Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tolkien on Beowulf with a little help from Lewis Carroll

This is way too much fun not to share (from Tolkien's essay "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics")...

It is not surprising that it should now be felt that a view, a decision, a conviction are imperatively needed. But it is plainly only in the consideration of Beowulf as a poem, with an inherent poetic significance, that any view or conviction can be reached or steadily held. For it is of their nature that the jabberwocks of historical and antiquarian research burble in the tulgy wood of conjecture, flitting from one tum-tum tree to another. Noble animals, whose burbling is on occasion good to hear; but though their eyes of flame may sometimes prove searchlights, their range is short.

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