November 25th, 2013
Taylor Driggers’ `13 essay “Modern Medievalism and Myth: Tolkein, Tennyson, and the Quest for a Hero” was published in the Oct. 2013 “Journal of Inklings Studies,” making him the first undergraduate to ever be published in this literary journal. In this particular issue, Driggers’ essay appears with one by Crystal Downing, distinguished professor of English and film studies.
According to the abstract, “This essay considers Tennyson’s portrayal of an autonomous, evolved Arthur in Idylls of the King as a segue into the modernist context against which Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. While Tennyson’s mythmaking has all the outward trappings of the medieval tradition, it uses this setting to put forth ideas reflective of the Victorian faith crisis and anticipatory of the modernist obsession with autonomy and progress. Tennyson’s Arthur functions as a modernist’s Messiah, standing in stark contrast to Tolkien’s Frodo, who more fully embodies a Christian ideal that the modernists would interpret as medieval or obsolete. The Lord of the Rings is, in this light, a deconstruction of Tennysonian heroism and a re-establishment of the Christian virtues of humility, self-denial and sacrifice as the pinnacle of true mythic heroism.”