Today I bought my first volume ever of Tolkien criticism.  It is the “Modern Critical Views” volume edited by Harold Bloom, and it contains an essay by T. A. Shippey, whom I haven’t yet read, but who had the only name that I recognized among the critical contributors.  A few of the essay titles have appeal:  there is “A Mythology for England” by Paul H. Kocher, and “On the Need for Writing Tolkien Criticism” by Neil D. Isaacs.  At some point after my own essays are written this semester, these will probably steal the show.

The reason I haven’t ventured into Tolkien criticism before is probably related to the reason that the Hobbits didn’t often venture into the great Outside World.  It is so much more comfortable to sit by my own the hearth and do my own irresponsible readings at my own pleasure.  But there comes a point where even a Hobbit has to admit that maybe it would not be a bad thing to find out what people are actually doing in the outside world, especially when they are getting academic about it, and so there may be a few reflections on Tolkien criticism turning up in future posts on this blog.

The occasion of this great upheaval was the fact that I visited a book sale this morning.  The stouthearted gallant who devotedly escorts me to bookstores found it first and put it into my hands; and it was the $5.00 price tag that put the thought into my head that, perhaps, it would not be a bad thing to find out what people in the outside world are up to.

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