Tolkien on Fairy-Stories by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson (23.01.08 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson are both well-known Tolkien scholars, co-founders (with Michael Drout) of Tolkien Studies.

HERE is an interview with the authors about Tolkien On Fairy-Stories.

Flieger's most recent books include Interrupted Music: Tolkien and the Making of a Mythology (2005) and the Extended Edition of Smith of Wootton Major (HarperCollins UK, 2005).

Anderson's most recent books include The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins UK, 2003) and the anthology Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy (Ballantine
US, 2003; mass market edition 2005).

Put these two top class Tolkien scholars together and you can expect something wonderful to happen. In this case I'm glad to announce the cooperation resulted into a book called 'Tolkien on Fairy-Stories ', a new expanded edition of Tolkien’s most famous, and most important essay 'On Fairy-stories', which defined his conception of fantasy as a literary form, and which led to the writing of The Lord of the Rings. Accompanied by a critical study of the history and writing of the text. I have just received the news that the UK publisher Harper Collins has received the manuscript and that wa can expect the publication of this book in June.
Tolkien on Fairy-Stories

J.R.R. tolkien's "On Fairy-stories" is his most-studied and most-quoted essay, an exemplary personal statement of his views on the role of imagination in literature, and an intellectual tour de force vital for understanding tolkien's achievement in the writing of The Lord of the Rings. Fairy-stories are not just for children, as anyone who has read Tolkien will know. In his essay On Fairy-Stories Tolkien discusses the nature of fairy-tales and fantasy and rescues the genre from those who would relegate it to juvenilia.

"On Fairy-stories" comprises about 18,000 words. What is little-known is that when Tolkien expanded the essay in 1943, he wrote many more pages of his views that were originally condensed into or cut from the published version. An estimate is difficult, but these unpublished passages perhaps amount to half again as much writing as the essay itself. These passages contain important elaborations of his views on other writers, and their publication represents a significant addition to Tolkien studies.

Included in this new critical study of the work are:

• An introductory essay setting the stage for tolkien's 1939 lecture (the origin of the essay) and placing it within a historical context.

• A history of the writing of 'On Fairy-stories', beginning with coverage of the original lecture as delivered, and continuing through to first publication in 1947.

• The essay proper as published in corrected form in Tree and Leaf (1964).

• Commentary on the allusions in the text, and notes about the revisions Tolkien made to the text as published in Tree and Leaf.

• Important material not included in the essay as published, with commentary by the editors.

Contained within “On Fairy-stories” are the roots of the tree of tales that bore such glittering fruit in Tolkien’s published and unpublished work. Here, at last, Flieger and Anderson reveal through literary archaeology the extraordinary genesis of this seminal work and discuss, in their engaging commentary, how what Tolkien discovered during the writing of the essay would shape his writing for the rest of his life.

Title: Tolkien on Fairy-Stories
Verlyn Flieger, Douglas A. Anderson

128 pages
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publication Date:
2 June 2008

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