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JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

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on Sat, 04/02/2016 - 17:01

J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read Tolkien's standards and they have always appealed to me and in some ways it was more a feeling than an actual understanding of why. I moved on to HoME and many of Tolkien's translations, such as Beowulf, Sigurd, and the Fall of Arthur with more to come, such as Kullervo and Sir Gawain.

I recently read Shippey's "The Road to Middle-Earth" and followed it up with "Author of the Century".

These books helped me better understand in some ways that feeling.

I always understood that there was a depth to his work. There was a history, languages in translations, maps, some crossover between stories, but this book helped shed light on much I didn't pick up on directly.

While we may or may not know these stories, I think we inherently know them for they are age old and retold in other forms with other characters.

Then a person like Tolkien comes along and can blend these altogether and leverage his knowledge of word origin and meaning with story, history, chronology, and without understanding why, the story becomes compelling on a level not often experienced.

As Shippey notes, he does so with the origin of evil at its core.

I've been aware of my fascination with this concept for many years. Why is there evil? Where did it come from? I truly believe these are universal questions, but I can't say I associated it with my love of Tolkien's works, until reading this book (though in hindsight it seems obvious).

In Author of the Century, Shippey makes this case, and does so very well.

I'd recommend for anyone who has read and greatly enjoyed: the Hobbit, LOTR, Silmarillion, and Tales From the Perilous Realm (or the works comprising it).

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