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J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

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The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood and brought up in near-poverty. He s The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood and brought up in near-poverty. He served in the first World War, surviving the Battle of the Somme, where he lost many of the closest friends he'd ever had. After the war he returned to the academic life, achieving high repute as a scholar and university teacher, eventually becoming Merton Professor of English at Oxford where he was a close friend of C.S. Lewis and the other writers known as The Inklings. Then suddenly his life changed dramatically. One day while grading essay papers he found himself writing 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit' -- and worldwide renown awaited him. Humphrey Carpenter was given unrestricted access to all Tolkien's papers, and interviewed his friends and family. From these sources he follows the long and painful process of creation that produced THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE SILMARILLION and offers a wealth of information about the life and work of the twentieth century's most cherished author.


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The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood and brought up in near-poverty. He s The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood and brought up in near-poverty. He served in the first World War, surviving the Battle of the Somme, where he lost many of the closest friends he'd ever had. After the war he returned to the academic life, achieving high repute as a scholar and university teacher, eventually becoming Merton Professor of English at Oxford where he was a close friend of C.S. Lewis and the other writers known as The Inklings. Then suddenly his life changed dramatically. One day while grading essay papers he found himself writing 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit' -- and worldwide renown awaited him. Humphrey Carpenter was given unrestricted access to all Tolkien's papers, and interviewed his friends and family. From these sources he follows the long and painful process of creation that produced THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE SILMARILLION and offers a wealth of information about the life and work of the twentieth century's most cherished author.

30 review for J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    I recently read Humphrey Carpenter's book, The Inklings, for a discussion at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast and it piqued my interest in his biography of one of my favorite authors. I liked The Inklings but this book was even better, possibly because Carpenter was focusing on one person instead of a group. It gave a thorough story of Tolkien's life without sugar coating his flaws but in a way that allowed me to understand and appreciate him as both a person and author. I'm not usually very I recently read Humphrey Carpenter's book, The Inklings, for a discussion at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast and it piqued my interest in his biography of one of my favorite authors. I liked The Inklings but this book was even better, possibly because Carpenter was focusing on one person instead of a group. It gave a thorough story of Tolkien's life without sugar coating his flaws but in a way that allowed me to understand and appreciate him as both a person and author. I'm not usually very interested in biographies but read this in record time, which is a tribute to Carpenter's skill in finding a fascinating story in the outwardly mundane life of an Oxford professor. Of course, like Dr. Who's TARDIS, we're all bigger on the inside and Tolkien's inner landscape held a vast imagination coupled with interest in so many topics that he was sometimes unable to finish a project unless prodded by deadlines or friends. It is Humphrey Carpenter's ability to reconcile Tolkien's inner and outer man, while including his popular fiction in the timeline, that make this book so riveting. We feel we truly know J.R.R. Tolkien by the end. And, this is the ultimate tribute to the author's skill ... as I read the epilogue, I cried.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyubov

    Книга за вълшебния свят на езика – това е за мен Биографията на Толкин. Посегнах към нея главно заради много добрите отзиви, които прочетох, но без особени очаквания. Не бих казала, че съм класически "Властелинът на пръстените" нърд, макар безспорно да харесвам много Средната земя и всичко случващо се в нея. За самия Толкин не знаех почти нищо освен, че е бил професор в Оксфорд. Книгата поднася един изключително уютен разказ за живота на този невероятен ум. Живот, който реално не е изпълнен с кой Книга за вълшебния свят на езика – това е за мен Биографията на Толкин. Посегнах към нея главно заради много добрите отзиви, които прочетох, но без особени очаквания. Не бих казала, че съм класически "Властелинът на пръстените" нърд, макар безспорно да харесвам много Средната земя и всичко случващо се в нея. За самия Толкин не знаех почти нищо освен, че е бил професор в Оксфорд. Книгата поднася един изключително уютен разказ за живота на този невероятен ум. Живот, който реално не е изпълнен с кой знае какви приключения или случвания, каквито по принцип сме свикнали да четем в биографичните книги. Лично аз бях смаяна от невероятния подход на Толкин към езиците, към тяхната структура, смисъл, значение и най-вече към тяхното създаване почти от нищото. Винаги съм смятала, че елфическия и мордорския език са били измислени на по-късен етап като един вид добавка към дълбочината и детайлността на света във "Властелинът на пръстените". А се оказа, че всъщност цялата митология, водеща началото си още от "Силмарилион", е възникнала около измислените от Толкин езици. Като хуманитарист нямаше как да не ми бъде интересна динамиката на английския академичен свят или вечерните сбирки на изцяло мъжки компании край огъня, изпълнени с истории, четения и оживени литературни дискусии. Имаше го и погледа отвътре към довоенния и следвоенен издателски бизнес на Острова, който лично за мен се оказа неочакван подарък сред страниците на книгата. Не давам пет звезди, защото към средата Карпентър навлиза в едни излишни според мен миниатюрни битови подробности, които леко затлачват плавния поток на действието, придружавайки ги с непрестанни извинения, че ежедневнието на Толкин би могло да се стори скучно на читателя. Личността на Толкин ми стана безкрайно симпатична в своята привидна обикновеност и в ненатрапчивото си преминаване през живота, доказвайки още веднъж, че най-кротките хора често имат най-необикновения вътрешен живот. Не искам да навлизам в подробности от посвествованието, за да не ограбя част от бъдещото читателско преживяване. Но спокойно мога да кажа, че „Дж. Р. Р. Толкин. Биография” не е само за феновете на незабравимите хобити. Това е четиво и за лингвистите, за влюбените в езиците и за хората, ценящи пълната отдаденост към това, което вдъхновява.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Aside from required reading, it is a rare occasion when I crack open a non-fiction work (with the notable exception of C.S. Lewis's works, which I've read so often and with such enthusiasm they're essentially a separate category. Classics, Fiction, Children's Lit, nonfic, and Lewis.) But in a deliberate effort to explore new territories in my reading, recently I've set aside my Alice-in-Wonderland prejudices ("what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?") and ventured, not witho Aside from required reading, it is a rare occasion when I crack open a non-fiction work (with the notable exception of C.S. Lewis's works, which I've read so often and with such enthusiasm they're essentially a separate category. Classics, Fiction, Children's Lit, nonfic, and Lewis.) But in a deliberate effort to explore new territories in my reading, recently I've set aside my Alice-in-Wonderland prejudices ("what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?") and ventured, not without some apprehension, into the world of criticism, apologetics, biographies, and no plots or characters. And found, much to my surprise and satisfaction, that it was a world I could feel at home in. Of course, I had the best of guides. Carpenter's prose is clear and engaging, and he offers just the right blend of historical data, personal insight, quotes from Tolkien's own letters or from his friends, and fascinating albeit seemingly unimportant details (such as his childhood fascination with Welsh place-names) to create a richly colored portrait of this unassuming genius. Although he is unfailingly precise in the biographical facts, Carpenter's emphasis is on understanding how Tolkien's mind worked. Thus we are told, for instance, not only that he lived at such-and-such address for so-and-so years, but why he moved there, whether he was pleased or disappointed with the change, how his family reacted, and--perhaps most importantly--how it affected his writing habits. Particularly of interest to me were the frequent mentions of events that would, in some cases decades later, resurface in his works such as The Lord of the Rings. Because that's really why this book is of interest. Tolkien the scholar, the catholic, the father, the teacher, are sides of him that are interesting to get to know, and probably to him equally important parts of his life as the literary; but the reason I, and I suspect most readers, bothered picking up the book at all was to get to know Tolkien the author. And that is precisely what Carpenter delivers. I highly recommend it to any Tolkien fans interested in getting to know the forgetful, contrary, quirkily humorous man behind the myth so many have fallen in love with.

  4. 5 out of 5

    И~N

    Тази книга беше като топъл хляб. Вкусна, дъхава, хрупкава на моменти, засилваща апетита след всяка следваща хапка. С вселената на Толкин свързвам много неща и биографията му ми нареди донякъде пъзела как именно е възникнал този свят, в който съм се губел. От тази гледна точка биографичните данни за живота на този автор бяха изключително полезни. Самата история на ранния му живот звучеше като приказка и беше поднесена изключително умело. По-нататък изложението задълба повече върху създаването на Тази книга беше като топъл хляб. Вкусна, дъхава, хрупкава на моменти, засилваща апетита след всяка следваща хапка. С вселената на Толкин свързвам много неща и биографията му ми нареди донякъде пъзела как именно е възникнал този свят, в който съм се губел. От тази гледна точка биографичните данни за живота на този автор бяха изключително полезни. Самата история на ранния му живот звучеше като приказка и беше поднесена изключително умело. По-нататък изложението задълба повече върху създаването на митологията и детайлите покрай написването на ранните творби (сред които и Силмалирион, въпреки че излиза едва след смъртта на Толкин). Може би понеже в този период животът на Толкин не е чак толкова вълнуващ, задълбаващите подробностти на моменти ми идваха леко в повече. Към края ми се струваше, че книгата е забързнана, и детайлите, с които по-рано изобилства, рязко разредяват. Има много неща у Толкин, които чувствам като близки и за които може би му се възхищавам: това, че е бил привличан от езиците заради начина по който звучат; това, че в процеса на работата си над света, акта на "Под-Създаване", се е чувствал, че открива, а не измисля ("трябва да разбера как е станало това" е една от най-ключовите фрази, характеризираща моментите, когато е доизяснявал някакви детайли от света си); това, че въображението му (и изобщо наглед тихите занимания, с които човек свързва вътрешния/личния му свят) е било дотолкова достатъчно, че рядко пътува и то все наблизо; страха, по-скоро чуждостта спрямо индустриализацията и технологиите; болката от загубата на природното. Затова, когато получих книгата като подарък в деня на излизането й (съвпадащ с деня на външната ми защита), котаракът вътре в мен се усмихна безкрайно.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Мартин Касабов

    Дж. Р. Р. Толкин. Биография: http://izumen.blogspot.bg/2016/07/blo... Толкин беше първият писател, който хвана въображението ми в мрежите на фантастичното, след което го пусна в широкия простор на литературата, където всяка неочаквана среща беше ново приключение. Благодарен съм, че най-накрая получих достъп до един по-личен поглед към изключителния му живот. Струва ми се, че тези от неговия вид вече не крачат по земята и не съм сигурен, че някога отново ще видим някой с подобна големина. Цялата ре Дж. Р. Р. Толкин. Биография: http://izumen.blogspot.bg/2016/07/blo... Толкин беше първият писател, който хвана въображението ми в мрежите на фантастичното, след което го пусна в широкия простор на литературата, където всяка неочаквана среща беше ново приключение. Благодарен съм, че най-накрая получих достъп до един по-личен поглед към изключителния му живот. Струва ми се, че тези от неговия вид вече не крачат по земята и не съм сигурен, че някога отново ще видим някой с подобна големина. Цялата рецензия: http://izumen.blogspot.bg/2016/07/blo...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anatoly

    Since I was a boy, J.R.R Tolkien was my favorite author. So it was natural that sooner or later I will have to read about the man himself. I knew many of the details in this biography, but here was the first time I actually read a complete chronicle of his life. Fascinating work! And more than that, a fascinating man!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gürkan Akkaya

    Bir Tolkien severim diyorsanız mutlaka okuyun. Muazzam bir çalışma, okurken çok büyük keyif aldım. Ayrıca müthiş bir çeviri ve editörlük var ortada, her haliyle dört dörtlük bir kitap.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien is a surprisingly balanced picture of the man. He clearly admires his talent without being blind to his faults. It is neither a book-length endorsement nor a character assassination, but an attempt at portraying the man's life fairly. It's very easy to read and enjoyable, including just the right sort of facts to interest the reader -- allowing us to laugh at him a little as well as love him more. Tolkien studies can be criticised as being too biographica Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien is a surprisingly balanced picture of the man. He clearly admires his talent without being blind to his faults. It is neither a book-length endorsement nor a character assassination, but an attempt at portraying the man's life fairly. It's very easy to read and enjoyable, including just the right sort of facts to interest the reader -- allowing us to laugh at him a little as well as love him more. Tolkien studies can be criticised as being too biographical -- Tolkien himself would have disliked that preoccupation among academics a great deal -- but it's worth reading to get an idea of his background, his intentions, the 'leaf mould' from which his work grew.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Very well researched, and I think Carpenter writes with a lovely tone. Perhaps the chapters could have been better organized or labelled, but the content is still great. There are certain sections that are solely about Tolkien's writings, not just Tolkien, but I'd imagine that anyone looking into the life of the man would want to hear info on his works as well. I'm lucky this is the first biography on Tolkien I picked up, as it seems to have been the first one written, back in the 1970s, shortly Very well researched, and I think Carpenter writes with a lovely tone. Perhaps the chapters could have been better organized or labelled, but the content is still great. There are certain sections that are solely about Tolkien's writings, not just Tolkien, but I'd imagine that anyone looking into the life of the man would want to hear info on his works as well. I'm lucky this is the first biography on Tolkien I picked up, as it seems to have been the first one written, back in the 1970s, shortly after his death. It was wonderful to hear from an author that was much closer to Tolkien's time than we are now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dominik

    As a Tolkien fan, this was great! I got a new insight into the life of this history-changing author! After reading, I picked up the Hobbit again and fell into Middle-earth again. A must-read for fans of JRR Tolkien's works!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lili Kyurkchiyska

    Работата на Карпентър ме впечатли със своята стегнатост и подреденост. Той вниква внимателно и деликатно във вътрешния свят на автора, като истински биограф претегля положително и отрицателното без да изпада до нивото на съвременните търсачи на сензации. Постигнато е равновесие между представянето на личния и писателския свят на Толкин, отключвайки първоизточниците на историята за Средната земя, намиращи се както в научната сфера, така и във всекидневния живот и предпочитания на създателя й.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Céline

    Je commence l'année avec un coup de coeur pour cette biographie passionnante de Tolkien. J'ai tout simplement adoré découvrir la vie de cet auteur qui me fascine : aussi bien l'homme, le professeur que l'écrivain.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Domien

    Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for professor Tolkien's works. The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion have helped shape me not only in my tastes and my own attempts at creativity, but as a person. This official biography takes a look at the man behind those books and it does that while being fully aware of Tolkien's own dislike of biography as an attempt to understand the works themselves better (one of the professor's many strongly held opinions). Indeed, this book makes Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for professor Tolkien's works. The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion have helped shape me not only in my tastes and my own attempts at creativity, but as a person. This official biography takes a look at the man behind those books and it does that while being fully aware of Tolkien's own dislike of biography as an attempt to understand the works themselves better (one of the professor's many strongly held opinions). Indeed, this book makes no claims whatsoever about the "true" meanings behind anything in Tolkien's fiction. It doesn't try to explain the struggles in The Lord of the Rings by pointing to his experiences in World War I, for example. Instead, this biography simply tells the story of Tolkien's life and paints a portrait of the man's personality and for a devoted fan, that in itself is interesting enough. After a hard childhood as an orphan, a difficult challenge in his love life and the horrors of war, Tolkien settled down with his wife and children in Oxford and lived a remarkably ordinary suburban life for a professor at an elite university. The theme running throughout the book is the peculiar contrast between the man's boundless imaginary vision and the perfectly routine everyday life that he led. Strangely enough, it is this part of the book that I found most fascinating. In it, Tolkien's personality is fully on display. He was a decent but flawed man. In fact I recognise an awful lot of his character traits in myself: his outward cheerfulness that masked a tendency towards melancholy and pessimism, his lack of concentration and discipline, his religious faith, his generally conservative mindset mixed with an abiding sense of wonder, his passionate but very narrow tastes, his love of small pleasures and natural places, his distaste for the modern world, his easy, friendly manner that often belied his stubborn and sometimes frustrating character and finally, his strong belief in his own capabilities that was often undermined by moments when he felt worthless and shameful. I really liked the man I got to know in these pages. There were times when he frustrated me, for sure, especially when he did stupid things that I myself would do (and have done). But when all is said and done, the mystery remains. How could a man this ordinary be the mind behind such an extraordinary world? If there is answer to be found in this book, it would seem to be that Tolkien simply tuned into some signal only he could receive, and became a historian for a world only he had heard about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Temz

    „Започва път от моя праг.“ Този път в огледалния свят на „Дж.Р. Р.Толкин. Биография“ от Хъмфри Карпентър. Огледален, защото насочва погледа в обратната посока, разрушава енигмата около образа на писателя като божество, оголва го до човешка форма, но все пак свят, защото гради нови пространства, подрежда хронологически цяло едно съществуване, придавайки му плътност. Хъмфри Карпентър започва историята на бащата на фентъзито с нейния край, за да придаде по-горчива приказност на началото на цяла една „Започва път от моя праг.“ Този път в огледалния свят на „Дж.Р. Р.Толкин. Биография“ от Хъмфри Карпентър. Огледален, защото насочва погледа в обратната посока, разрушава енигмата около образа на писателя като божество, оголва го до човешка форма, но все пак свят, защото гради нови пространства, подрежда хронологически цяло едно съществуване, придавайки му плътност. Хъмфри Карпентър започва историята на бащата на фентъзито с нейния край, за да придаде по-горчива приказност на началото на цяла една литературна епоха. Животът на личността Толкин е също толкова невероятен, дори в делничността си, колкото и творбите, с които израстват няколко поколения. http://knijno.blogspot.bg/2016/07/blo...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    I read this book in my freshmen year of high school and found it both enjoyable and fascinating in the way that most biographies are. If you enjoy hearing the history of ones doings, which in this case are both full of Love, Learning, Literature, Fun times, Old Friends, Family Life, Grief,Loss, and much much more: then I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did, and even more if you are one of those people who knows Tolkien so well that you have learned elvish. Debra Taron

  16. 5 out of 5

    M a r i e

    Je commence l'année avec une lecture parfaite. J'étais si heureuse d'en apprendre plus sur la vie de Tolkien. C'est aussi la meilleure biographie d'un auteur que j'ai pu lire. Maintenant j'ai hâte de lire le livre d'Humphrey Carpenter sur le groupe des Inklings.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hojaplateada

    Por lo que he leído, es la mejor biografía de J.R.R. Tolkien que se ha escrito, y es bastante interesante realmente.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mish Mih

    Върна ме в Средната земя с тази история за още един хобит.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Courtney (courtney & books)

    This is the official biography of Tolkien, which means it was approved by the Tolkien estate. While it was a very informative and interesting read, it is also biased. The book glosses over many details to create a comprehensive narrative. I’m not a big bio person, but this was quite easy to read and I found it engaging. Fun to get more understanding on an author I have enjoyed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gabriele

    "Ronald sah sich nach dem Wegzug aus Sarehole immer noch hoffnungslos verlassen, doch fand er manchen Trost in seiner neuen Umgebung. Hinter dem Haus in King's Heath führte eine Bahnlinie vorbei, und die Zeit gliederte sich nach dem Rattern der Züge und dem Geschiebe der Waggons auf dem nahegelegenen Kohlenplatz. Doch zu den Gleisen hin fiel eine grasbewachsene Böschung ab, und hier fand er Blumen und Pflanzen. Und noch etwas anderes erregte seine Aufmerksamkeit: die merkwürdigen Namen auf den K "Ronald sah sich nach dem Wegzug aus Sarehole immer noch hoffnungslos verlassen, doch fand er manchen Trost in seiner neuen Umgebung. Hinter dem Haus in King's Heath führte eine Bahnlinie vorbei, und die Zeit gliederte sich nach dem Rattern der Züge und dem Geschiebe der Waggons auf dem nahegelegenen Kohlenplatz. Doch zu den Gleisen hin fiel eine grasbewachsene Böschung ab, und hier fand er Blumen und Pflanzen. Und noch etwas anderes erregte seine Aufmerksamkeit: die merkwürdigen Namen auf den Kohlenwaggons, die unten auf den Abstellgleisen standen, absonderliche Namen, von denen er nicht wusste, wie er sie aussprechen sollte, und die einen fremden Reiz für ihn hatten. So kam es, dass er, staunend über Namen wie Nantyglo, Sengenydd, Blaen-Rhondda, Penrhiwceiber und Tredegar, die Existenz der walisischen Sprache entdeckte. Zu einer spätere Zeit seiner Jugend fuhr er mit der Bahn nach Wales, und als die Namen der Ortschaften an ihm vorüberzogen, da wusste er, dies waren Wörter, die ihn stärker anzogen als alle anderen, die ihm begegnet waren, eine alte und doch lebende Sprache." Vielleicht beschreibt diese einfache Szene aus der Kindheit des früh verwaisten J.R.R. Tolkien recht gut die Einstellung des geborenen Philologen (selten habe ich von jemandem gehört, auf den diese Bezeichnung besser passt, setzt sich doch der Begriff aus den griechischen Wörtern "philos" (Liebe) und "logos" (Wort) zusammen) - denn genau das ist Tolkien gewesen: ein Mensch, der Wörter liebte, ihren Klang, ihre Gestalt, die Assoziationen, die sie in ihm erweckten. Besonders die alten nordischen Sprachen hatten es ihm angetan, das Gotische, das Altenglische, das Finnische. " Das Gotische wurde seit dem Niedergang der gotischen Völker nicht mehr gesprochen, doch schriftliche Fragmente waren der Nachwelt erhalten geblieben, und Tolkien fand sich von ihnen mächtig angezogen. Er war nicht damit zufrieden, einfach nur die Sprache zu lernen, sondern begann "zusätzliche" gotische Wörter zu erfinden, um Lücken in dem beschränkten Vokabular, das erhalten war, zu füllen; und von da aus ging er weiter zur Konstruktion einer nicht schriftlich überlieferten, doch vermutlich historischen germanischen Frühsprache." Für sein ganzes späteres literarisches Werk könnte man sagen: "Am Anfang war das Wort"- oder vielmehr die von ihm geschaffenen Sprachen (denn bei einer blieb es nicht), detailliert ausgefeilt mit vollständiger Grammatik, ethymologischen Herleitungen, Dialektwörtern etc. und irgendwann verspürte er (nunmehr bereits auf dem Weg zum Professor der Sprachwissenschaft in Oxford) den Drang eine Gesellschaft, eine Welt zu erfinden, in der diese von ihm geschaffenen Sprachen zum Leben erwachen sollten, in der sie tatsächlich gesprochen würden- und so entstand seine Mythologie im "Silmarillion" und ihr Schauplatz Mittelerde. Carpenter beschreibt in seiner Tolkien- Biographie das Leben eines Menschen, der mir unerhört sympathisch ist, zum einen, weil sein Sprach- und Weltenschöpfertum für ihn niemals etwas anderes als ein persönliches Steckenpferd war, von dem er nicht erwartete, dass es ihm jemals kommerziellen oder sonstigen Erfolg einbringen könnte (die Mehrheit seiner Kollegen belächelten ihn dafür, die allermeisten anderen Menschen seiner Umgebung verstanden ihn schlicht nicht)- er tat es einfach, weil er es liebte. Zum anderen weil er so sehr in seinen persönlichen Vorlieben und seinem ganzen Charakter den Hobbits ähnlich ist, wie er von sich selbst einmal schreibt: "Ich bin selber ein Hobbit, in allem bis auf die Größe. Ich liebe Gärten, Bäume und Ackerland ohne Maschinen; ich rauche Pfeife, esse gern gutbürgerlich und verabscheue die französische Küche; ich trage gern - ein Wagnis in dieser öden Zeit - dekorative Westen. Ich mag Pilze (vom Felde), habe einen sehr einfachen Humor (den sogar meine wohlwollendsten Kritiker störend finden); ich gehe spät zu Bett und stehe spät auf (wenn möglich). Ich reise nicht viel." Doch sind die Hobbits nicht nur Widerspiegelungen persönlicher Eigenheiten. Sie stellen die Verbindung eines engen Horizonts mit großem Mut dar, eine Verbindung, die (wie Tolkien in den Schützengräben des ersten Weltkriegs gesehen hatte) oft unter hoffnungslosen Bedingungen zu überleben half. "Es hat mich immer beeindruckt", sagte er einmal, "dass wir noch da und am Leben sind, dank des unbezähmbaren Muts ganz kleiner Leute, gegen alle Aussichten." Tolkien war optimistisch und pessimistisch (vor allem seit dem frühen Tod seiner Mutter) zugleich, bescheiden, nach außen hin ein scheinbar relativ eintöniges Leben führend und doch außerordentlich schöpferisch auf seinem ganz eigenen Gebiet. In dieser wunderbaren Biographie gelingt es Carpenter ein einfühlsames und kenntnisreiches Portrait des Schöpfers von Mittelerde zu präsentieren, das wirklich erhellende Einblicke in die Verwobenheit zwischen Tolkiens persönlichen Erfahrungen von frühester Jugend an und seinem literarischen Kosmos gewährt.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bjørk Rúnadóttir

    I honestly really enjoyed reading a book about my favorite author. He was a very simple man with an enormous imagination. I really want to reread The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, but gosh darn my TBR-pile got big again after easter break.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stefan

    A well rounded book that manages to convey Tolkien's life and work using interesting quotes, good narrative style, and plenty of details to provide a greater context for the subject without getting bogged down in quotations, narrative, or details. Humphrey Carpenter has the ability to write a biography that is not literary criticism, an objective that is harder then it may seem. I found Tolkien to be a fascinating individual, one of a certain breed of English men which were the product of a bygo A well rounded book that manages to convey Tolkien's life and work using interesting quotes, good narrative style, and plenty of details to provide a greater context for the subject without getting bogged down in quotations, narrative, or details. Humphrey Carpenter has the ability to write a biography that is not literary criticism, an objective that is harder then it may seem. I found Tolkien to be a fascinating individual, one of a certain breed of English men which were the product of a bygone era, but the greatest single thing I took away from this book is how a ordinary man with a ordinary (even somewhat dull) life, was able to use his extraordinary mind to mentally explore extraordinary places. His life shows how being restrained physically does not mean one has to let their imaginative and mental faculties rot, but instead, let's one exercise them vigorously and use the power of the mind to journey where the body cannot. On another note, I found the relationship between C. S. Lewis and Tolkien to very interesting, yet just as interesting, was the extreme difference in their writing styles: C. S. Lewis was able to write a large number of books because he did not extensively edit or revise every piece of writing whereas Tolkien's literary output was far lower because of his perfectionism and because of his habit of taking revision and editing to the extreme (to Tolkien revision meant almost completely rewriting the whole work until was a completely different piece of writing.) This excellent biography has gotten me wanting to read The Inklings, also by Humphrey Carpenter.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    3.5/5stars I really enjoyed this! This is basically exactly what it is described as - a Biography about J. R. R. Tolkien. This one is a bit more credible then most because the author sat down and actually spoke to Tolkien, but anyways, I think he did a wonderful job of telling Tolkien's tale! This book goes through Tolkien's life, his works, his friendships, his relationships, all the way up to his death. I loved discovering new things I didn't actually know about him or his works, and the author 3.5/5stars I really enjoyed this! This is basically exactly what it is described as - a Biography about J. R. R. Tolkien. This one is a bit more credible then most because the author sat down and actually spoke to Tolkien, but anyways, I think he did a wonderful job of telling Tolkien's tale! This book goes through Tolkien's life, his works, his friendships, his relationships, all the way up to his death. I loved discovering new things I didn't actually know about him or his works, and the author did a great job of telling it like a narrative rather than how you normally think of a nonfiction work. Highly recommend for Tolkien fans!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Union Theological Seminary in New York had a long winter "Intercession" during which time they offered intensive courses to keep students on campus. I didn't stay around, but returned for my annual visit to friends and family in the Chicago area. Although I did read serious books during the break, I also devoured the fun books which the school terms did not allow time for. One of them during the winter break of 1977/8 was Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, an author I'd been very fond of as a chi Union Theological Seminary in New York had a long winter "Intercession" during which time they offered intensive courses to keep students on campus. I didn't stay around, but returned for my annual visit to friends and family in the Chicago area. Although I did read serious books during the break, I also devoured the fun books which the school terms did not allow time for. One of them during the winter break of 1977/8 was Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, an author I'd been very fond of as a child.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Carpenter writes, "Tolkien himself did not entirely approve of biography. Or, rather, he disliked its use as a form of literary criticism." Tolkien didn't like biography for the purpose of better understanding an author's work. Carpenter pays his respects to this judgment within a biography, where, though he refrains from criticism, he greatly helps one to understand the man and thus, his works. Because I am so thankful for Tolkien's work, I'm thankful for Carpenter's. An excellent biography.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Ayers

    Wow. I learned so much about Tolkien through this book!! I always thought that Tolkien just sat down one day, and said, "I want to write a best-selling book," and then went at it. But, it has given me a lot of hope and realization that, as an aspiring author, that even the big dogs had trouble sometimes writing their books. It was so great to get a glimpse of Tolkien's life, and in how "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" was written and imagined.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mermaid Sycorox

    Önünde Ağaç, kendi ağacı duruyordu bitmiş olarak. Niggle'ın da hep hissedip sezdiği ama bir türlü yakalayamadığı gibi yaprakları açıyor, dalları uzuyor ve rüzgarda eğiliyorsa, bu Ağaca canlı bile denebilirdi belki de... Ona baktı ve yavaşça kollarını açtı. "Bu bir armağan! " dedi. Tolkien gerçekten bizim için büyük bir armağan. Kitap bitince aklıma gelen ya birinci dünya savaşında Ç.K.B.C kulübünden arkadaşları gibi ölseydi ve bizlere Orta dünya'nin kapılarını hiç açamasaydı oldu. Aynı zamanda C Önünde Ağaç, kendi ağacı duruyordu bitmiş olarak. Niggle'ın da hep hissedip sezdiği ama bir türlü yakalayamadığı gibi yaprakları açıyor, dalları uzuyor ve rüzgarda eğiliyorsa, bu Ağaca canlı bile denebilirdi belki de... Ona baktı ve yavaşça kollarını açtı. "Bu bir armağan! " dedi. Tolkien gerçekten bizim için büyük bir armağan. Kitap bitince aklıma gelen ya birinci dünya savaşında Ç.K.B.C kulübünden arkadaşları gibi ölseydi ve bizlere Orta dünya'nin kapılarını hiç açamasaydı oldu. Aynı zamanda Christopher Tolkien'i daha iyi anladım. İyi ki yaşadın, iyi ki yazdın. Kitap son derece başarılı, aynı zamanda çeviri yine harika. Çiğdem Erkal'a çok teşekkürler.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kahlan23

    Tolkien je verejnosti známy predovšetkým ako autor Hobita a trilógie Pán prsteňov, málokto však vie, čo všetko za ich napísaním stojí. Biografia je rozsiahlym a obsiahlym dielom, ktoré mapuje život tohto jedinečného a výnimočného autora. Čitateľ sa dozvie mnoho detailov z jeho života a o niečo viacej pochopí autora samotného a udalosti či pohnútky, ktoré viedli k napísaniu jeho kníh a ktoré ich svojím spôsobom ovplyvnili. Tolkien bol úžasným človek. A po prečítaní jeho biografie mám znova chuť s Tolkien je verejnosti známy predovšetkým ako autor Hobita a trilógie Pán prsteňov, málokto však vie, čo všetko za ich napísaním stojí. Biografia je rozsiahlym a obsiahlym dielom, ktoré mapuje život tohto jedinečného a výnimočného autora. Čitateľ sa dozvie mnoho detailov z jeho života a o niečo viacej pochopí autora samotného a udalosti či pohnútky, ktoré viedli k napísaniu jeho kníh a ktoré ich svojím spôsobom ovplyvnili. Tolkien bol úžasným človek. A po prečítaní jeho biografie mám znova chuť sa ponoriť do sveta Stredozeme.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    Alright, so I was expecting to like reading about Tolkien but at the same time was worried the book might be a difficult read for me. Thankfully I was wrong about that. It was a fantastic reading experience. I was hooked from the first chapter. The writing flowed beautifully presenting the man behind Middle Earth in all aspects of life. I learned so much about Tolkien’s background, intellectual pursuits and motivation. Hard for me to say more at this point, it is a complex work and if you are in Alright, so I was expecting to like reading about Tolkien but at the same time was worried the book might be a difficult read for me. Thankfully I was wrong about that. It was a fantastic reading experience. I was hooked from the first chapter. The writing flowed beautifully presenting the man behind Middle Earth in all aspects of life. I learned so much about Tolkien’s background, intellectual pursuits and motivation. Hard for me to say more at this point, it is a complex work and if you are interested in Tolkien, I highly recommend you pick this book up.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Griffin

    Excellent biography, it was very readable and immersive, not dry at all. I also loved the fact that it took the holistic view on his life. The author didn't shy away from his academic work and his simple (what some might call boring) life, in favor of focusing on his fictional work, as many have done. It gave you the full view of the man, thanks to the help and contribution of his family, friends and access to his personal writings and correspondence, giving readers a full and insightful look at Excellent biography, it was very readable and immersive, not dry at all. I also loved the fact that it took the holistic view on his life. The author didn't shy away from his academic work and his simple (what some might call boring) life, in favor of focusing on his fictional work, as many have done. It gave you the full view of the man, thanks to the help and contribution of his family, friends and access to his personal writings and correspondence, giving readers a full and insightful look at a man who had , to quote the author: "the antithesis between the ordinary life he led and the extraordinary imagination that created his mythology."

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