THE MYTHOLOGY OF MIDDLE-EARTH by Ruth S. Noel

THE MYTHOLOGY OF MIDDLE-EARTH

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

J.R.R. Tolkien poured his vast stores of Old English and Middle English scholarship into the creation of Middle-Earth and invested his fictional world with webs of internally consistent ""scholarly"" detail, from family trees to alphabets. Half the power of his remarkable book depends on the feeling that there must be more--more lost alphabets, shadowy shaping events, lore-shrouded links to our own world. More wonders, in short. What a temptation to step beyond the book's edge--and what dreary realms and pointlesss journeys lie on the other side! Ruth Noel's halfbaked catalogue of Themes, Places, Beings, and Things appears to have been gleaned without much coherence from a handful of sources, some of which (e.g., Grimm's Teutonic Mythologies) present their own problems of historical perspective. Nothing could be further from Tolkien's work of arching imagination than this collection of mental lumber: ""Many civilizations have considered the west to contain the immortal land. To the Sumerians. . ."" ""Aragorn and Charlemagne were each crowned with a famous, ancient crown by the spiritual leader of their world, Charlemagne by Pope Leo III."" ""The great antiquity alluded to by Bombadil's names is appropriate to his being a nature divinity or spirit."" One sadly recalls that 40 years ago Tolkien himself wrote a celebrated and revolutionary article protesting the learned folly of treating Beowulf ""as a quarry of fact and fancy"" rather than a work of art. Here is the same fact-mongering zeal all over again, undependable enough in the hands of trained scholars. In the hands of mere file-card collectors, it is ludicrous.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1976
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin