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Smith of Wootton Major Hardcover – 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; Enlarged edition edition (2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007202474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007202478
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,548,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While most of his genius went into the world of Middle-Earth and its fantastical history, JRR Tolkien produced a number of smaller stories during his life.

And though he disliked allegory, the enchanting "Smith of Wootton Major" is a bit of an oddity among his writings -- a beautifully fantastical little fable that drips over with Tolkien's love of real, deep fairy tales. And unlike many a story of elves or faeries since, Tolkien keeps that sense of mystery and magic in the world of the supernatural.

It takes place in a little town "not very long ago for those with long memories, not very far away fro those with long legs." The Master Cook of that village takes a vacation, and returns with an apprentice in tow. But something odd happens at the Feast of the Cake -- the cook stirs in a "fay-star" with little trinkets in the cake, and it's accidentally swallowed by a boy there.

The boy (later called Smith) is changed by the fay-star, which sparkles on his forehead. When he grows up, Smith ventures into Faery itself, and even meets the Faery Queen herself. The message she gives him is for her mysterious, missing husband, the King -- who turns out to be the last person anybody in Wootton Major would have expected.

"Smith" is a fairy tale in the best sense. Don't expect cackling witches or convenient loopholes in spells here; Tolkien was too skilled for that. Instead we have majestic fey and sparkling magic, woven with a tidy medieval town (consider the custom of naming people after their jobs -- Smith, a smith, capisce?). Never once does it become precious or cutesy, only more enchanted as it goes along.

It's also among Tolkien's simpler writings, especially since it is effectively a short story.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Farmer Giles of Hamm is a hilarious tale in the spirit of the lighter passages of The Hobbit. The Little Kingdom of this story has much in common with the Shire where Bilbo Baggins wandered. It should be read for the shear pleasure of the journey.
Smith Of Wooten Major is something else entirely. Though once again we travel to an ancient England that has much in common with Middle Earth, here we find a tale for grown ups. Though most reviewers say that the tale is about what the gift of fantasy adds to the life of those who receive it, I believe that it really speaks of the rewards that come to those who choose to live life on a deeper level. What makes the book difficult to describe is that in story form Tolkien paints a picture or an illustration of the faith and the grace that were such an integral part of who he was as a person. Travelling with him you feel that you have encountered something more deep and wonderful than words can tell. The journey is not for everyone, but for those of you who take it and begin to glimps its meaning, like Smith's magic star, it will become an integral part of who you are.
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Format: Hardcover
J.R.R. Tolkien's short work, "Smith of Wooten Major," which he wrote late in life, has already appeared in several fine editions, both by itself and in combination with other pieces by Tolkien, and most of us Tolkien enthusiasts already have it on our shelves. So why another one now, and why should we buy it? There are several compelling things about this book that make it highly attractive to those seeking a deeper understanding of Tolkien as a writer and thinker, and I'll only mention four here. First, this extended edition includes an important never-before-published essay by Tolkien on the story and on Tolkien's views of the nature of Faery, of its importance to him, of faery tales, and of the role of allegory in stories of this kind. It is a fascinating piece that provides new insight into Tolkien's thought as an artist trying to capture glimpses of Faery in his writing. The essay is in some ways an echoing companion piece for his famous earlier essay "On Fairy Stories," in which, among other things, Tolkien outlines his theory of sub-creation that he executed so successfully in "The Lord of the Rings." Second, the book contains never-before-published early notes and draft manuscripts for Smith, several pages of which are reproduced in the book itself in their original hand-written form with helpful transcriptions on the opposite page. These papers not only show Tolkien actively creating and revising his story and the history of its characters, but they also show Tolkien's working methods as a writer and so demonstrate, in a microcosm, the methods he used on such a large scale for "The Lord of the Rings." Third, Flieger's editorial contributions are very helpful.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
While most of his genius went into the world of Middle-Earth and its fantastical history, JRR Tolkien produced a number of smaller stories during his life.

Two of the best-known examples: "Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham," which pairs together a beautifully fantastical fable that drips with Tolkien's love of fairy tales.... and a wacky story about a not-very-frightening dragon and the hapless hero who is after him. While these two novellas are very different in style, they have Tolkien's love of mystery and magic, language and humor.

"Smith of Wootton Major" takes place in a little town "not very long ago for those with long memories, not very far away fro those with long legs." The Master Cook of that village takes a vacation, and returns with an apprentice in tow. But something odd happens at the Feast of the Cake -- the cook stirs in a "fay-star" with little trinkets in the cake, and it's accidentally swallowed by a boy there.

The boy (later called Smith) is changed by the fay-star, which sparkles on his forehead. When he grows up, Smith ventures into Faery itself, and even meets the Faery Queen herself. The message she gives him is for her mysterious, missing husband, the King -- who turns out to be the last person anybody in Wootton Major would have expected.

And in "Farmer Giles of Ham," Aegidius de Hammo (or in the "vulgar tongue," as Tolkien archly tells us, Farmer Giles of Ham) is a pleasant, not-too-bright farmer (a bit like Barliman Butterbur) who leads a fairly happy, sedate life. Until the day his excitable dog Garm warns him that a giant (deaf and very near-sighted) is stomping through and causing mayhem. Giles takes out his blunderbuss and takes a shot at the giant, and inadverantly drives him off.
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