Creating a "Mythology for England": the role of England and Englishness in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien

Robinson, Alexandra Sarah (2007) Creating a "Mythology for England": the role of England and Englishness in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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J.R.R. Tolkien stated that he intended to create a 'Mythology for England.' This thesis deals with the issues that surround this claim: the reasons for the lack of a coherent English mythology, how Tolkien's writings fit in with the aim of creating a 'mythology for England', and how successful he was in this aim. The first half of this thesis addresses the ways in which Tolkien attempted to create an authentic English basis for his mythological 'Silmarillion' writings. The use of Old English language in the creation of his mythological works, and the use of English places in creating the landscape of his
mythological world, support the reading of the 'Silmarillion' as providing an English mythology. The lack of an authentic English mythology for Tolkien to draw upon resulted in his use of mythologies from other countries to help create a sense of
Englishness. He particularly drew upon the Finnish [Ca/eva/a, a work created by folklorist Elias LOnnrot from existing Finnish folk ballads. In later years Tolkien dismissed as 'absurd' the intention of creating an English mythology. He moved away from attempting an overarching mythology whilst still developing 'myth' writings, informing them with a sense of Englishness. His short stories relate to England and English concerns, from stories that are more obviously tied in with the history of England, such as Farmer Giles of Ham, to stories that relate to twentieth century concepts of Englishness, such as his children's stories Roverandom and Mr. Bliss. The thesis will lastly focus on The Lord of the Rings, concentrating on how the presentation of the Shire relates to concepts of Englishness in light of the effect of the Industrial Revolution on England. Although Tolkien abandoned his original aim and therefore can be argued as failing to produce an all-encompassing 'mythology for England,' his writings nevertheless retain a central element of Englishness, which will be examined throughout the thesis.

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