The Road to Middle-earth
|The Road to Middle-earth:|
How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology
|Publisher||George Allen and Unwin (UK)|
Houghton Mifflin (US)
The Road to Middle-earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology is a scholarly study of the Middle-earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is written by Tom Shippey, first published in 1982. New revised and expanded editions were released in 1992 and in 2005.
The book discusses Tolkien's philology, then examines in turn the origins of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and his minor works. An appendix discusses Tolkien's many sources.
The book includes a quote from a letter to Tom Shippey (dated 13 April 1970) discussing a paper Shippey had written. Also a quote from a letter to David I. Masson (dated 12 December 1955) discussing mercy, specifically in relation to orcs.
In the appendix are also included four of Tolkien's poems, previously published in the Songs for the Philologists, here given with translations:
- Bagme Bloma ("Flower of the Trees")
- Éadig Béo Þu! ("Good Luck to You")
- Ides Ælfscýne ("Elf-fair Lady")
- Ofer Wídne Gársecg ("Across the Broad Ocean")
- 1. "Lit. and Lang."
- 2. Philological Inquiries
- 3. The Bourgeois Burglar
- 4. A Cartographic Plot
- 5. Interlacements and the Ring
- 6. "When All Our Lathers Worshipped Stocks and Stones"
- 7. Visions and Revisions
- 8. "On the Cold Hill's Side"
- 9. "The Course of Actual Composition"
- Appendix A: Tolkien's Sources: the True Tradition
- Appendix B: Four "Asterisk" Poems
From the publisher
The definitive guide to the origin of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, from The Hobbit to The History of Middle-earth series – includes unpublished Tolkien extracts and poetry.
The Road to Middle-Earth is a fascinating and accessible exploration of J.R.R.Tolkien’s creativity and the sources of his inspiration. Tom Shippey shows in detail how Tolkien’s professional background led him to write The Hobbit and how he created a work of timeless charm for millions of readers. He discusses the contribution of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales to Tolkien’s great myth-cycle, showing how Tolkien’s more ‘complex’ works can be read enjoyably and seriously by readers of his earlier books, and goes on to examine the remarkable 12-volume History of Middle-earth by Tolkien’s son and literary heir Christopher Tolkien, which traces the creative and technical processes through which Middle-earth evolved. The core of the book, however, concentrates on The Lord of the Rings as a linguistic and cultural map, as a twisted web of a story, and as a response to the inner meaning of myth and poetry.
By following the routes of Tolkien’s own obsessions – the poetry of languages and myth – The Road to Middle-earth shows how Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Elder Edda and many other works form part of a live and continuing tradition of literature. It takes issue with many basic premises of orthodox criticism and offers a new approach to Tolkien, to fantasy, and to the importance of language in literature.
This new edition is revised and expanded, and includes a previously unpublished lengthy analysis of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations and their effect on Tolkien’s work.
Publication history and gallery
- UK Editions
- George Allen and Unwin hardcover (1982), pp. 264. ISBN 0048090182
- HarperCollins paperback (1992), pp. 352. ISBN 0261102753
- 1992 edition 2nd impression (1992) paperback
- HarperCollins paperback (2006), ISBN 0261102753
- Gergely Nagy, Review of the book, Tolkien Studies. 2