J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the box office

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 This one’s for Harry

JOHN RONALD REUEL TOLKIEN had little patience for the trappings of modern life—he gave up his car, avoided television and frowned on modern literature and arts. Fiercely protective of his work, he might well have blanched at the new $300m Hollywood adaptation of his classic fantasy trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings”, the first instalment of which opens next week.

“Tolkien”, a timely biography by Michael White (Little, Brown, £16.99), recounts the writer’s lifelong pursuit of a “mythology for England”. Following a wartime bout in the trenches, Tolkien arrived at Oxford in 1925 as a lecturer in Anglo-Saxon. Concerned that England lacked a set of myths comparable to, say, the Norse legends, he created the fantasy realm of Middle-earth, home to a jumble of orcs, elves, wizards and hobbits. “The Hobbit” appeared in 1937; nearly two decades and many reworkings later came “The Lord of the Rings”, and later still, after his death, its near-impenetrable companion, “The Silmarillion”.

At Oxford Tolkien kept company with the Inklings—a clutch of dons who gathered on Tuesday mornings at a pub to read their work aloud. There Tolkien and C.S. Lewis tried out drafts of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. Though Tolkien, a Catholic, helped reconvert Lewis to Christianity after his atheist years, it is Lewis’s fantasy world, not Tolkien’s, that radiates Christian allegory. Both writers’ books, though, came to exert a powerful appeal to both children and adults alike—one matched today by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Much of the ground covered in this biography will be familiar to Tolkien devotees, but Mr White’s virtue lies in making his subject seem both accessible and fun: another boost for the Ring around Tolkien.

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Julio Marchi ©

Publisher / Editor at BS News & Media Services
A free thinker, not labelled as anything, not associated with any party, not part of any group or engaged with any religion... A simple guy tired of the nowadays bullshit who decided to promote more serious debates about what is really happening hoping to bring back intelligence to the superficial and shallow news & headlines that unfortunately took over the existing media scene.
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