those opinions can be contentiously and even bitterly met. Tolkien held the post of Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University from 1925 to 1959. It was an esteemed professorship, of course, and brought with it respect, but also a host of jealous rivals. Tolkien seems to have been keenly aware of his colleagues…

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