•  
  •  
 

Abstract

Tolkien’s Tom Bombadil is a notoriously mysterious character, standing somewhat apart from the central narrative, who has elicited debate and speculation among Tolkien’s readers ever since The Lord of the Rings was first published. This paper argues that Tom’s identity can be read not only as enigmatic, but as drawing on the enigmata, the riddle tradition, of the ancient and medieval world. The way in which Tom is presented amounts to a purposely obscure description that invites engagement and speculation from the reader, and that also depends for its reading on readers’ familiarity with a specific shared tradition. A number of ancient, medieval, nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts that can be said to participate in that tradition are examined. Against this backdrop, Tom emerges as having a special relationship with the Wind, and this is useful not because it explains away any of Tom’s essential mystery, but because it connects him in felicitous ways with the imagery and concerns of the larger text of The Lord of the Rings.

Copyright held by Artist

Share

COinS
 

Mythcon 51: The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien

Albuquerque, New Mexico • Postponed to: July 30 – August 2, 2021
http://www.mythsoc.org/mythcon/mythcon-51.htm

Mythcon Conference
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.