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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
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letters of J.R.R. Tolkein Sept. 2 2009
Format:Paperback
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 insights into the creative process of a brilliant mind .
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By Mike London TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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. Naturally, that's because it was written by Tolkien himself.

Highly illuminating, frequently entertaining, and always interesting, Tolkien's LETTERS give us a remarkable look into one of the 20th century's most popular and widely read authors. Whether he is talking to his son about marriage, struggling to publish LORT in the early 1950s, addressing fans' various questions and concerns, writing about his scholarly life or his books, Tolkien is sharp-witted, engaging, and extremely intelligent. To his credit, he never sounds condescending, and ultimately, of all the writing about Tolkien, this is ultimately the most humanizing of them all.

What makes some of the most interesting to the letters are when Tolkien is discussing his own works. Much like UNFINISHED TALES, the LETTERS are a wonderful sumplement and a great source of information about Middle-earth that cannot be found elsewhere and is incredibly enlightening, whether it be a die-hard Tolkien researcher or a first time reader.

For those familiar with the older editions of LETTERS (I have a hardback version, well before this came out), the newly revised index, prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, make this alone worth purchasing. The index is so much better and makes this edition a lot easier to navigate through

What makes Tolkien's LETTERS such a valuable addition to the Tolkien canon is because, of all his books, this is the most intimate, naked look we will ever have into his mind other than through a mythological lens of his core books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous! Feb. 9 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
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 this marvelous writer?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Feb. 6 2002
By Al T.
Format:Paperback
If you love Tolkien's novels, you should enjoy reading his letters as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If You Could Pick His Brain... Jan. 14 2002
Format:Paperback
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
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... Read more
Published on July 14 2001 by Micah Newman
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 19 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
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must-own book for any Tolkien researcher
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. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2000 by Michael Martinez
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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