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Title: Melancholia, mourning and the quest for renewal in the legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien
Author: Wood, Anthony
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis analyses the creative theory and practice of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973). In my Introduction, I situate Tolkien's fantastic legendarium within the historical climate of loss pervading the first half of the twentieth century. Using the theories of Sigmund Freud, I argue that personal experiences of such climate and actual losses are manifested in Tolkien's fiction, both as a compensatory mechanism and as a mythopoelic activity. In Chapter One, 1 determine how the psychological dynamics of mourning and melancholia are represented in the themes of fall, exile and mortality that connect the narratives of the chronotopic ages of Tolkien's mythology. In Chapter Two, I evaluate Tolkien as a philologist, and the influence of Gothic and Old English on linguistic structure in The Silmarillion (1977). I constellate his "secret vice" of language invention with the theories of modernist poet Stephane Mallarme. I furthermore determine how these factors influence the symbolic representation of culture in Middle-earth by linguistic means, exploring how words in Tolkien's invented languages evolve from literal signifiers into reservoirs of melancholia. In Chapter Three, I indicate how lost cathexis is regained in The Lord a/the Rings (1954•5) not only through the mechanism of the paternal bond, but also through the creation of ecologically-aware narratives expressing "vistas of history and legend" comparable to the function of dinnseanchas (place-lore) in Irish mythology. In Chapter Four, 1 contend that Tolkien's creative agency stems from deployment of radical nostalgia, and is utilised in such a way as to facilitate mourning and negotiate the collective trauma of apocalyptic "immanence" in the twentieth century. I conclude that this psychological process facilitates a response of renewal in Tolkien's readership
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available