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Jrr Tolkien-author Of The Century [Paperback]

Tom Shippey
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In a wonderfully readable study aimed at not just the Tolkien fan but any literate person curious about this fantasy author's extraordinary popularity, British scholar Shippey (The Road to Middle-earth) makes an impressive, low-key case for why the creator of Middle-earth is deserving of acclaim. (Recent polls in Britain have consistently put The Lord of the Rings at the top of greatest books of the century lists.) Having taught the same Old English syllabus at Oxford that his subject once did, Shippey is especially well qualified to discuss Tolkien's Anglo-Saxon sources, notably Beowulf, for the elvish languages and names used in the fiction. The author's theory on the origin of the word hobbit, for example, is as learned as it is free of academic jargon. Even his analyses of the abstruse Silmarillion, Tolkien's equivalent of Joyce's Finnegans Wake, avoid getting too technical. In addition, Shippey shows that Tolkien as a storyteller often improved on his ancient sources, while The Lord of the Rings is unmistakably a work of its time. (The Shire chapters, like Orwell's 1984, evoke the bleakness of late-'40s Britain.) In treating such topics as the nature of evil, religion, allegory, style and genre, the author nimbly answers the objections of Tolkien's more rabid critics. By the end, he has convincingly demonstrated why the much imitated Tolkien remains inimitable and continues to appeal. (May 16)Forecast: With the long-awaited part one of the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, due for movie release later this year, this, like all Tolkien-related titles, will benefit from hobbit fever.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Shippey, an expert on Old English literature and the author of The Road to Middle Earth, has written a critical appreciation of the popular creator of The Hobbit and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The subtitle refers to Tolkien's ability to write about concerns of the 20th century (evil, religion, etc.) in stories that at first glance seem to be mere fantasy. Shippey examines Tolkien's published and many unfinished works (such as The Silmarillion), as well as the shorter poems and stories. He convincingly argues that Tolkien deserves to be ranked as a major literary figure. Shippey also castigates those critics, the so-called literati, for their vituperative and ill-informed attacks on Tolkien's reputation and achievements. This study is definitely not an introduction to the "Rings" books; because of the detailed readings on the major and minor works, it should be read by those who have already enjoyed the titles surveyed. Recommended for all public libraries, especially in the wake of the upcoming film version of "The Lord of the Rings"; undergraduate academic libraries will also want to obtain this fine work of criticism. Morris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., CUNY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review*
Like J. R. R. Tolkien, Shippey is a philologist who believes that language and literature are inextricably related. Names, especially, carry meaning, and, proceeding from Tolkien's assertion that his fantasy fiction was "fundamentally linguistic in inspiration," Shippey demonstrates how Tolkien used names to generate the plots, moral concepts, and cultural resonance of his works, especially The Lord of the Rings. He argues that Tolkien's larger project was to re-create the prehistory of the Anglo-Saxons by writing the literature suggested by the relationships among old names. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were set near the end of the prehistory he constructed. Shippey maintains that, despite their backward glancing, Tolkien's Middle-Earth stories are essentially modern in their concern with the nature of evil, the hollowness of victory, and--though Tolkien characterized The Lord of the Rings as a Catholic book--deep religious skepticism. However academic such a proceeding may seem, it is keenly interesting because of Shippey's clear, if not uncomplicated, writing and because it substantiates "common" readers' great esteem for Tolkien. In several recent polls, British readers declared that The Lord of the Rings is the greatest book of the twentieth century, to the great dismay, the press noted, of the literati. Similar results of and reactions to polls in America are highly likely, which only makes this magisterial book more intriguing. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'Shippey's exploration of Tolkien's themes, especially the nature of evil, is superb' Independent 'A timely, erudite and eminently readable book' Evening Standard 'Shippey's research seems limitless. He writes with unusual clarity and presents his arguments well' Sunday Times 'Scholarly and thorough examination of Tolkien's work!a definitive study' Catholic Herald

From the Back Cover

The Definitive Critical Study of J.R.R. Tolkien's Greatest Works -- An Indispensable Companion to the World of Middle-Earth

"Shippey succeeds brilliantly…[His] exploration of Tolkien's themes, especially the nature of evil, power, and what one character calls 'the long defeat,' is superb…Taking on the critics on their own ground, Shippey reveals Tolkien's use of a complex narrative structure and the flexibility with which he moved between different literary modes." --Independent

"Shippey's witty, combative book is illuminating…the central chapters demonstrate the ingenious articulation of the trilogy, the profundity of its thought about suffering, and evil, both personal and institutional, cosmic and frankly devilish." –Observer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Professor Tom Shippey taught at Oxford, overlapping chronologically with Professor Tolkien and teaching the same syllabus, giving him an intimate familiarity with the poems and the languages which formed the main stimulus to Tolkien’s imagination. He subsequently held the same Chair of English Language and Medieval Literature at Leeds University which Tolkien held early in his career, and currently holds the Walter J. Ong Chair of Humanities at Saint Louis University, USA.

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