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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:45 am 
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[I split this off from the thread about The Evolution of the History of Middle-earth, because I thought it deserved to be a separate, stickied thread - VtF]

Do we have anywhere on HoF a list of Tolkien's published works including the ones compiled by Christopher Tolkien, along with a list of recommended books about Tolkien's works?

That would be helpful to someone like me, who hasn't read anything outside of The Hobbit, LoTR and The Silmarillion and feels lost about where to start.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:05 am 
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Cerin, we don't presently have such a list here, but I will endeavor to make one. I think it is a great idea.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:30 am 
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It's not a very long list:

*The Hobbit
Farmer Giles of Ham
*The Lord of the Rings
*The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
Tree and Leaf (On Fairy-Stories plus Leaf by Niggle)
Smith of Wootton Major
*The Road Goes Ever On
*The Silmarillion (ed. CT)
*Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (ed. CT)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo (ed. CT)
Finn and Hengest (ed. Alan Bliss)
The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays

*The History of Middle-earth (ed. CT):
I The Book of Lost Tales Vol. 1
II The Book of Lost Tales Vol 2
III The Lays of Beleriand
IV The Shaping of Middle-earth: The Quenta, the Ambarkanta and the Annals
V The Lost Road and Other Writings
VI The Return of the Shadow: The History of the LR 1
VII The Treason of Isengard: The History of the LR 2
VIII The War of the Ring: The History of the LR 3
IX Sauron Defeated: including the History of the LR 4
X Morgoth's Ring
XI The War of the Jewels
XII The Peoples of Middle-earth

*The Annotated Hobbit (ed. Douglas Anderson)

Roverandom (ed. Hammond & Scull)

Beowulf and the Critics (ed. Michael Drout)

*The History of the Hobbit (ed. John Rateliff):
1 Mr Baggins
2 Return to Bag End

*The Children of Húrin (ed. CT)

There is also an abundance of linguistic material published in the journals Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar Tengwar


Last edited by solicitr on Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:50 am 
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I was thinking of the "list of recommended books about Tolkien's works" part.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:45 am 
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Yeah, for example, Hammond and Schulls Readers Guide to LotR.

Also, I got an Amazon notification about "THe Silmarillion 30 Years on" that I was going to ask about here.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:05 pm 
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Thanks, solicitr.

And the letters, are they in a separate volume?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:42 pm 
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Cerin, yes the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien is a separate volume, edited by Humphrey Carpenter assisted by Christopher Tolkien (and with an index by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull). I cannot recommend that book enough.

Al, I have the Silmarillion: 30 Years On book. It has some good stuff, and some that I enjoyed less.

Gotta run!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:13 pm 
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Some of the best books about Tolkien's writings:

H&S: LR RC&G, as Alatar said

Verlyn Flieger:

Splintered Light
A Question of Time
Interrupted Music


Tom Shippey:

The Road to Middle-earth
Author of the Century

Tolkien's Legendarium, ed. Flieger and Hostetter

Also Brian Rosebury. Some (not me) like Isaacs & Zimbardo's collection.

For Tolkien's life etc, the most enlightening volume is still his Letters. There is also Hammond and Scull's magisterial Reader's Guide and Chronology (for the hardcore). For a straightforward biography, nobody has yet bested Humphrey Carpenter, although there certainly is room for a better one. The best biographical work, though limited in its scope, is John Garth's Tolkien and the Great War (which also covers his school days).

Avoid anything by David Day or Daniel Grotta-Kurska. William Ready's is perhaps the worst book on Tolkien ever written.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:34 pm 
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That's a good list, soli. I would add Shippey's "Roots and Branches" that came out last year on the theory that anything written by Shippey about Tolkien is worth reading.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:12 am 
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Glad this thread was started, lots more reading to do!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:55 pm 
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I wrote:
William Ready's is perhaps the worst book on Tolkien ever written.


I take that back. The worst book on Tolkien ever written is unquestionably Ake Ohlmarks' "Tolkien and Black Magic."


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:29 pm 
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I'd like to raise the suggestion that perhaps the "best" books about Tolkien are not necessarily the most accurate. I know, I know, don't kill me. The "Weapons and Warfare" book by Chris Smith is a mongrel amalgamation of Tolkien Canon and PJ-centric invention. It's certainly not an accurate study guide.

But its a damn good book! ;)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:24 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
I'd like to raise the suggestion that perhaps the "best" books about Tolkien are not necessarily the most accurate. I know, I know, don't kill me. The "Weapons and Warfare" book by Chris Smith is a mongrel amalgamation of Tolkien Canon and PJ-centric invention. It's certainly not an accurate study guide.

But its a damn good book! ;)



Agreed. It was the only book of the PJ influenced movies I specifically targeted for purchase.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:46 pm 
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Two good early studies of Tolkien are Master of Middle-earth by Paul Kocher (1972) and Tolkien's World by Randel Helms (1974). I also like The Hobbit: A Journey into Maturity by William Green.

Solicitr mentioned most of Tolkien's works. A few more are: "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son" (Essays and Studies of 1953, republished with a few errors in The Tolkien Reader); The Father Christmas Letters; Mr. Bliss; the Ancrene Wisse edition of 1962; the edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight produced with E.V. Gordon in 1925; the Old English Exodus, edited from Tolkien's notes in 1982 by Joan Turville-Petre; and A Middle English Vocabulary, his first published book, though not originally intended as a stand-alone volume (and subsequently integrated into Kenneth Sisam's book of which it is a companion). There are some scattered other poems and scholarly articles (the longest of which is probably the Chaucer study just republished in Tolkien Studies 5).

See >this site< for a list of all Tolkien's works published through 2002.

There are also some unpublished, and mostly unfinished, works that sound interesting, including a prose and poetic translation of Beowulf, some Old Norse poems, an alliterative poem about King Arthur, and a short story titled "Sellic Spell", which was to have been published in the late 1940s in a journal that folded. It's said to be a version of the folktale which underlies Beowulf.

Maybe Carpenter's biography could be bettered, but he had a big advantage in being able to view many private papers, though Garth, and Scull & Hammond, show how (very) far one can get without that crutch.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:25 am 
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I finished reading The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004 Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder yesterday. This book, edited by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, includes 20 papers that were presented at the 2004 conference held at Marquette University. It is a great collection of essays from some of the top people in Tolkien scholarship.

The first paper in the book is a remembrance of Dr. Blackwelder, written by his colleague, Charles B. Elston. Richard Blackwelder was a zoologist by trade, who encountered the works of Tolkien at the age of 69, in 1978. Over the following 20 years, he developed one of the worlds greatest Tolkien collections, which he eventually donated to Marquette. He also was a scholar who wrote many papers on Tolkien, as well as 277 page concordance of words from LOTR called A Tolkien Thesaurus (as well as a related 15 page booklet called [i]A Tolkien Phraseology.

The next paper is a linguistic study by Arne Zettersten, a professor of English language and literature at the University of Copenhagen, called "The AB Language Lives." This essay is more about Tolkien's academic work than his fiction, focusing on "the intriguing AB language" that Tolkien identified in his essay on Ancrene Wisse. It is, to be perfectly frank, over my head.

The following paper is "History in Words, Tolkien's Ruling Passion" by the great Tom Shippey. And the great Shippey does not disappoint (does he ever?). This essay is all about the important of Tolkien's knowledge and use of language to his fiction. It is the kind of paper that one enjoys the first reading of, but is left looking for more, and finding it on subsequent readings. Dense stuff, and yet wildly interesting. Even to a non-philologist like me.

Next up (other than Elston's appreciation of Dr. Blackwelder, these papers are included in the book in the order that they were presented at the conference) is John Garth, with "Frodo and the Great War." In this paper, Garth applies his extensive knowledge of Tolkien's experience in World War I to his fiction, particularly LOTR. He also relates LOTR "to the work of other British writers who described their experience of war far more literally." Really fascinating.

"Towards Quite Unforeseen Goals," a relatively short paper by Paul Edmund Thomas, on the creation of LOTR and how it became more of a sequel to The Silmarillion than to The Hobbit, made little impression on me, to be honest.

The same, however, certainly cannot be said of "'And All the Days of Her Life Are Forgotten' The Lord of the Rings as Mythic Prehistory" by John D. Rateliff. In this paper, Rateliff aims to show how Tolkien's "conception of his mythos as a legendary reconstruction of the lost past of our world gave depth and resonance to his tales, as well as great poignance. The title, of course, comes from the end of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, which he uses as a starting point. But he covers a huge amount of ground in the six separate sections making up this paper. Anyone who has read The History of The Hobbit knows how complete Rateliff's scholarship is, and this paper is certainly consistent with that ideal.

"What Did He Know and When Did He know It? Planning, Inspiration and The Lord of the Rings" is Christina Scull's contribution. This is, to me, a much more entertaining and interesting discussion of the creation of LOTR, with it's twists and turns generated by the combination of Tolkien's incredible attention to detail and his willingness to "follow his muse" (though neither Tolkien nor Scull would, I am quite sure, put it quite that way). One point that she makes that I was happy to see emphasized is how unusually patient George Allen and Unwin was when they asked Tolkien to produce a sequel to The Hobbit in 1937. One shivers with fear at the thought that Tolkien's great masterpiece could easily have been suppressed by corporate greed. But that is just one minor point that Scull makes in this great essay.

David Bratman takes a bit of a different approach in "The Artistry of Omissions and Revisions in The Lord of the Rings. Rather than focusing on the original creation of the book, Bratman looks at what came after - "revisions that Tolkien made after completing the text, and the possibly inadvertent alterations made in its final stages." Bratman goes deep into some awfully small details, but the result is some important observations.

Next is Marjorie Burns, with "King and Hobbit The Exulted and Lowly in Tolkien's Created Worlds." Burns attempts in this paper to show how Tolkien is able to balance his belief in inherited rule, with the sanctification of the humble that is such an important theme in both LOTR and The Hobbit. There is a lot of good material here, but I do feel that in places Burns tries to hard to make the stories fit within her hypotheses. One example of that is the comparison that she makes of the pairs of the "brothers" in which the lesser replaces the greater: Boromir/Faramir, Melkor/Manwë and Saruman/Gandalf. I felt that the comparison was a bit strained. Still, an interesting essay.

Jane Chance also takes on the issue of class with "Subversive Fantasist Tolkien on Class Difference." She addresses the criticism that Tolkien has received regarding his "conservative monarchism, Roman Catholicism,and even racism." She argues (mostly successfully, I think), that after setting up "a grid of interlocking class and regional (place of origin) differences in the first book of The Lord of the Rings to show how stereotyping originates and why" he then goes on to extend "the boundaries of class and regional differences into those of racial and national difference" to show how these stereotypes can be overcome.

"Naysayers in the Works of Tolkien," by Sumner G. Hunnewell, is another paper that didn't make much of an impression on me. It is a perfectly fine essay, focusing on the role of those characters that are less positive than others (with a not-surprising focus on Boromir). It just seems to be a bit pale in comparison with most of what is around it.

This is followed by something truly different: "The Rhetorical Evolution of 'Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" by Michael D.C. Drout. Drout's discussion of Tolkien's most widely known and influential scholarly work can be quite dry and academic at times, but there is much fascinating stuff here. However, the looooonnnnnnggggggg table that appears at the end evaded my best efforts to follow (which made me wonder how readers will react to the abundant tables in my own book; well only time will tell). A worthwhile contribution, nonetheless.

I was excited at the title of the next paper: "Working at the Crossroads Tolkien, St. Augustine, and the Beowulf-poet", by Matthew A. Fisher. I was, unfortunately, quite disappointed. I had hoped that this would be a balanced discussion of Tolkien's Catholic faith and his interest in pre-Christian mythology, who like the Beowulf-poet" worked at a crossroads between Christianity and paganism. Instead, it is bald attempt to categorize Tolkien as an "Augustinian Catholic." I found this to be the least interesting and (for me) least worthwhile of all of the papers in the book.

"'Elvish as She Is Spoke'" is a paper that only Carl F. Hostetter (registered here and elsewhere as "Aelfwine"), could have written. The paper begins as a history and description of Tolkien's invented languages, primarily the Elvish languages. But it quickly turns to an all-out attack on the practitioners of "Neo-Elvish," primarily David Salo, and Helge Fauskanger. It is a credit to Carl's - dare I say brilliance? - that he succeeds in not only making an extremely compelling argument (suffice it to say that I am glad that Carl is not the opposing attorney on any of my cases), but also manages to be wildly entertaining in the process. Great stuff (even for those who might not be quite convinced by his arguments).

After Carl's paper, Mike Foster's "Teaching Tolkien" is pretty pedestrian stuff, but still an interesting summary of his history teaching classes on Tolkien.

Arden R. Smith's "Tolkienan Gothic" was completely outside of comfort zone or area of interest. I'm sure this discussion Tolkien interest in Gothic language would be very interesting to some. Just not to me.

What can I say about Verlyn Flieger? Just as her Splintered Light and Interrupted Music are my two favorite books about Tolkien's work, are paper "Tolkien and the Idea of the Book" was probably my favorite paper in this collection. It's a fairly simple subject that she discusses, how Tolkien uses the devise of actual physical books to enhance his fiction, and how these fictional books relate to real world books. But she just has a way to bringing the subject to life, and illuminating aspects of Tolkien's work. There is one observation that she makes that really blew my mind. Even though most people probably would not consider it to be that big a deal, I'm not going to reveal what it was, to make sure that I don't ruin the sense of wonder that felt when reading it for even one other lucky reader. Absolutely wonderful stuff.

Fortunately, that tour de force is followed by another excellent paper, Douglas A. Anderson's "The Mainstreaming of Fantasy and the Legacy of The Lord of the Rings. Doug Anderson provides a particularly interesting description of the positive reception that LOTR received in the parallel world of science fiction, even as it was rejected by most of the mainstream literary critics. He provides a very balanced picture of both the positive and negative aspects of the legacy of LOTR in terms of the generation of a whole new type of fantasy genre. Doug is not hesitant to bestow praise where praise is due, but he is no less quick to express an honest opinion about those less successful (from an artistic point of view, not a commercial point of view) results of the constant drive to imitate Tolkien's success.

Richard C. West's "'Her Choice Was Made and Her Doom Appointed' Tragedy and Divine Comedy in the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" returns to theme of the most important of the appendices to LOTR. West's paper is a pretty straightforward discussion of this important part of Tolkien's work, but is clear and illuminating. A worthy entry.

Finally, Wayne G. Hammond discusses "Special Collections in the Service of Tolkien Studies." This interesting discussion focuses largely on the collections at Marquette and the Bodleian Library at Oxford, as well as private collections like the one collected by Dr. Blackwelder. I think it is fair to say that no one has made better use of these special collections than Hammond himself, along with his wife, Christina Scull. I certainly found myself (not for the first time) regretting that I did not have an opportunity to examine the original Silmarillion manuscripts kept (mostly) at the Bodleian for my own research (though I hope that the value of the extensive work that I did do will be apparent to my readers). A very fitting ending to this remarkable collection, honoring a great man.

I think it is quite obvious that I recommend this book highly. And, unlike some of the other great collections released in recent years, it is available at a relatively reasonable $32.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:18 am 
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Booooooring.

What we need is a good book about the creation of the published Silmarillion.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:20 am 
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Only if it's got pictures. And a pretty cover.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:36 am 
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Who would possibly want to write such a thing?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:40 am 
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Someone with an incredible amount of patience, perseverance, an incredible work ethic etc. etc.

To the list of Tolkien books I would also add: J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. I own this book and love it so much!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:36 pm 
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This is a very useful and enlightening thread.

To put Tolkien into his Inklings context, there are the two classics of The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter, and They company they keep by Diana Pavlac Glyer.

Both extremely enjoyable, and the second corrects the main error of the first (i.e. the error that Tolkien's writing of LotR was 'not influenced' by Lewis and the Inklings).


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