Friday, November 25, 2011

My Newest Publication: Volume 258

So, Thursday a week ago brought a copy of my latest publication to the porch: a reprint of my 2007 Marquette lecture " 'A Kind of Elvish Craft': Tolkien as Literary Craftsman", which had first appeared in TOLKIEN STUDIES volume four [2009]; before that it'd been the 2007 Blackwelder Lecture at Marquette. I'd been surprised and pleased when a few months ago I got a request from Cenegale (formerly Gale) Publishing, the folks who do long series of encyclopedia-sized books like CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM and NINETEENTH-CENTURY LITERATURE CRITICISM and TWENTIETH CENTURY LITERARY CRITICISM,* asking if they cd include a reprint of my piece in their latest volume. This was new territory to me, but after taking advice I said sure, asking for a copy of the volume in question in return. And now, after being backordered for a month or two, here it is: Volume 258 of TWENTIETH-CENTURY LITERARY CRITICISM.

Rather than author-by-author, which had been how volumes by Gale I'd consulted in years past had been organized, this volume has three sections, each devoted to a different literary movement: The Abbey Theatre (p. 1-123), The Confessional School of Poetry (p. 124-203), and The Inklings (p. 205-313), followed by over 150 pages of indexes. My contribution is the concluding essay of the third (Inklings) section; while familiar enough with the Abbey Theatre through my work on Lord Dunsany (whose first plays were produced there, before he had a falling out with Lady Gregory), I confess I had to look up who the 'Confessional School' were -- turns out this is their label for Berryman, Lowell, Plath, Sexton, and W. D. Snodgrass (the last of which I'd never heard of before, I'm sorry to say; the rest are all famously manic-depressive).

Since others interested in Tolkien and in the Inklings might want to know what's in this volume (besides my piece, of course), here's a run-down on the contents of their 'Inklings' section:

After an anonymous Introduction (perhaps by series editor Kathy Darrow, or one of her thirteen-person-strong editorial staff) comes a select bibliography of Representative Works by Barfield, Cecil, GKC, Coghill, Dyson, Fox, CSL, WHL, Lindsay, Geo MacD, Mathew, CT, JRRT, Wain, & Ch Wms. The inclusion of Chesterton and MacDonald, neither of whom was ever an Inkling, is explained by their being considered formative influences on the group. It may be significant that in this bibliography of suggested reading Tolkien is represented by just five works (HOBBIT, LotR, Silm, Letters, plus Middle English Vocabulary), far less than CSL (thirteen, including BOXEN) or even Wms (eleven), being about the same as Barfield (six), Cecil (four), and Warnie (five).

Next up come the reprinted essays, as follows:

(1) Gareth Knight, fr. The Magical World of the Inklings (1990) [201–214]

(2) Fredrick & McBride, fr. Women Among the Inklings (2001) [214–230] (including a section on Sayers, 'Not Quite an Inkling")

(3) Diana Pavlac Glyer, Mythlore essay (2007) [230–236]

(4) ibid, fr. The Company They Keep (2007) [236–265]

(5) Walter F. Hartt, "Godly Influences: The Theology of JRRT and CSL", Studies in the Literary Imagination, 1981 [266–270] (L & T as Xians)

(6) Maria Kozyreva, "Chesterton's World in the Mirror of His Poetry", Inklings Jahrbuch, 1996 [270–275]

(7) Rbt W. Maslen, "Towards an Iconography of the Future: CSL and the Scientific Humanists", Inklings Jahrbuch, 2000 [275–285] (which devotes a good deal of space explicating THE DARK TOWER, I was glad to see, since I consider this work overly neglected)

(8) Rolland Hein, "Doors Out and Doors In: The Genuis of Myth", Truths Breathed thr Silver (2008) [285–290]

(9) David L. Neuhouser, "The Role of Mathematics in the Spiritual Journey of Geo. MacD", Truths Breathed thr Silver (2008) [290–297]

(10) Kerry Dearborn, "The Sacrament of the Stranger", Truths Breathed thr Silver (2008) [297–303]

(11) JDR "A Kind of Elvish Craft", from TOLKIEN STUDIES Vol. VI (2009) [303–313].

--I was interested to see that three essays come from the same book, a book I happen to have published a review of a year or two back.*

Finally comes an extremely brief (two-item) list of Further Reading, being a piece by Rachel Falconer ("Rereading Childhood Books: CSL's The Silver Chair") & another by Carl Phelpstead ("Auden and the Inklings: An Alliterative Revival") [313]. Given how impresive Phelpstead's recent TOLKIEN & WALES book looks, I'll have to track down a copy of this latter, which appeared in JEGP back in 2004.

And that's basically it. I'm pleased to see my essay get picked up and reprinted in a new venue, and hope it helps disseminate my argument (Tolkien was a meticulous writer who made every detail count, who used stylistic variations to prompt his readers' creative involvement in his subcreation) to new audiences. We'll see.

--John R.

current reading: THE DIARY OF EDWARD VI, 1547-1553

current audiobook: TOLKIEN & THE GREAT WAR by Jn Garth

*as well as, it turns out, less well-known lines like NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN LITERATURE.

**a review which prompted one contributor to write a rebuttal that has since appeared in MYTHLORE; I'd like to write a counter-rebuttal but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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