[Epub] ➛ J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century By Tom Shippey – Larringtonlifecoaching.co


  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
  • Tom Shippey
  • English
  • 10 May 2017
  • 9780618257591

10 thoughts on “J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

  1. says:

    If you are ever interested in re reading The Lord of the Rings, this book will add to your enjoyment I say re read because if you haven t read Tolkien, it is better to just dive into The Hobbit and then move on to his masterpiece But re reading a book you love is a different type of reading a slower reading imbued with leisure where you can stop and smell the words, as it were Tolkien was a philologist, a lover and a scholar of words and this book will show you how Tolkien took an Old English word like wodwas from the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and used it to create woses , wild men of the woods What I liked the most about this book is the behind the curtain look at the creation of one of the most enduring and complex imaginary worlds ever created a world with its own languages even Here you see that this creation was not ex nihilo but was rather the hard, hard work of combining existing elements into new forms When you finish reading this book and you re read Tolkien again you ll feel like a little scholar with a mini Ph.D in Tolkienism Trust me when I tell you that this small expertise will not take away from your heart s joy Finally, I admit that the grandiose title put me off a little but by the end of the book I didn t mind it so much I ve read Tolkien s works and re read them with something like awe that a human being could invent as intricately and expansively as Tolkien did This book diminished that awe in a good way Yes, the man had an extraordinary talent, but he was also an ordinary man possessed with a powerful sense of purpose and great capacity for dedicated work And in that, he s like you and I can be.


  2. says:

    The title of this book is not as overblown as it sounds Shippey is making the case for Tolkien as an author of the century, the twentieth century, responding to the issues and the anxieties of that century He puts Tolkien in a group of influential traumatized authors who tended to write fantasy and fable because they were convinced that this was the only way to address their experiences Shippey also discusses Tolkien s ancient sources I m familiar with a few of them Beowulf, some other Anglo Saxon poems, parts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and there are some I m interested in but haven t read yet especially the Icelandic sagas.The first section, on The Hobbit, is mostly an analysis of Tolkien s style and his sources Several of the riddles from Bilbo and Gollum s riddle contest can be traced to Old English and Old Norse This section also examines the clash of of heroic and modern styles of language and ideals Shippey points out that at the end, Bilbo and the dwarves say the same thing in completely different language If ever you visit us again, when our hals are made fair once , then the feast shall indeed be splendid If ever you are passing my way, said Bilbo, don t wait to knock Tea is at four but any of you are welcome at any time The Hobbit is also where Tolkien introduced his ideas about courage Bilbo s courage is not aggressive or hot blooded It is internalized, solitary, dutiful and distinctively modern, for there is nothing like it in Beowulf or the Eddic poems or Norse saga Just the same, it is courage of a sort, and even heroes and warriors ought to come to respect it 28.The Lord of the Rings section is divided into three chapters The first, Mapping out a plot, discusses Tolkien s writing process when he wrote LotR and some aspects of his writing style Shippey looks at Tolkien s use of different modes of speech to suggest cultural variation between the different speakers at the Council of Elrond He points out that Saruman talks like a politician There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means Shippey writes When people say things like no real change the mean there is going to be a major change, but they would like you to pretend it is minor and too often we do Saruman is the most contemporary figure in Middle earth, both politically and linguistically 76.This chapter also discusses the culture of the Rohirrim There s an interesting bit of etymology Tolkien worked out what the natives of Mercia a Latinized name would have called their kingdom, and came up with Marc, pronounced the Mark The Rohirrim do not have the rigid codes of obedience of a modern army, or a modern bureaucracy they are freer to make their own minds up, and regard this as a duty They surrender less of their independence to their superiors than we do and Tolkien makes us realize that even if they are relatively uncivilized, indeed still at a barbarian stage of development, this is not all bad The second chapter on The Lord of the Rings is called Concepts of Evil Shippey points out that premodern societies did not have the skepticism of power present in Tolkien s work and that of his contemporaries people probably thought that evil possessors of power were evil by nature, and from the beginning 115 This chapter also discusses the two views of evil that are in tension in Tolkien s work The Boethian view holds that there is no such thing as evil What seems to be evil is only the absence of good The Manichean view holds that the world is a battlefield between the powers of Good and Evil, equal and opposite so that, one might say, there is no real difference between them, and it is a matter of chance which side one happens to choose 134 Of course, LotR would be simplified if this conflict were resolved if the Ring were merely an absence of good, then it could only work on internal evil, and could simply be put aside If it were only an external force, then anyone could have destroyed the Ring The theory of courage that Tolkien discussed in his 1936 Beowulf lecture In Norse myth and Tolkien believed something similar must have existed in Old English it was believed that the world would end in a final confrontation between good and evil, as in the traditional Christian myth The difference was that the Norse end of the world called Ragnarok, the destruction of the gods the forces of evil won.Shippey asks If the gods and their allies are going to lose, and this is known to everyone, what in the world would make anyone want to join that side 150 The answer what Tollkien called the potent but terrible solution of Norse myth was that victory or defeat have nothing to do with right and wrong 150 In this way Northern mythology sets a higher standard than Christianity Tolkien wanted his characters to live up to the same high standard, and was careful therefore to remove easy hope from them 150 Tolkien s hobbits have a cheerful attitude which far from speculating about its chances on Doomsday refuses ever to look into the future at all This is not optimism, since it keeps them going even when they have no real hope The third chapter on The Lord of the Rings is called The Mythic Dimension Shippey discusses some historical parallels to the events in The Lord of the Rings, but he also shows that it doesn t have anything like one to one historical parallels with WWI or WWII He does point out the parallel between the status of Vichy France and what Sauron offers to Gondor and its allies if they surrender Shippey also discusses the Scouring of the Shire episode as a critique of the drive for efficiency which is not only soulless but also inefficient 168.This chapter also connects Denethor s resistance to change to contemporary fears of nuclear war Denethor cannot tolerate the idea of things being different than they have been all his life, and if he cannot have what he wants he will have naught Shippey By the time The Lord of the Rings was published, of course, it was the first time possible for political leaders to say they would have naught and make it come true 173 He points out that Denethor represents the major late twentieth century fear, leaders with a death wish who have given up on conventional weapons 174.The Silmarillion section starts by explaining how Tolkien found inspiration in some of the ambiguous details of Northern European mythology Tolkien took the distinction between Light Elves and Dark Elves from Norse mythology and created Quenya as the language of the former and Sindarin as the language of the latter The conflicts between different divisions of Elves recall the family feuds in Icelandic sagas Shippey also discusses the story of Turin and the tension between his responsibility for his decisions vs the influence of fate I ve read The Silmarillion, so I knew this already, but Shippey provides a good introduction for those who haven t read it Verlyn Flieger s Splintered Light is on my TBR because I d like to read a in depth examination of The Silmarilion sometime Shippey writes that The Silmarillion s focus on the sins of possessiveness and power make it less a mythology for England and one for its own time, for the twentieth century a myth re told, with proper respect for what in myth is unchanging, because myths always need retelling Ever since I first read The Silmarillion, I ve felt that The Lord of the Rings is not quite complete without it LotR has a qualified happy ending, and uses this as an argument for the belief that there is a grand plan in which everything works out, in the end The Silmarillion also makes this argument, but without the happy ending Tolkien holds nothing back here, even when it would make his position easier to accept.There s also a chapter on Tolkien s shorter works, most of which I m not really interested in Except Farmer Giles of Ham, which is hilarious, and makes a point about the value of old stories Some of these are the kind of allegorical stories that Tolkien usually avoided.The Afterword, The followers and the critics discusses some criticisms of Tolkien and his influence on modern fantasy Shippey points out that Tolkien uses several devices that are accepted as modernist, but his motives are different from other writers because they are on principle not literary He used mythical method not because it was an interesting method but because he believed that the myths were true He showed his characters wandering in the wilderness and entirely mistaken in their guesses not because he wanted to shatter the realist illusion of fiction but because he believed everyone is in a way wandering in a bewilderment, lost in the star occluded forest of Middle earth He experimented with language not to see what interesting effects could be produced but because he thought all forms of human language were already an experiment The discussion of Tolkien s followers is sort of depressing it confirms my suspicion that a lot of writers of epic fantasy are too close to Tolkien even when they claim to be doing something different It s why I mostly read other kinds of fantasy Some of the writers he mentions sound interesting though I haven t read most of them, except Ursula Le Guin and a little bit of Jack Vance.


  3. says:

    When Harold Bloom is forced to address the title of your book when writing a literary critique of The Lord of the Rings, regardless of the entire content of your book, you have truly accomplished something.I ve recently started digging into the discourse which surrounds J.R.R Tolkien as I slowly plow through The Lord of the Rings for the second time in my life I picked this book up along with a small mountain of books at my local library and began reading this one It was a bit of a slog at first, but after a while I found I could read long passages without pausing or needing a break Tom Shipley s work is important for Tolkien studies, because it contextualizes the entire body of Tolkien s work, while also understanding how the book operate and where they come from.Shippey explores Tolkien s fascination with languages and ancient texts, showing how the man constantly derived inspiration from such works Looking into the man s approach to writing, the names of his characters, the origins of the various monsters and creatures he borrowed or crafted on his own, and of course tackling the epic monster that is The Silmarillion Shippey finds not only the relevance of Tolkien s book, he manages to find the art The final chapter in facts places The Lord of the Rings alongside works such as Ulysses and The Waste Land in order to assess the first claim of the book, namely, that Tolkien is the Author of the 20th century.This is obviously a difficult argument especially when one remembers the great body of writers that existed during that century, who contributed their voices and prose That list includes authors such as Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, George Orwell, T.S Eliot, Vladimir Nabokov, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway just to name a few I can t say for myself whether I would argue that Tolkien is the Author of the century, however I do feel comfortable enough arguing for the fact that Tolkien established a universe that has been borrowed from, stolen from, parodied, and marveled at since it s publication in the 1950s.Middle Earth has persisted in the face of critics, in spite of them, and the makers of the new technologies and innovations that have made this new age all owe a debt to Tolkien in some form or capacity The Old Professor impacted the zeitgeist and we re still feeling it So in the end Shippey does at least prove to his reader this.


  4. says:

    Fantastic analysis of how Tolkien constructed the language, world, and characters of Lord of the Rings, with particular attention to word origins and connotations Easy to read and fascinating Excerpt Tolkien also thought and this takes us back to the roots of his invention that philology could take you back even beyond the ancient texts it studied He believed that it was possible sometimes to feel one s way back from words as they survived in later periods to concepts which had long since vanished, but which had surely existed, or else the word would not exist This process was made much plausible if it was done comparatively philology only became a science when it became comparative philology The word dwarf exists in modern English, for instance, but it was originally the same word as modern German Zwerg, and philology can explain exactly how they came to differ, and how they relate to Old Norse dvergr But if the three different languages have the same word, and if in all of them some fragments survive of belief in a similar race of creatures, is it not legitimate first to reconstruct the word from which all the later ones must derive it would have been something like dvairgs and then the concept that had fitted it The asterisk before dvairgs is the conventional way of indicating that a word has never been recorded, but must surely have existed, and there is of course enormous room for error in creating words, and things Still, that is the way Tolkien s mind worked, and many detailed examples are given later on in this book But the main point is this However fanciful Tolkien s creation of Middle earth was, he did not think that he was entirely making it up He was reconstructing , he was harmonizing contradictions in his source texts, sometimes he was supplying entirely new concepts like hobbits , but he was also reaching back to an imaginative world which he believed had once really existed, at least in a collective imagination and for this he had a very great deal of admittedly scattered evidence.Would anyone like to suggest further reading on the subject I d especially like to read something that delves into Tolkien and Lewis s war service and how that might have influenced their fiction.


  5. says:

    Shippey makes a powerful argument for the serious literary study of Tolkien, and he places Tolkien in the company of other recognized great authors of the 20th century If you want a deeper understanding of Tolkien s work from a literary perspective, this is the book for you.


  6. says:

    Review originally published November 2012 at Falling Letters.I found much of the book to have a fresh perspective, particularly as I haven t read too much analysis of Tolkien s work primarily just The History of the Hobbit For example, the passage about Baggins as bourgeois and the comparison between that word and burglar, and the description of the modern business aspects of Bilbo and the dwarves deal, provided a perspective on those aspects of the stories I never really considered before I also enjoyed the afterwards of the book, in which Shippey considers Tolkien s imitators but also considers what they don t imitate, such as language building and the interlacing storylines it s easy to pick out what gets most often imitated such as races but I had never thought about imitators in terms of what they don t imitate, and I think that s a great thing to think about because it goes to show just how unique and skilled Tolkien was.I did find the segment The Ironies of Interlace about LotR very interesting Because I had seen the movies before the books, I was familiar with the general plot and wasn t too surprised my any of the major events while reading the books However, Shippey examines how the different threads of the story are carefully interlaced and presented to the reader, so that, for example, the reader does not know if Frodo and Sam are alright when reading about Aragorn and co approaching Mordor There are even subtle examples of this careful intertwining, where the characters do not know something but the reader does or one timeline is five days behind another timeline I m not doing a very good job at describing this, but Shippey does a great job at explaining this and how there is likely no author today who could pull off such grand scheming I thought it interesting to consider what would it have been like to read the books and not know how the plot went It s unfortunate that I missed that opportunity, but they still make for a great read All in all, a good little read, especially for someone like me, who has enjoyed Tolkien s works and wants to learn .


  7. says:

    This is a fantastic book and really the place to start for non biographical secondary sources on Tolkien My only major gripe is the stuff about Boethian vs Manichaean views of evil in Tolkien What Shippey sees as a Manichaean presentation of evil in Tolkien is only superficially so, and I think if he had a better understanding of Christian theology he wouldn t have gone so far down this line of thought For Christians, even when speaking of a totally evil being such as Satan, there is an understanding that his fundamental nature and the fact of his existence is good Evil is still understood as negation, not as something with positive existence We may have an experience of evil as something that exists in the same way as we experience darkness, the absence of light I can t think of a single example of a truly Manichaean presentation of evil in Tolkien except for the orcs which, strangely, Shippey takes as the opposite The orcs are beings, seemingly with intellects and free will, which nonetheless are presented as entirely evil and without any choice of being otherwise Still, even the orcs as an entire species are a corruption and negation of something good, though the problem of their will still exists This is something Tolkien regretted as a flaw in his work The only other possible example I can really think of is the Ring, but that depends on whether you think of it as a being in itself or a manifestation of the evil will of Sauron.


  8. says:

    Well worth reading Any fan of LOTR or the Hobbit will likely enjoy it Shippey s unravelling of the distinct speech patterns and linguistic elements in the council of Elrond is fascinating and illustrates how much thought Tolkien put into what are the largely unseen or unnoticed details of his epic in order to make it as authentic as possible Shippey s treatment of the mythic images of the eternal stars seen through the tree tangled canopy of middle earth is interesting as well His answers to Tolkien s critics are amusing I thought his analysis of the problem of evil was a bit lacking in that it was oversimplified It read like an unbeliever looking in at the world of religious belief, trying respectfully to understand it, but not getting past the surface, while to truly understand where Tolkien was coming from with his vision of morality as presented in the books, I think you have to know something in depth of religious experience and religious faith I particularly enjoyed Shippey s analysis of the relationship that the language and images of the books have to the land, not just in a archetypical sense, but on the regional and even local level, the way old Mercia and Warwickshire in particular are woven into the books All in all, having read this exposition, re reading the books will be even enjoyable.


  9. says:

    Tom Shippey is a Professor of Philology at Oxford, specialising in Old English and Old Norse So he was well placed to explain what made J.R.R Tolkien, himself a Professor of Philology at Oxford, tick By analysing the texts Tolkien himself read and translated, Shippey introduces the reader to Tolkien s literary and linguistic sources of inspiration, many of which can be traced in The Lord of the Rings and other Tolkien works Other chapters focus on historical, political, ethical and religious influences, as well as Tolkien s influence on later authors, all with an eye to proving that far from being an overrated writer of fairy tales, Tolkien was in fact a master of his craft The result is a highly insightful, erudite and interesting book, which is remarkably accessible, given the nature of some of the subject matter Highly recommended to anyone who wishes to deepen his her appreciation of Tolkien s works.


  10. says:

    Book 13 in 15in2015It 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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J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Centurycharacters J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, audiobook J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, files book J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, today J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century 2622e Recent Polls Have Consistently Declared That JRR Tolkien Is The Most Influential Author Of The Century, And The Lord Of The Rings Is The Book Of The Century In Support Of These Claims, The Prominent Medievalist And Scholar Of Fantasy Professor Tom Shippey Now Presents Us With A Fascinating Companion To The Works Of JRR Tolkien, Focusing In Particular On The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, And The Silmarillion The Core Of The Book Examines The Lord Of The Rings As A Linguistic And Cultural Map And As A Response To The Meaning Of Myth It Presents A Unique Argument To Explain The Nature Of Evil And Also Gives The Reader A Compelling Insight Into The Unparalleled Level Of Skill Necessary To Construct Such A Rich And Complex Story Shippey Also Examines The Hobbit, Explaining The Hobbits Anachronistic Relationship To The Heroic World Of Middle Earth, And Shows The Fundamental Importance Of The Silmarillion To The Canon Of Tolkien S Work He Offers As Well An Illuminating Look At Other, Lesser Known Works In Their Connection To Tolkien S Life