Continuing the theme of Jared's major contributions to Tolkien studies, here's how he described/defines THE LORD OF THE RINGS:
a six-book, three-decker feigned history that uses the medieval
technique of polyphonic narrative to tell what is essentially
an adventure story in the Edwardian mode
—ENGLAND & ALWAYS, page ix
Jared stood out among Tolkien scholars for his belief that LotR was not a fantasy (a genre he did not believe existed) but an old-fashioned adventure novel of the kind written by H. Rider Haggard, John Buchan, Conan Doyle, et al.: in short, though I don't remember him ever phrasing it this way, that LotR had more in common with Conan Doyle than BEOWULF.
In arguing that Tolkien was influenced to some degree by the popular fiction of his youth, Jared was a leading figure among several fellow Tolkienists exploring the same theme at that time, including Giddings & Holland (who were proposing with reckless abandon that Tolkien's main sources included Victorian popular novels like LORNA DOONE) and myself (my first substantial work of Tolkien scholarship was "She and Tolkien", a close look at elements in Rider Haggard's four-book SHE series that found their way into Tolkien's legendarium).* But I wd never have gone as far as Jared went. My own researches were into Tolkien's role in the emergence of fantasy: it seemed and seems obvious to me that there was such a genre as 'fantasy', and that the work of writers like Wm Morris, E. R. Eddison, and Lord Dunsany bore a strong family resemblance to what Tolkien was doing.
Looking back, I think Jared and I had so many good conversations because we disagreed on so much. We had as common ground a strongly-held belief that Tolkien was a great writer whose work deserved, and repaid, close attention, but we disagreed on virtually all the details.
A good example, and perhaps the most controversial of Jared's theories, wd be his argument (in Chapter Two of ENGLAND & ALWAYS) that Middle-earth is a prelapsarian world and that some characters like Aragorn, Faramir, and others, are unFallen, while others (e.g. Denethor) are Fallen. As Jared saw it, the Fall came to humankind individually, a process lasting thousands of years and still incomplete at the time of our story.
For their part, he maintained that the Elves were unFallen as a race: still in a state of Edenic Innocence. When I argued that the behavior of the Noldor in THE SILMARILLION showed otherwise, he responded by asserting that THE SILMARILLION was a collaborative work and that it was impossible to tell which parts were JRRT and which might have been added by CT.**
Less controversial, but to me more puzzling, was his argument based upon calquing
. Jared had borrowed the term from Shippey, whose ROAD TO MIDDLE EARTH had only been out for a year or two and was as-yet almost unknown over here, for his 1983 Keynote Speech opening the Marquette Tolkien Conference, but I found his usage confusing. His prime example was piecemeal translation, such as rendering the word loud-speaker
as 'haut parleur'. This is clear enough, and his application of it to LotR essentially pictures that world as a patchwork of piecemeal borrowings --an example might be basing the Shire on a Warwickshire village but Rohan on an Anglo-Saxon kingdom and Gondor as a fading Rome at the end of Empire. All this I get well enough. But I don't understand what Jared means when he says
"when we say that Sherlock Holmes is a calque,
we mean the archtype he represents is, in his character,
calqued on the Victorian world of 221B Baker Street"
--Jared's 1983 keynote speech, draft typescript page 5
I find myself similarly at a loss when, a page later, he says
"Chesterton in The Napoleon of Notting Hill
and The Man Who Was Thursday wrote calques
of his own mediaevalism, so to speak, on to the
modern world: in that sense one might be con-
sidered a sequel to the other."
--ibid, page 6
Finally, at one point in the roundtable discussion of Tolkien,*** Jared seems to extend the meaning of the term even further:
"fantasy is that particular form of mythopoesis
which calques an entire secondary world upon
a primary world."
--typed transcript of Roundtable discussion, page 25
I have to admit I don't understand what this means. The best I can suggest is that in the end the term 'calque' became for Jared a synonym of 'overlay'.
*The original piece appeared in MYTHLORE back in 1981; a revised, expanded, and largely rewritten version appeared in Jason Fisher's book TOLKIEN AND THE STUDY OF HIS SOURCES (2011).
**This argument was, of course, fatally undercut when the HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH series began to appear v. shortly afterwards.
Jared's wariness regarding THE SILMARILLION and his rejection of the authority of Tolkien's posthumously published work was in fact shared by several other prominent Tolkien scholars at the time; Darrell Martin's presentation at this same 1983 conference did much to settle the point decisively.
Oddly enough, while reluctant to consider THE SILMARILLION as representing Tolkien's thought, Jared would often quote C. S. Lewis's words as evidence to what Tolkien was intending or thinking, taking it as a given that anything Lewis said cd be taken as speaking for Tolkien as well ---an early form of what I've come to think of as Kreeft's fallacy.
***The participants were Richard West (moderator), Jared Lobdell, Verlyn Flieger, Darrell Martin, Mike Foster, Deborah Webster Rogers, Wheaton's Dr. Joseph McClatchy, and myself. The three topics for discussion were (1) Tolkien and Xianity, (2) Tolkien and his contemporaries, and (3) Tolkien and Fantasy.