Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: A Selection (Anglais) Broché – 25 septembre 1995
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J.R.R. Tolkien, cherished author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, was one of the twentieth century's most prolific letter writers. Over the years he wrote a mass of letters -- to his publishers, his family, to friends, and to fans of his books -- which record the history and composition of his works and his reaction to subsequent events.
By turns thoughtful, impish, scholarly, impassioned, playful, vigorous, and gentle, Tolkien poured his heart and mind into a great stream of correspondence to intimate friends and unknown admirers all over the world. From this collection one sees a mind of immense complexity and many layers -- artistic, religious, charmingly eccentric, sentimental, and ultimately brilliant.
Now newly expanded with a detailed index, this collection provides an invaluable record that sheds much light on Tolkien's creative genius, his thoughts and feelings about his own work, and the evolution of his grand design for the creation of a whole new world -- Middle-earth.
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Dans Les aventures de Tom Bombadil (1962), Tolkien déploie son talent pour les assonances ingénieuses. En 1968, il enregistre sur disque les Poèmes et chansons de la Terre du Milieu, tirés des Aventures de Tom Bombadil et du Seigneur des Anneaux.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien est décédé en 1973.
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Autant donc revenir aux sources, Tolkien, avait l'habitude de répondre à ses admirateurs, qui lui demandaient des renseignements sur des points obscurs et pointus du Seigneur, Tolkien, d'une grande politesse, et d'une grande rigueur intellectuelle, leur répondaient.
Son fils Christopher et H. Carpenter, on publié cette riche correspondance, en cherchant des copies des lettres envoyées par Tolkien, voici le résultat.
Christopher élimine, avec pudeur, la corréspondance privée de Tolkien, et laisse un témoignage remarquable, l'explication du Seigneur des Anneaux par Tolkien lui même !
Ce livre publié la première fois en 1981, revient dans une édition augmentée, et corrigée.
Ce livre est indispensable pour tous les admirateurs de Tolkien.
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Highly illuminating, frequently entertaining, and always interesting, Tolkien's LETTERS give us a remarkable look into one of the 20th century's most popular and widely read authors. Whether he is talking to his son about marriage, struggling to publish LORT in the early 1950s, addressing fans' various questions and concerns, writing about his scholarly life or his books, Tolkien is sharp-witted, engaging, and extremely intelligent. To his credit, he never sounds condescending, and ultimately, of all the writing about Tolkien, this is ultimately the most humanizing of them all.
What makes some of the most interesting to the letters are when Tolkien is discussing his own works. Much like UNFINISHED TALES, the LETTERS are a wonderful sumplement and a great source of information about Middle-earth that cannot be found elsewhere and is incredibly enlightening, whether it be a die-hard Tolkien researcher or a first time reader.
For those familiar with the older editions of LETTERS (I have a hardback version, well before this came out), the newly revised index, prepared by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, make this alone worth purchasing. The index is so much better and makes this edition a lot easier to navigate through
What makes Tolkien's LETTERS such a valuable addition to the Tolkien canon is because, of all his books, this is the most intimate, naked look we will ever have into his mind other than through a mythological lens of his core books. The LETTERS are a treasure-trove of intellectual delight, and with such keen, piercing wit, humility, and a beautiful Catholic faith, it is wonderful to know that Tolkien was as wonderful as we all secretly hoped he would be. What is also so humanizing about it is because you also see Tolkien frustrated, hurt, and just trying to provide for his family. He's not perfect by any means, which makes LETTERS all the more endearing. The most heart breaking line in this book is the very last: "It is stuff, sticky, and rainy at present - but forecast are more favourable." This was written a mere four days before death overtook him. He was moving to a much better place.
Tolkien once said if you truly wanted to know him read LOTR and THE SILMARILLION. Those are, naturally, the best places to start, because Tolkien's mind moved primarily along mythological grooves. However, for a more conventional portrait of this remarkable man, there's no better place to start than THE LETTERS OF J. R. R. TOLKIEN.
Having such a high opinion of the man tends to raise him to an almost larger-than-life position. He's unapproachable. He's brilliant.
Reading this book has helped to bring Tolkien from near-mythological status into a man. That is a good thing. One can enter the man's mind and begin to understand the thought process that occurs.
I find this better to read than a biography, because a biography tends to be "formal", and these letters are simply the un-edited and unpolished person at their best or at their worst.
I dearly love the man, and his work. These letters help me to pretend that I knew him when he was alive, which would have been a pleasure indeed.
Time and time again I've turned to the Letters for inspiration and information on what Tolkien had to say about everything concerning Middle-earth, from the family secrets and scandals of the Tooks to how Aragorn would have ruled Arnor and Gondor in the Fourth Age. Tolkien shared his private thoughts with a select group of fans who wrote to him in his lifetime, and with his friends and close relatives. These letters are a rare glimpse into his candor, wit, and values.
Many of the questions that Tolkien readers form today when they first pick up his books were shared by their predecessors in the 1930s and 1950s when The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were first published. His answers to fan questions are as fresh and informative to the 100th-time reader as to the 1st time reader.
His letters start off with notes to his beloved Edith, before they got married, when he was in the army. After only fifteen pages, correspondence with publishers starts (regarding the publishing of "Mr. Bliss"), and continues with details about his writing, illustrations, and plans for future writings. "[The created legend] should be 'high,' purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry," he writes at one point.
But letters to publishers are only some of the letters Tolkien wrote in his long life. Other letters are to his kids and his friends, detailing his trip to Italy, the Narnia books, his friendships, his career, the nuances of "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," "Beowulf," and explaining his thoughts on philosophy, religion, myth and his own writing -- even describing an aborted sequel to "Lord of the Rings" called "The New Shadow," which he abandoned as being "both sinister and depressing."
Do hobbits have pointy ears? Did Sauron create the orcs? Were the evil spiders inspired by a childhood tarantula bite? Was the Ring of Power "der Nibelungen Ring"? Tolkien addressed all of these in his letters. (And the answers are: Yes, no, no, and absolutely not!) Rumors are addressed, questions are answered, and Tolkien gives insights to his writings that -- obviously -- no one else could provide.
And unlike in a lot of compiled-letters books, Tolkien's own personality seems to shine through his letters -- intelligent, imaginative, immersed in his faith, work and family, and capable of being quite snippy when he wanted to be. His letter to Allen & Unwin about a "Dr. O" is particularly funny ("Coming home dead without a head... is not very delightful"). While Tolkien's style seems very formal at first, it's easy to get immersed in his longer letters. The shorter ones are usually quite short -- one is only two lines long, announcing that "I shall be murdered if something does not happen soon."
And while Tolkien answered intelligent questions with extensive responses, he didn't seem to like untrue rumors. When Dr. O claimed that the Ring was "der Nibelungen Ring," he responded dryly that: "Both rings were round, and there the resemblence ceases." Touche, professor. He also shows an endearingly humble attitude towards his work, even calling his charming drawings "ill-drawn."
J.R.R. Tolkien's letters are a gold mine for the devoted fan of Middle-Earth, and provide many insights into his mind and work. Even less devoted fans may be staggered by "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien."