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Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

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What Tolkien hath wrought
Tom Shippey points outs that in the Lang. vs. Lit. wars in the lifetime and career of J.R.R. Tolkien, Lit. (those advocating an English curriculum based entirely on literary criticism) soundly defeated Lang. (the philologists). That being said, the success of The Lord of the Rings -- which was a practical demonstration of Tolkien's philological view of literature, rather than an academic defense -- won in the wider world of popular acclaim.

Proof of this is in two books I received from Amazon today. Æðelgyðe Ellendæda on Wundorlande is a translation into Old English of Alice in Wonderland. The Tenniel illustrations have been cleverly redone in period costume, the Caterpillar drinks from a horn rather than smokes a hookah, etc. And the poems such as "Father William" have been recast into Old English alliterative verse.

The other book is Old English Phrases For the Traveler to Anglo-Saxon England. It includes such helpful phrases as: Spricest þu Englisc? ("Do you speak English?"); Ic eom of Winlande ("I am from North America"); and, of course, Hwær migþ man? ("Where is the bathroom?").

I have absolutely no practical need of either of these books, but I am thrilled to have them in my library. The modern degreed dullards have made of English studies a wasteland that fewer and fewer want to earn a degree in any more, a vast trawl through competing victimhoods, as Shippey also notes. But there are still those who take joy in the English language and use it for something other than grievance-mongering. Hwæt!

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