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J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (Two Volume Box Set) Slp Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The first volume is mainly a chronology of Tolkien's life, with several satellite chapters detailing his published works, poems, art, a series of Tolkien's family trees, etc. To say that the chronology is detailed would be a considerable understatement. It's really an almost daily accounting of the events of Tolkien's life: essentially an 800-page biography of dates. Staggering!
The second volume, the Reader's Guide, is even larger at well over 1000 pages. This volume, meant to compliment the chronology (and vice versa) provides alphabetized entries for just about every person, place, and literary idea of importance to Tolkien studies. Many of these are in quite astonishing detail, and even the short ones are extremely valuable little gems. For example, in the entry for Jennie Grove, Hammond and Scull provide the basic facts, of course -- but they also point out where to find a photograph of her as well as a portrait of her drawn by Tolkien. These are fantastic kernels of information, and nowhere else are so many collected together in one place. Not only that, but the list of unpublished and archival sources Hammond and Scull consulted is very impressive indeed! Many details represented here have never been brought to light before.
Another excellent feature of the set is the common index; that is, a single index at the back of both volumes covers references *in* both volumes.Read more ›
The Chronology Volume is an amazing achievement. JRR Tolkien's entire life is chronicled, many times day by day, so that we know what classes he taught, lectures he gave, conferences he attended, and guests he invited for dinner throughout a long, active life. This may seem to be inconsequential minutiae, but all of it is important in revealing the personality and character of the author and the many sources from which his own writings sprang. Historians and sociologists will also find this volume extremely useful since it reveals one man's daily life through three quarters of the twentieth century.
Equally as impressive is Volume 2, the Reader's Guide. Here Scull and Hammond have provided a multiplicity of information on every bit of extant writing by Tolkien, other authors and thinkers with whom he conversed or otherwise communicated, and so much else that it is impossible to enumerate it all. Scholars studying other writers besides Tolkien will do well to consult this volume, since he had contact with so many of them.
As a matter of full disclosure I should reveal that I met Christina Scull some years ago in London, and I have maintained a friendship with her and with Wayne ever since. I am honored that an article I wrote for the Tolkien journal "Beyond Bree" has been referenced in this Reader's Guide. But I hasten to assure you that I would be just as impressed with this work and would recommend itjust as highly even if these connections did not exist.
The chronology may seem overwhelming for the reader without an agenda. Tolkien's letter collection edited by Humprey Carpenter is a great resource for cross referencing. Even if you aren't interested in what day Tolkien had lunch with a comittee at Leeds, don't ignore the chronology! The bibliography towards the rear is well worth the big bucks--plenty of bread crumbs to helpful sources.
The reader's guide is excellent and ranges from Tolkien's work to his life. Hammond and Skull are very good about pulling information from primary sources. Even more so, they do well at avoiding speculation on more subjective matters, and limit their own interpretation to those primary sources (though I am sure it is valuable).
This is type of book that should occupy the reference area of every college library. The companion is certainly a scholarly work, and is the best reference material on Tolkien to date. It is also, however, valuable to readers who are equally fascinated with Tolkien as they are with his creations.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful, enjoyable companion to my Tolkein library, and I love the background and insights these boods give to me, a self-teaching Tolkein scholar- Wonderful, wonder-filled... Read morePublished on December 12, 2013 by Leslie Zvolanek
I think that this book is really useful if you have to study Tolkien in depth because it gives you lots of information about his life and creative works. I love it.Published on March 25, 2011 by Trilli86
This set of 2 books has got to be the most informative, fun-to-read, amazing books on Tolkien I have read. Wayne & Christina have done it again. Read morePublished on March 16, 2009 by Ryan D.
I am a Williams alumni, and I was pleased to present this definitive Tolkien guide to my brother for Xmas this year. Bravo to the librarians!Published on January 21, 2008 by Nevin House
Like the title of my review says, this set has everything you ever wanted to know about Tolkien and then some. Read morePublished on October 14, 2007 by Brian & Randy
After long wait and anticipation, the Companion and Guide Box Set is out.
I reviewed the two volumes separately. Read more