Tolkien Gateway

James Branch Cabell

James Branch Cabell (14 April 18795 May 1958) was an American author of science-fiction and belles lettres.

Arne Zettersten remembers sending J.R.R. Tolkien a newspaper article which suggested that Tolkien had been influenced by Cabell:[1]

Tolkien wrote back to me and denied forcefully that this was true. The next time we met he took up the matter again and maintained that he knew Cabell well, but that he had read only one of his books and that it was 'quite boring'.

John D. Rateliff has proposed that the book, which Tolkien is referring to in Zettersten's reminiscence, is Cabell's Jurgen (1919).[2]

The anthology The Young Magicians (1969) edited by Lin Carter, to which Tolkien contributed with two poems, also includes Cabell's "The Way of Ecben".

In Tales Before Tolkien (2003), editor Douglas A. Anderson includes Cabell's short story "The Thin Queen of Elfhame". Anderson writes that "Cabell represents a very different type of fantasy from Tolkien", the former often including irony in his writings.[3]

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  1. Arne Zettersten, J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process, p. 199
  2. john D. Rateliff, "Tolkien and Cabell" dated 29 May 2012, Sacnoth's Scriptorium (accessed 31 May 2012)
  3. Douglas A. Anderson, Tales Before Tolkien, p. 325