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The Power of Tolkien's Prose: Middle-Earth's Magical Style [Hardcover]

Steve Walker

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Book Description

Nov. 24 2009
Shortlisted for the 2011 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies

Tolkien’s unparalleled popularity has been largely attributed to his gifts as a storyteller and his thematic currency. But The Lord of the Rings may have become a modern classic for a deeper reason than we’ve noticed: Tolkien is a first-rate stylist. The Power of Tolkien’s Prose illuminates the multifaceted appeal of Tolkien’s prose style in dimensions ranging from his fantastic realism to his revitalizing imagery to his dynamic narrative to his expansive characterization to his engaging language. Viewed through the lens of Steve Walker’s stylistic appreciation, Tolkien’s fiction emerges as a new dimension of perception.


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"Walker has read both widely and deeply in Tolkien’s fiction, essays, and published letters, and uses all of these . . .There are many other worthwhile discussions of Tolkien’s love of resuscitating dead metaphor, and his use of religion, coincidence, luck, prefiguring, and much else . . . The Power of Tolkien’s Prose therefore helps to fill a gap in Tolkien scholarship. It is essentially a survey of the varieties of Tolkien’s prose, an overview touching on a wide range of stylistic components, occasionally delving deep into particular sections."--Tolkien Studies

 

“Behind the beloved stories, Walker unveils Tolkien’s mastery of language, symbol, and style. With scholarly rigor and a vivid style of his own, Walker finds in Tolkien’s fiction every important attribute his detractors have declared that it lacked. From now on, you cannot speak intelligently about Tolkien’s writing without taking into account all the arguments in Walker’s book.  Walker takes his place beside Tom Shippey in the vanguard of serious Tolkien scholarship.”—Orson Scott Card, New York Times best-selling author of over sixty such novels as Hugo- and Nebula-Award-winning Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead

“Walker’s groundbreaking contribution is to show how Tolkien’s style makes meaning by involving readers in that meaning-making.  Full of original insights that are likely to prove illuminating for all serious readers of Tolkien, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose makes sense of the sea of conflicting opinion about Tolkien’s work.”—Jonathan Langford, author of Pathways into Maturity: Coming-of-Age among Hobbits

“In spectacularly effective criticism firmly grounded in Tolkien’s texts, Walker mediates between contradictory readings by revealing heretofore unnoticed nuances in the style.  He demonstrates the consistent effect of ‘vivid ambiguity’: an intensity of vision, both understated and packed with implications, that invites a variety of responses and opens readers’ eyes to possibilities beyond the ordinary yet always grounded in it.  Walker’s own prose is engaging, imaginative, lively, earthily concrete, and rich with paradox.  Just as Tolkien turns us back to our lives with fresh eyes, so we return from Walker to Tolkien’s prose with heightened awareness, ready to see it anew.”—Bruce Young, Brigham Young University

“Highly literate and original, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose is a sparkling and allusion-rich love letter to Tolkien’s whole oeuvre.”—Sandra Ballif Straubhaar, University of Texas at Austin

“A delightful read in prose as entertaining as it is powerful, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose looks for the first time at how Tolkien works his stylistic magic.  Example after compelling example convinces me the style ultimately relates fantasy with reality.  I will never see Tolkien’s world in the same light. Walker has thrown open the doors of Tolkien criticism wider than any scholar since Tom Shippey.”—Jeff Swift, author of Tolkien’s Realistic Representation

About the Author

Steve Walker is a Professor of English at Brigham Young University. His student-focused teaching has won him honors as Harvard Fellow, fourteen times Teacher of the Year in his department and college, and Brigham Young University Alumni Distinguished Professor. He has written over seventy articles and books, including Seven Ways of Looking at Susanna, A Book of Mormons, and Mourning with Those who Mourn.


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