The University of Western Australia
This paper will address two of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works that explore important concerns of medievalism: the tension between medieval and post-medieval material and the separation of scholarly and creative reinterpretations. The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún borrow stylistically from their Old Norse and Old English sources yet feature content that suggests the influence of the author’s concerns. The medievalism of form over content in the two texts reveals their purpose as creative reinterpretations used as exercises for comprehension, rather than medievalist diversions only for enjoyment. However, the pressure to justify medievalist creativity with sufficient analysis is evident in the substantial critical material provided alongside Sigurd and Gudrún and Homecoming. Yet rather than the antagonism of creative/scholarly dichotomy, I argue that Tolkien engages with the medieval concept of textuality as a continuously constructive process that favours creative reworking as a serious scholarly technique.