So for those fascinated by Tolkien the artist, the commentary is sheer delight. It also (and perhaps most importantly) contains some passages of writing in Tolkien's best and most profound style - where his deepest personal concerns come very close to the surface (from pp 349-50):If you're a fan of the Master, RTWT.
But the special situation of the English - a people amid the ruins, cut off from their old lands, the lands of the heroes of their ancient songs, and gradually as their knowledge grew feeling themselves to be in the Dark Ages after the departure of the glory of Rome - gave special poignancy to this feeling, and special pictorial vividness to it.
Both of the passages from Beowulf... are filled with the vision of deserted and ruined halls... "he sees... the hall of feasting, the resting places swept by the wind robbed of laughter - the riders sleep, mighty men gone down into the dark..."
Nobody would have better understood or been better able to play Hrothgar's part than [King] Alfred - who won his mother's praise for... the lays of his northern heroic fathers - and yet felt himself almost alone in the Dark Age, attempting to save from the wreck of time some sparks surviving from the Golden Age, from Rome and the mighty Caesars and builders of that fallen world.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
J.R.R. Tolkien's translation of Beowulf
Reviewed with relish: