Journal of Tolkien ResearchVolume 4|Issue 1Article 82017Tolkien, Eucatastrophe, and the Re-Creation ofMedieval LegendJane Beal PhDUniversity of California, Davis, [email protected]Follow this and additional works at:Part of theMedieval Studies Commons,Modern Literature Commons,Reading and LanguageCommons, and theTranslation Studies CommonsThis Peer-Reviewed Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Library Services at ValpoScholar. It has been accepted for inclusion inJournal of Tolkien Research by an authorized administrator of ValpoScholar. For more information, please contact a ValpoScholar staff member at[email protected].Recommended CitationBeal, Jane PhD (2017) "Tolkien, Eucatastrophe, and the Re-Creation of Medieval Legend,"Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 4 : Iss. 1 ,Article 8.Available at:
J.R.R. Tolkien, Eucatastrophe, and the Re-Creation of Medieval Legend by Jane Beal, PhD J.R.R. Tolkien, a medievalist, often incorporated elements from medieval literature in his own mythological work.1When studying Tolkien’sre-creation of medieval sources in his own tales, poems, and grand epic, The Lord of the Rings, it is possible to perceive that Tolkien changed aspects of the stories he encountered –especially their endings. In several cases, over the years, he chose to re-imagine medieval poems that he loved, but with certain elements transformed. His concept of eucatastropheinforms his writing to such a degree, and so consistently, that there appears to be a “principle of eucatastrophe” that consistently guided Tolkien’s re-visionary processes.2Tolkien invented the term “eucatastrophe” in an essay, in which he defined it as the opposite of tragedy. He further defined it as the opposite of the “dyscatastrophe”of sorrow and failure, which, Tolkien admits, may be “necessary to the joy of deliverance.”3For the philologist, eucatastrophe is a good catastrophe, the consolation of a happy ending, and “the eucatstrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale –and its highest function.”41Many scholars have considered the reception of medieval literature in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. For a selection of diverse approaches, see Jane Chance, ed., Tolkien the Medievalist(New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2003), T.A. Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth (Boston, Mass. and New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003), including Appendix A “Tolkien’s Sources: The True Tradition,” and Verlyn Flieger, Green Suns and Faerie (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2012), esp. Part II “Tolkien in Tradition.” See also Michael C. Drout, ed., J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment(New York, N.Y.: Taylor & Francis, 2007).