2007-04-26: Tales Before Tolkien

Tales Before Tolkien

The Roots of Modern Fantasy (2003)

ed. Douglas A. Anderson (1959-)

This is a somewhat interesting book related to Tolkien’s creative triumph. It collects 22 fantasy stories that were written “before Tolkien”. Shortly after collectors had published folk-fairy tales came the first German kunstmärchen or “literary” fairy tales artistically composed by a single author. Fairy tales for children were soon followed by fantasy for adults.

The earliest tale in this book is from 1812; the latest from the 1930s. The editor’s introductory notes tell which were definitely or likely known by Tolkien, and which were likely or definitely not.

Some of the tales are better than others, but the range illustrates what the fantasy literature landscape was like before Tolkien made his very big mark. I can recommend it to Tolkien fans for that reason alone.


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