The Road to Middle-Earth : How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology, Paperback

The Road to Middle-Earth : How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


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guide to the origin of J.R.R. Tolkien's books, from The Hobbit to The History of Middle-earth series - includes unpublished Tolkien extracts and poetry.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This new edition is revised and expanded, and includes a previously unpublished lengthy analysis of Peter Jackson's film adaptations and their effect on Tolkien's work.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages, Index
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9780261102750



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If you're going to study Tolkien, you probably can't avoid Shippey. Fortunately, his work is reasonably readable -- although long-winded: for the size of the book it took me surprisingly long to get through it -- and he has a good grasp of Tolkien's 'sources'. Not that Tolkien would have liked that term, as Shippey quite rightly points out in the appropriate places: better say, then, that Shippey knew what influenced Tolkien, through being a medievalist as well, and through teaching Tolkien's own curriculum at Leeds.<br/><br/>I realise now, though, that not much of this sunk in. I'll have to reread any relevant sections to effectively write my essay, I think. It's not a precisely <i>relaxing</i> read, going into the depth of detail it does, and referring to works of Tolkien's which I haven't read or which were themselves difficult to digest.<br/><br/>Still, it's a good place to start, and it's probably more enjoyable if you don't have an essay deadline looming up behind you, tapping pointedly on your shoulder.