Dating of beowulf harvard
Then he writes, "Its [myths] defender is thus at a disadvantage: unless he is careful, and speaks in parables, he will kill what his studying by vivisection and he will be left with a formal or mechanical allegory." What strikes me about this passage is that Tolkien suggests that the critic, or the "defender" of myth, must talk in parable, which is an allegory with moral implications, if he is to keep the myth from turning into a poorly functioning allegory.
Tolkien uses allegory in explanation/investigation of myth to avoid the myth from becoming an allegory.
That "folk-tales," by their very nature, cannot be typical--I agree with you.
I think, in fact, that you are right about what Tolkien meant there--it makes sense.
As no one could seemingly present any solid proof for a particular date, but rather “a cautious and necessary incertitude” it became a free-for-all to study the way in which the poem had been received at particular times during the last 1000 years or more.
No longer was there “a text in this class”, only shifting audiences.
However true this maybe, I think Tolkien is talking about something different.
He puts stress around the words typical folk-tale because, for him, a typical folk tale does not exist; folk tales, by their natures, cannot be typical.
Instead the time had arrived for New Critics to “own the field”.
It's still connected, too, to why, when you search for a folk-tale's supposed "origin," you always reach a vanishing point, because these stories are so rich in their multiplications and transformations (always evolving, etc., and changing, too, along different cultural lines).