Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language (Critical Explorations in Science Fiction Series #2)

Overview

Tolkien and Shakespeare: one a prolific popular dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan era, the other a twentieth-century scholar of Old English and author of a considerably smaller body of work. Though unquestionably very different writers, the two have more in common than one might expect.
These essays focus on the broad themes and motifs which concerned both authors. They seek to uncover Shakespeare's influence on Tolkien through echoes of the playwright's themes and even word...
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Overview

Tolkien and Shakespeare: one a prolific popular dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan era, the other a twentieth-century scholar of Old English and author of a considerably smaller body of work. Though unquestionably very different writers, the two have more in common than one might expect.
These essays focus on the broad themes and motifs which concerned both authors. They seek to uncover Shakespeare's influence on Tolkien through echoes of the playwright's themes and even word choices, discovering how Tolkien used, revised, updated, "corrected," and otherwise held an ongoing dialogue with Shakespeare's works.
The depiction of Elves and the world of Faërie, and how humans interact with them, are some of the most obvious points of comparison and difference for the two writers. Both Tolkien and Shakespeare deeply explored the uses and abuses of power with princes, politics, war, and the lessons of history. Magic and prophecy were also of great concern to both authors, and the works of both are full of encounters with the Other: masks and disguises, mirrors that hide and reveal, or seeing stones that show only part of the truth.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This book of essays edited by Croft (Univ. of Oklahoma Libs., Norman) aims to explore "how Tolkien used, revised, updated, 'corrected,' and otherwise held an ongoing dialogue with Shakespeare's works." Given Tolkien's established-though arguably overstated-dislike of Shakespeare, this choice of focus seems odd. Croft admits that since Shakespeare's influence on Tolkien is debatable, she and her colleagues are "reduced to speculation," and, indeed, some of these offerings appear forced. In her essay on elves in Shakespeare and Tolkien, Allegra Johnson ends one section lamenting "on the whole, Elves do not feature prominently in the vast majority of Shakespeare's work," while in her piece on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario veers momentarily into the bizarre with her assertion that "Bottom's translation renders him hairy, bestial and with the added effect of the flower juice, sexier to Titania, but Tolkien's Hobbits have always been hairy without necessarily being sexy." Although there are certainly some worthwhile contributions here-e.g., Maureen Thum on both writers' depictions of women-readers interested in exploring connections between Shakespeare and Tolkien would be better served by Tom Shippey's The Road to Middle-Earth. An optional purchase for academic libraries.
—William Walsh

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Janet Brennan Croft is Head of Access Services at University of Oklahoma Libraries in Norman, Oklahoma. Donald E. Palumbo is a professor of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He lives in Greenville. C.W. Sullivan III is Distinguished Professor of arts and sciences at East Carolina University and a full member of the Welsh Academy. He is the author of numerous books and the on-line journal Celtic Cultural Studies.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is a great resource for comparing and contrasting the

    This book is a great resource for comparing and contrasting the style and content of the works of both great writers, as well as for exploring Shakespeare's influence on Tolkein and his work. A must-read for fans of either man's work!

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