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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room: Interesting link!: Edit Log


Oct 9 2012, 9:55am

Views: 707
Interesting link!

Thanks for that.

This (from the website you linked to) strikes me as something that would have drawn Tolkien:
The poets of the Alliterative Revival used the traditional line of Anglo-Saxon poetry, which had disappeared from written records about two centuries before and was revived by a number of poets (mainly living in the West and North of England) in the fourteenth century. Evidently the style of alliterative poetry had been preserved by popular, unlettered poets who continued to compose and transmit poems by oral, non-written means from Anglo-Saxon times until well into the fourteenth century...
This would be Arthur as seen through the eyes of the Anglo-Saxons rather than the Normans. Arthur was originally a British (Celtic) hero, of course, whose tales survived orally in the parts of the island of Britain where the Celts had survived (Wales and Cornwall mostly) after the Anglo-Saxon invasion, and in the land of the Celtic-British diaspora of Brittany in Northwest France. I believe the Welsh writer Geoffrey of Monmouth provided the first written version that we have (it's in Latin, and forms part of what claims to be the real history of the island of Britain), and from there, as well as from some French-language poetry from Brittany, it became hugely popular among the French-speaking Norman ruling class of England. As I recall, some literary historians have suggested that the Normans latched onto Arthurian romance so eagerly because it gave them a link to the earlier British people, the Celts who had been displaced by the Anglo-Saxons, and made the Anglo-Saxons look like the usurpers. Since Tolkien identified with the "English", i.e. the Anglo-Saxons, Arthur in this tradition would not have been to his taste at all.

But the alliterative Arthurian poem shows the Anglo-Saxon tradition also embraced Arthur in its own way - belatedly, unless this alliterative poem is based on a long oral history - and I can imagine Tolkien finding this blend of Celtic legend and Anglo-Saxon expression very interesting indeed. Looking forward to seeing what he did with it!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Oct 9 2012, 9:56am)

Edit Log:
Post edited by FarFromHome (Valinor) on Oct 9 2012, 9:56am

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