Monday, March 5, 2012

The New Arrival: GREEN SUNS

So, last week (Tuesday) brought my copy of Verlyn's latest book, GREEN SUNS AND FAERIE: ESSAYS ON J. R. R. TOLKIEN. I'd had this on order from amazon.com for months last year, until they finally cancelled; you'd think they'd have added it back in on my 'recommended' list when it finally became available. Apparently not. Given that, once I heard from the MythSoc list (for which thanks) that it was now out, I decided to order it directly from Kent State.

Wow what a book. Haven't had time to read it yet, but I already know a number of these pieces from having heard Verlyn present them at conferences and workshops over the years (some of them dating back to when we first met, over twenty-eight years ago now!) For some reason, the amazon.com entry seems to lack a Table of Contents, so here's what all's in this book [N.B.: the essay numbering is not in the original, being added by me here to help differentiate between the sometimes-lengthy essay titles*]:

PART ONE: TOLKIEN SUB-CREATOR
1. Fantasy and Reality: JRRT's World and the Fairy-story Essay
2. The Music and the Task: Fate and Free Will in Middle-earth
3. Tolkien and the Idea of the Book
4. Tolkien on Tolkien: OFS, THE HOBBIT, and LotR
5. When Is a Fairy Story a Faerie Story?: SWM
6. The Footsteps of AElfwine
7. The Curious Incident of the Dream at the Barrow: Memory and Reincarnation in Middle-earth
8. Whose Myth Is It?

PART TWO: TOLKIEN IN TRADITION
9. Tolkien's Wild Men from Medieval to Modern
10. Tolkien and the Matter of Britain
11. Frodo and Aragorn: The Concept of the Hero
12. Bilbo's Neck Riddle
13. Allegory Versus Bounce: Tolkien's SWM [Flieger vs. Shippey]
14. A Mythology for Finland: Tolkien and Lonnrot as Mythmakers
15. Tolkien, KALEVALA, and 'The Story of Kullervo'
16. Brittany and Wales in Middle-earth
17. The Green Knight, the Green Man, and Treebeard: Scholarship and Invention in Tolkien's Fiction
18. Missing Person

PART THREE: TOLKIEN AND HIS CENTURY
19. A Cautionary Tale: Tolkien's Mythology for England
20. The Mind, the Tongue, and the Tale
21. A Post-modern Medievalist
22.Taking the Part of Trees: Eco-conflict in Middle-earth
23. Gilson, Smith, and Baggins
24. The Body in Question: The Unhealed Wounds of Frodo Baggins
25. A Distant Mirror: Tolkien and Jackson in the Looking-glass


I also found it interesting that when I read the blurbs on the back cover, for once I didn't think they exaggerated at all. Here are a few representative snippets:

"No one knows Tolkien's oeuvre better than Flieger,
or presents it more accessibly"
--Tom Shippey

"It is not often that a new book makes me want
to stand up and shout 'Hallelujah!'"
--Diana Pavlac Glyer

"essential reading, not just for scholars but for all readers
who want to understand Middle-earth and its development"
--Michael Drout

"a book of insights and delights"
--Marjorie Burns


and finally my personal favorite, the one that says it all:

"these essays track a major scholar's deepening understanding
of the work of the master of fantasy"


--I know that, for my part, I'm going to be savoring these, one at a time, for weeks to come.
--JDR











*many of these's topics are self-evident from their titles, although this is not the case with some ("Whose Myth Is It?" being about the Athrabeth while "Missing Person" suggests no Christ is coming to Middle-earth).




2 comments:

Andrew Higgins said...

John

Dr Flieger's book is brilliant reading now. Especially enjoyed her new article on Tolkien and the Kalevala as it really builds upon the excellent work she did in Tolkien
Studies 7 on Tolkien's early Kullervo story and talks in 1914-1915 on the Kalevala at Oxford. Well timed to as I am doing some heavy research in this area on my Phd project around Tolkien and the Book of Lost Tales. Can re-read these essays again and again they are pure treasures!!

Thanks Andy

Dale said...

The "Missing Person" essay was good, but missed the chance to discuss typology. Events and persons of the Old Testament point towards New Testament antitypes/fulfillments, e.g. St. Peter explains the Ark and the Flood (historical things) as pointing towards Baptism and salvation in the Church.

Thus Earendil, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo and their adventures work as types of what was to come, namely the most full and complete expression of God's purposes.