Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy

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Random House Worlds, Aug 26, 2003 - Fiction - 432 pages
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Terry Brooks. David Eddings. George R. R. Martin. Robin Hobb. The top names in modern fantasy all acknowledge J. R. R. Tolkien as their role model, the author whose work inspired them to create their own epics. But what writers influenced Tolkien himself? Here, internationally recognized Tolkien expert Douglas A. Anderson has gathered the fiction of authors who sparked Tolkien’s imagination in a collection destined to become a classic in its own right.

Andrew Lang’s romantic swashbuckler, “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

Selected pages


Title Page
The Golden Key by George MacDonald
Pusscat Mew by E H KnatchbullHugessen
The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank R Stockton
The Demon Pope by Richard Garnett
The Folk of the Mountain Door by William Morris
A Zulu Idyll by H Rider Haggard
The Dragon Tamers by E Nesbit
The Enchanted Buffalo by L Frank Baum
The Baumoff Explosive by William Hope Hodgson
The Regent of the North by Kenneth Morris
The Elf Trap by Francis Stevens
The Thin Queen of Elfhame by James Branch Cabell
Golithos the Ogre by E A WykeSmith
The Story of Alwina by Austin Tappan Wright
A Christmas Play by David Lindsay

The Far Islands by John Buchan
The Drawn Arrow by Clemence Housman

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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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