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J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2000

    Not quite there and back again

    Carpenter does a fine job of detailing the esoterica of Tolkien's quirky yet often quite pedestrian life (imagine Bilbo Baggins before the dwarves dropped by), from his birth in South Africa, through the early death of his parents, his life at Oxford and his attempts to grapple with unexpected fame in his latter years. Carpenter is illuminating in showing us some of the sources of Tolkien's inspiration. His devout Catholicism; his love of the English countryside; and particularly his profound fascination with words and languages. We come to see Middle Earth as necessary to house Tolkien's languages. A selection of photos is quite helpful in putting flesh on the legend of J.R.R. Tolkien. However, Carpenter disappoints by studiously avoiding evaluations of Tolkien's work. Carpenter seems to believe that is not his place, but failing even to include a good sampling of contemporary reviews of Tolkien's work leaves us still wondering about questions such as 'why are there almost no women in Lord of the Rings? ... Where is religion in LOTR?' ... And completely untouched: Is LOTR racist? This volume is a good starting point in understanding Tolkien's personal history, but readers wanting more insights into Tolkien's writing will need to find additional sources. I found ithe book quite readable, quite accessible, but all the details of English academe might make it too heavy for Tolkien's younger fans.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    Awesome book, but needs to completley prove Thesis.

    I admire Carpenter's declaration to not critisize Tolkien's works. He was simply respecting the wishes of the late Tolkien, and we must respect his decision. However, he did not suceed in not showing a bias, since he potrayed those that gave bad reviews to LOTR as meanies. However, we must give Carpenter some credit: it HAD to be biased! This book was only going to be read by fans of Tolkien and either his mythology or his works in languages. The details from childhood through his last years made the book interesting from beginning to end. I especially enjoyed the potrayal of his parents wedding and the 'Oxford life' chapter, where an average day was given step by step. In conclusion, If you want to know more about the development of Tolkien's life to show the development of his mythology, this is the book for you. However, One who had never read his Trilogy would have no clue what is going on throughout 2/3's of the entire book. I had read it twice, so I knew what was happening. However, now I am also inspired to read the Silmarillion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2003

    Thanks for the research info!=^_~=

    I haven't read the book itself quite yet, but I want to, because I'm doing a report on him for my school. It's more of a 'dress up as an assigned author and do the research on him/her' deal, but I am so glad that I found this book! Cross your fingers in hopes I get an 'A'!!=^_~=

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    How Can LOTR be racist?

    Tolkien's story is not a sociology essay, it is a fantasy epic. There are women in the LOTR story: Arwen, daughter of Elrond the Elven king, Galadriel. the Elf Queen of the Golden Wood, Eowyn of Rohan, the niece of King Theoden plus Frodo's aunt, Lobelia Sackville- Baggins. There is no evidence of racism in Tolkien's classic. The reason that there are is no so-called diversity is that the story is inspired by Celtic and Teutonic myths and the myths of the Anglo-Saxons of medieval England. Middle Earth resembles the descriptions of the English countryside, the northern reaches of Scandinavia, Ireland and Scotland and its diversity is in the various creatures and peoples that make up the story. Any attempt to label it as racist or sexist is nothing more than propaganda by the pc-mongers who do not wish for any "euro" stain upon the linguistic and literary culture of the world.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

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