June 20, 2018 - 2:00 pm EDT
June 20, 2018 - 3:00 pm EDT
Jenn Raimundo lives near Washington, D.C, where she studies medieval and early modern literature, a subject she hopes to one day teach. Jenn remains active in her local, academic, and work communities and in her free time enjoys exploring the scattered villages and beautiful hikes Virginia has to offer.
It is undeniable that Death spreads its wings across the pages of Tolkien’s early and understudied time-travel fragments, The Lost Road (LR) and The Notion Club Papers (NCP). This thesis sets out to understand the purpose of this mortality in these fragments. It argues that, based on the Lewis-Tolkien space/time-travel deal, LR and NCP use the scientific vehicle of philology — a means also central to Lewis’s space series — to take their protagonists on a journey to the Myth of mortality. Instead of pursuing the defeat of death through perpetual life as do most traditional scientific romance narratives, Tolkien’s time-travel fragments paint death as a gift, a potential, to leave the bounds of this life. In other words, it is arguable that LR and NCP were destined to end as do most hagiographical immrama: the protagonist comes back from his search for the Western Lands to learn that he must live on earth and then die well. That Tolkien uses scientific romance to communicate this (un)traditional message through immrama marks him out as a scholar and person in tune with his time but not chained to its modernistic hopes. It also shows that, in at least the case of his time-travel stories, Tolkien’s statement that all his works are about Death rings true, which solemn note paradoxically holds for him and his readers the sound of Joy.