Addenda

3 Aug

Language by Tolkien

Category: Sound Thinking
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 08/03/03

In the late 1990s, the British writer and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings was polled "book of the century" by the English public on four different occasions. Soon after, the 2001 movie version of the first part, The Fellowship of the Ring, and the 2002 follow-up of the second, The Two Towers, created an even greater resurgence of mass appeal for the fantasy epic which had first gained world-wide readership in the 1960s. Despite consistent disparagement by some "serious" critics, Tolkien stands firmly among the ubiquitous authors. . . .

A sampling of sources:

—Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien (originally 1977, now HarperCollins, 2002): authoritative Tolkien biography

—Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth (Ballantine, 1978): "classic" Tolkien companion

—Jane Chance, Tolkien's Art: "A Mythology for England" (Macmillan, 1979): examination of the theory reflected in Tolkien's work

—Joseph Pearce, Tolkien: Man and Myth (Ignatius Press, 2001): exploration of Tolkien's theories about myth and creative writing

—Mark Eddy Smith, Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues (InterVarsity Press, 2002): description of Tolkien's characters as moral examples

In the late 1990s, the British writer and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings was polled "book of the century" by the English public on four different occasions. Soon after, the 2001 movie version of the first part, The Fellowship of the Ring, and the 2002 follow-up of the second, The Two Towers, created an even greater resurgence of mass appeal for the fantasy epic which had first gained world-wide readership in the 1960s. Despite consistent disparagement by some "serious" critics, Tolkien stands firmly among the ubiquitous authors.

For most of his lifetime, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was known mainly as a gifted but obscure Oxford philologist and Old English scholar who had rekindled interest in important Old and Middle English texts such as Beowulf. Originally a by-product of Tolkien's love for words and languages, the author's story-wrighting—a craft he considered both amateur work and an expression of Divinity in Man—inspired a new genre of literature. Moreover, his essays on "fairy-stories" offered rousing assumptions about the meaning, scope, and consequence of Christian art. . . .

To read the rest of this essay by Jonathan G. Reinhardt, which includes a more complete listing of references, click here. [Posted August 2003, ALG]