J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The definitive critical study of Tolkien’s greatest works by the respected and world renowned Tolkien scholar Professor T.A. Shippey.
Following the unprecedented and universal acclaim for The Lord of the Rings, the respected academic and world-renowned Tolkien scholar Professor Tom Shippey presents us with a fascinating and informed companion to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, in particular focusing on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
Written in a clear and accessible style, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century reveals why all of these books will be timeless, and shows how even such complex works as The Silmarillion can be read or heard enjoyably. Taking issue with the uninformed criticism that has often been levelled at Tolkien and fantasy in general, Professor Shippey offers a new approach to Tolkien, to fantasy and to the importance of language in literature, and demonstrates how his books form part of a live and continuing tradition of storytelling that can trace its roots back through Grimm's Fairy Tales to The Elder Edda and Beowulf.
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|Listening Length||13 hours and 46 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||23 June 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 88,362 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
113 in History & Criticism of Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
289 in Biographies of Authors (Audible Books & Originals)
1,196 in Biographies of Novelists
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Top reviews from other countries
Back in the mists of time, while I was an undergraduate at Leeds University, Professor Tom Shippey was my tutor and had the thankless task of trying to guide me through the beauties and mysteries of Old English and Old Icelandic literature. His lectures were marvellous: engaging, entertaining and highly memorable, and a lot of my friends studying completely different subjects used to file in for his weekly performance.
This book picks up where his lectures left off. Shippey has been a lifelong admirer of J R R Tolkien's work: not just 'The Lord of the Rings' and associated books, but also his researches in the fields of medieval literature and comparative philology. As far as Tolkien was concerned there was no significant gulf between the two spheres. He initially started writing about Middle-Earth to create a world to set the different languages that he had created.
The works were deeply rooted in Tolkien's own background. Though born in South Africa, he passed most of his childhood in Warwickshire, living in the suburbs of Birmingham. This is reflected in the landscape of The Shire. There are, of course, some startling, but deliberate, anachronisms. While Middle-Earth equates to a late middle ages, the hobbits love tobacco, and while lost in the wilderness Sam Gamgee tries to convince Smeagol/Gollum about the wonders of the potato, or 'taters' as he puts it. Tolkien himself, like Sam and Pippin, was known to be partial to a few pints of strong beer while he sucked away at his pipe.
Professor Shippey takes the reader in fascinating, though never overpowering, detail to show how Tolkien applied his wealth of learning to endow his novels with layer after layer of historical references, all of which add to the verisimilitude. Each of the different races encountered in 'The Lord of the Rings' have distinct but linguistically plausible languages which offer hints to a prior history. Their names resonate with philological clues. For instance, the language and history of the people of Rohan are modelled on those of the Anglo Saxons, while the dwarves' language shows deep traces of Old Norse.
Professor Shippey also offers a fascinating comparison between Denethor, Steward of Gondor, and Theoden, King of Rohan. The former appears the more imposing of the two, though he is merely holding the throne in trust against the return of the king. Theoden, while initially seen as frail and in thrall to his fay counsellor Grima, is the genuine article: a king in his own right and scion of a noble house, and he dies heroically, slain in battle surrounded by his men. Denethor, on the other hand, all but surrenders and chooses self-immolation rather than seeing the conflict through to its conclusion.
Perhaps this work is more particularly aimed at students of medieval literature rather than the mainstream Tolkien fans, but it is utterly enthralling.
The author references multiple diagrams which are absent from the book, which i can't find elsewhere online.
The text also occasionally references page numbers which given the difference page size of a kindle version are no longer accurate.
The diagrams especially feels like a real loss, one in particular is supposed to illustrate the relative movements of the members of the fellowship over time.
Tolkien was a one-off, a master of language who could create wonderful worlds for our imaginations to inhabit. Many authors who followed in his wake have acknowledged his role in influencing them. He crafted imaginary countries and the people, cultures and languages needed to make them seem real. It would be difficult, well-nigh impossible, for anyone to better his literary achievement which had been many years in the making and was still not completed at the time of his death.
Any Tolkien fan will voraciously devour the pages of this fantastic biography of one of our most gifted British authors.