'Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.' The prophetic words of Galadriel, addressed to Frodo as he prepared to travel from Lothlorien to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, are just as pertinent to J R R Tolkien's own fiction. For decades, hobbits and the other fantastical creatures of Middle-earth have captured the imaginations of a fiercely loyal tribe of readers, all enhanced by the immense success of Peter Jackson's films: first 'The Lord of the Rings', and now his new 'The Hobbit'. But for all Tolkien's global fame and the familiarity of modern culture with Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo and Sam, the sources of the great mythmaker's own myth-making have been neglected. Mark Atherton here explores the chief influences on Tolkien's work: his boyhood in the West Midlands; the landscapes and seascapes which shaped his mythologies; his experiences in World War I; his interest in Scandinavian myth; his friendships, especially with the other Oxford-based Inklings; and the relevance of his themes, especially ecological themes, to the present-day.
There and Back Again offers a unique guide to the varied inspirations behind Tolkien's life and work, and sheds new light on how a legend is born.
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About the Author
Mark Atherton is Lecturer in English Language and Literature at Regent's Park College, Oxford. He is the author of Teach Yourself Old English/Anglo Saxon and contributed to A Companion to J R R Tolkien (edited by Stuart Lee, forthcoming).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations * Abbreviations * Acknowledgements * Part One: Shaping the Plot * ‘We must away ere break of day’ * Fairy-stories and animal fables * ‘A green great dragon’ * ‘The Heart of the Mountain’* Returban to Bagend * Part Two: Making the Mythology * The English country house and its myths * William Guest * ‘The lonely sea and the sky’ * ‘Far Over Misty Mountains Cold’ * ‘Goblin-wars’ * Literary myth and the Great War * Visions of peace * Part Three: Finding the Words * Early lessons in philology * Tolkien as word-collector * Rhymes and riddles * Dialect matters * Epilogue * Appendices * Members of the Leeds University English School Association (1923) * Notes * Index
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