First edition cover

Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World is a scholarly book written by Verlyn Flieger in 1983 on the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. It focuses on The Silmarillion, on the context The Silmarillion provides for The Lord of the Rings, and on how it illuminates the foundational themes of Tolkien's legendarium. To do these things Flieger utilizes Owen Barfield's linguistic concept of the fragmentation of meaning.

The study's contents are organized mostly in chapters that are themed on two contrary elements, or antitheses.

Splintered Light was first published in hardcover by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Michigan). In January 2002, it was published again in paperback, revised, by Kent Sate University Press.

Table of contents

  • Credits
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  1. A Man of Antithesis
  2. Catastrophe and Eucatastrophe
  3. Poetic Diction and Splintered Light
  4. A Disease of Mythology
  5. Light Into Darkness
  6. Light Out of Darkness
  7. One Fragment
  8. One Good Custom
  • Bibliography
  • Suggested Reading
  • Index

Synopsis of the publisher (revised edition)

J.R.R. Tolkien is perhaps best known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but it is in The Silmarillion that the true depth of Tolkien's Middle-earth can be understood. The Silmarillion was written before, during, and after Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. A collection of stories, it provides information alluded to in Tolkien's better known works and, in doing so, turns The Lord of the Rings into much more than a sequel to The Hobbit, making it instead a continuation of the mythology of Middle-earth. Verlyn Flieger's expanded and updated edition of Splintered Light, a classic study of Tolkien's fiction first published in 1983, examines The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings in light of Owen Barfield's linguistic theory of the fragmentation of meaning. Flieger demonstrates Tolkien's use of Barfield's concept throughout the fiction, showing how his central image of primary light splintered and refracted acts as a metaphor for the languages, peoples, and history of Middle-earth.

Contents (revised edition)

  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • Introduction
  1. A Man of Antithesis
  2. Dyscatastrophe
  3. Eucatastrophe
  4. Poetic Diction and Splintered Light
  5. Fantasy and Phenomena
  6. Splintered Light and Splintered Being
  7. Theme and Variations
  8. A Disease of Mythology
  9. Perception = Name = Identity
  10. Ourselves as Other See Us
  11. Amazing wine and cellar doors
  12. Light and Heat
  13. Making versus Hoarding
  14. Light Out of Darkness
  15. Beyond the Music
  16. Light for Light
  17. Beren and Thingol
  18. The Smallest Fragment
  19. Filled with Clear Light
  20. One Good Custom
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Works consulted


Foreign Language Translated name
Danish Splintered Light: Logoer og sprog i Tolkiens Verden
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.