My basic thesis is simple: that a passage in Tolkien's Letter to Waldman sets down succinctly Tolkien's reasons for rejecting the Arthurian mythos as the basis of his own 'Mythology for England'. It's an idea I've had in mind to do for years, and the long-delayed publication of THE FALL OF ARTHUR finally gave me the opportunity.
This piece is dedicated to the memory of my friend Jim Pietrusz, Arthurian extraordinaire. I wish I'd been able to write this essay a year or two earlier: I'd have loved to have found out what he thought of it.
I also make one other appearance in this year's volume, in that my contribution to the Shippey festschrift (my essay 'Inside Literature: Tolkien's Exploration of Medieval Genres") gets mentioned in the essay-by-essay review of the book, including the following passage:
. . . with seven pages of notes and bibliography,
his scholarship clearly suggests an impressive
depth lurking beneath. Rateliff earns several
scholar points by venturing into other languages
to explore the Tolkien apocrypha, valuable
material, though some of it is unfinished
and all is far less explored than the novels.
I love the idea of racking up some 'scholar points', and think I'll have to figure out a way to put that on a button.
Obviously I haven't had a chance to do more than skim the contents, but thanks to the good folks at the Tolkien Society the full table of contents of the issue can be seen here:
current reading: SUMMER OF LOVE: THE MAKING OF SGT PEPPER by George Martin.