The Road to Middle-Earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology

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“Uniquely qualified to explicate Tolkien’s worldview,” this journey into the roots of the Lord of the Rings is a classic in its own right (Salon.com).

From beloved epic fantasy classic to record-breaking cinematic success, J.R.R. Tolkien's story of four brave hobbits has enraptured the hearts and minds of generations. Now, readers can go deeper into this enchanting lore with a revised edition of Tom Shippey's classic exploration of Middle-earth.
 
From meditations on Tolkien's inspiration to analyses of the influences of his professional background, The Road to Middle-earth takes a closer look at the novels that made Tolkien a legend. Shippey also illuminates Tolkien's more difficult works set in the same world, including The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and the myth cycle, and examines the remarkable twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, written by J.R.R.'s son Christopher Tolkien.
 
At once a celebration of a beloved classic and a revealing literary study, The Road to Middle-earth is required reading for fantasy fans and English literature scholars alike.
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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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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Apr 8, 2014
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9780547524412
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
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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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.
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
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