The Monsters and the Critics

The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays by J.R.R. Tolkien

Author:J.R.R. Tolkien
Title:The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays
Published:1983 by George Allen & Unwin



The seven 'essays' by J.R.R. Tolkien assembled in this new paperback edition were with one exception delivered as general lectures on particular occasions; and while they mostly arose out of Tolkien's work in medieval literature, they are accessible to all. Two of them are concerned with Beowulf, including the well-known lecture whose title is taken for this book, and one with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, given in the University of Glasgow in 1953.

Also included in this volume is the lecture Enqlish and Welsh; the Valedictory Address to the University of Oxford in 1959; and a paper on Invented Languages delivered in 1931, with exemplification from poems in die Elvish tongues. Most famous of all is On Fairy-Stories, a discussion of the nature of fairy-tales and fantasy, which gives insight into Tolkien's approach to the whole genre.

The pieces in this collection cover a period of nearly thirty years, beginning six years before the publication of The Hobbit, with a unique 'academic' lecture on his invention (calling it A Secret Vice) and concluding with his farewell to professorship, five years after the publication of The Lord of the Rings.

description from the back-cover of the book


The essay/lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" is in my opinion Tolkien's most revealing essay, not only about the poem Beowulf, one of his major sources and influences, but even more so about his judgement what is of essential or central importance for literature in the mythological area. This essay is - though somewhat "dry" to read - IMHO worth to be "studied", not only read and understood, if one wants to understand what Tolkien had in mind for his own "mythology".

For those who seek additional and background information about this essay, Michael Drout's book Beowulf and the Critics would be recommendable.


Walter, could you give a short account of this lecture? I mean "worth to study" is a nice recommendation, but not everyone - like me - will walk to the next bookstore and buy it. Still I'm interested in these fundamental issues. So what are the main points?'' -- HelmutLeitner

Another student enters the class room. Yes, Walter?...You were saying...?--LR

Are you saying you don't trust my judgement, Helmut? ... Not nice!

But, seriously now, I agree that the one sentence above isn't really descriptive, and I think it would be great to have brief reviews of all books in this section, but writing such reviews is a rather time-consuming task...anyway I'll see to it ASAP (all volunteers welcome ) -- Walter

FolderTolkienBooks FolderBooks ToDo: Separate Pages for these Essays

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