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The Road to Middle-earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2003
The road to middle earth is one which Tolkein followed throughout his entire life. Shippey goes into great detail in describing how Tolkein created the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion and all the other related works. He follows Tolkein's journey through life from his time in the trenches of world war 1 to his death nearly 60 years later still writing about middle-earth.
Shippey's work, similarly to 'Author of the Century', is compelling, rich and very educational. For anyone interested in history or language this is an excellent tool. Written by an Oxford scholar about the work of another Oxford scholar it contains numerous references to the great poems and sagas of the dark ages and how they were to influence a man who dealt with them as part of his everyday work. The way that Tolkein turned old, and sometimes meaningless, words into creatures and places and how he used the stories of old to create a modern myth is discussed in depth.
Indeed to read this book gives a greater insight into what Tolkein was trying to achieve and even how his books should be read. The stories alone are fascinating but they lead to a yearning for more information and greater knowledge which this book provides.
For anyone looking to expand their knowledge of writing, history or middle-earth itself this book is invaluable. 'Author of the Century' by the same author is very similar and sometimes overlapping but certainly the next step for anyone who enjoys this book and 'Realm of the Ring Lords' by Laurence Gardner is also a fascinating addition along the deconstucting history line. Read on and enjoy.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2003
Shippey is an academic with an interest in both science fiction and fanatsy literature. As such, it is excellent to see intellectual resources of this calibre being used on a literary work loved by millions, and usually sneeringly dismissed by the academic fraternity - Lord of the Rings (and the other associated works and jottings).
I found this book very interesting as it laid out some of the influences in Northern European mythology which led to the creation of Middle Earth and which shaped it subsequently. It also puts it in the context of Tolkien's day job as a philologist at Oxford University, and what Tolkien was trying to achieve through his writing (besides simply enjoying himself).
In particular, it was nice to see an intelligent exposition of these matters by someone who clearly enjoyed Tolkien's works, and who was able to bring to bear the academic background to give justice to Tolkien's achievement.
This book was written long before the films were a twinkle in Peter Jackson's eye, and so this is not a cheap attempt to cash in. Instead, it is a passionate and learned book which I recommend highly to anyone interested in the genesis of Middle Earth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 July 2013
Whilst this is not an easy read, it gives a fascinating insight into the long journey Tolkien took when he started his own 'Road to Middle-Earth' in his youth. A gifted scholar, this quiet linguist would go on to create one of the most famous literary works of modern times. He has influenced many fantasy authors who have followed him and can be seen to have lifted the genre to new heights.
As Shippey states in his title for this book, Tolkien did not just write fantasy stories, he 'created a new mythology' and that is his greatest gift and the source of his genius. Whilst his first commercial foray was the children's story The Hobbit, he soon found himself writing a sequel and it was this that would propel him to literary greatness. Tolkien had begun creating his new mythology during The Great War of 1914-1918, work that would evolve into The Silmarillion. When sitting down to write a sequel to The Hobbit, he found himself writing The Lord of the Rings - a different beast entirely although some familiar faces and places crop up in its many pages. The epic feel of LOTR gave us the new mythology, a new fantasy epic never before seen and whose popularity allowed Tolkien to further explore his earlier tales.
Shippey's research is great and he gives us a real insight into the tale which 'grew in the telling.' We began 'In a hole in the gorund' with a friendly, hairy-toed Hobbit and ended up in totally different territory. We travelled with Tolkien on an amazing journey into his imagination and genius and we are extremely lucky that he shared his wonderful, inspirational tales with us. Like Bilbo said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2003
The road to middle earth is one which Tolkein followed throughout his entire life. Shippey goes into great detail in describing how Tolkein created the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion and all the other related works. He follows Tolkein's journey through life from his time in the trenches of world war 1 to his death nearly 60 years later still writing about middle-earth.
Shippey's work, similarly to 'Author of the Century', is compelling, rich and very educational. For anyone interested in history or language this is an excellent tool. Written by an Oxford scholar about the work of another Oxford scholar it contains numerous references to the great poems and sagas of the dark ages and how they were to influence a man who dealt with them as part of his everyday work. The way that Tolkein turned old, and sometimes meaningless, words into creatures and places and how he used the stories of old to create a modern myth is discussed in depth.
Although a good knowledge of Tolkein's works would be useful it is not essential. Indeed to read this book gives a greater insight into what Tolkein was trying to achieve and even how his books should be read. The stories alone are fascinating but they lead to a yearning for more information and greater knowledge which this book provides.
For anyone looking to expand their knowledge of writing, history or middle-earth itself this book is invaluable. 'Author of the Century' by the same author is very similar and sometimes overlapping but certainly the next step for anyone who enjoys this book and 'Realm of the Ring Lords' by Laurence Gardner is also a fascinating addition along the deconstucting history line. Read on and enjoy
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on 1 July 2012
Tom Shippey is one of the pre-eminent Tolkien scholars out there. This book is a fascinating exploration of the creative process and story behind on of my favourite books. From the eldar Edda to Shakespeare, and a skewering of the critics who malign Tolkien's writing, this is a scholarly, but riveting read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2015
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