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Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians Hardcover – December 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The fictional worlds of Chesterton and Tolkien are not only theological but also deeply Augustinian: they show us universes in which creatures exchange gifts with one another and with God. So argues Alison Milbank, with verve and brilliance, in this finely conceived and beautifully written book."
Kevin Hart, The University of Virginia
(Kevin Hart)

"Sure to be sought out by Tolkien and Chesterton aficionados."
(Publishing News)

"Neither Chesterton nor Tolkien has received the quality of critical attention their work deserves, but Alison Milbank's remarkable book - as good as anything that has been written so far about either author - does much to remedy that deficiency. So far the field of Chesterton and Tolkien criticism has largely been divided between fierce celebrants and equally fierce detractors, and almost all parties seem to have missed the rich cultural and intellectual contexts from which these authors' works grow. By exploring these contexts - the Catholic encounter with modernity, the conscious and unconscious preservation of ancient folk traditions, the 'fair and perilous' land of Faery - Milbank performs a great service for these writers and their many readers."
(Alan Jacobs)

"In this enjoyable book the imaginary worlds of Chesterton and Tolkien are explored in order to show their shared basis in a dynamic theology of creation and incarnation, an essential aspect in the revival of Christian imagination today."
Benedicta Ward SLG, Reader in Christian Spirituality, Oxford University, UK
(Benedicta Ward SLG, Reader in Christian Spirituality, Oxford University, UK)

"...a fascinating discussion of the moral obligations implicit in Tolkien's world...a stimulating read." - Raymond Edwards, The Tablet
(The American Spectator)

"Alison Milbank, of the University of Nottingham, aims to show how Chesterton's theology, and especially his ideas on faërie, influenced Tolkien's writing. This interesting subject produces no leisurely read, but a sophisticated analysis of the thought and works of both authors. Milbank expertly compares the writer's ideas on imagination, the grotesque, paradoxes, and the idea of the gift. This is hardly traditional theology!...it should be considered essential for academic libraries supporting graduate work in English literature." - Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World, September 2008 (Daniel Boice Catholic Library World)

"The astonishingly high cost of this slim volume is unfortunate, and will limit its availability..." - Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World, September 2008 (Daniel Boice Catholic Library World)

"I would like to think that Milbank's outstanding book, if it achieves nothing else, will make [fans] return to The Lord of the Rings with an enhanced appreciation for the depth, complexity and purpose of the world he created; and maybe, just maybe, entice some of them to the Chestertonian well from which it sprang." - Waterstone's Watford, www.waterstones.com


"Milbank has gifted us with what may well become our finest study of these Catholic artists in their unique relation not only to each other but also to our imagination-starved churches and culture." First Things: The Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life


Mention —Theology Digest, Summer 2006

"Alison Milbank most ably demonstrates in her fascinating and illuminating book [that both Chesterton and Tolkein are theologians] ... Her purpose in making a comparitive study of the two writers, one so celebrated, one so sadly neglected ... is an immensely rewarding exercise, conducted with deftness and deep learning, and productive of more insights than a brief review can acknowledge... The achievement of this brilliant book is to show the truth of the Cherstertonian paradox that is its subtitle." - John Pridmore, Theology, Vol. CXII No. 867, May/June 2009
(J. Pridmore Theology)

"The fictional worlds of Chesterton and Tolkien are not only theological but also deeply Augustinian: they show us universes in which creatures exchange gifts with one another and with God. So argues Alison Milbank, with verve and brilliance, in this finely conceived and beautifully written book."
Kevin Hart, The University of Virginia
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Neither Chesterton nor Tolkien has received the quality of critical attention their work deserves, but Alison Milbank's remarkable book - as good as anything that has been written so far about either author - does much to remedy that deficiency. So far the field of Chesterton and Tolkien criticism has largely been divided between fierce celebrants and equally fierce detractors, and almost all parties seem to have missed the rich cultural and intellectual contexts from which these authors' works grow. By exploring these contexts - the Catholic encounter with modernity, the conscious and unconscious preservation of ancient folk traditions, the 'fair and perilous' land of Faery - Milbank performs a great service for these writers and their many readers."
(Sanford Lakoff)

“In this enjoyable book the imaginary worlds of Chesterton and Tolkien are explored in order to show their shared basis in a dynamic theology of creation and incarnation, an essential aspect in the revival of Christian imagination today.”
Benedicta Ward SLG, Reader in Christian Spirituality, Oxford University, UK
(Sanford Lakoff)

"...a fascinating discussion of the moral obligations implicit in Tolkien's world...a stimulating read." - Raymond Edwards, The Tablet
 
(The American Spectator)

“Alison Milbank, of the University of Nottingham, aims to show how Chesterton’s theology, and especially his ideas on faërie, influenced Tolkien’s writing. This interesting subject produces no leisurely read, but a sophisticated analysis of the thought and works of both authors. Milbank expertly compares the writer’s ideas on imagination, the grotesque, paradoxes, and the idea of the gift. This is hardly traditional theology!…it should be considered essential for academic libraries supporting graduate work in English literature.” - Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World, September 2008 (Sanford Lakoff Catholic Library World)

“The astonishingly high cost of this slim volume is unfortunate, and will limit its availability…” - Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World, September 2008 (Sanford Lakoff Catholic Library World)

"I would like to think that Milbank’s outstanding book, if it achieves nothing else, will make [fans] return to The Lord of the Rings with an enhanced appreciation for the depth, complexity and purpose of the world he created; and maybe, just maybe, entice some of them to the Chestertonian well from which it sprang." - Waterstone's Watford, www.waterstones.com


Mention –Theology Digest, Summer 2006

"Alison Milbank most ably demonstrates in her fascinating and illuminating book [that both Chesterton and Tolkein are theologians] ... Her purpose in making a comparitive study of the two writers, one so celebrated, one so sadly neglected ... is an immensely rewarding exercise, conducted with deftness and deep learning, and productive of more insights than a brief review can acknowledge... The achievement of this brilliant book is to show the truth of the Cherstertonian paradox that is its subtitle." - John Pridmore, Theology, Vol. CXII No. 867, May/June 2009
(Sanford Lakoff Theology)

About the Author

Alison Milbank is an Associate Professor in Literature and Theology at the University of Nottingham, UK. She was formerly John Rylands Research Institute Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK, and taught at the Universities of Cambridge, UK, Middlesex, UK, and Virginia, USA.

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Best Books of the Month
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 1 edition (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567040941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567040947
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,276,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anne Marie Gazzolo on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains what has to be the most beautiful description of the deep bond between Frodo and Sam I have ever read. It's a rather long quote, but it's very much worth giving, regarding the sundering of the two hobbits at the Grey Havens: "The main problem for the reader is how to separate in his or her mind two characters who have been a pair all through the novel, and who belong together. Despite his marriage, parenthood and obvious delight in Shire life, Sam is incomplete without Frodo, and Frodo an attenuated presence without Sam's earthliness. It is partly a problem of analogy, with Sam the `answer' or common feature that unites Blessed Realm and Shire." She then speaks of the resurrection of the dead: "Tolkien in his essay `On Fairy-Stories' refers to this as the `Great Eucatastrophe', when all our bodiliness shall share in some sense with our spirit - our Sam with our Frodo side. For Frodo hardly seems to have a body at all in the later parts of The Lord of the Rings, and even his pains back home in the Shire have a spiritual basis. Sam, on the contrary, is not just a reassuring physical presence but an active agent in the rebuilding of his community, and in forming human relationships. The true happy ending of the novel lies beyond the pages of the book, and yet is anticipated in moments such as Sam and Frodo's descent from Mount Doom, when Sam, a true Bunyanesque `Hopeful', leads the lost and broken Frodo to safety, just as he had borne Frodo and the Ring up to the summit, and found the burden surprisingly light.Read more ›
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By a theological strummer on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It is indeed a terrible shame this book is priced out of the reach of simple hobbit folk. This, however, is no reason to penalize the author with poor reviews.
It deserves FIVE STARS.
I attended the lectures given by Alison Milbank upon which this book is based. Her reading of Tolkien is insightful, scholarly, and above all, readable. It will become essential reading for any future scholars wishing to work with Tolkien.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maker of Images on November 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Buy the paperback when it comes out. It should be out any day now. All hardbacks are steeply expensive when they first come out. Sheesh!
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2 of 29 people found the following review helpful By vladimir998 on January 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I would not mind owning this book, but I do not have $94! This is an outrageous price. What is T&T Clark thinking? There are several books like this about Chesterton and Tolkein individually for about $15. One or two are published by Ignatius Press. I hope T&T wakes up soon.
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