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J.r.r. Tolkien: The Authorized Biography [Paperback]

Humphrey Carpenter

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Book Description

1 Nov 1988 0395486769 978-0395486764
One day while grading papers, J.R.R. Tolkien inexplicably wrote "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" in the margin - thereby setting out on the path that would bring him fame, fortune, and the devotion of millions. A veteran of the Battle of the Somme, he was a close friend of C. S. Lewis and an editor of the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY before becoming the Merton Professor of English at Oxford.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive biography of a man who hated biographies! 21 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Humphrey Carpenter has, in this book, (as well as in The Inklings, and The Letters of JRR Tolkien), presented a balanced and endearing vision of one of the most popular and beloved authors of the 20th century. Informative without being boring, detailed without being sentimental, this book is far superior to the later biography by Daniel Grotta.
One thing which cannot be escaped is Carpenter's understanding of Tolkien's Catholicism -- expressed in both his writing, and his large part in the conversion of CS Lewis. Without this understanding, much of the "heart" of Tolkien's writing is missed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair enough 24 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
First, I'd like to point out (referring to another review) that Middle-Earth really is a Christian world, wherever the small details come from. We can't observe Tolkien's work without adapting to the fact that he was a Christian, and not just in the purely formal sense of the word. Tolkien's texts were always about the everlasting battle of good vs. evil; that is not a Christian invention, but in modern Western literature the connection is easily made.
Well then, about the biography. I think Carpenter did respectable work describing Tolkien's character and way of life. No one could possibly tell us what in the first place made him devote decades for an imaginary world, or where did his ideas come from, but Carpenter casts some light on those matters too: basically what Tolkien did was a scientific process, and his concern for the smallest details is what made Middle-Earth so perfect a creation - simply no faults, no contradictions. Luckily Tolkien also had the gift of storytelling, since that is something you cannot learn. Since I've loved Tolkien's work for years and years, this biography is an essential pack of information. (And I wouldn't have ever heard of The New Shadow without Carpenter, so thanks for that one...)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked it 8 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I liked this book very much, of course, I like Tolkien and I like history. It's a little slow -- but then, it's a biography. I read the first chapter and was shocked to find Tolkien not the Elf or Hobbit I was expecting but rather a interesting man who was a little . . . weird. A good read, it told a LOT about his life and charature and Christianity.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book gives an honest, real picture of Tolkien's life. 20 May 1998
By Sarah Roth - Published on Amazon.com
Many of us know Tolkien only for his works of fantasy fiction. We may imagine him as a mystical Gandalf walking around 20th Century England. At first I was a little disappointed to find that this was not so. He was in fact, a normal man that I might have met, given the chance. He could be you or me, yet he had, within himself, a vision of something no one could have seen on the outside. I was impressed with the way Carpenter presented the Tolkien that his friends and family knew. I don't believe that anyone could understand what was really behind the mind of the creator of Lord of The Rings, any more than we can understand any other person's most precious and intimate creations.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 31 Jan 2010
By Kathleen Mullen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this book for class and recently just finished it. It was fantastic. I didn't know about Tolkien's life outside of the Lord of the Rings and this book really shows his passion for his works. Also, the writing style of the author (Carpenter) made the book an easy read. Thanks!
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