- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 3, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743468740
- ISBN-13: 978-0743468749
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,096,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Meditations on Middle Earth Paperback – November 3, 2003
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If you remember where you were when you first read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then this collection of essays by some of fantasy and science fiction's most popular authors is worth a look. J.R.R. Tolkien's impact on fantastic fiction--and its writers--is explored in contributions that range from intensely personal expressions of the power and beauty of Tolkien's work to more analytical examinations of his style, language, and influences.
Standouts include Michael Swanwick's thoughtful and powerful meditation on heroism and consequences; Ursula K. Le Guin's analysis of narrative rhythm and language in the trilogy; Terri Windling's moving reflection on an escape from abuse fueled by the power of fairy tales; and Douglas A. Anderson's examination of the critical response to Tolkien's work.
This is an uneven collection, with a couple of downright clunkers, but it should appeal to Tolkien aficionados who are interested in the master's influence on those working in the field today. --Roz Genessee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
An unapologetic tie-in with the release of the first highly anticipated Lord of the Rings film, this anthology presents appreciative essays in honor of the master of Middle-earth from such major fantasy and SF authors as Harry Turtledove, Raymond Feist, Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Martin and the late Poul Anderson. All thank Tolkien, some sardonically, for making the fantasy genre so popular. Ursula K. Le Guin discusses obvious and concealed poetry in the trilogy, while Douglas A. Anderson treats Tolkien's critics, admitting that the posthumously published writings, edited by the author's son, Christopher, are "not always easy to read," a view seconded by several other contributors. Less successful as a scholarly exercise is Orson Scott Card's "How Tolkien Means," which focuses on allegory, a mode Tolkien rejected. Most contributors celebrate the beauty of the writing in the major books, although Michael Swanwick finds them "sad with wisdom" in his essay, "A Changling Returns." Swanwick takes the lead in pointing out the importance of the humble hobbit Sam Gamgee as a character. In a dialogue between illustrators and brothers Tim and Greg Hildebrandt, Tim admits that "Tolkien was never a big supporter of illustration to accompany works of fantasy." Alas, Howe's vague and unimaginative pencil sketches only serve to support Tolkien's case. Editor Haber offers an adoring but welcome antidote to the more pompous exegeses of the "author of the century." (Nov. 23)and "Lord of the Rings Redux" (PW, Sept. 10).
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite the obligatory "how I discovered Tolkien" anecdotes, which can be annoying in such quantity (I often find them charming, myself), the contributors avoid much repetition. A few simply burble, trying unsuccessfully to be amusing. Several discuss how Tolkien's example freed them to write their own kind of fantasy: Poul Anderson's juxtaposition of =LotR= with his own =Broken Sword=, and Harry Turtledove's bashful confession of his early life as a naked Tolkien imitator, are the most notable. Others try to analyze the reasons for Tolkien's popularity, but with less success: that's a skill of critics, not of authors. But a few, including Raymond E. Feist and Terri Windling, have some good points to make along the way. The best essays are by those who do have it in them to be critics. Douglas A. Anderson is here to remind us that Tolkien wrote other books besides =LotR= and =The Hobbit=, and to warn us of the perils of undiscriminating popularity. Michael Swanwick offers a brief but thoughtful character study. Slightly less elevated than these is Orson Scott Card's diatribe against symbolic analysis: my instinct is to agree, but I finish the essay thinking there's points to be made for the other view. The outstanding contribution is Ursula K. Le Guin's: she simply sits down, as a good author with an ear for style can, and =demonstrates= Tolkien's quality by analyzing his use of rhythm, recurrence, and opposition to create emotional effects in a sample chapter of =LotR=, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs".
The authors make few factual errors, but the book offers many typos, including a character named Owyn. Illustrations by John Howe brighten a few pages.
In sum, "Meditations on Middle-earth" is a very good, albeit uneven, collection of essays on one of the great authors (JRR Tolkien) and books ("The Lord of the Rings") of all time. If you're into Tolkien, you should definitely like this book, and if you've never read Tolkien, then this book might make you curious to do so. Either way, you can't go too wrong reading and thinking about "The Lord of the Rings."