|Plot Summary of J.R.R. Tolkien: a Biography|
|"'The Lord of the Rings is one of things: if you like, you do: if you don't then you boo!' So wrote J.R.R. Tolkien, CBE, (1892-1973) of his own book. His authorised biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, does a good job of telling the story of the famous Oxford University professor, from his birth in South Africa and education in Birmingham, England, to career as a popular teacher and writer. As a boy Tolkien enjoyed George MacDonald's 'Curdie' stories, Andrew Lang's fairy tales, and the Scandinavian myths. For those who want to know what the book and the characters 'mean', it is not allegory. ('I dislike allegory whenever I smell it.' he said. Charles Moseley's fine biographical appreciation of the man and his works is probably best for that, along with his published 'Letters'.)
In case anyone could be in doubt as to his genius, it did show early on. As a schoolboy he learnt several languages and could hold forth in the debating society in Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon - more surprising to me that they found anyone to debate against him. We are told the source of Gandalf's appearance, his name, and what it means. Likewise, the hobbits and poor old misunderstood Tom Bombadil (who has yet to appear in a radio or film version.) The influence of his friend C.S. Lewis on 'Tollers' is explained, as they encouraged each other in writing fiction - crucial to the process with LOTR, as it alone took twelve years to write, and the Silmarillion came before all the others and was published last. (The character of Treebeard is partly modelled on Lewis: the 'Hoom, hroom' being part of his booming voice pattern.) One or two things made me laugh, in particular Tolkien's reaction to one of the paperback cover designs, which showed two emus and a Christmas tree with pink fruit.
The appendices: Tolkien family tree; chronology; list of published writings; list of sources and acknowledgments; and index. An inspiring read, and then there is feast after feast of all the stuff that inspired Tollers to follow up."
Michael JR Jose, Resident Scholar
|"J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" is one of the most imaginative and popular epics of the day. It is especially popular with young readers. Parents concerned with the content of Tolkien's trilogy would have a challenging project reading all his works to get a perspective on his thinking. Humphrey Carpenter's masterful biography makes the project much easier by describing who Tolkien is and how he thinks. Carpenter describes Tolkien's deep Christian faith. I think Tolkien's Christian mindset very much influenced his thinking when he wrote "Lord of the Rings."
Maurice A. Williams, Resident Scholar
|Review Analysis of J.R.R. Tolkien: a Biography|
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Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Period of greatest activity?
Subject of Biography
Biography of famous person?
How sensitive is this person?
- sensitive to others' feelings
- middling sensitive to others' feelings
Sense of humor
- Strong but gentle sense of humor
- Genius (really!)
- average physique
- mostly 3rd
Accounts of torture and death?
- generic/vague references to death/punishment
Book makes you feel?
Is book humorous?
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- eccentric personalities
Commentary on society?
Writer's slant towards subject:
Story of entire life, or part?
- story of nearly entire life
If this is a kid's book:
- Age 16-Adult
- A ton 16-20 B&W
How much dialogue in bio?
- significantly more descript than dialog
How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?
- 26-50% of book
How much is philosophy rather than life story?
- 0-25% of book
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