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The road to Middle-Earth – tekijä: T. A.…
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The road to Middle-Earth (vuoden 1983 painos)

– tekijä: T. A. Shippey

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
7901221,352 (4.08)25
"The Road to Middle-earth, Tom Shippey's classic work, now revised and expanded in paperback explores J. R. R. Tolkien's creativity and the sources of his inspiration. Shippey shows in detail how Tolkien's professional background led him to write The Hobbit and create a timeless charm for millions of readers. He argues convincingly that the source of Tolkien's inspiration lay not just in his love of fable but in his love of language. While examining the foundations and literary structures of Tolkien's most popular work, The Lord of the Rings, in rich detail, Shippey also discusses the contribution of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales to Tolkien's great myth cycle, showing how the more "difficult" books can be fully appreciated. He goes on to examine the remarkable twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, written by Tolkien's son and literary heir Christopher Tolkien, which traces the creative and technical processes by which Middle-earth evolved."--BOOK JACKET.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:anseileachan
Teoksen nimi:The road to Middle-Earth
Kirjailijat:T. A. Shippey
Info:Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983, c1982. xii, 252 p. ; 24 cm. 1st American ed
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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The Road to Middle-earth (tekijä: Tom Shippey)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 12) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
J. R. R. Tolkien was better at transporting readers into a living, breathing, fully-realized fictional reality than almost any other author who has ever lived. While for most readers the pleasure of the stories themselves is sufficient alone, more hardcore aficionados like myself want to see the deep roots of such a remarkable creation. How did he do it? Shippey's work delves deeply into Tolkien's inspirations, artistic obsessions, and creative process. It will greatly satisfy the sort of person who finds the LOTR appendices as interesting as the plot they've just finished. There's an infamous dropoff in readership from The Hobbit, to The Lord of the Rings, to The Silmarillion, and then to the likes of Unfinished Tales, but for the small group of fans who not only sympathize with but valorize Tolkien's decades of effort with his legendarium simply to create plausible settings for his artificial languages, this book provides an incredibly interesting account of how Tolkien's attitudes toward the power of words shaped his characters, stories, settings, and indeed his entire thematic repertoire. I thought I was a dedicated fan (although to my shame I have not read any of the 12 posthumous volumes of The History of Middle-Earth), but Shippey has read every one of Tolkien's works so many times that he enhanced my appreciation for the under-the-hood craftsmanship in the Tolkienverse more than I thought possible.

The short answer to "why is Tolkien so great?" is that he had a clear vision (or rather a series of visions), he made sure his plots and his themes lined up, and he put a ton of work into what for most authors would seem like irrelevant background details. Tolkien really loved a lot of old epic poetry that his fellow linguists were lukewarm about, but that turned out to provide excellent templates for modern stories even across the vast cultural gap between modern England and its millennium-old antecedents. Shippey doesn't use any film analogies, but as he was discussing how Tolkien studied Beowulf carefully in order to produce similar effects with his own works, I was reminded how a lot of the better genre films put modern material atop older structures in order to take advantage of people's love of both the familiar and the new. So, for example, successful science fiction films mix the genre with noir as in Blade Runner, with Westerns as in Star Trek, with samurai/swashbuckers as in Star Wars, etc. Tolkien used the format of the children's adventure story in the The Hobbit as a comforting framework for his "modern mythology", upgrading to a more adult literary style in The Lord of the Rings, and then dispensing entirely with contemporary narrative formats in his drafts for The Silmarillion, which would have been nearly impenetrable to lightweights and casuals even if he'd been able to finish it.

While Shippey does use Tolkien's own writings as primary sources, and his acknowledged inspirations as secondary material, the book is mainly concerned with tracing Tolkien's own attitudes towards his work; not merely wondering why Tolkien dedicated so much of his life to this fantasy world, but how he made it so convincing to others. The storytelling urge is nearly universal in young children, but most people's fantasies are not very interesting to other people, and nearly all of us eventually turn our mental narrative generation machinery over to more prosaic concerns due to the pressures of adulthood. One of the things that made Tolkien unique was his determination to maintain his creative processes for his whole life; there have of course been countless novelists in history, but Tolkien's novels stand apart from most other writers by his decision to ground them in linguistics, to most people perhaps the dullest soil possible to sprout a fantasy world from. Even his colleagues, who may have been fellow linguists but not true philologists ("philology" = "love of learning"), certainly did not appreciate languages aesthetically to the same degree, and were often skeptical or dismissive of the power of words, leaving Tolkien as one of the very few linguists who appreciated the ancient epic poetry as poetry. Shippey quotes a letter from Tolkien to his son Christopher:

"Nobody believes me when I say that my long book is an attempt to create a world in which a form of language agreeable to my personal aesthetic might seem real. But it is true. An enquirer (among many) asked what (The Lord of the Rings) was all about, and whether it was an 'allegory.' And I said it was an effort to create a situation in which a common greeting would be elen síla lúmenn' omentielmo, and that the phrase long antedated the book. I never heard any more."

Even today, Tolkien's works seem to stand above the obligatory constellations of fanfiction that always surround seemingly similar media franchises like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. This is because fanfiction authors, even the most talented ones, naturally tend to focus on the appeal of the characters, and in Tolkien's works the interactions of the characters are only one of the things going on. The chapter "The Bourgeois Burglar" in particular is a fascinating exploration of just how hard Tolkien worked to ensure that the language and vocabulary of the hobbits, men, dwarves, and so on was congruent with their nature, which complemented the alternately comic and dramatic tone of their interactions with each other, and how the broader thematic concerns then are revealed by the plot in turn. In the chapter "Interlacements and the Ring" Shippey extends this deep alignment to Tolkien's religious explorations, handled far more subtly here than in C. S. Lewis' otherwise comparable Narnia series. Is evil active or passive, Manichean or Boethian, a force unto itself or a mere turning away from the good? Is the Ring a pagan symbol, and the cosmology of Middle-Earth therefore heretical? Tolkien spent a huge amount of time ensuring that his creation worked consistently within itself and with the pre-Christian heroic motifs underneath it without openly contradicting Christian doctrine, to the extent possible. He was not immune to the problems of internal contradiction, which partially explains his immense difficulties finishing his later works, but perhaps any truly great work inevitably expands beyond the point where all its pieces can fully harmonize together. Just look at any of the more modern "epic" properties with teams of writers and all the money in the world, and Tolkien's accomplishments seem all the greater.

On the subject of consistency, one of the more unexpectedly moving chapters is "Visions and Revisions", when Shippey discusses the meaning that the story of Beren and Lúthien had to Tolkien. It's only one part of the Silmarillion, but Tolkien rewrote it so many times that even though it's hardly known, its story of a grand quest undertaken for a powerful yet ultimately doomed love was clearly more dear to him than any other part of his whole creation (Tolkien and his wife's gravestones read 'Beren' and 'Lúthien', respectively). This obsessive dedication made me think of other works that get compared to his, for example Wagner's operas, which Shippey doesn't discuss until the first appendix (as always with Tolkien, read the appendices!), and how idiosyncratic Tolkien's vision often was. Tolkien evidently did not think highly of Wagner as a dramatist, which somewhat surprised me, but it makes more sense when you realize that, as with all great artists, he hated basically everything, particularly artistic works seemingly very similar to his own:

"Tolkien was irritated all his life by modern attempts to rewrite or interpret old material, almost all of which he thought led to failures of tone and spirit. Wagner is the most obvious example. People were always connecting The Lord of the Rings with Der Ring des Nibelungen, and Tolkien did not like it. 'Both rings were round', he snarled, 'and there the resemblance ceases' (Letters, p. 306). This is not entirely true. The motifs of the riddle-contest, the cleansing fire, the broken weapon preserved for an heir, all occur in both works, as of course does the theme of 'the lord of the Ring as the slave of the Ring', des Ringes Herr als des Ringes Knecht. But what upset Tolkien was the fact that Wagner was working, at second-hand, from material which he knew at first-hand, primarily the heroic poems of the Elder Edda and the later Middle High German Nibelungenlied. Once again he saw difference where other people saw similarity. Wagner was one of several authors with whom Tolkien had a relationship of intimate dislike: Shakespeare, Spenser, George MacDonald, Hans Christian Andersen. All, he thought, had got something very important not quite right. It is especially necessary, then, for followers of Tolkien to pick out the true from the heretical, and to avoid snatching at surface similarities."

Now, I personally love Wagner, and rank the Ring Cycle as an incredible artistic achievement, but Tolkien of course has a point about how he and all those other authors are not really playing the same game (though read George Orwell's "Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool" essay on Shakespeare to see how differently even great writers can rank artistic merit). This is another reason why I think comparisons of Tolkien to people like George Lucas, or (especially) George R. R. Martin can only go so far; Martin might have excellent points about flaws in Tolkien's models of political economy (the infamous "What was Aragorn's tax policy?") and so forth, but it's like comparing a Balzac novel to the Epic of Gilgamesh solely because they both have prostitutes in them. Shippey extends this point further in another book called Author of the Century, which I haven't read, but even if you don't agree with Shippey that Tolkien will eventually represent the entirety of 20th century literature the way that Shakespeare epitomizes the 16th, it's enough to note that Tolkien invented an entire literary genre just to give his mock-Welsh and faux-Finnish artificial languages a playground, and no one else has done anything even close since. Tanner Greer's essay "On the Tolkienic Hero" notes that Tolkien seems untouched by irony, and even though it seems strange that it took a fussy and incredibly opinionated academic, one who wrote entire poems about how misguided oak trees (his critics) couldn't understand the pure love of learning natural to birch trees (philologists like himself), to create one of the greatest adventure stories of all time, perhaps the only conclusion is that the genius and genesis of literature might remain as forever mysterious to us as the Undying Lands, or as the power of words themselves. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
One of those books that's a little hard to read because to many of its findings, novel at the time, have become common knowledge over the years since it was originally published. In this case "The Road to Middle-Earth" is a fantastic and informed history of how J.R.R. Tolkien created his Middle-Earth stories, from his roots studying medieval languages through to his final years trying to finish the mythology he had been crunching away at for decades. A lot of what Shippey shares here is well-known to even moderate Tolkien fans, like his interest in philology and languages, how he drew on English and Scandinavian myths, and how the final versions of his works often differed in significant ways from Tolkien's earlier conceptions. But even for an informed fan of the 21st Century, nearly 40 years after Shippey's first edition, this is full of delightful facts, like how until shockingly late in the composition of The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn's name wasn't Aragorn, or even Strider, but "Trotter."

This is not necessarily for the casual fan who's read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings once. The central core of the book is a discussion of the Silmarillion and other of Tolkien's more obscure Middle-Earth works; I read the Silmarillion as a child and was somewhat lost reading this section, and someone who's never even picked it up would be even more bewildered. But for the serious Tolkien fan who wants to take the next step, this is an essential read. ( )
  dhmontgomery | Dec 13, 2020 |
Summary: A study of Tolkien's methods in creating the narratives of Middle-Earth, including words, names, maps, poetry, and mythology.

For most of us who have read (and re-read) J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other stories, we marvel at the world Tolkien creates, complete with fascinating names, a variety of languages with poetry and mythologies of beginnings, and the entry of evil into their world. Creatures who previously only inhabited the fairy tales of childhood come alive: dwarves, elves, trolls, wights, and orcs, as well as Tolkien's unique creation, those lovable hobbits. One wonders, how did he do all that? We might wonder where Christopher Tolkien, his son, has gotten all the material for twelve volumes of Middle-Earth history and more.

Tom Shippey's book helps answer that question, and is a boon to those who wish to delve (an appropriate word) into the depths underneath the stories we love. Shippey begins with what it meant for Tolkien to be a philologist. It was a time when the field of English studies was riven between "lit versus lang." Tolkien was a philologist. He loved languages, particularly the languages from which modern English came. Shippey observes that for Tolkien, the story arose from the language and the world he created provided a place for the languages. The book traces all of this, the people and place names, the poetry and song, the map of Middle-Earth and a mythology to make sense of it all.

He analyzes the stories and what he calls "interlacement" as a series of different stories intersect in this grand story. He also unfolds Tolkien's lifetime work of establishing the history behind The Lord of the Rings, including the account that made up The Silmarillion, finished by Christopher Tolkien. Tolkien worked for decades on various pieces of the history, developing languages, drawing on Old English and other languages to come up with words, and then going back and forth, harmonizing his account. He would devise stories and characters like Tom Bombadil and then try to fit them into his growing narrative. Names changed over times as Trotter became Strider and Aragorn. It appears that Tolkien often could be drawn down rabbit trails as he sought to elaborate the bones of the history of Middle-Earth. The story "Leaf by Niggle" is a parable of Tolkien's creative process. It is a story of an artist so meticulous that he only paints one leaf. Oh, what a leaf Tolkien painted, even if he left much unfinished work to Christopher!

The book includes several afterwords, the most interesting of which is a comparison of the text of Lord of the Rings with Peter Jackson's version, underscoring what can be done with text versus film, and the plot choices Jackson made, sometimes illuminating, sometimes questionable.

If all the poems and strange names in Lord of the Rings are off-putting to you, this probably isn't the book for you. Shippey plunges deeply into all of this and Tolkien's creative process that resulted in the story. It can be heavy wading, and is probably done best after reading Lord of the Rings several times and having the text at your side. If you love all this stuff, you will love this book and won't mind some of the sections which get fairly technical with lots of unfamiliar words.

Tolkien probably started developing the ideas that led to The Lord of the Rings around 1914. The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954 and 1955. His other major work, The Silmarillion, was published posthumously in 1977. In an era where some fan fiction writers crank out a work every year or two, Shippey helps us understand why it took so long to produce these works and why these works are considered so great by so many. Shippey makes the case that in creating this mythology in the English language, Tolkien was "The Author of the Century." Tolkien did not merely create a story. He created a world. ( )
1 ääni BobonBooks | Sep 18, 2019 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2304185.html

This is not a book for beginners - it's a text in dialogue with Tolkien (a letter from him to the author is quoted and deconstructed at the very start of the book), with many other critics, with Shippey's own Author of the Century, and with its own previous editions, which were published before the History of Middle Earth came out - Shippey is frank about where his guesses about Tolkien's creative processes have been disproved by later revelations (and new material keeps appearing).

This is all solid and fascinating stuff. An early chapter looks into what it meant for Tolkien to be a philologist rather than a "Lit." scholar, and how he felt that his chosen branch of scholarship had not really succeeded in fighting off the competition. He got his revenge in other ways, of course, but Shippey shows just how unreasonable some of Tolkien's critics have been often appealing to idealised concepts of what great literature should be and declaring that LotR fails to pass muster. There are lots of other interesting insights too - "bourgeois" and "burglar" both come from the same root, which gives us some further insights into Bilbo and the original concept of hobbits (which of course moved on as the story developed). The one very minor point of disappointment is that the version of the essay on the Peter Jackson films here is different from that in the Zimbardo and Isaacs collection - the latter is more detailed, the one here a bit more fannish. But that is also a little exhilarating. ( )
2 ääni nwhyte | Jun 9, 2014 |
El Camino a la Tierra Media. Tom Shippey.

Este es según los estudiosos de la obra de J.R.R. Tolkien el ensayo más importante y clarificador en cuanto al estudio de las fuentes literarias que influyeron en el autor a la hora de configurar la historia y conjunto de mitos que subyacen bajo “El Señor de los Anillos”, y que quedan directamente expresados en el conjunto de relatos que conforman “El Silmarilion”.

Las fuentes de Tolkien son fundamentalmente de tres tipos, las originales y más poderosas son las lingüísticas, basadas en su comprensión y estudio de las antiguas lenguas nórdicas, finlandés y anglosajón (anterior a la conquista Normanda), en este sentido Tolkien consideraba la palabra como instrumento creador que permite al hombre mostrar la semilla divina puesta en él por Dios; en segundo lugar, los mitos épicos que se conservan en dichas lenguas, el Kalevala finés, los Eddas y relatos nórdicos paganos y el Beowulf y otros relatos anglosajones convenientemente cristianizados por los clérigos que los ponen por escrito a partir de las fuentes paganas orales. En último lugar, las sagradas escrituras y diversos dogmas católicos que subyacen bajo los conceptos de Providencia, Creación, Salvación, Resurrección, Mal como ausencia de Bien, y otros, observados a lo largo de toda la obra de Tolkien.

Una obra muy recomendable, si bien exigente en su lectura, para todos aquellos que quieran adentrarse en las fuentes creativas y motivos de la obra de este gran escritor. ( )
  raperper | Jan 2, 2013 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 12) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
"[Tolkien] deserves his full do, and Shippey's appreciative assessment of his unique achievement provides it in full and satisfying measure."
lisäsi thebookpile | muokkaaPhiladelphia Inquirer
 
"Shippey is a rarity, a scholar well schooled in critical analysis whose writing is beautifully clear."
lisäsi thebookpile | muokkaaMinneapolis Star-Tribune
 
"Professor Shippey's commentary is the best so far in elucidating Tolkien's lovely myth."
lisäsi thebookpile | muokkaaHarper's Magazine
 

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (5 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Tom Shippeyensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Howe, JohnKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Lee, AlanKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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Dedicated to the memory of
John Ernest Kjelgaard
lost at sea, HMS Beverley
11 April 1943
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"The Road to Middle-earth, Tom Shippey's classic work, now revised and expanded in paperback explores J. R. R. Tolkien's creativity and the sources of his inspiration. Shippey shows in detail how Tolkien's professional background led him to write The Hobbit and create a timeless charm for millions of readers. He argues convincingly that the source of Tolkien's inspiration lay not just in his love of fable but in his love of language. While examining the foundations and literary structures of Tolkien's most popular work, The Lord of the Rings, in rich detail, Shippey also discusses the contribution of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales to Tolkien's great myth cycle, showing how the more "difficult" books can be fully appreciated. He goes on to examine the remarkable twelve-volume History of Middle-earth, written by Tolkien's son and literary heir Christopher Tolkien, which traces the creative and technical processes by which Middle-earth evolved."--BOOK JACKET.

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