THONART : Tolkien or the Fictitious Compiler (ULiège, 1984)

TOLKIEN J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings (Londres, Allen & Unwin, 1969) [ISBN 0048230871]

THONART P., Tolkien or the Fictitious Compiler (ULiège, 1984) est un mémoire de fin d’études présenté en Philologie germanique à l’Université de Liège, Faculté de Philosophie & Lettres, en 1984. L’exemplaire conservé par les bibliothèques universitaires n’étant plus consultable (détruit lors d’inondations), on trouvera dans l’intégralité du texte. On notera que le Professeur John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (Oxford) était Docteur Honoris Causa de l’Université de Liège (1954) et qu’il collabora pendant plusieurs années avec Simonne D’Ardenne qui y était professeur, pour l’édition et la traduction de textes médiévaux.

D’autres informations sur la biographie de l’auteur du Seigneur des Anneaux (porté au cinéma par Peter Jackson), du Hobbit et d’une multitude d’autres histoires de la Terre du Milieu sont disponibles dans la très complète biographie rédigée par Humphrey Carpenter (Paris, Christian Bourgois, 2002).

On trouvera ci-dessous les remerciements ainsi qu’une table des matières du texte intégral (en anglais), qui permet de naviguer dans tout l’ouvrage.

Tolkien or the Fictitious Compiler

But all fields of study and enquiry, all great Schools, demand human sacrifice. For their primary object is not culture, and their academic uses are not limited to education. Their roots are in the desire for knowledge, and their life is maintained by those who pursue some love of curiosity for its own sake, without reference even to personal improvement. If this individual love and curiosity fails, their tradition becomes sclerotic.

There is no need, therefore, to despise, no need even to feel pity for months or years of life sacrificed in some minimal inquiry: say, the study of some uninspired medieval text and its fumbling dialect; or some miserable “modern” poetaster and his life (nasty, dreary, and fortunately short) – NOT IF the sacrifice is voluntary, and IF it is inspired by a genuine curiosity, spontaneous or personally felt.
But that being granted, one must feel grave disquiet, when the legitimate inspiration is not there; when the subject or topic of “research” is imposed, or is “found” for a candidate out of some one else’s bag of curiosities, or is thought by a committee to be a sufficient exercise for a degree. Whatever may have been found useful in other spheres, there is a distinction between accepting the willing labour of many humble persons in building an English house and the erection of a pyramid with the sweat of degree-slaves.

TOLKIEN J.R.R., Valedictory Adress
to the University of Oxford

The latter has not proved true in this case and I am therefore grateful to Prof. P. Mertens-Fonck for the wise advice she gave in my small contribution to the English pyramid. I know now that patient Merlin was perhaps a woman.

Patrick Thonart

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