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J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the CenturyJ.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 13 in #15in2015

It’s deeply pleasing to read about the language Tolkien uses in his work. Not the one he created, which this book barely touches on, but the old words, names, and place names that he drew on when he wrote.

Having studied in the same field at Professor Tolkien, the author is well-placed to talk about the complexities, structure, and foundation of Tolkien’s work. It’s clear he’s irritated at the literary critics who dismiss Lord of the Rings as having no value at all, but in his effort to prove them so completely wrong that they’ve missed the greatest work of the 20th Century, he presents an excellent argument for the artistic merit in Tolkien’s work.

Is Tolkien the “Author of the Century”? Well, no. Is his work powerful, complex, and of literary value? Absolutely. If you can bear to read through Shippey’s gripes about the literati and can skim through some tedious analysis of the professor’s lesser works, this book is a source of sublime pleasure.



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Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
anna_wing
Jul. 24th, 2015 08:45 am (UTC)
Yes. Shippey is probably the best Tolkien critic around, principally because he was trained in more or less the same disciplines, and can see much of what Tolkien saw in his own work. Verlyn Flieger is not bad either. I agree that Shippey is rather unfair to some of Tolkien's contemporaries, particularly Virginia Woolf. A lot of her work is precisely about the kind of quiet, lonely, four-in-the-morning courage that Bilbo showed in the tunnel leading to Smaug's lair.
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