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Letters Of Jrr Tolkien [Paperback]

J.R.R. Tolkien
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 25 1995
‘It is not possible even at great length to "pot" The Lord of the Rings in a paragraph or two. It was begun in 1936, and every part has been written many times… the labour has been colossal; and it must stand or fall, practically as it is.’ J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the most prolific letter writers of this century. Over the years he wrote to his publishers, his family, to friends (including C.S. Lewis, W.H. Auden and Naomi Mitchison) and to fans of his books. The letters present a fascinating and highly detailed portrait of the man in many of his aspects: as storyteller, scholar, Catholic, parent and observer of the world around him. They also shed much light on his creative genius and grand design for the creation of a whole new world – Middle-earth. This collection will appeal not only to the legions of Tolkien fans, but will entertain anyone who appreciates the art of letter-writing, of which Tolkien was a master. ‘I am nearly always written to as Tolkein (not by you): I do not know why, since it is pronounced by me always -keen.’

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From Amazon

Scholars and fans of the great mythologist will find a rich vein of information in Humphrey Carpenter's The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was a prodigious letter writer all his life; the sheer mass of his correspondence would give pause to even the most stalwart archivist (one shudders to think what he would have done with e-mail). But with the able assistance of Tolkien's son Christopher and a healthy dose of determination, Carpenter manages find the cream of the crop--the letters that shed light on Tolkien's thoughts about his academic and literary work, as well as those that show his more private side, revealing a loving husband, a playful friend, and a doting father. The most fascinating letters are, of course, those in which he discusses Middle-Earth, and Carpenter offers plenty of those to choose from. Tolkien discussed the minutia of his legend--sometimes at great length--with friends, publishers, and even fans who wrote to him with questions. These letters offer significant insights into how he went about creating the peoples and languages of Middle-Earth.

I have long ceased to invent (though even patronizing or sneering critics on the side praise my 'inventions'): I wait till I seem to know what really happened. Or till it writes itself. Thus, though I knew for years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down the Great River, I had no recollection of inventing Ents. I came at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any recollection of any previous thought: just as it is now. And then I saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.

This new edition of letters has an extensive index, and Carpenter has included a brief blurb at the beginning of each letter to explain who the correspondent was and what was being discussed. Still, we strongly recommend buying the companion volume, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, in order to better understand the place these correspondents had in Tolkien's life and get a better context for the letters. --Perry M. Atterberry --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The old fellow's letters to friends, family, and fans offer insight into his life and writings. Fun but not essential.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind of a master Oct. 10 2004
J.R.R. Tolkien was a prolific writer -- not just in creating the sprawling sagas of Middle-Earth, but also in writing letters, notes, and introspective studies of literature and religion. "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" is a surprisingly entertaining read, and an invaluable source for figuring out Middle-Earth's history, and Tolkien's writing.

His letters start off with notes to his beloved Edith, before they got married, when he was in the army. After only fifteen pages, correspondence with publishers starts (regarding the publishing of "Mr. Bliss"), and continues with details about his writing, illustrations, and plans for future writings. "[The created legend] should be 'high,' purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry," he writes at one point.

But letters to publishers are only some of the letters Tolkien wrote in his long life. Other letters are to his kids and his friends, detailing his trip to Italy, the Narnia books, his friendships, his career, the nuances of "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," "Beowulf," and explaining his thoughts on philosophy, religion, myth and his own writing -- even describing an aborted sequel to "Lord of the Rings" called "The New Shadow," which he abandoned as being "both sinister and depressing."

Do hobbits have pointy ears? Did Sauron create the orcs? Were the evil spiders inspired by a childhood tarantula bite? Was the Ring of Power "der Nibelungen Ring"? Tolkien addressed all of these in his letters. (And the answers are: Yes, no, no, and absolutely not!) Rumors are addressed, questions are answered, and Tolkien gives insights to his writings that -- obviously -- no one else could provide.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If You Could Pick His Brain... Jan. 14 2002
I picked up this volume on a whim. Would I find dry rhetoric? Mindless commentary on Tolkien's writings? Or, ideally, something special?
Something special! Indeed. If I could go back in time and sit with Tolkien and friends while they smoked pipes and discussed their writings, this is what I'd overhear. If I could pick Tolkien's brain on many subjects considering the Ring and Middle Earth, these are the sorts of things he'd say. These letters cover a wide range of topics over a number of years and point directly to the source of Tolkien's inspirations. Questions that have long lay dormant in my mind sprung to life and found reprieve here within these stunning letters.
Do you wonder about the spiritual implications of "The Lord of the Rings"? Do you wish for insight into Tolkien's relationship with C.S. Lewis? Do you pine for the day you could've had Tolkien respond to your own questions? This side of eternity, "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" may be the closest you'll come to satisfying these itchings. If you're a fan, this is indispensable. And, I might add, a lot of fun besides.
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Ever wonder where those Tolkien know-it-alls get their information from? This is one of the secret treasures we harbor. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien reveals his inner thoughts concerning his own life, the world as he saw it, and the characters and events in his marvelous stories.
Time and time again I've turned to the Letters for inspiration and information on what Tolkien had to say about everything concerning Middle-earth, from the family secrets and scandals of the Tooks to how Aragorn would have ruled Arnor and Gondor in the Fourth Age. Tolkien shared his private thoughts with a select group of fans who wrote to him in his lifetime, and with his friends and close relatives. These letters are a rare glimpse into his candor, wit, and values.
Many of the questions that Tolkien readers form today when they first pick up his books were shared by their predecessors in the 1930s and 1950s when The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were first published. His answers to fan questions are as fresh and informative to the 100th-time reader as to the 1st time reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable July 14 2001
Chugging through this book over the last few months has been a wonderful experience for me. What better way to get right inside the mind of Tolkien himself than through these fascinating letters? They make me feel as though I'm right there alongside him in his world; in the academia, the family life, and the inner workings of the brilliant mind that created (or simply "discovered," as he would put it, Middle-Earth). As an intimate composite sketch giving insights into all these areas, this book is absolutely indispensable for the hard-core Tolkien fan, even more so than the Humphrey Carpenter-penned Tolkien Biography. But those two volumes hand-in-hand are a delightful companion to anyone who, like me, is enraptured by _The Lord of the Rings_ and has an interest in the man who brought it into being.
Can you _not wait_ until Christmas when the FOTR movie comes out??! Man alive, that's gonna be terrific...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful glimpse.. July 12 2000
J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the best loved authors ever, endeared to millions of readers. Now with the reprinting of his letters by Houghton Mifflin all those who cherish his writings are able to learn a bit more about the man who shaped Middle-Earth.
Reading this book you can't help but think what a warm and charming man he was. His letters are thoughtful, intelligent and often amusing as he converses with the publishers Allen and Unwin, his sons Michael and Christopher, C.S. Lewis, and even fans from around the world who sent him questions and observations. It's reading history and it's fascinating.
A large and rather comprehensive index is included near the end of the book with plenty of notes about each letter and the people and places contained within.
Highly recommended for anyone wanting a deeper glimpse into the thoughts of a brilliant man.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A jewel in Tolkien's canon as valuable as a Silmaril, July 25, 2005
Of the plethora of Tolkien books available on the market, not only is this one of the most essential, it is also one of the most highly enlightening. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2012 by Mike London
5.0 out of 5 stars Letters of J.R.R. Tolkein
This book is excellent for dedicated fans of Tolkien. you will find everything you want to know, and maybe more, about the Lord of the Rings, and other writings, as well as... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2009 by Joan Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous!
I believe that no set of books is complete without this plainly marvelous book.If you are going to read other books written by him,or have read them,why not get to know more about... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
If you love Tolkien's novels, you should enjoy reading his letters as well.
Published on Feb. 6 2002 by Al T.
5.0 out of 5 stars No hobbit can fail to be impressed. . .
. . .with this collection of correspondence from the pen of the Master of Middle-Earth, Professor JRR Tolkien. Read more
Published on July 6 2001 by Drogo Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing! A Collection of Genius!
This collection of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien himself include tons of insight into the man behind the stories. He was really a great, down-to-earth, friendly man. Read more
Published on April 18 2001 by Robert T.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse into the Mind & Soul of a Passionate Artist
In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, I discovered not only a treasure-trove of information on his complex fantasy world, but also his reflections on life in this world. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2001 by Dominik Rabiej
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful insights. . .
. . .into the life and writing of JRR Tolkien. These letters, edited by his official biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, provide glimpses into every area of Professor Tolkien's life. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2001 by David Zampino
4.0 out of 5 stars Man or myth?
Being a long a fan of Tolkien and Middle-earth, I certainly enjoy reading all of his works. At least those that don't require a degree in Anglo-Saxon to read! Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2000
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