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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Paperback – June 6, 2000
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I have long ceased to invent (though even patronizing or sneering critics on the side praise my 'inventions'): I wait till I seem to know what really happened. Or till it writes itself. Thus, though I knew for years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down the Great River, I had no recollection of inventing Ents. I came at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any recollection of any previous thought: just as it is now. And then I saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.
This new edition of letters has an extensive index, and Carpenter has included a brief blurb at the beginning of each letter to explain who the correspondent was and what was being discussed. Still, we strongly recommend buying the companion volume, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, in order to better understand the place these correspondents had in Tolkien's life and get a better context for the letters. --Perry M. Atterberry
From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Highly illuminating, frequently entertaining, and always interesting, Tolkien's LETTERS give us a remarkable look into one of the 20th century's most popular and widely read authors. Whether he is talking to his son about marriage, struggling to publish LORT in the early 1950s, addressing fans' various questions and concerns, writing about his scholarly life or his books, Tolkien is sharp-witted, engaging, and extremely intelligent. To his credit, he never sounds condescending, and ultimately, of all the writing about Tolkien, this is ultimately the most humanizing of them all.
What makes some of the most interesting to the letters are when Tolkien is discussing his own works. Much like UNFINISHED TALES, the LETTERS are a wonderful sumplement and a great source of information about Middle-earth that cannot be found elsewhere and is incredibly enlightening, whether it be a die-hard Tolkien researcher or a first time reader.
For those familiar with the older editions of LETTERS (I have a hardback version, well before this came out), the newly revised index, prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, make this alone worth purchasing. The index is so much better and makes this edition a lot easier to navigate through
What makes Tolkien's LETTERS such a valuable addition to the Tolkien canon is because, of all his books, this is the most intimate, naked look we will ever have into his mind other than through a mythological lens of his core books.Read more ›
Having such a high opinion of the man tends to raise him to an almost larger-than-life position. He's unapproachable. He's brilliant.
Reading this book has helped to bring Tolkien from near-mythological status into a man. That is a good thing. One can enter the man's mind and begin to understand the thought process that occurs.
I find this better to read than a biography, because a biography tends to be "formal", and these letters are simply the un-edited and unpolished person at their best or at their worst.
I dearly love the man, and his work. These letters help me to pretend that I knew him when he was alive, which would have been a pleasure indeed.
Time and time again I've turned to the Letters for inspiration and information on what Tolkien had to say about everything concerning Middle-earth, from the family secrets and scandals of the Tooks to how Aragorn would have ruled Arnor and Gondor in the Fourth Age. Tolkien shared his private thoughts with a select group of fans who wrote to him in his lifetime, and with his friends and close relatives. These letters are a rare glimpse into his candor, wit, and values.
Many of the questions that Tolkien readers form today when they first pick up his books were shared by their predecessors in the 1930s and 1950s when The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were first published. His answers to fan questions are as fresh and informative to the 100th-time reader as to the 1st time reader.
His letters start off with notes to his beloved Edith, before they got married, when he was in the army. After only fifteen pages, correspondence with publishers starts (regarding the publishing of "Mr. Bliss"), and continues with details about his writing, illustrations, and plans for future writings. "[The created legend] should be 'high,' purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry," he writes at one point.
But letters to publishers are only some of the letters Tolkien wrote in his long life. Other letters are to his kids and his friends, detailing his trip to Italy, the Narnia books, his friendships, his career, the nuances of "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," "Beowulf," and explaining his thoughts on philosophy, religion, myth and his own writing -- even describing an aborted sequel to "Lord of the Rings" called "The New Shadow," which he abandoned as being "both sinister and depressing."
Do hobbits have pointy ears? Did Sauron create the orcs? Were the evil spiders inspired by a childhood tarantula bite? Was the Ring of Power "der Nibelungen Ring"? Tolkien addressed all of these in his letters. (And the answers are: Yes, no, no, and absolutely not!) Rumors are addressed, questions are answered, and Tolkien gives insights to his writings that -- obviously -- no one else could provide.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this quote from Letters, "I dislike Allegory- the conscious and intentional allegory-yet any attempt to explain the purport of myth or fairy tale must use allegorical... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Tiffini Oporto
This is the book I recommend when someone has read and loved Lord of the Rings and wonders what they should read next. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. M. Miller
What impresses me first about these letters would be the clarity and precision of which Tolkien's mind was capable. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Meredith/Susan
Bought it for a letter to his son about life; good read; interesting style but the material lot interest for me so I stopped readingPublished 2 months ago by Timothy J. Gannon
The classic collection of Tolkien letters- of course it's slanted and heavily edited and more have become available since- but this is a great start if you want to find out more... Read morePublished 2 months ago by thirdtwin
I own this book, but I sent for this version because it is described as "Now newly expanded with a detailed index...". Read morePublished 5 months ago by Frank Ramirez
Normally I have little interest in books of letters, which usually end up being pretty boring and full of allusions that the ordinary reader will never understand and will probably... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stephen Hitchings
This is a great book for anyone who wants to know more detail about the man who wrote The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Joan Freeman