Heaney’s introduction to his translation of Beowulf praises Tolkien’s ‘epoch-making paper’, a lecture delivered in 1936 entitled ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’.  I found several versions online and liked this one, covered in the handwritten notes of a previous reader. I will read it next.

Imagine if every time an academic wanted to submit a paper, they had to answer the question: ‘Explain to what extent and in what way your paper is epoch-making?’

Publications lists would be slashed, journals slimmed, and quality might go through the roof.

Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), p. xi


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