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Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon, 2nd Edition 2nd Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1403915979
ISBN-10: 1403915970
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Rosebury is Principal Lecturer in English, University of Central Lancashire.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2 edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403915970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403915979
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,061,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Bratman on August 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
A lucid, insightful, sympathetic discussion of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" as a 20th-century novel with the values appropriate to canonical 20th-century novels. To Rosebury, Tolkien has flaws but is a significant, though not great, literary figure with much to offer. His other work is also discussed, as is his place in literature.

Most of his argument is that there is no excuse for critics to dismiss "Lord of the Rings" as a bestseller and therefore bad: it has the literary qualities in conception and narrative that these critics should be looking for and appreciating.

Tom Shippey says much the same in "J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century." But the books differ: Shippey is more concerned with broad cultural context, while Rosebury focuses more narrowly on the text as an object of literary art. He writes a cool analysis with only occasional touches of exasperation at wrong-headed criticism, where Shippey is a polemicist.

Rosebury is equipped to tell critics why they should be reading Tolkien. Ane he does his telling in plain English, so we may all follow him and learn a great deal.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ted Carlson on June 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book in its previous incarnation (from the early 90's) and was put off by its sneering attitude toward the legions of fans who had embraced all things Middle-earth, assuming somehow that their devotion was lowering the standards by which Tolkien would or should be judged by those with higher taste and academic credentials. Anyway, some of that attitude is gone in this edition.
What I thought was a strength of Rosebury's study is still there and in some places elaborated on, namely, an actual study of Tolkien's writing style (as opposed to a study of his sources). Rosebury's discussion of the "high style" found in The Silmarillion and some passage of The Lord of the Rings is thought-provoking. I agree with his assessment of the writing in the story "The Fall of Gondolin" from The Book of Lost Tales, that Tolkien writes with "ruthless energy" and a strength that evokes "panic and disorder while maintaining narrative coherence."
I also found his chapter on the films interesting. I have to totally agree with his assessment of Galadriel's temptation scene - her transformation resembles a "roaring seagreen hellhag." Exactly my feeling about that not-so-special effect!
This new edition improves an already worthwhile book, but could have used one final proofing polish. You expect to find a few typos in any book on Tolkien because of the complicated spellings and names, but this edition seemes to have a bit more than its share.
Anyway, I do recommend this edition of Rosebury's book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hank Napkin on December 24, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent appraisal of Tolkien's work and its reverberance throughout contemporary culture. Just as remarkably, it is very distinct from the growing body of Tolkien scholarship, offering an original perspective and context for the evaluation Tolkien's complex and beloved works. That said, there are only two points I can add to the reviews already here, and they both might easily be worthless.

First, Rosebury expends a good deal of thought and energy articulating the manner in which the literary establishment categorizes, accepts or rejects "The Lord of the Rings". As in a similar attempt by Marjorie Burns, this opening chapter is excellent in its linearity, breadth of information and depth of context. But in the end it shapes up as either preaching to the choir or another apologia to the critics who refuse to apply their own attention to the work. I'm happy that Rosebury seems unable to admit that the only threshold to cross in accepting or rejecting Tolkien is, right or wrong, simply one of taste -- even though such acknowledgment does nothing to diminish Tolkien's accomplishment. And to be fair to those critics who do not grasp what a singular accomplishment The Lord of the Rings is, I have to confess that despite the esteem I have for that work it is possible to see the opposition's point. The analogy might be this: while much of 20th Century literature is safely viewed as the work of artists, Tolkien's work -- implicated as it is with his professorial status in language -- can be seen from that vantage as the accomplishment of a highly gifted engineer.

Just as some self-taught painters are categorized as "outsider artists" there is no shame in leaving Tolkien --to his credit -- an outsider.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Tolkein: A Cultural Phenomenon is a unique offering of literary criticism of Tolkein in that it includes and integrates recent cinematic and other media related criticism in its analysis.Even more intriguing to the game oriented youth set of Tolkein enthusiasts, Tolkein: A Cultural Phenomenon contains an exhaustive sampling and review of many Tolkein based computer and video games, as well as card and role playing games. These he categorizes under relabeling assimilation, imitation, and adaptation, and his reduction and analysis of the game phenomena is riveting, insightful, and direct. Rosebury's view at times seems almost hyperfocussed, not that this is a bad thing. Of very great interest to me and many other readers is his review of the Peter Jackson "Lord of The Rings" award-winning movie series. I would say his criticism is not all positive, but also not unjustified. He tends to give full credit for the work presented in the media itself, rather than only seeing it as a pale or incomplete version of the much richer literature upon which it is based.
However, I was also very interested in Rosebury's section on Tolkein in the History of Ideas (chapter 5, pp.158-192). In it he compares many other Tolkein critics' views, muses about his own previous analyses, and draws a pervasive conclusion that is only partially summarized by the following quotation:
'"Through all the crannies of the world we filled with elves and goblins, though we dared to build gods and their houses out of dark and light, and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right (used or misused). The right has not decayed. We make still by the law in which we're made (from Tolkein's 'Mythopoeia')."'
'For Tolkein the fundamental derived human right is the right to create.
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