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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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The Road 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Literary Prizes, 10 May 2001

... the publicity department of Voyager (an imprint of HarperCollins and ‘the publishers of J.R.R. Tolkien and David Eddings’) for sending out half a kilo of Dairy Milk with every review copy of David Zindell’s The Lightstone, Book One of the Ea Cycle: ‘The Lord of the Rings meets Le Morte D’Arthur . . . 942 pages to keep you away from work and up ...

Downland Maniacs

Michael Mason, 5 October 1995

The Village that Died for England 
by Patrick Wright.
Cape, 420 pp., £17.99, March 1995, 0 224 03886 9
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... Norrington, Lord Hinchinbrooke, Jimmy Edwards, Kenneth Allsop, Tariq Ali, Fenner Brockway, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bill Douglas (who made a film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs in a revamped Tyneham), Mike Leigh (via Nuts in May), Nigel Coates, even David Mellor. The piquant list of names should convey something of the flavour of Wright’s book, and also the flavour of ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... Well-known, too, is the philological background of two writers from Oxford, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (the title of whose Oxford edition in the green cover Cunningham archaises as Sir Gawayne). It might amuse the public who know these men as modern authors in their own right to infer that in their Oxford guise they doubled as curators of a ‘dinosauric ...


John Sutherland, 4 March 1982

The Survivors 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 316 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 09 145850 1
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Helliconia Spring 
by Brian Aldiss.
Cape, 361 pp., £6.95, February 1982, 0 224 01843 4
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The Great Fire of London 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 169 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 241 10704 0
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A Loss of Heart 
by Robert McCrum.
Hamish Hamilton, 282 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 241 10705 9
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... flora, fauna, environment and mores. The result recalls Stanley Unwin rather than J.R.R. Tolkien. For instance: ‘Beside the kzahn’s kaidaw stood a creaght, or young male phagor, bearing a towering standard.’ If it’s any help, the kzahn’s name is Hrr-Brahl Yprt, his kaidaw is called Rukk-Ggrl and the standard is, I think, made of stungebag ...

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 ...

‘They got egg on their faces’

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The Oxford English Dictionary, 20 November 2003

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary 
by Simon Winchester.
Oxford, 260 pp., £12.99, October 2003, 0 19 860702 4
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... prisons to China and finally the USA, is but one of many other helpers, ranging from J.R.R. Tolkien and Henry Yule of Hobson-Jobson down to the most obscure and unassuming, all valued for their diligence. The last chapter, ‘From Take to Turn-down – and then, Triumphal Valediction’, sees the story through from 1895, when the name Oxford English ...

Deeper Shallows

Stefan Collini: C.S. Lewis, 20 June 2013

C.S. Lewis: A Life 
by Alister McGrath.
Hodder, 431 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 4447 4552 8
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... a formative influence of a different kind on his life, especially his imaginative life. J.R.R. Tolkien was six years older and already the professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. He and Lewis shared interests in Norse mythology, Old English literature, religion (Tolkien was a devout Catholic, Lewis at this point a ...

Hasped and Hooped and Hirpling

Terry Eagleton: Beowulf, 11 November 1999

translated by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 104 pp., £14.99, October 1999, 9780571201136
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... to the levelling technological present. The result was the fiction of the Anglo-Saxonist J.R.R. Tolkien and the medievalist C.S. Lewis, both of whom raided the heroic resources of early literature for contemporary ideological ends. The blend of whimsy, escapism, reaction, regression and erudition was quintessentially Oxfordian. Anglo-Saxon, as Cambridge ...
Northern Antiquity: The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and Saga 
edited by Andrew Wawn.
Hisarlik, 342 pp., £35, October 1994, 1 874312 18 4
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Heritage and Prophecy: Grundtvig and the English-Speaking World 
edited by A.M. Allchin.
Canterbury, 330 pp., £25, January 1994, 9781853110856
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... the status of, if it can be imagined, both the Wesleys, Martin Luther, Jakob Grimm and J.R.R. Tolkien. Would it have made any difference if there had been an English-speaking Grundtvig, or if Grundtvig’s writings had not so often been confined to the limited audience of Danish? If, in fact, the ‘Northern revival’ chronicled by Wawn and his ...


Jonathan Rée: Automata, 9 May 2002

Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen 
by Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak.
Getty, 416 pp., £30, February 2002, 0 89236 590 0
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The Secret Life of Puppets 
by Victoria Nelson.
Harvard, 350 pp., £20.50, February 2002, 0 674 00630 5
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Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life 
by Gaby Wood.
Faber, 278 pp., £12.99, March 2002, 0 571 17879 0
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... and Anna Kavan, as well as St Augustine, Giordano Bruno, Philip K. Dick, Walt Disney and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her cast of ‘imagined puppets’ ranges from the entertainers in Ben Jonson’s Bartholemew Fair, through E.T.A. Hoffmann’s weird Olympia to Karel Capek’s robots, and such lower forms of life as Pinocchio, Superman, Batman and Spiderman. It’s ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... to realism – the readers who embraced such dissimilar authors as Robert A. Heinlein and J.R.R. Tolkien – discovered Dick too. He lived, conveniently, in the Bay Area, where dropouts, hippies and SF devotees gathered around him: he welcomed them. In 1967 Dick boasted (he was probably lying) that he had composed The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch ...

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