Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy

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Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2003 - Fiction - 436 pages
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TALES BEFORE TOLKIEN
The Roots of Modern Fantasy--
Classic Stories that Inspired the Author of The Lord of the Rings
Edited and with commentary by Douglas A. Anderson
Editor of "The Annotated Hobbit

Once upon a time, fantasy writers were looked down upon by the literary mainstream as purveyors of mere escapism or, at best, bedtime tales fit only for children. Today fantasy novels stand atop the bestseller lists, while fantasy films smash box office records. Fantasy dominates the role-playing and computer gaming industries, and classic works in the genre are taught in schools and universities throughout the world. Credit for this amazing turnaround belongs to one man more than any other: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the beloved author of "The Hobbit and "The Lord of the Rings.
Terry Brooks. David Eddings. George R. R. Martin. Robin Hobb. The top names in modern fantasy all acknowledge J. R. R. Tolkien as their model and master, the author whose work first fired their imaginations and inspired them to create their own epics. But what writers influenced Tolkien himself? Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." As with the scientific genius of Newton, so, too, with the literary genius of Tolkien. Now internationally recognized Tolkien expert Douglas A. Anderson has gathered the fiction of some of those giants together for the first time in a collection destined to become a classic in its own right.


In "The Golden Key," the inspiration for Tolkien's short story "Smith of Wootton Major, George MacDonald tells the tale of a boy whose quest for the end of the rainbow leads beyond the borders of the world.Andrew Lang's romantic tale, "The Story of Sigurd," features magic rings, an enchanted sword, and a brave hero loved by two beautiful women--and cursed by a ferocious dragon. Tolkien read E. A. Wyke-Smith's "The Marvelous Land of Snergs" to his children, delighting in these charming tales of a pixieish people "only slightly taller than the average table." Also appearing in this collection is a never-before-published gem by David Lindsay, author of "Voyage to Arcturus," a novel which Tolkien praised highly both as a thriller and as a work of philosophy, religion, and morals.
In stories packed with magical journeys, conflicted heroes, and terrible beasts, this extraordinary volume is one that no fan of fantasy or Tolkien should be without. These tales just might inspire a new generation of creative writers.

Tales Before Tolkien: 22 Magical Stories
"The Elves" by Ludwig Tieck
"The Golden Key" by George MacDonald
"Puss-Cat Mew" by E. H. Knatchbull-Hugessen
"The Griffin and the Minor Canon" by Frank R. Stockton
"The Demon Pope" by Richard Garnett
"The Story of Sigurd" by Andrew Lang
"The Folk of the Mountain Door" by William Morris
"Black Heart and White Heart" by H. Rider Haggard
"The Dragon Tamers" by E. Nesbit
"The Far Islands" by John Buchan
"The Drawn Arrow" by Clemence Housman
"The Enchanted Buffalo" by L. Frank Baum
"Chu-bu and Sheemish" by Lord Dunsany
"The Baumhoff Explosive" by William Hope Hodgson
"The Regent of the North" by Kenneth Morris
"The Coming of the Terror" by Arthur Machen
"The Elf Trap" by Francis Stevens
"The Thin Queen of Elfhame" by James Branch Cabell
"The Woman of the Wood" by A.Merritt
"Golithos the Ogre" by E. A. Wyke-Smith
"The Story of Alwina" by Austin Tappan Wright
"A Christmas Play" by David Lindsay

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JonathanGorman - LibraryThing

Some gems in here, but also felt like the collection was a little over-zealous with the inclusion of stories and a desire for completeness that doesn't necessarily mesh with the stated goal of getting the general world of fantasy fans to enjoy pre-Tolkien works. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - t1bnotown - LibraryThing

I thought the stories in this volume were okay, but not particularly exciting. What is most interesting about this collection is that it shows fantasy as a continuum- something that came out of old ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Douglas A. Anderson, a leading American Tolkien scholar, is acknowledged as the worldwide expert on the textual history of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed the textual notes for all Houghton Mifflin editions of these titles for more than a decade. He has been a bookseller, in Ithaca, New York and northwest Indiana. He now lives in southwestern Michigan. He is the editor of The Annotated Hobbit.

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