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The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien by J. R. R.…

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1981)

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Other authors: Humphrey Carpenter (Editor), Christopher Tolkien (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I felt it was a bit too invasive to be reading someone's letters that were never supposed to be for the eyes of anyone who wasn't the person it was addressed to, but this was an interesting read about the man who created the Lord of the Rings series. ( )
  Tarklovishki | Oct 31, 2014 |
Well, an author like any other artist, is best experienced through the art they produce. Too close an acquaintance, as some of these letters reveal, may be disillusioning. One should not rely too heavily on one's mental picture of JRRT as the kind and loving father to anyone other than Christopher Tolkien. I was surprised to discover that he had other children, and his wife did not die sometime in the 1930's but was his lifelong companion. Perhaps the wife and other children didn't wish to expose any more of their lives to the gawping public, and that certainly is their right. But it does add a little depth to the figure presented by this selection of the letters. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 15, 2014 |
Fascinating, insightful, and often touching. Sometimes repetitive and sometimes over the head of any non-philologist, it can take a bit of patience, but the many gems are well worth it. ( )
  Ceora | Mar 12, 2014 |
What a treasure trove this is. The collection begins with a handful of letters Tolkien wrote to his wife during his training for the army just before leaving for France in WWI and carries on through 354 letters ending with one he wrote his daughter a few days before his death in 1973. Along the way are letters to family members, friends, and colleagues; to his publisher (outlining nicely parts of the process of getting The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and a number of his shorter works ready for print); and to readers who asked questions about his works. The letters are full of glimpses into Tolkien's life, his religious views, the background of his works, and the workings of the languages he invented. I found the entire collection thoroughly engaging and at times very effecting. The last twenty or so letters made me particularly verklempt. These cover the last two years of his life and include a heart-wrenching letter to one of his sons in which Tolkien describes his despair at the loss of his wife. The very last letter, written just days before Tolkien died, almost undid me. He writes to his daughter of plans for his week away with friends and tells her how he spent his afternoon, wandering about town and getting a haircut. Just living his life, writing his letters, with no notion he was living his last few days. Gah.

Recommended whole-heartedly to Tolkien enthusiasts. ( )
4 vote lycomayflower | Dec 26, 2013 |
Reading Tolkien's letters has to be fascinating for anyone interested in the man and/or his works. He reflects on what he wrote, gives advice to his sons, reports on the progress of his work, and sends irritated letters to Germans who have asked if he's of Jewish descent. It's a pretty exhaustive collection, with an index and little bits of context to go with each letter. Worth reading! ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Tolkien's letters are really the best source for what the author thought about the world he devised and the characters he created to populate it.
added by Shortride | editSalon, Laura Miller (Dec 19, 2002)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolkien, J. R. R.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carpenter, HumphreyEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tolkien, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krege, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sylwanowicz, AgnieszkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valkonen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Towards the end of his life, J. R. R. Tolkien was deprived for a few weeks of his right arm. He told his publisher: 'I found not being able to use a pen or pencil as defeating as the loss of her beak would be to a hen.' [Introduction by Humphrey Carpenter]
My Edith darling: Yes I was rather surprised by your card of Sat. morning and rather sorry because I knew my letter would have to wander after you. [Letter no. 1]
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618056998, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:18 -0400)

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'...If you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If then you wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did, unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I came to that point. So the essential Quest started at once. But I met a lot of things along the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner of the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than Frodo did. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlorien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there.' -- J.R.R. Tolkien to W.H. Auden, June 7, 1955 J.R.R. Tolkien, cherished author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, was one of the twentieth century's most prolific letter writers. Over the years he wrote a mass of letters -- to his publishers, his family, to friends, and to fans of his books -- which record the history and composition of his works and his reaction to subsequent events. By turns thoughtful, impish, scholarly, impassioned, playful, vigorous, and gentle, Tolkien poured his heart and mind into a great stream of correspondence to intimate friends and unknown admirers all over the world. From this collection one sees a mind of immense complexity and many layers -- artistic, religious, charmingly eccentric, sentimental, and ultimately brilliant. Now newly expanded with a detailed index, this collection provides an invaluable record that sheds much light on Tolkien's creative genius, his thoughts and feelings about his own work, and the evolution of his grand design for the creation of a whole new world -- Middle-earth.… (more)

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