J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

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The definitive Tolkien companion—an indispensable guide to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and more, from the author of The Road to Middle-earth.
 
This “highly erudite celebration and exploration of Tolkien’s works [is] enormous fun,” declared the Houston Chronicle, and Tom Shippey, a prominent medievalist and scholar of fantasy, “deepens your understanding” without “making you forget your initial, purely instinctive response to Middle-earth and hobbits.”
 
In a clear and accessible style, Shippey offers a new approach to Tolkien, to fantasy, and to the importance of language in literature. He breaks down The Lord of the Rings as a linguistic feast for the senses and as a response to the human instinct for myth. Elsewhere, he examines The Hobbit’s counterintuitive relationship to the heroic world of Middle-earth; demonstrates the significance of The Silmarillion to Tolkien’s canon; and takes an illuminating look at lesser-known works in connection with Tolkien’s life. Furthermore, he ties all these strands together in a continuing tradition that traces its roots back through Grimms’ Fairy Tales to Beowulf.
 
“Shippey’s commentary is the best so far in elucidating Tolkien’s lovely myth,” wrote Harper’s Magazine. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century is “a triumph” (Chicago Sun-Times) that not only gives readers a deeper understanding of Tolkien and his work, but also serves as an entertaining introduction to some of the most influential novels ever written.
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About the author

Tom Shippey taught at Oxford University at the same time as J.R.R. Tolkien and with the same syllabus, which gives him an intimate familiarity with the works that fueled Tolkien’s imagination. He subsequently held the chair of English language and medieval literature at Leeds University that Tolkien had previously held.
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4.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Feb 21, 2014
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780547524436
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Literary Figures
Literary Criticism / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
Literary Criticism / Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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How the First World War influenced the author of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy: “Very much the best book about J.R.R. Tolkien that has yet been written.” —A. N. Wilson
 As Europe plunged into World War I, J. R. R. Tolkien was a student at Oxford and part of a cohort of literary-minded friends who had wide-ranging conversations in their Tea Club and Barrovian Society. After finishing his degree, Tolkien experienced the horrors of the Great War as a signal officer in the Battle of the Somme, where two of those school friends died. All the while, he was hard at work on an original mythology that would become the basis of his literary masterpiece, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
 
In this biographical study, drawn in part from Tolkien’s personal wartime papers, John Garth traces the development of the author’s work during this critical period. He shows how the deaths of two comrades compelled Tolkien to pursue the dream they had shared, and argues that the young man used his imagination not to escape from reality—but to transform the cataclysm of his generation. While Tolkien’s contemporaries surrendered to disillusionment, he kept enchantment alive, reshaping an entire literary tradition into a form that resonates to this day.
 
“Garth’s fine study should have a major audience among serious students of Tolkien.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“A highly intelligent book . . . Garth displays impressive skills both as researcher and writer.” —Max Hastings, author of The Secret War
 
“Somewhere, I think, Tolkien is nodding in appreciation.” —San Jose Mercury News
 
“A labour of love in which journalist Garth combines a newsman’s nose for a good story with a scholar’s scrupulous attention to detail . . . Brilliantly argued.” —Daily Mail (UK)
 
“Gripping from start to finish and offers important new insights.” —Library Journal
 
“Insight into how a writer turned academia into art, how deeply friendship supports and wounds us, and how the death and disillusionment that characterized World War I inspired Tolkien’s lush saga.” —Detroit Free Press
Brilliantly translated by Lydia Davis, here are Proust’s tormented, touching, and often very funny letters to his noisy neighbor.

Marcel Proust’s genius for illuminating pain is on spectacular display in this recently discovered trove of his correspondence, Letters to His Neighbor. Already suffering from noise within his cork-lined walls, his poor soul was not ready for the fresh hell when his neighbor Dr. Williams married a widow with small children.

Chiefly to Mrs. Williams, these ever-polite letters (often accompanied by flowers, compliments, books, even pheasants) are frequently hilarious—Proust couches his fury in a gracious tone. In Lydia Davis’s hands, the digressive brilliance of his sentences shines: “Don't speak of annoying neighbors, but of neighbors so charming (an association of words contradictory in principle since Montesquiou claims that most horrible of all are 1) neighbors 2) the smell of post offices) that they leave the constant tantalizing regret that one cannot take advantage of their neighborliness.”

Proust makes fine distinctions among his auditory torments: “The valet de chambre makes noise and that doesn't matter. But later he knocks with little tiny raps.  And that is worse.”

Lydia Davis has written a generous translator’s note, tracing much of what we can know about Proust’s perpetually dark room; she details the furnishings as well as the life he lived there: burning his powders, talking with friends, hiring musicians, and, most of all, suffering. Letters to His Neighboris richly illustrated with facsimile letters and photographs—catnip for lovers of Proust.

With an Introduction by Jean-Yves Tadié and a translator’s note by Lydia Davis.

A major new examination of how J.R.R.Tolkien came to write his original masterpiece ‘The Hobbit’, including his complete unpublished draft version of the story, and many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps by Tolkien himself.

For the first time in one volume, The History of the Hobbit presents the complete unpublished text of the original manuscript of J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit, accompanied by John Rateliff's lively and informative account of how the book came to be written and published. As well as recording the numerous changes made to the story both before and after publication, it examines – chapter-by-chapter – why those changes were made and how they reflect Tolkien's ever-growing concept of Middle-earth.

The Hobbit was first published on 21 September 1937. Like its successor, The Lord of the Rings, it is a story that "grew in the telling", and many characters and story threads in the published text are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their "fireside reads".

As well as reproducing the original version of one of literature's most famous stories, both on its own merits and as the foundation for The Lord of the Rings, this new book includes many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for The Hobbit by Tolkien himself. Also featured are extensive annotations and commentaries on the date of composition, how Tolkien's professional and early mythological writings influenced the story, the imaginary geography he created, and how Tolkien came to revise the book years after publication to accommodate events in The Lord of the Rings.

Like Christopher Tolkien’s The History of The Lord of the Rings before it, this is a thoughtful yet exhaustive examination of one of the most treasured stories in English literature. Long overdue for a classic book now celebrating 75 years in print, this companion edition offers fascinating new insights for those who have grown up with this enchanting tale, and will delight those who are about to enter Bilbo's round door for the first time.

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