The Monsters and the Critics: And Other Essays

J.R.R. Tolkien

HarperCollins 1997 [1983]
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
The essays printed in The Monsters and the Critics were originally delivered as occasional lectures. The eponymous "The Monsters and the Critics" is a trenchant look at the critical tradition on Beowulf and "On Translating Beowulf" is an introduction to its language and metre (a reading knowledge of Anglo-Saxon would certainly help the reader here, but is not necessary). "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is a critical study of the work on which Tolkien lavished so much attention. "On Fairy-Stories" is a defence of the genre from wrong-headed stereotyping and "A Secret Vice", on the creation of imaginary languages, foreshadows his world creation. Also included are a speech on "English and Welsh" and Tolkien's valedictory address to the University of Oxford.

These works are, though perfectly accessible to a general audience, very much academic in orientation: they will not appeal to most of those who know Tolkien only through The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It is unlikely that The Monsters and the Critics would ever have appeared as a HarperCollins paperback if it were not for the success of Tolkien's non-academic writings, but that it has is a boon for those who also appreciate him as a medievalist and a scholar.

October 1997

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%T The Monsters and the Critics
%S And Other Essays
%A Tolkien, J.R.R.
%I HarperCollins
%D 1997 [1983]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 026110263X
%P 240pp