Date of Award

5-17-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Wendy Moffat

Language

English

Abstract

Although fantasy novelist J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) and modernist poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972) lived and wrote concomitantly, no one calls them contemporaries. By comparing the works of these two writers, this paper reveals their shared preoccupations with myth, philology, national identity, and “high”/“low” art to unearth a counter-narrative of twentieth-century literature that challenges the typical understanding of modernism. Such a study is possible now that Tolkien scholars have begun to contextualize Tolkien within the twentieth century, and modernist scholars have gained enough temporal distance from the movement to publish revisionary accounts of it. I frame the comparison around three main, interrelated points of contact, which correspond to the three sections of this paper: Mythmaking, World-building, and Word-building. By examining the similarities and differences between these two writers, this paper ultimately aims to generate not only a better understanding of Tolkien, but also a better understanding of Pound and the “modernist” period in which they both lived.

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