J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book 13 in #15in2015
It’s deeply pleasing to read about the language Tolkien uses in his work. Not the one he created, which this book barely touches on, but the old words, names, and place names that he drew on when he wrote.
Having studied in the same field at Professor Tolkien, the author is well-placed to talk about the complexities, structure, and foundation of Tolkien’s work. It’s clear he’s irritated at the literary critics who dismiss Lord of the Rings as having no value at all, but in his effort to prove them so completely wrong that they’ve missed the greatest work of the 20th Century, he presents an excellent argument for the artistic merit in Tolkien’s work.
Is Tolkien the “Author of the Century”? Well, no. Is his work powerful, complex, and of literary value? Absolutely. If you can bear to read through Shippey’s gripes about the literati and can skim through some tedious analysis of the professor’s lesser works, this book is a source of sublime pleasure.