It has been some time since I stopped reading introductions to works of fiction. My classmates and I were discouraged from doing so in completing our readings for classes using the Socratic method as class discussion depended upon students developing their own ideas of the text. Introductions are essay-like writings placed at the beginning of … Continue reading My Stance on Introductions
Wherefore is one of those archaic words that is not yet quite obsolete. It is young enough that many people have heard of it, but old enough that many have forgotten what it means. It has survived mainly in the phrase “the whys and wherefores,” and in Juliet’s immortal line, “wherefore art thou Romeo?”1 Wherefore … Continue reading The Why of Wherefore
Here hunts heron. Here haunts heron. / Huge-hinged heron. Grey-winged weapon. / Eked from iron and wreaked from blue and / beaked with steal: heron, statue, seeks eel...
In his review of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis contemplates how stories assist in the rediscovery of reality. He says, The value of myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores them to the rich significance which has been hidden by “the veil of familiarity.” The child … Continue reading Rediscovering Reality
I would beg to argue that it is only in studying other languages that one can gain appreciation for how specific words can be. I was recently reading an article in The Guardian by Robert Macfarlane in which he listed several Gaelic1 words and their meanings. I was awed to utter gleeful delight in how … Continue reading A Gleeful Ramble on the Specificity of Gaelic Words
Although J.R.R. Tolkien avoided taking inspiration from classical Greek mythology, there is one aspect of his writing which I cannot help but see as being influenced by Homer. Never yet in all my reading of mythology have I encountered an epic as vast and complete as the Iliad and the Odyssey. Many mythologies, though extensive … Continue reading Similarities Between the Dissimilar, or What Happens When You Read Homer and Tolkien at the Same Time
The word comfort is often used as a synonym for solace. When one comforts another, perhaps one who is grieving, he will possibly offer perspective or encouragement, or stand by him as a companion or friend, acknowledging their grief. But comfort has not always had this connotation. Etymologically, comfort means “to strengthen greatly.” Comfort is … Continue reading On “Comfort”
It was some time ago that I discovered this three-part lecture series by Dr. Tom Shippey on Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, and it has been on my mind to share it with you. Dr. Shippey is a respected Tolkien scholar, specializing, like Tolkien, in Old and Middle English language and literature.1 His lectures are always … Continue reading Exploring Tolkien’s Beowulf with Dr. Shippey
My stack of books has finally dwindled down to a sane degree. During the fall and spring semesters I usually have a mound of reading material on my bookshelf: required books for any classes I am taking, philosophical literature I am reading for information, the one novel I am reading for pleasure, as well as … Continue reading Reflections on The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff
This past spring I audited a Socratic dialogue class on the literature that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination. Among the many works explored and discussed, we spent two weeks reading Phantastes, by George MacDonald. The students in the class were discussing the character of Anodos and his seeming inability to make reliable decisions and follow the … Continue reading Is Anodos Naïve or Immature?