The story of how J.R.R. Tolkien came to be launched on his career, not as a writer of fiction—this had begun many years before—but as a writer of published fiction, is a familiar one.
Tolkien by contrast was as well read as anyone and more so than most, and he alludes frequently to works of what he regarded as his own tradition, the 'Shire tradition' of native English poetry. It is absolutely characteristic of his uses of tradition, however, that the source of the allusions does not matter.
This is probably at the heart of the critical rage, and fear, which Tolkien immediately and ever after provoked. He threatened the authority of the arbiters of taste, the critics, the educationalists, the literati. He was as educated as they were, but in a different school. He would not sign the unwritten Articles of the Church of Literary English. His work was from the start appreciated by a mass market, unlike Ulysses, first printed in a limited number of copies designedly to be sold to the wealthy and cultivated alone. But it showed an improper ambition, as if it had ideas above the proper station of popular trash. It was the combination that could not be forgiven.
Whatever one calls it, to use the words of Holofernes, Shakespeare's pedant-poet in Love's Labour's Lost, if not in the way that Holofernes meant them: 'The gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I am thankful for it.'
Recent polls have consistently declared that J.R.R. Tolkien is "the most influential author of the century," and The Lord of the Rings is "the book of the century." In support of these claims, the prominent medievalist and scholar of fantasy Professor Tom Shippey now presents us with a fascinating companion to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, focusing in particular on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. The core of the book examines The Lord of the Rings as a linguistic and cultural map and as a response to the meaning of myth. It presents a unique argument to explain the nature of evil and also gives the reader a compelling insight into the unparalleled level of skill necessary to construct such a rich and complex story. Shippey also examines The Hobbit, explaining the hobbits' anachronistic relationship to the heroic world of Middle-earth, and shows the fundamental importance of The Silmarillion to the canon of Tolkien's work. He offers as well an illuminating look at other, lesser-known works in their connection to Tolkien's life.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:26 -0400)
This work gives the reader a deeper understanding of Professor Tolkien & his most important works. It also serves as a learned & entertaining introductory companion to some of the finest & most influential works of fantasy fiction ever written.