The Road to Middle-earth

From Tolkien Gateway
The Road to Middle-earth:
How J.R.R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology
Road to Middle-earth 1982.png
AuthorTom Shippey
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released1982
FormatHardcover; paperback
Pages264
ISBN0048090182

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:

Contents[edit]

  • Preface
  • 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"
  • Afterword
  • Appendix A: Tolkien's Sources: the True Tradition
  • Appendix B: Four "Asterisk" Poems

From the publisher[edit]

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guide to the origin of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, from The Hobbit to The History of Middle-earth series – includes unpublished Tolkien extracts and poetry.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[edit]

UK Editions
1982 hardcover  
1992 paperback  
1992 paperback 2nd impression  
2006 paperback  

External links[edit]


A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by Tolkien or based on his writings
Of Arda Authorized by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring ·
xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not of Arda Short stories
and poems
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ·
Letters from Father Christmas · Mr. Bliss · Roverandom ·
Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictions The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays ·
Tolkien On Fairy-stories · A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages
Other The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Books by other authors
Reference book The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
Scholarly books containing Tolkien's writings J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · The Road to Middle-earth ·
A Question of Time · Tolkien and the Great War ·
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Scholarly journal containing Tolkien's writings Tolkien Studies various issues
Other published works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar issues 1-50 · Parma Eldalamberon issues 1-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list only includes the major published works, for the full bibliography of Tolkien, see here or here