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Title: Folktale, Fairy Tale, and the Creation of a Story
Contributor(s): Ryan, John Sprott (author)
Publication Date: 2004
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Abstract: Like R.J. Rielly, J.S. Ryan is concerned to examine Tolkien’s conceptions of myth, fairy tale, and “sub-creation.” Therefore, this essay may profitably be read in conjunction with that which precedes it. Ryan’s focus, however, is upon Tolkien’s criticism. The seminal essay “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” according to Ryan, illuminates Tolkien’s conception of the nature of folktale and its function in designing the “mythical mode of imagination.” Ryan also explores ‘Tree and Leaf,’ which, in addition to containing the important essay “On Fairy-Stories,” provides a useful example of what a fairy tale should be, “Leaf by Niggle.” In considering the crucial significance of Tolkien’s work as a philologist in the formation of his art, Ryan examines as well the place of language in Tolkien’s conception of tale and its role within the whole realm to which mythical imagination gives access. Tolkien thought of classes of languages as trees and of particular languages as their branches. A story is a leaf on the tree, a “net of words” that attempts to catch Faёrie; the tree is a mass of tales; and the whole forest is a manifestation of time’s continuous unfolding.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Understanding the Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism, p. 106-121
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Place of Publication: Boston
ISBN: 061842251X
Field of Research (FOR): 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
Other Links:,M1
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