July 6th, 2010, 05:42 AM
There can be only one!
Recommended works on Tolkien?
Sorry if there already is a discussion on this topic. I went through the search function, but wasn't able to find any similar topics.
My query is: Can anyone recommend some works on Tolkien? That is, books featuring an analysis and interpretation of his works? I'm not so much interested in books that mainly deal with his person (that is, biographies). I am, however, more interested in books that deal with The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and the Silmarilion.
Anyone able to point me in the right direction?
July 6th, 2010, 07:52 AM
Writer by Profession
I would recommend the works of Thomas A Shippey.
Originally Posted by Niels
Tolkien: An author of the 20th century
The Road to Middle Earth
I own both.
July 6th, 2010, 08:45 AM
Humphrey Carpenter's JRR Tolkien: A Biograhpy is essential. It is a biography, but it's written with an eye to the Lord of the Rings reader, so elements from Tolkien's life are highlighted and their relationship to his fiction is depicted. Far more important is the section on the writing of The Lord of the Rings, the clearest and most concise account of how he did it, where he hit road-blocks and took months or even years off the project and so on. Very illuminating on writers and their methods.
In comparison, Michael White's biography is a bit of a knock-off produced to cash in on the films and features a questionable focus on gossip (Tolkien and CS Lewis's falling-out over religion is mentioned briefly by Carpenter, but is a much bigger and more dramatic event in White's eyes, almost certainly baselessly as Tolkien and Lewis remained friends until Lewis's death despite their differences). I would avoid.
Unfinished Tales, the fourth book in the Middle-earth sequence, is also a vital read, both in its own right and also for its fleshing out of the writing of The Silmarillion and its chapters and scenes cut from The Lord of the Rings (particularly the material tying LotR more closely to The Hobbit, which Tolkien cut for pacing reasons but remains utterly fascinating).
For criticism and analysis, Tom Shippey's book is indeed top stuff.
July 6th, 2010, 09:48 AM
I would think you should check out his Letters, which has a lot of great discussion from Tolkien about his own work. In other words, if you are interested in analysis of Tolkien, make sure you include his own "analysis." In that vein, his essay On Fairy Stories is must reading if you want to get a peak behind the curtain of Tolkien's thinking.
For something a bit obscure, there's Splintered Light by Verlyn Flieger who analyzes Tolkien, in particular The Silmarillion, in the light of Owen Barfield's work.
July 6th, 2010, 09:52 AM
Humphrey Carter's book is indeed essential, as is Barbara Strachey's Journeys Of Frodo. I'd also recommend The Real Middle-Earth by Brian Bates.
July 6th, 2010, 03:10 PM
Saturn Comes Back Around
Last year, I read both Humphrey Carpenter's Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Tom Shippey's The Road To Middle Earth. Both were fantastic.
July 6th, 2010, 04:14 PM
Webmaster, Great SF&F
A fairly complete list:
Scroll down to the "J. R. R. Tolkien Resources in Print" heading on this page.
July 6th, 2010, 04:17 PM
Or, scroll down to the bottom of his wiki page and check out all the works on him.
July 6th, 2010, 05:11 PM
Dwarf Surrealist Boxer
The Shippy works mentioned above are possibly your best bet.
Not mentioned above or on either of the linked websites are several works that also warrant strong consideration - Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter, Lord of the Elves and Eldils: Fantasy And Philosophy in C.S. Lewis And J.R.R. Tolkien by Richard Purtill and Christian Mythmakers: C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Madonald, G.K. Chesterton, and Others by Rolland Hein.
The Carter book takes a fairly populist approach and includes a nice treatment of the history of fantasy. The Purtill and Hein books are a little more weighty, but (obviously) don't concern themselves solely with Tolkein.
Another that looks promising but that I havenít gotten to yet is Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon by Brian Rosebury.
One book to stay away from is Meditations on Middle Earth, edited by Karen Haber, which is simply a spotty essay anthology.
One last book I'll mention is J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator by Hammond & Scull. It covers Tolkienís evolution as an artist and is a nice mix of images and accompanying text. There is some great stuff here that you won't get anywhere else.
As you can tell, there is no shortage of Tolkien material - it's a cottage industry!
Tags for this Thread