A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road to ""Faerie (J.R.R. Tolien's Road to Faerie) Paperback – 31 Dec 2001
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About the Author
Verlyn Flieger is a Professor of English at the University of Maryland and is a specialist in comparative mythology with a concentration in J.R.R. Tolkien. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Celtic, Arthurian, Hindu, Native American, and Norse myth.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is for those already deep into Tolkien's world. The theme is specialized: Tolkien's use of time, especially in Lord of the Rings (eg. in Lothlorien, or the prophetic dreams of Frodo), and also in two posthumously published fragments called The Lost Road and The Notion Club papers.
Tolkien's views are put into the context of his own era, during which there was considerable discussion of time among the literati - perhaps most famously in the work of JB Priestley.
This is one of those rare books of criticism which is of value in its own right, even apart from the object of its analysis - indeed, I would say that this is a profound meditiation on how time appears to us humans when conscious, when dreaming, and in contrast to the imagined perception of elves and other immortals.
The recommendation to read this came from TA Shippey, who also rates it as one of the best works of Tolkien criticism.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Anyone that read Shippey or Pearce can recite by heart the known themes that exist in LOTR: mythology (Norse, German or even Celtic), Christian, Linguistic or Philosophical theme (Aristo or Neo Renaissance influence etc.). But after you had learned those themes, you are spending a lot of time and effort to find some new themes or new ideas. There are a lot of books about Tolkien and most of them discussing the known themes.
If you want book about those themes, A Question of Time is not the book for you. If you are a novice Tolkien researcher, you should read Shippey, Pearce or Anderson and don't start with this book.
This book contains different themes and ideas. The main theme in this book is about time and dreams, an idea that I never thought about or read it elsewhere. Flieger shows us that LOTR and other Tolkien's creations have a grain of time and time travel inside of them. She backs her theories with powerful examples from LOTR drafts (History of Middle Earth vol. 6-9) and from Tolkien's time travel story (Vol. 5 and 9).
Flieger does convince me that Tolkien thought about time and incorporated his thoughts in LOTR. I was amazed that after reading and researching Tolkien for such a long time, she actually told me something new, something that made me read LOTR and the Legendarium in a different perspective. I had the same feeling after I read Shippey's book and I am sorry to say that few of Tolkien criticism books are giving me the same sense.
To summarize my words: Read Shippey, Pierce, and Hammond & Scull and of course Anderson's annotated Hobbit first. But If you have read those already and you are searching for a new theme - READ THIS BOOK!
If you are just discovering the world of Tolkien criticism you should probably begin with T.A. Shippey's works instead of this one, but Flieger's work will eventually add to your understanding and appreciation of Tolkien immeasurably.
CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien frequently discussed the issue of time during their years of friendship, and both wrote about their view of time in their books, usually in the form of stories.
Verlyn Flieger has studied this issue in depth as it relates to the writings of JRR Tolkien, and so I wanted to see what Flieger had learned.
I ended up with a better understanding of Tolkien's view of time, especially as it relates to memory and dreams. Tolkien seems to have believed in a form of higher consciousness that could freely move over the field of time. Also, he seems to have believed in a form of ancestral memory, through which we gain some of the memories from our ancestors.
This book talks about some of this, and how Tolkien used his writings to explore the issue of time and time-travel through dreams and memory.
The book is somewhat difficult to read in parts, and so I only recommend reading it if you are interested in learning more about what Tolkien though about time.
Certainly not a book for the novice, but if you are interested in some of the ideas that must have fed Tolkien's fertile imagination then you will enjoy this book.