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The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien [Kindle Edition]

Humphrey Carpenter , Christopher Tolkien
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Scholars and fans of the great mythologist will find a rich vein of information in Humphrey Carpenter's The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was a prodigious letter writer all his life; the sheer mass of his correspondence would give pause to even the most stalwart archivist (one shudders to think what he would have done with e-mail). But with the able assistance of Tolkien's son Christopher and a healthy dose of determination, Carpenter manages find the cream of the crop--the letters that shed light on Tolkien's thoughts about his academic and literary work, as well as those that show his more private side, revealing a loving husband, a playful friend, and a doting father. The most fascinating letters are, of course, those in which he discusses Middle-Earth, and Carpenter offers plenty of those to choose from. Tolkien discussed the minutia of his legend--sometimes at great length--with friends, publishers, and even fans who wrote to him with questions. These letters offer significant insights into how he went about creating the peoples and languages of Middle-Earth.

I have long ceased to invent (though even patronizing or sneering critics on the side praise my 'inventions'): I wait till I seem to know what really happened. Or till it writes itself. Thus, though I knew for years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down the Great River, I had no recollection of inventing Ents. I came at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any recollection of any previous thought: just as it is now. And then I saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.

This new edition of letters has an extensive index, and Carpenter has included a brief blurb at the beginning of each letter to explain who the correspondent was and what was being discussed. Still, we strongly recommend buying the companion volume, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, in order to better understand the place these correspondents had in Tolkien's life and get a better context for the letters. --Perry M. Atterberry


'So rich, it reads like an autobiography'


Mehr über den Autor

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wurde 1892 in Südafrika als Sohn eines Bankangestellten geboren. Nach dem Tod des Vaters zog die Familie 1896 zurück in die englischen West Midlands, wo die Mutter nur wenige Jahre später ihrer Zuckerkrankheit erlag. Bevor Tolkien dann als Leutnant in den Ersten Weltkrieg zog, heiratete er 1916 Edith Bratt, mit der er später drei Söhne und eine Tochter haben sollte. Nach Kriegsende setzte Tolkien seine akademische Laufbahn fort und wurde 1925 Professor für Englische Philologie in Oxford. Aus der für seine Kinder verfassten Geschichte "Der kleine Hobbit" wurde ein Bestseller (1937). Auch die Trilogie "Der Herr der Ringe" (1954-1955) erfreut sich ungebrochener Beliebtheit. Tolkien gilt als Begründer des Fantasygenres. Er verstarb 1973.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A wonderful glimpse.. 12. Juli 2000
J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the best loved authors ever, endeared to millions of readers. Now with the reprinting of his letters by Houghton Mifflin all those who cherish his writings are able to learn a bit more about the man who shaped Middle-Earth.
Reading this book you can't help but think what a warm and charming man he was. His letters are thoughtful, intelligent and often amusing as he converses with the publishers Allen and Unwin, his sons Michael and Christopher, C.S. Lewis, and even fans from around the world who sent him questions and observations. It's reading history and it's fascinating.
A large and rather comprehensive index is included near the end of the book with plenty of notes about each letter and the people and places contained within.
Highly recommended for anyone wanting a deeper glimpse into the thoughts of a brilliant man.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Letters from an Intelligent Man 31. Mai 2000
Certainly these letters provide a fascinating peek into roots and motivations behind the history of the Middle-Earth saga. This alone makes it worthy of Tolkien fans. However, the letters go beyond this...they give us a glimpse into the mind and life of an interesting and intelligent man. His wise musings, passion for truth and goodness, and his pure love for his family shine forth in both emotionally moving and cleverly comical language. Mr. Carpenter seems to have done a great job providing only relevant and interesting portions of J.R.R. Tolkien's letters. I recommend it for C.S. Lewis fans, as well.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen One added feature of new edition: decent index 6. Juni 2000
Von Ein Kunde
This book is certainly a must for any Tolkien fan. Many of the letters included here were written to fans of his works (though that includes people close to Tolkien, such as family members) and include details about Tolkien's ideas about middle-earth which aren't to be found elsewhere.
The original edition of this book came with a very poor index, which was unfortunate for a book crammed with references to events and people in Tolkien's created world. This new paperback edition includes a very thorough and complete index, prepared by W. Hammond and C. Scull, who have edited some other nice recent Tolkien books, including "JRR Tolkien Artist and Illustrator" and "Roverandom".
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A jewel in Tolkien's canon as valuable as a Silmaril 26. Juli 2005
Von Mike London - Veröffentlicht auf
Of the plethora of Tolkien books available on the market, not only is this one of the most essential, it is also one of the most highly enlightening. Naturally, that's because it was written by Tolkien himself.

Highly illuminating, frequently entertaining, and always interesting, Tolkien's LETTERS give us a remarkable look into one of the 20th century's most popular and widely read authors. Whether he is talking to his son about marriage, struggling to publish LORT in the early 1950s, addressing fans' various questions and concerns, writing about his scholarly life or his books, Tolkien is sharp-witted, engaging, and extremely intelligent. To his credit, he never sounds condescending, and ultimately, of all the writing about Tolkien, this is ultimately the most humanizing of them all.

What makes some of the most interesting to the letters are when Tolkien is discussing his own works. Much like UNFINISHED TALES, the LETTERS are a wonderful sumplement and a great source of information about Middle-earth that cannot be found elsewhere and is incredibly enlightening, whether it be a die-hard Tolkien researcher or a first time reader.

For those familiar with the older editions of LETTERS (I have a hardback version, well before this came out), the newly revised index, prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, make this alone worth purchasing. The index is so much better and makes this edition a lot easier to navigate through

What makes Tolkien's LETTERS such a valuable addition to the Tolkien canon is because, of all his books, this is the most intimate, naked look we will ever have into his mind other than through a mythological lens of his core books. The LETTERS are a treasure-trove of intellectual delight, and with such keen, piercing wit, humility, and a beautiful Catholic faith, it is wonderful to know that Tolkien was as wonderful as we all secretly hoped he would be. What is also so humanizing about it is because you also see Tolkien frustrated, hurt, and just trying to provide for his family. He's not perfect by any means, which makes LETTERS all the more endearing. The most heart breaking line in this book is the very last: "It is stuff, sticky, and rainy at present - but forecast are more favourable." This was written a mere four days before death overtook him. He was moving to a much better place.

Tolkien once said if you truly wanted to know him read LOTR and THE SILMARILLION. Those are, naturally, the best places to start, because Tolkien's mind moved primarily along mythological grooves. However, for a more conventional portrait of this remarkable man, there's no better place to start than THE LETTERS OF J. R. R. TOLKIEN.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Man or myth? 3. August 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Being a long a fan of Tolkien and Middle-earth, I certainly enjoy reading all of his works. At least those that don't require a degree in Anglo-Saxon to read!
Having such a high opinion of the man tends to raise him to an almost larger-than-life position. He's unapproachable. He's brilliant.
Reading this book has helped to bring Tolkien from near-mythological status into a man. That is a good thing. One can enter the man's mind and begin to understand the thought process that occurs.
I find this better to read than a biography, because a biography tends to be "formal", and these letters are simply the un-edited and unpolished person at their best or at their worst.
I dearly love the man, and his work. These letters help me to pretend that I knew him when he was alive, which would have been a pleasure indeed.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen This is a must-own book for any Tolkien researcher 14. Dezember 2000
Von Michael Martinez - Veröffentlicht auf
Ever wonder where those Tolkien know-it-alls get their information from? This is one of the secret treasures we harbor. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien reveals his inner thoughts concerning his own life, the world as he saw it, and the characters and events in his marvelous stories.
Time and time again I've turned to the Letters for inspiration and information on what Tolkien had to say about everything concerning Middle-earth, from the family secrets and scandals of the Tooks to how Aragorn would have ruled Arnor and Gondor in the Fourth Age. Tolkien shared his private thoughts with a select group of fans who wrote to him in his lifetime, and with his friends and close relatives. These letters are a rare glimpse into his candor, wit, and values.
Many of the questions that Tolkien readers form today when they first pick up his books were shared by their predecessors in the 1930s and 1950s when The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were first published. His answers to fan questions are as fresh and informative to the 100th-time reader as to the 1st time reader.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Not Always Flattering, but Very Revealing 14. Oktober 2004
Von D. Buxman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
If you have an idealized view of JRR Tolkien that you want to protect, you might want to avoid this book. The letters can be funny and extremely interesting, but sometimes I felt as if I were reading about matters that Mr. Tolkien considered private and that he might have wanted kept that way. He writes several letters about money being tight and taxes being high ("progressive tax rates in England at the time were around 90%), and he also has several letters that aren't necessarily flattering to American taste. However, there are also magically insightful letters dealing with linguistic issues and filling out some questions from The Lord of the Rings. Many common assumptions about Tolkien are challenged by this book. For instance, I always assumed that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were quite close until Lewis passed away, but some of the letters reveal a distance that emerged between them as Lewis became involved with the woman he ultimately married. I also enjoyed Tolkien's views on Catholicism, although I am not Catholic.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Into the mind of the Master 11. Oktober 2004
Von E. A Solinas - Veröffentlicht auf
J.R.R. Tolkien was a prolific writer -- not just in creating the sprawling sagas of Middle-Earth, but also in writing letters, notes, and introspective studies of literature and religion. "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" is a surprisingly entertaining read, and an invaluable source for figuring out Middle-Earth's history, and Tolkien's writing.

His letters start off with notes to his beloved Edith, before they got married, when he was in the army. After only fifteen pages, correspondence with publishers starts (regarding the publishing of "Mr. Bliss"), and continues with details about his writing, illustrations, and plans for future writings. "[The created legend] should be 'high,' purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry," he writes at one point.

But letters to publishers are only some of the letters Tolkien wrote in his long life. Other letters are to his kids and his friends, detailing his trip to Italy, the Narnia books, his friendships, his career, the nuances of "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," "Beowulf," and explaining his thoughts on philosophy, religion, myth and his own writing -- even describing an aborted sequel to "Lord of the Rings" called "The New Shadow," which he abandoned as being "both sinister and depressing."

Do hobbits have pointy ears? Did Sauron create the orcs? Were the evil spiders inspired by a childhood tarantula bite? Was the Ring of Power "der Nibelungen Ring"? Tolkien addressed all of these in his letters. (And the answers are: Yes, no, no, and absolutely not!) Rumors are addressed, questions are answered, and Tolkien gives insights to his writings that -- obviously -- no one else could provide.

And unlike in a lot of compiled-letters books, Tolkien's own personality seems to shine through his letters -- intelligent, imaginative, immersed in his faith, work and family, and capable of being quite snippy when he wanted to be. His letter to Allen & Unwin about a "Dr. O" is particularly funny ("Coming home dead without a head... is not very delightful"). While Tolkien's style seems very formal at first, it's easy to get immersed in his longer letters. The shorter ones are usually quite short -- one is only two lines long, announcing that "I shall be murdered if something does not happen soon."

And while Tolkien answered intelligent questions with extensive responses, he didn't seem to like untrue rumors. When Dr. O claimed that the Ring was "der Nibelungen Ring," he responded dryly that: "Both rings were round, and there the resemblence ceases." Touche, professor. He also shows an endearingly humble attitude towards his work, even calling his charming drawings "ill-drawn."

J.R.R. Tolkien's letters are a gold mine for the devoted fan of Middle-Earth, and provide many insights into his mind and work. Even less devoted fans may be staggered by "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien."
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