"The introduction to Gawain is a little masterpiece." (Times Higher Educational Supplement) "This magnificent Arthurian tale of love, sex, honour, social tact, personal integrity and folk-magic is one of the greatest and most approachable narrative poems in the language. Tolkien's version makes it come triumphantly alive, a moving and consoling elegy." (Birmingham Post)
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Terry Jones gives a brilliant reading and the introductions and poems themselves are very interesting. Although younger Tolkein fans may find some moments in this collection a little bit difficult to get into.
Being a picky type, I deducted one star for a bit of sloppy presentation here and there. The download has been taken from a CD package and two random rounge 'end of disc' moments have made it to the download. The joy of audio books is getting lost in a story and these few moments break that feeling. But pickyness aside this is a good quality, but not outstanding choice that I would recomend to old and young listeners alike.
If you enjoy a bit of Tolkien, the tales of King Arthur, Monty Python or a you like a bit of a theological edge to your listening, you will find a lot to enjoy here.
The Connective Tissue of the long-missing link between the Bardic Oral Tradition of Arthurian Britain, and Middle-English(Earth)
The term "Middle Earth" is not intended, popularised but in no sense invented by Professor Tolkien - in his joint role as the foremost Medievalist and Linguist of the last Age, just recently passed (and past) - has oft been an obscure, obtuse, elusive designation to come to grips with, define in any concrete/materialist sense, notoriously difficult to firmly pin down.
It is as well that it is so. And it bespeaks further the restrained, cautious, meticulously precise character of the great fabulist, that this and countless other resonant tropes, terms and references to Myth/Ancient, Pre-Roman European History, the Biblical Patriarchs who preceded Noah's Flood and the Great Deluge are all presented, where they occur, unashamedly, nor even without any sense of the need for such false shame and otherwise afflicts the Proud, Proud Men, especially of the long-established scholastic Oligarchs, desperately scrambling to keep clung hold onto the final tatters of their Sacred rag-doll fetish of their domestic household gods of Expert Opinion, the pye-eyed Golem of institutional respectability and professional credibility which serves as the Champion of all who would exist day by day quartering within themselves the secret, private dread of suffering loss of face, any small humiliation that augers the possibility of embarrassment, even ridicule on the part of some, a few, perhaps even just a single one personal professional rival amongst his peers.
In the rarefied, homogenised, Yet cosmopolitan academy of Today, practically any Professor, even one of English Literature at one of the grandest and oldest seats of Higher Learning on the planet almostu certainly have some hesitation, mixed with apprehension, not to say a wave even of just outright fright, when proposing even a modestly Grand Unifying Theory of History of The Britons and the lands of the British Isles, and encompassing a span of centuries and events stretching from the landfall of Noah's Ark, to around 1350 and the Age of Chaucer and the origins of modern English and it's earliest narrative accomplishments in written literature.
And of those few might dare even attempt such a daunting challenge, it would be a bold Grown-wearer indeed who might feel confident enough to explicitly tie that history into the speculated fantasy Mythos he had constructed under, around and behind his bestselling fantasy novel and it's sequels and spin-offs originally written so as to be of greatest appeal to 8 year old boys, young adults and adult readers of a somewhat juvenille disposition of mind.....
But it is there, already in the background of England and of the British Peoples, and in the landscape, in the very lay of the land - and Truth is Truth, so what else is there to do, but bring it into the foreground, provide context and explain circumstance that brings these Truths and the realities together as Myth, Song, Fable and Satire, but to tell these stories, woven together as a single, coherent, epic narrative that constitutes the material fabric of a nation, it's People, their complete history up to the present time, and their connection to the lands and the landscapes of their birth.
Lo, I do see My Father.
Lo, I do see my Mother, and my Sisters and my Brothers.
Lo, I do see the line of my people, back to The Beginning.
Lo, They do welcome Me, and bid me take my place amongst Them, In the Halls of Valhalla,