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Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology

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The content of Tolkien's Mythology, the Silmarillion, has been the subject of considerable exploration and analysis for many years, but the logistics of its development have been mostly ignored and deserve closer investigation. Nineteenth-and twentieth-century scholars understood the term "mythology" as a gathering of song and story that derived from and described an ident The content of Tolkien's Mythology, the Silmarillion, has been the subject of considerable exploration and analysis for many years, but the logistics of its development have been mostly ignored and deserve closer investigation. Nineteenth-and twentieth-century scholars understood the term "mythology" as a gathering of song and story that derived from and described an identifiable world. Tolkien made a continuous effort over several years to construct a comprehensive mythology, to include not only the stories themselves but also the storytellers, scribes, and bards who were the offspring of his thought. In Interrupted Music Flieger attempts to illuminate the structure of Tolkien's work, allowing the reader to appreciate its broad, overarching design and its careful, painstaking construction. She endeavors to "follow the music from its beginning as an idea in Tolkien's mind through to his final but never-implemented mechanism for realizing that idea, for bringing the voices of his story to the reading public." In addition, Flieger reviews attempts at myth-making in the history of English literature by Spenser, Milton, and Blake as well as by Joyce and Yeats. She reflects on the important differences between Tolkien and his predecessors and even more between Tolkien and his contemporaries. This in-depth study will fascinate those interested in Tolkien and fantasy literature.


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The content of Tolkien's Mythology, the Silmarillion, has been the subject of considerable exploration and analysis for many years, but the logistics of its development have been mostly ignored and deserve closer investigation. Nineteenth-and twentieth-century scholars understood the term "mythology" as a gathering of song and story that derived from and described an ident The content of Tolkien's Mythology, the Silmarillion, has been the subject of considerable exploration and analysis for many years, but the logistics of its development have been mostly ignored and deserve closer investigation. Nineteenth-and twentieth-century scholars understood the term "mythology" as a gathering of song and story that derived from and described an identifiable world. Tolkien made a continuous effort over several years to construct a comprehensive mythology, to include not only the stories themselves but also the storytellers, scribes, and bards who were the offspring of his thought. In Interrupted Music Flieger attempts to illuminate the structure of Tolkien's work, allowing the reader to appreciate its broad, overarching design and its careful, painstaking construction. She endeavors to "follow the music from its beginning as an idea in Tolkien's mind through to his final but never-implemented mechanism for realizing that idea, for bringing the voices of his story to the reading public." In addition, Flieger reviews attempts at myth-making in the history of English literature by Spenser, Milton, and Blake as well as by Joyce and Yeats. She reflects on the important differences between Tolkien and his predecessors and even more between Tolkien and his contemporaries. This in-depth study will fascinate those interested in Tolkien and fantasy literature.

30 review for Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Interrupted Music is up there with the best Tolkien criticism I've come across. Verlyn Flieger writes clearly and compellingly, and engages with all of Tolkien's work -- I haven't caught her making mistakes, unlike so many others, and she's dug through drafts and all sorts to get at what Tolkien intended. I love the way she points out that Christopher Tolkien has done exactly what J.R.R. Tolkien imagined for his work -- edited it out of disparate manuscripts, reconciling scribal errors, etc. It' Interrupted Music is up there with the best Tolkien criticism I've come across. Verlyn Flieger writes clearly and compellingly, and engages with all of Tolkien's work -- I haven't caught her making mistakes, unlike so many others, and she's dug through drafts and all sorts to get at what Tolkien intended. I love the way she points out that Christopher Tolkien has done exactly what J.R.R. Tolkien imagined for his work -- edited it out of disparate manuscripts, reconciling scribal errors, etc. It's true, and it resigns me a little more to Christopher Tolkien as editor -- I don't always agree with his decisions, just as I don't always agree with translators and editors of medieval work. And that'd be just fine in J.R.R.'s view.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Sas

    Flieger sets the “Silmarillion” material within the context of historical mythological cycles and shows how Tolkien drew on them as his models — brainstorming various frame narratives, editorial conceits, and even tracing manuscript histories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Andrew Higgins

    A must read work of Tolkienian scholarship. I was especially struck on this re-read with the parallels Flieger makes on Tolkien's thoughts on "the straight road" and voyage to the other world and Celtic myths and legends like the Voyage of St Brendan... Will be using as a key text for my upcoming paper on the role of portal fantasy in Tolkien's legendarium. A must read work of Tolkienian scholarship. I was especially struck on this re-read with the parallels Flieger makes on Tolkien's thoughts on "the straight road" and voyage to the other world and Celtic myths and legends like the Voyage of St Brendan... Will be using as a key text for my upcoming paper on the role of portal fantasy in Tolkien's legendarium.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen Floyd

    Flieger sets out to explore the creation of Tolkien's world and how it came to be written and then published. Tolkien felt that Anglo-Saxon England had no mythology of its own, and that much more that once existed was driven out with the Norman invasion when England became "Frenchified." (He is apparently not interested in the even smaller and vaguer remains of the Brythonic culture and mythology that was driven out by the Anglo-Saxon invasion.) He wrote and rewrote and rewrote again many storie Flieger sets out to explore the creation of Tolkien's world and how it came to be written and then published. Tolkien felt that Anglo-Saxon England had no mythology of its own, and that much more that once existed was driven out with the Norman invasion when England became "Frenchified." (He is apparently not interested in the even smaller and vaguer remains of the Brythonic culture and mythology that was driven out by the Anglo-Saxon invasion.) He wrote and rewrote and rewrote again many stories and poems about his mythical world trying to pin down the best way to tell the stories and to get the stories right. Flieger feels he did this deliberately, trying to accumulate various versions by various ancient sources, to give depth to his stories. He wanted to give his world the layeredness found in the stories of myths and legends that have come down to us from the Greeks and Romans, etc. I find it hard to believe that he deliberately set out to do this in his late teens/early twenties when he began writing the things that would later become "The Silmarilion." It would perhaps become a happy by-product in later years, but I think when he was starting to right he was grasping at the vague stories and ideas in his head. He was also apparently a perfectionist and the constant re-writing was a striving for that. It was an interesting and enjoyable book, but I think the Flieger's "Splintered Light" is a much better book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I wish I'd bought and read this book back in 2015 when I was writing a paper for Mythcon on Tolkien's "The Long Road", "The Fall of Arthur","The Notion Club Papers" and the impact these had on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. This book was amazing! I love how approachable her works are. I want to write scholarship like Verlyn Flieger does. Her writing is never dry, is easy to follow, well researched, , and enjoyable to read. She does a good job of outlining and explaining how Tolkien crafted his myth I wish I'd bought and read this book back in 2015 when I was writing a paper for Mythcon on Tolkien's "The Long Road", "The Fall of Arthur","The Notion Club Papers" and the impact these had on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. This book was amazing! I love how approachable her works are. I want to write scholarship like Verlyn Flieger does. Her writing is never dry, is easy to follow, well researched, , and enjoyable to read. She does a good job of outlining and explaining how Tolkien crafted his mythology, and had some of the best insights on his attempt at science fiction as a way to frame his mythology. I look forward to getting and reading her other books on Tolkien.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Norman Styers

    Not what I expected it to be, but still top drawer lit crit.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Interrupted Music is a brilliant study of Tolkien’s mythic creation, with particular emphasis on the role of the lesser known works behind Lord of the Rings. Flieger follows the creation of Tolkien’s mythology from inception to final flowering, relying heavily on the twelve volume History of Middle Earth. Flieger, very appropriately, compares the History to a musical score (Tolkein's creation myth described the creator Eru singing creation into existence), and describes the present book as her a Interrupted Music is a brilliant study of Tolkien’s mythic creation, with particular emphasis on the role of the lesser known works behind Lord of the Rings. Flieger follows the creation of Tolkien’s mythology from inception to final flowering, relying heavily on the twelve volume History of Middle Earth. Flieger, very appropriately, compares the History to a musical score (Tolkein's creation myth described the creator Eru singing creation into existence), and describes the present book as her attempt to examine the structures underlying Tolkien’s mythology. Full review at Floccinaucical.com

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laistemoonwhite

    This is the first book of Verlyn Flieger I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a very insightful study of the way Tolkien created his mythology. I'm already planning to re-read this after I've finished my re-reading of the entire History of Middle-earth. I will definitely be checking out her other books. This is the first book of Verlyn Flieger I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a very insightful study of the way Tolkien created his mythology. I'm already planning to re-read this after I've finished my re-reading of the entire History of Middle-earth. I will definitely be checking out her other books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lara

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorianne

  11. 4 out of 5

    Philippe Escritorio

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Friedrichsen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Raquet

  14. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Costello

  15. 5 out of 5

    Argonath

  16. 5 out of 5

    mark rogers

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara Sara

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Hilleland

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nina

  20. 5 out of 5

    Oshun

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yoel Veinger

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Mozingo

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wanda L. Leak

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Wild

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mako2303mail.Ru

  27. 5 out of 5

    Byron Young

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ran Bar-Zik

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Woodburn

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chrissa

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