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Biography of J. R. R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle-Earth Hardcover – June, 1992

2.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel Grotta is a journalist and critic living in Pennsylvania.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Running Pr; 2nd edition (June 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561381128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561381128
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,709,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Grotta is a writer, author, and journalist who has written literally thousands of articles, columns and reviews for a wide variety of prominent magazines and newspapers, as well as authored numerous books, including the first biography of J.R.R. Tolkien. Grotta has been a photojournalist, war correspondent, relief worker, investigative reporter, features writer, book critic, book editor, classical music reviewer, travel journalist, and technology writer. He has lived in, been on assignment or traveled through over 100 countries and islands. Grotta's varied life experiences and the many different kinds of people he has known along the way flavor and energize both his fiction and non-fiction. When he was a Contributing Editor at Philadelphia Magazine, he was told by a manager at Reading for the Blind that his articles were the most requested, because of the aural quality of his narrative prose. Grotta is a member of The Overseas Press Club, The Authors Guild, and the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Much of Grotta's non-fiction is co-authored with his wife Sally Wiener Grotta. Though their fiction is authored separately, they have created the village of Black Bear, Pennsylvania as a literary folie à deux. Both Daniel and Sally are dipping into the same pool of invented locale and characters to write a series of separate stories and novels that will, eventually, paint a full picture of the diversity of life and relationships in a small mountain village.

Daniel Grotta may be reached via the email link at www.Grotta.net, or at www.Facebook.com/DanielGrotta and www.Facebook.com/PixelHallPress.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a work of minimal value, written by someone who seems to have an axe to grind.
The book left me with two impressions. The first impression is that the author did not really have anything new to contribute to an understanding of the life of Tolkien, instead relying on humorous anecdotes, rehashing of Tolkien's relationship with CS Lewis, and materials found elsewhere. The second impression is that the author bears a serious grudge against the Tolkien family for not permitting the access to family papers that was accorded to the authorized biographer, Humphrey Carpenter. This grudge is manifested in snide asides about Tolkien's literary executors. Finally, I must criticize the author for his excursus into the politics surrounding the Nigerian civil war. What this has to do with Tolkien is unclear at best.
Money is far better spent on Humphrey Carpenter's biography, and his edition of letters (especially the letters). It is in the letters where the spirit and genius of Tolkien best comes through.
Give this volume a miss.
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Format: Hardcover
I must say that as a college student I would like to have my 15 dollars returned to me from the purchase of this book. Although there are some interesting "facts" in this book, it is largely not credible. I believe Grotta used questionable resources in compiling this biography which Tolkien himself refutes in many of his letters. i.e. Grotta writes of Tolkien's garage work shop on Sandfield Rd., which in "The Letters of..." Tolkien himself states that he "...had never written any literary matter in it..." and that the room was only used by his secretary. Grotta was clearly perturbed at his lack of "access" and seemed to want to portray one of the most prolific writers in history as a "lazy" individual. Obviously Grotta has never balanced a teaching post at Oxford, an ill wife, several children, along with creating one of the most fully imagined "secondary worlds" ever created. Hats of to all things Middle Earth and Grotta back to the drawing board.
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Format: Hardcover
This book left me with two impressions. The first impression is that the author did not really have anything new to contribute to an understanding of the life of Tolkien, instead relying on humorous anecdotes, rehashing of Tolkien's relationship with CS Lewis, and materials found elsewhere. The second impression is that the author bears a serious grudge against the Tolkien family for not permitting the access to family papers that was accorded to the authorized biographer, Humphrey Carpenter. This grudge is manifested in snide asides about Tolkien's literary executors. Finally, I must criticize the author for his excursus into the politics surrounding the Nigerian civil war. What this has to do with Tolkien is unclear at best.
Money is far better spent on Humphrey Carpenter's biography, and his edition of letters (especially the letters). It is in the letters where the spirit and genius of Tolkien best comes through.
Comment 25 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This glossy coffee table book, with uncaptioned Hildebrandt illustrations in apparently random locations, provides interesting tidbits about the background of Tolkien's environment. If you can tolerate the whining about not having access to Tolkien papers and the ignorant pronouncements about Tolkien's character ("lazy") and activities wrt the Silmarillion, it may be useful. However, if you wish to read a real biography of Tolkien, it would be far far better to read Humphrey Carpenter's biography.
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Format: Hardcover
I must say that this biography created an odd sensation in me while in the midst of reading it. I was both enthusiastic and unsettled at the same time that it should be finished. The book is filled with ideas going in the wrong direction, misinformation, mediocre writing, a misrepresented Tolkien, a misrepresented Christopher Tolkien, a misrepresented Silmarillion, a misrepresented, ah, but I digress. The enthusiasm I felt was obviously about being able to complete it quickly, (it was written very simply, almost as if for a young adolescents), but the unsettlement arose from the fact that once I found some idea that was really out there, or some totally wrong info, I started to like looking for these, enjoying the non-fact filled fun of it all.

That is not to say that the book is all bad (hence the two stars) . Lacking the goodwill and blessings of the Tolkien Estatein writing this book, (that was given to the much praised Humphrey Carpenter,) he ends up basing it upon other writings, a few interviews of Tolkien fans and friends, and a large amount of guesswork, so he does a decent job of establishing Tolkien's early life and getting a few of the good professor's friends and old students to make a quote here and there.He also tells an interesting and factual (!!) tale of The Lord of the Rings' first print run and its subsequent print history. So far so good huh?

The problems start to arise almost at the begining when Grotta states that Tolkien was exceedingly lazy and noncommital, flitting from one project to another, hopelessly muddling things. While there is some degree of truth to this,there is no way anyone can say that these exaggerated terms are true.
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