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?
It is common in western culture to depict the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as an apple. However, a brief flip through Genesis will confirm that the forbidden fruit remains anonymous; there is no mention of an apple nor any other fruit. The universal use of the apple results … Continue reading The Malum Malum Presents Its Case
The Pied Piper of Hamelinby Robert Browning I. Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,By famous Hanover city;The river Weser, deep and wide,Washes its wall on the southern side;A pleasanter spot you never spied;But, when begins my ditty,Almost five hundred years ago,To see the townsfolk suffer soFrom vermin, was a pity. II. Rats!They fought the dogs and killed … Continue reading The Pied Piper of Hamelin, by Robert Browning
My first reading experience with Homer’s Iliad was the equivalent of hauling a boulder along a gravel track by a piece of string. I was unused to the weight of classical literature and my mind was exhausted by the long-winded descriptions and detail, excessive slaughter, and exasperating characters. I found great comfort in the thought … Continue reading The Unexpected Value of Rereading the Iliad
I long to sail the path to the moon / On a deep blue night, when the wind is cool: / A glist’ning path, that runs out to sea. / Silver the sails to carry me, / To carry, carry, carry me over the sea...
Convivial is one of those words whose etymology I discovered in a slightly backward fashion. I learned the Latin root word first (in situ while studying Latin) and then the etymology of the Latin word before I even recognised the English cognate. This is possibly one of the best ways to learn the etymology of … Continue reading Convivial: An English Word with an Elvish Meaning
I very recently finished reading John Lesslie Hall’s translation of Beowulf. Several months ago I shared my reflections on Seamus Heaney’s and J.R.R. Tolkien’s translations of Beowulf in Beowulf: Seamus Heaney vs. J.R.R. Tolkien. It feels appropriate to share my thoughts on Hall’s translation as well. Hall’s translation is a verse translation which, to the … Continue reading Yet Another Translation of Beowulf
In various mythologies, there is a recurring theme of the main hero being raised in the wild apart from civilization. Two particular heroes are Jason of the Greek Argonautica and Sigurd of the Norse Völsunga Saga, though others abound in Western myth and legend. Why would the creators of these ancient tales take such care … Continue reading Raised in the Wild