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The Tolkien Reader Mass Market Paperback – November 12, 1986
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FARMER GILES OF HAM. An imaginative history of the distant and marvelous past that introduces the rather unheroic Farmer Giles, whose efforts to capture a somewhat untrustworthy dragon will delight readers everywhere.
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL. A collection of verse in praise of Tom Bombadil, that staunch friend of the Hobbits in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
ON FAIRY-STORIES. Professor Tolkien's now-famous essy on the form of the fairy story and the treatment of fantasy.
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It begins with an essay by noted fantasy writer Peter Beagle, who also wrote the screenplay for the animated LOTR movie eons and eons ago. "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son" is radically different from Tolkien's more popular works, in that it is more of a play and less of a short story. It will probably appeal to fewer, given its obscure historical context. "Farmer Giles" is about a rather unusual farmer called on to deal with a rather unusual dragon; this is definitely a light, fluffy, funny story. "Leaf by Niggle" and "On Fairy Stories" are more for the analytical thinkers among Tolkien's fans. "Leaf" is something of a glimpse into Tolkien's own soul, concerning his work and his own mortality. "Fairy Stories," on the other hand, is one of the best-known essays on fantasy works and should be shoved in the face of anyone who denies fantasy's literary worth.
We then lapse into entirely different material. There is a long poem called "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil," written in the style and meter of his songs about himself in LOTR, when he meets the hobbits. It explains a little more about the hearty Maia and his wife Goldberry, as does the second of the poems, "Bombadil Goes Boating." I didn't understand the beautifully written "Errantry" very well; but I did think that the catchy "Princess Mee" was cute, about a little elf princess dancing with her reflection.Read more ›
Peter S. Beagle introduces the book with an essay in which he gives a good analysis of Gollum's character; notice how the creature always spoke in first-person plural. "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son" is so far Tolkien's only attempt at a play (brief though it is) and at writing something of his own that has the feeling of Beowulf. It is an addendum to what happened after the historical Battle of Maldon when the Danes invaded England. Tolkien was the type who would have felt at home in medieval northern Europe, and probably would have been a scribe like Snorri Sturluson.
The collection called "Tree and Leaf" is another side of Tolkien. "Farmer Giles..." is a non-Middle-earth tale about a medieval knight off to fight a dragon, and "Leaf By Niggle" is a Borges-type of magical realism about a painter trying to create reality out of his art. It is the closest piece, I believe, that Tolkien came to writing what snobs consider "literary".
It stands on its own, as does the classic essay "On Fairy Stories", in which he shows that fairy and/or faery tales are worth the attention of adults. To quote, he believes that fantasy is a higher form of Art, the most pure form and the most potent. He shows that fantasy works very well when it presents themes on recovery, escape, and consolation.
Now for the poetry. Ever wonder who Tom Bombadil really was?Read more ›
1. The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son: a play dealing with two men after the Battle of Maldon. Interesting, and shows more of the scholarly side of Tolkien.
2. Tree and Leaf: This is a book consisting of two things: his essay on faerie tales, and Leaf By Niggle. Tolkien's essay is now considered one of the main centerpieces of literature defending and validating fantasy and faerie tale (as if THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT weren't enough). Leaf By Niggle is a very deep work, and basically it deals with his despair of mortality and not being able to finish his mythology, his great work. However, in the end Tolkien shows his glorious hope.
3. Farmer Giles of Ham: a mock medieval story. Everything that THE LORD OF THE RINGS represents, this story pokes fun at and parodies. Very funny story, and shows Tolkien's sense of humour. This was written originally for his children (as much of his stuff was).
4. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil: This is a very misleading title. It is a collection of poetry, and only the first two poems have anything to do with Bombadil. The rest of the poetry deals with Middle-earth, or set therein. It is a nice selection of his verse.
Overall, a well put together anthology. However, it would have been better had it included SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR. That, along with the two works constituting TREE AND LEAF, is the closest thing to autobiography he ever wrote, and all three are vitally important in any serious study of Tolkien.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You don't need my advice, if you like Tolkien then this is a must have.Published 4 months ago by Erikopolous
I love Tolkien's narrative style. I enjoyed these stories and essays very much.Published 8 months ago by Kathleen Hamalainen
This is a mixed bag collection of odd Tolkien works, some fiction, some not. But there is an absolute gem of a story that is worth the price of the book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by rich1896
couldn't answer all of these questions because I sent this to my son in Florida, he loves his books...sorryPublished 14 months ago by Rose Lewis
Read it in college. Had a cat name Byrthnoth (my spelling). This guys knew it allPublished 16 months ago by Kit Whitmore