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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Paperback – June 6, 2000
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J.R.R. Tolkien, cherished author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, was one of the twentieth century's most prolific letter writers. Over the years he wrote a mass of letters -- to his publishers, his family, to friends, and to fans of his books -- which record the history and composition of his works and his reaction to subsequent events.
By turns thoughtful, impish, scholarly, impassioned, playful, vigorous, and gentle, Tolkien poured his heart and mind into a great stream of correspondence to intimate friends and unknown admirers all over the world. From this collection one sees a mind of immense complexity and many layers -- artistic, religious, charmingly eccentric, sentimental, and ultimately brilliant.
Now newly expanded with a detailed index, this collection provides an invaluable record that sheds much light on Tolkien's creative genius, his thoughts and feelings about his own work, and the evolution of his grand design for the creation of a whole new world -- Middle-earth.
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On the Kindle version, though, 1 star at best. Typos or scan errors, whichever they are, are everywhere, and egregious. It's obvious that this Kindle text was never proofed by a human editor. To find the word "orc" misspelled as "ore" four times on one page is proof enough that the publishers put very little care into preparing the text. There are many, many other errors just in the first twenty percent of the book. I am very tempted to return this Kindle version for refund and go for the hardcopy, instead.
Especially at this time, when publishers and authors are clamoring for higher prices and consideration for their electronic books, I find myself more than ever inclined to just go back to hard-copy reading. It may be that the paper version of "The Letters..." contains the same quantity of really inexcusable errors, but that doesn't justify the glaring lack of editorial care in this Kindle version. These firms are obviously paying much, much less to produce the books, and yet still demanding to be paid even more, unfortunately actualizing Tolkien's own vision of the "machine" and where it was headed in his day.
They are organized chronologically, and the editor's guiding factors for curation were 1) to include only letters that lent insight about his writing process, and 2) to exclude personal family insights as much as possible. So if you're looking for a tell-all reveal into his family life, you aren't getting that. But if you want to a crash-course on "the humanities, embodied" then you've come to the right place. Tolkien lives what he loves, and he loves culture and words and language and history and art and philosophy and faith. All of that is on display here, revealed in the context of his letters to friends and family and fans and publishers.
They're readable. Read one a day. They're short. You'll learn a lot of LOTR trivia, and you'll love it. Don't wait, read it now.
Recommended reading? Absolutely. Not ever word but most of them are worth the effort.