Tolkien and the Great War : The Threshold of Middle-Earth

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9780007119523: Tolkien and the Great War : The Threshold of Middle-Earth
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Acclaimed as 'the best book about Tolkien', this award-winning biography explores J.R.R. Tolkien's wartime experiences and their impact on his life and his writing of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. "To be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than in 1939 ! by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead." So J.R.R. Tolkien responded to critics who saw The Lord of the Rings as a reaction to the Second World War. Tolkien and the Great War tells for the first time the full story of how he embarked on the creation of Middle-earth in his youth as the world around him was plunged into catastrophe. This biography reveals the horror and heroism that he experienced as a signals officer in the Battle of the Somme and introduces the circle of friends who spurred his mythology to life. It shows how, after two of these brilliant young men were killed, Tolkien pursued the dream they had all shared by launching his epic of good and evil. John Garth argues that the foundation of tragic experience in the First World War is the key to Middle-earth's enduring power. Tolkien used his mythic imagination not to escape from reality but to reflect and transform the cataclysm of his generatuion. While his contemporaries surrendered to disillusionment, he kept enchantment alive, reshaping an entire literary tradition into a form that resonates to this day. This is the first substantially new biography of Tolkien since 1977, meticulously researched and distilled from his personal wartime papers and a multitude of other sources.

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Review:

Millions of new captives of the Lord of the Rings saga have been roped into J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world as the result of Peter Jackson’s three-part cinematic interpretation of the great 20th century fantasy. John Garth’s Tolkien and the Great War will certainly captivate an elite segment of those recent converts, but it is written more for those who have long been enthralled by Middle-earth and its fantastic denizens. While many early readers found parallels between World War II and the Lord of the Rings fairy-tale, Garth reaches back to World War I to find the deep roots in Middle-earth. Prior to the Great War, Tolkien was a scholar with a deep passion for language and fables. In fact, he formed a literary circle with a few friends dubbed the Tea Club and Barrovian Society. Its members had the misfortune of coming of age just as the war was reaching a fevered pitch; Tolkien, a second lieutenant in the British army, survived the bloody Battle of the Somme, which took the lives of two of his closest friends. Garth adeptly chronicles how the devastation Tolkien witnessed helped shape the mythic tale that was already brewing in his mind. Written with a seriousness one associates with the time it chronicles, Tolkien and the Great War is a erudite but eminently readable exploration of how the harsh reality of the early 20th century colored one of the beloved fantasies of the modern era. --Steven Stolder

About the Author:

John Garth, winner of the 2004 Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Award, studied English at Oxford University and has since worked as a newspaper journalist in London. A long-standing taste for the works of Tolkien, combined with an interest in the First World War, fueled the five years of research that have gone into Tolkien and the Great War and he has drawn extensively on previously unpublished personal papers as well as Tolkien's service record and other unique military documents.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780618574810: Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth

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ISBN 10:  0618574816 ISBN 13:  9780618574810
Publisher: Mariner Books, 2005
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9780007119530: Tolkien and the Great War

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9780618331291: Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-Earth

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9780007172436: Tolkien's War: J.R.R.Tolkien and the Great War

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