“Beowulf” and “The Two Towers”

Fehrenbacher, Richard W. “Beowulf as Fairy-story: Enchanting the Elegiac in The Two Towers.Tolkien Studies 3 (2006): 101-115. Fehrenbacher, a professor at the University of Idaho, conducts a close comparison of Beowulf and the Rohan episodes of The Two Towers to argue that in the latter Tolkien is attempting to “transform … the doomed and monstrous world of Beowulf’s northern paganism into a victorious and hopeful one by employing his theory of Fantasy as outlined […] in his essay ‘On Fairy-stories.’ ” His argument of how Rohan itself is in need of and is treated to a kind of “Recovery” (in the fairy-story sense) through its encounter with Gandalf, Aragorn, et al., is a bit strange and perhaps slightly contrived, but otherwise the comparisons and contrasts he develops between Beowulf and The Two Towers are very compelling. (For a related study comparing Tolkien’s work and another Old English work, The Battle of Maldon, see Bowman, “Refining the Gold.”)

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