Thursday, July 28, 2011

J.R.R. Tolkien

By Mark Horne. Thomas Nelson Publishers. 145 pages.

The author takes readers on a trip back in time to the culture that formed the great fantasy writer JRR Tolkien. Born in South Africa and raised in England, his difficult childhood didn't prevent him from developing a deep love for the rural, medieval, most poetic parts of England.

Preferring Germanic and northern European medieval culture, including the Nordic Sagas, to the Greek and Latin classics, he majored in English. The author shows how his time at Oxford and in the Great War had a lasting impression on him.

Mark Horne is particularly keen to show how Tolkien's cultural, intellectual, and religious roots deeply impacted his writing. Through various trials and even self-doubt, Tolkien never lost his artistic genius. Readers get a sense of how the great author needed to share this genius with others through his teaching and socializing with students, literary circles, and of course writing, both academic and fiction.

Tolkien was a writer at heart, starting with both poetry and his love for the northern Germanic languages, which he often taught himself. Rather than becoming a reclusive eccentric, he shared his poetry and other fiction, and his love for medieval Germania, with his friends and associates, even collaborating on books about literature.

Tolkien's genius enabled him to fuse his academic and fictional writing and interests, something that Mark Horne gets across to readers quite consistently.

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