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J.I.M. Stewart, 17 September 1981

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 
edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien.
Allen and Unwin, 463 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 04 826005 3
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Tolkien and the Silmarils 
by Randel Helms.
Thames and Hudson, 104 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 500 01264 4
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... It is probable that J.R.R. Tolkien was throughout his life a copious correspondent, but he appears to have been in his midforties before people took to preserving what he had addressed to them. Even so, Humphrey Carpenter has found that ‘an immense number’ of letters survive. In projecting the present selection, he realised that ‘an enormous quantity of material would have to be omitted’ and that ‘only passages of particular interest could be included ...

Tolkien’s Spell

Peter Godman, 21 July 1983

The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays 
by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Christopher Tolkien .
Allen and Unwin, 240 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 04 809019 0
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TheRoad to Middle-Earth 
by T.A. Shippey.
Allen and Unwin, 252 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 04 809018 2
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Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode 
 by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Alan Bliss.
Allen and Unwin, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 04 829003 3
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... Among the terms of abuse which J.R.R. Tolkien was accustomed to apply to an Oxford college of which he was (and I am) a member, there is one that makes an odd impression. It is the adjective ‘medieval’, pointedly used in its pejorative sense by this philologist and professor of Anglo-Saxon. As Anglo-Saxon scholar and philologist Tolkien is not remembered by the world at large, although this is the aspect of his work that W ...

Reasons for Liking Tolkien

Jenny Turner: The Hobbit Habit, 15 November 2001

... Another – The Hobbit (1937), The Lord of the Rings (1955), The Silmarillion (1977) – is J.R.R. Tolkien.A writer, born around 1890, raged against ‘mass-production robot factories and the roar of self-obstructive mechanical traffic’ and ‘the rawness and ugliness of modern European life’. Instead he loved the trees and hedgerows of the English ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... of ‘the deep sources in our blood and tradition’ from which the ‘inhabitants’ of Professor Tolkien’s fiction had grown, but the reviewer recognised and approved them. ‘Prediction is dangerous,’ the TLS’s critic conceded, ‘but The Hobbit may well prove a classic.’ A few days later, another anonymous review in the Times endorsed this ...

He don’t mean any harm

John Bayley, 28 June 1990

A.A. Milne: His Life 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 554 pp., £17.50, June 1990, 0 571 13888 8
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... The Way of All Flesh, which came out in 1903, not much more than a decade before the begetting of Christopher Robin, in fact and in fiction. Milne may well have thought that he was destroying for ever that awful old father and son relationship, blowing away the tyranny and obfuscation, showing that age doesn’t matter, that nanny will give them sixpence each ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... not involving the Muppets fed on fantastical, picaresque literary sources: The Dark Crystal on Tolkien, Labyrinth on Lewis Carroll. (The fact that the latter also represented the indisputable nadir in the career of David Bowie is, for the purposes of this review, neither here nor there.) In the film Dreamchild, the cinematic meditation on the life of the ...

Short Cuts

Patrick Wright: The Moral of Brenley Corner, 6 December 2018

... the night with blazing lights and roaring engines – and, as was surely registered by the Tolkien-addled hippies among the nocturnal onlookers, with all the traumatic force of Mordor. Such detached pleasures were not for the residents of the affected villages, who feared for their lives as TIRs mounted pavements in order to squeeze past one ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... Or blessed encounter, full of joy Unscheduled on the Giesen Plan, With, here, an addict of Tolkien, There, a Charles Williams fan.If Auden were on the circuit now, he’d still find plenty of Tolkien addicts, but he’d go a long way before stumbling on a Charles Williams fan. Charles ...

Praise Yah

Eliot Weinberger: The Psalms, 24 January 2008

The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 518 pp., £22, October 2007, 978 0 393 06226 7
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... by the King James. Bishop Robert Lowth explained it in detail in 1753 in Oxford, and inspired Christopher Smart, who attended the lectures, to use the form for his Jubilate Agno. Alter emphasises this by splitting each line into two, with the second one indented, giving the poem a more ‘modern’ look, but it is hard to see why this is ‘more ...

Who’s the alpha male now, bitches?

Andrew O’Hagan, 22 October 2015

... Christopher Harper-Mercer​ wrote that he had no life. He had no girlfriend and no job; the world was against him. He lived with his mother only a few miles from the Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Oregon, and he collected guns. He shot nine people dead at the college on 1 October and injured nine others before killing himself ...

Dialect does it

Blake Morrison, 5 December 1985

No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... Alcmanics (or is it Alcaics?) – and one of the few to describe our current impoverishments. Christopher Reid’s interrogation of language expresses itself in an interest in translationese. Katerina Brac seems to have arisen from a long immersion in Oxford and Penguin books of verse in translation. Its language is a kind of anti-dialect ...

The Ground Hostess

Francis Wyndham, 1 April 1983

... close to fascism.) When I first met her Linda had been a passionate admirer of the works of Tolkien but (possibly under my influence) was now beginning to grow out of them. Such feeble scraps of elementary data were about all that Jeremy and Harriet managed to glean from me, but the knowledge that at any time I might be called upon to produce fuller ...

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