This issue of The Book Lovers Club News is dedicated to the man whose books feature in bestseller lists even after 50 years of his death. His works are loved by children and adults alike and he ranks high on the Times list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Yes, you guessed it right, I am talking of the famous J R R Tolkien.
J R R Tolkien
Tolkien was born in South Africa in the year 1892, but after his father's death, he grew up and settled in England.
Tolkien's most notable work is The Lord of The Rings. He wrote The Lord of the Rings as a sequel to his earlier The Hobbit. Interestingly Tolkien never meant to publish The Hobbit. He had only written The Hobbit as entertainment for his four small children. A family friend chanced upon the story and persuaded him to publish it. The rest as they say is history. Tolkien's other prominent pieces of high fantasy fiction are The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Silmarillion, and The Children of Húrin.
Fantasy as a literary genre has existed since the beginning of literature. The Odyssey, Beowulf, Mahabharata all fall in this category. However Tolkien's works in the early 1900s led to the resurgence of this genre. This is the reason he is often referred as The Father of Modern High Fantasy.
A keen student as a child, Tolkien became a prominent academician in England. He served as professor of English language and literature at the University of Leeds and at Pembroke College, Oxford. His academic writings remained seminal works in criticism for many decades.
Book Review Circle gossip
Tolkien, unfortunately, had to witness and participate in both the world wars during his lifetime. He was a reluctant war recruit and expressed his dislike of war in many letters to his family and friends. In an interesting, darkly humorous paragraph, he describes the evil of war:
“On one occasion I spent the night with the Brigade Machine Gun Officer and the Signals Officer in one of the captured German dugouts ... We dossed down for the night in the hopes of getting some sleep, but it was not to be. We no sooner lay down than hordes of lice got up. So we went round to the Medical Officer, who was also in the dugout with his equipment, and he gave us some ointment which he assured us would keep the little brutes away. We anointed ourselves all over with the stuff and again lay down in great hopes, but it was not to be, because instead of discouraging them it seemed to act like a kind of hors d'oeuvre and the little beggars went at their feast with renewed vigour.”(John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War )
Book Review Circle suggested read:
Mr. Bliss-a children's picture book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It has been published with Tolkien's handwritten story and illustrations on one page, and a typeset transcription on the facing page.
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Test your Literary Quotient
See if you know answers to the following
- Apart from fiction, J R R Tolkien has also authored some great works in English Literary Criticism. Name his most famous work in academic literary criticism
- Which work by Tolkien received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 1978?
- A prominent novelist was Tolkien's close friend. This friend is the famous author The Chronicles of Narnia. Name him.
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- Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics
- The Silmarillion
Ok. I will leave you to munch on that.
Happy reading till we meet again.