I am reblogging this post by John Garth for three reasons.
Reason the first, I have meant to review Tolkien’s Lay of Aotrou and Itroun for some time, and I just never seem to get to it. I read it months ago, and still no review.
Reason the second, it is only so often that John Garth shares his ideas on his blog, but when he does it is worth paying attention. Garth’s blog is filled with great material that he gives away for free. Much of his work is in book form or hiding behind paywalls at leading media outlets, and you should hunt it down (especially his Tolkien and the Great War). But in the blog you also get strong thoughts about Tolkien-related materials with punch and precision. This is what we do as academic bloggers: give away our material so everyone can learn with us. Public intellectuals can’t always do this, so take advantage of it when it comes.
And, reason the third, it is Saturday, and someone somewhere needs something super to read.
For the full piece, see The perils of enchantment: Tolkien’s Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
The encounter between mortal man and immortal enchantress is always fateful in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In The Lord of the Rings, for instance, Boromir fears the Elf-queen Galadriel and ignores her wisdom, then dies for his sins.
But in this 506-line poem, running to the most unhobbity topics of sex, infertility and adultery, Tolkien furnishes just the kind of story that would have fuelled Boromir’s fear.
A man and woman find themselves still childless as the years grow long. In desperation, he obtains a love-potion from a corrigan, a kind of witch or water-fairy, and in this way a daughter and son, and bliss, are attained. But the price he must eventually pay proves dreadful, and his wife, barely comprehending, is drawn into…
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