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Green Suns and Faerie: Essays on J. R. R. Tolkien Paperback – 29 Feb 2012


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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something New under the Green sun 28 May 2012
By Stephen Bridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have read at least 30 books about Tolkien's works, and I figured maybe I was at a point where not much new was going to be said. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover well-known Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger (Professor of English at University of Maryland) publishing a sparkling new collection of her essays. These essays contain at least a dozen new insights on Tolkien's genius and deeper digging on many old ideas.

The title comes from Tolkien's famous essay "On Fairy Stories" in which he laid out his theories on fantasy writing and its effects on readers. To quote Flieger's condensation of Tolkien's statement: "Anyone ...can say *the green sun*...But ... to make a Secondary World inside which the green sun will be credible, commanding Secondary Belief, will...certainly demand a special skill, a kind of elvish craft." Flieger goes on to detail several kinds of "green suns" - I.e., characters, objects, or events that are impossible in the real world but which give flavor and definition to Tolkien's created world of Middle Earth - and to show how Tolkien makes them credible. She also writes in great detail about a subject I never considered at all - how Tolkien set up his world so that the Elves are limited by Fate but humans have Free Will. Tolkien emphasized in his letters that this was NOT a religious argument or statement of how he sees the "real" world but was a literary choice.

One very enjoyable essay concerned Bilbo's riddle game with Gollum in *The Hobbit*; which some writers have felt ended unfairly with Bilbo asking an unanswerable question instead of a real riddle. However, Flieger points out that Bilbo's question is classified as a "neck riddle" - i.e., one that "saves your neck" - and was taken from several Norse traditional tales where something similar was done. She also writes about influences between the film of *The Wizard of Oz*, the book of *The Lord of the Rings*, George Lucas's *Star Wars* films, and Peter Jackson's film versions of *The Lord of the Rings*. And there are a dozen more perceptive pieces.

Highly recommended if you want to dig deeper into Middle Earth.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Best 8 April 2012
By Elliott E. Tepper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Flieger's 'Green Suns and Faerie' stands among the best attempts to understand the life and meaning of Tolkein's works. She brings not only thorough scholarship to the task, but also adds a spiritual dimension to her extensive essays. One senses that she has begun to comprehend the burden of Tolkein's heart: His desire to communicate the beauty, mystery and the Great Goodness that is beyond the veil of this present life which awaits all who long for it.
Elliott Tepper, Madrid, Spain
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolkien Through New Eyes 6 Sept. 2013
By John D. Cofield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Verlyn Flieger can always be counted upon to produce scholarly and fascinating essays on J.R.R. Tolkien. In Green Suns and Faerie we have a collection of some of her best work divided into three parts: first examining Tolkien's world and its relationship to our own, then looking at Tolkien's use of the medieval story traditon, and finally placing Tolkien within the context of twentieth century modernism. The primary focus of the essays is on Middle-earth, but there are a number which also deal with Tolkien's famous lecture On Fairy Stories and his shorter work Smith of Wootton Major (Flieger has edited both of these works and expanded upon them with intriguing new material, but unfortunately neither has been published in the US.)

As always when reading Flieger I found so much that was new to me. I was dazzled by her explanation of the "neck" riddle in The Hobbit and enthralled by her discussions of such disparate topics as reincarnation, the contrast (or connection) between fate and free will, and especially by her written "debate" with Tom Shippey over Smith of Wootton Major. One essay, on Tolkien and the Matter of Britain, was especially resonant now that his unfinished poem The Fall of Arthur has been published. But the article I most enjoyed dealt with a topic that was especially personal to Tolkien: his friendship with Rob Gilson and Geoffrey Bache Smith, both of whom were killed in World War I.

Reading Flieger is like having a long and pleasant conversation with a highly knowledgeable friend about an author whose works we both dearly love.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing perspective on Tolkein 15 Dec. 2013
By Underoo23 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was given this book as a gift by a good friend who knew that I enjoyed a deep connection with Tolkein's works. This book did not disappoint. It is a masterly work of scholarship into questions of linguistics, literary interpretation, and meditations on the philosophical questions which such a sprawling and universally encompassing work as Tolkein's mythos invariably brings up. Verlyn Flieger writes coherently and engagingly. For the Tolkein fan who is interested in digging deeper into the external back-story of the Middle Earth myth, this is required reading. Delightful from first to final page!
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 12 Aug. 2015
By Kevin Marks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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