Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tolkien galumphs through the tulgey wood of Beowulf criticism

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay on Beowulf (cited in a previous post), he lists dozens of far-reaching, varied and contradicting opinions on the Old English poem. In the midst of this forest of opinions, Tolkien writes that “a view, a decision, a conviction are imperatively needed.” Tolkien then alludes to Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem in his effort to sort out the “nonsense” (but not necessarily bad) opinions on Beowulf:

“For it is of their nature that the jabberwocks of historical and antiquarian research burble in the tulgey 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.”

I am just glad I am not the only one who borrows freely from the tulgey wood of nonsense poetry. For the original poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, see the sidebar link “Why a blog called galumphing?”

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