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The worlds to which Tolkien’s writings take us are the old Scandinavian North, Medieval England and Middle-Earth, and in his chosen spheres of history and fantasy not much room is made for ideas.Tolkien’s claim to attention rests on a contribution to scholarship, which Bliss succeeds in enlarging; on the works of imaginative fiction, which Shippey attempts to illuminate; and on Tolkien’s considerable personal impact upon colleagues and pupils.
Tolkien was accustomed to apply to an Oxford college of which he was (and I am) a member, there is one that makes an odd impression.
The energies devoted to Tolkien’s fiction were often denied to the Germanic languages and literatures of which he was such an acute interpreter, and the last of the books listed above, based on unpublished lectures which in their earliest form go back to the 1920s, bears witness to his ability to generate scholarly ideas and his reluctance to work them up for publication.
The intensity of their interest is remarkable and perhaps surprising, for Tolkien, unlike literary and linguistic scholars such as Erich Auerbach and E. Dodds who achieved and deserved fame in this century, was not an intellectual.
The reasons why one might take up his scholarship or his fiction are not the same as those that make us read – books that transformed, and continue to influence, our understanding of significant problems in European intellectual and cultural development.
Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending.
Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it.
is Bliss’s edition of the lectures Tolkien delivered in Oxford over a period that extends from 1928 to 1963, supplemented by a number of self-effacing but substantial contributions by Bliss himself.
Both Bliss and Shippey knew Tolkien personally; both consulted him about their work; and both take him very seriously indeed.
His attention was fixed on the vernacular languages of the Middle Ages with a single-mindedness Tolkien lacked.
These three books, in their different ways, are attempts to make sense of the diverseness of Tolkien’s activities., have previously been published (some of them more than once), and the book provides further evidence, if evidence be needed, of Christopher Tolkien’s enterprising combination of filial piety and commercial flair. Shippey, sets out to explore Tolkien’s imaginative writing in relation to the texts he studied and to the scholarship he published.