Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Full of rich prose (as well as R-rated dialogue), this The Summer Country (The Wildwood: Book One) ( Contemporary Fantasy). James A. Hetley · out of 5 stars Kindle Edition. $
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The effects were not wholly good: I fell back into folly and slackness and misspent a good deal of my first year at college. On the evening of his 21st birthday, Tolkien wrote to Edith, who was living with family friend C. He declared that he had never ceased to love her, and asked her to marry him. Edith replied that she had already accepted the proposal of George Field, the brother of one of her closest schoolfriends. But Edith said she had agreed to marry Field only because she felt "on the shelf" and had begun to doubt that Tolkien still cared for her.
She explained that, because of Tolkien's letter, everything had changed. On 8 January , Tolkien travelled by train to Cheltenham and was met on the platform by Edith. The two took a walk into the countryside, sat under a railway viaduct, and talked. By the end of the day, Edith had agreed to accept Tolkien's proposal.
She wrote to Field and returned her engagement ring. Field was "dreadfully upset at first", and the Field family was "insulted and angry". Had he adopted a profession it would have been different. Following their engagement, Edith reluctantly announced that she was converting to Catholicism at Tolkien's insistence.
Jessop, "like many others of his age and class Tolkien's relatives were shocked when he elected not to immediately volunteer for the British Army. In a letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled: It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage. Instead, Tolkien, "endured the obloquy",  and entered a programme by which he delayed enlistment until completing his degree. By the time he passed his finals in July , Tolkien recalled that the hints were "becoming outspoken from relatives".
In a letter to Edith, Tolkien complained: Tolkien took up lodgings near the training camp. On 2 June , Tolkien received a telegram summoning him to Folkestone for posting to France. Parting from my wife then On 5 June , Tolkien boarded a troop transport for an overnight voyage to Calais.
On 7 June, he was informed that he had been assigned as a signals officer to the 11th Service Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. The battalion was part of the 74th Brigade , 25th Division. While waiting to be summoned to his unit, Tolkien sank into boredom. To pass the time, he composed a poem entitled The Lonely Isle , which was inspired by his feelings during the sea crossing to Calais.
To evade the British Army's postal censorship , he also developed a code of dots by which Edith could track his movements. Instead, he was required to "take charge of them, discipline them, train them, and probably censor their letters If possible, he was supposed to inspire their love and loyalty. Tolkien later lamented, "The most improper job of any man Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity. Tolkien arrived at the Somme in early July In between terms behind the lines at Bouzincourt , he participated in the assaults on the Schwaben Redoubt and the Leipzig salient.
Tolkien's time in combat was a terrible stress for Edith, who feared that every knock on the door might carry news of her husband's death. To get around the British Army 's postal censorship , the Tolkiens developed a secret code for his letters home. By using the code, Edith could track her husband's movements on a map of the Western Front. According to the memoirs of the Reverend Mervyn S.
Evers, Anglican chaplain to the Lancashire Fusiliers:. We dossed down for the night in the hopes of getting some sleep, but it was not to be. We no sooner lay down than hordes of lice got up. So we went round to the Medical Officer, who was also in the dugout with his equipment, and he gave us some ointment which he assured us would keep the little brutes away. We anointed ourselves all over with the stuff and again lay down in great hopes, but it was not to be, because instead of discouraging them it seemed to act like a kind of hors d'oeuvre and the little beggars went at their feast with renewed vigour.
On 27 October , as his battalion attacked Regina Trench , Tolkien came down with trench fever , a disease carried by the lice. He was invalided to England on 8 November Among their number were Rob Gilson of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, who was killed on the first day of the Somme while leading his men in the assault on Beaumont Hamel. Tolkien's battalion was almost completely wiped out following his return to England. Tolkien might well have been killed himself, but he had suffered from health problems and had been removed from combat multiple times.
Although Kitchener 's army enshrined old social boundaries, it also chipped away at the class divide by throwing men from all walks of life into a desperate situation together. Tolkien wrote that the experience taught him, "a deep sympathy and feeling for the Tommy ; especially the plain soldier from the agricultural counties".
He remained profoundly grateful for the lesson. For a long time, he had been imprisoned in a tower, not of pearl, but of ivory. In later years, Tolkien indignantly declared that those who searched his works for parallels to the Second World War were entirely mistaken:. One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in and the following years. By all but one of my close friends were dead. A weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service.
Lost Tales represented Tolkien's attempt to create a mythology for England, a project he would abandon without ever completing. In a letter, Tolkien described his son John as " conceived and carried during the starvation-year of and the great U-Boat campaign round about the Battle of Cambrai , when the end of the war seemed as far off as it does now".
Tolkien was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant on 6 January After his wife's death in , Tolkien remembered,. I never called Edith Luthien —but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks  at Roos in Yorkshire where I was for a brief time in command of an outpost of the Humber Garrison in , and she was able to live with me for a while.
100 Must-Read Middle Grade Fantasy Books From the Last 10 Years
In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing—and dance. On 3 November , Tolkien was demobilized and left the army, retaining his rank of lieutenant. Gordon ; both became academic standard works for several decades.
In mid he began to privately tutor undergraduates, most importantly those of Lady Margaret Hall and St Hugh's College , given that the women's colleges were in great need of good teachers in their early years. He also published a philological essay in on the name " Nodens ", following Sir Mortimer Wheeler 's unearthing of a Roman Asclepeion at Lydney Park , Gloucestershire, in In the s, Tolkien undertook a translation of Beowulf , which he finished in , but did not publish. It was finally edited by his son and published in , more than 40 years after Tolkien's death and almost 90 years since its completion.
Ten years after finishing his translation, Tolkien gave a highly acclaimed lecture on the work, " Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics ", which had a lasting influence on Beowulf research. Nicholson said that the article Tolkien wrote about Beowulf is "widely recognized as a turning point in Beowulfian criticism", noting that Tolkien established the primacy of the poetic nature of the work as opposed to its purely linguistic elements.
According to Humphrey Carpenter , Tolkien had an ingenious means of beginning his series of lectures on Beowulf:. Auden wrote to his former professor,. I don't think that I have ever told you what an unforgettable experience it was for me as an undergraduate, hearing you recite Beowulf. The voice was the voice of Gandalf. In the run-up to the Second World War , Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker. In , Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford , becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature ,  in which post he remained until his retirement in He served as an external examiner for University College, Dublin , for many years.
Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in , close to a decade after the first sketches. Tolkien also translated the Book of Jonah for the Jerusalem Bible , which was published in The Tolkiens had four children: Tolkien was very devoted to his children and sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas when they were young.
Each year more characters were added, such as the North Polar Bear Father Christmas's helper , the Snow Man his gardener , Ilbereth the elf his secretary , and various other, minor characters. The major characters would relate tales of Father Christmas's battles against goblins who rode on bats and the various pranks committed by the North Polar Bear.
During his life in retirement, from up to his death in , Tolkien received steadily increasing public attention and literary fame. In , his friend C. Lewis even nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Fan attention became so intense that Tolkien had to take his phone number out of the public directory,  and eventually he and Edith moved to Bournemouth , which was then a seaside resort patronized by the British upper middle class.
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Tolkien's status as a best-selling author gave them easy entry into polite society, but Tolkien deeply missed the company of his fellow Inklings. Edith, however, was overjoyed to step into the role of a society hostess, which had been the reason that Tolkien selected Bournemouth in the first place. According to Humphrey Carpenter:. Those friends who knew Ronald and Edith Tolkien over the years never doubted that there was deep affection between them.
It was visible in the small things, the almost absurd degree in which each worried about the other's health, and the care in which they chose and wrapped each other's birthday presents; and in the large matters, the way in which Ronald willingly abandoned such a large part of his life in retirement to give Edith the last years in Bournemouth that he felt she deserved, and the degree in which she showed pride in his fame as an author.
A principal source of happiness to them was their shared love of their family. This bound them together until the end of their lives, and it was perhaps the strongest force in the marriage. They delighted to discuss and mull over every detail of the lives of their children, and later their grandchildren. Edith Tolkien died on 29 November , at the age of According to Simon Tolkien:. My grandmother died two years before my grandfather and he came back to live in Oxford. Merton College gave him rooms just off the High Street. I went there frequently and he'd take me to lunch in the Eastgate Hotel.
Those lunches were rather wonderful for a year-old boy spending time with his grandfather, but sometimes he seemed sad. There was one visit when he told me how much he missed my grandmother. It must have been very strange for him being alone after they had been married for more than 50 years.
When Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September from a bleeding ulcer and chest infection,  at the age of 81,  he was buried in the same grave, with Beren added to his name. Wolvercote Cemetery , Oxford. Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic , and in his religious and political views he was mostly a traditionalist moderate, with libertarian , distributist , and monarchist leanings, in the sense of favouring established conventions and orthodoxies over innovation and modernization, whilst castigating government bureaucracy; in he wrote, "My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy philosophically understood , meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs —or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy.
Although he did not often write or speak about it, Tolkien advocated the dismantling of the British Empire and even of the United Kingdom. In a letter to a former student, Belgian linguist Simonne d'Ardenne, he wrote, "The political situation is dreadful I have the greatest sympathy with Belgium—which is about the right size of any country!
I wish my own were bounded still by the seas of the Tweed and the walls of Wales Tolkien had an intense hatred for the side effects of industrialization, which he considered to be devouring the English countryside and simpler life. For most of his adult life, he was disdainful of cars, preferring to ride a bicycle. Many commentators  have remarked on a number of potential parallels between the Middle-earth saga and events in Tolkien's lifetime.
Tolkien ardently rejected this opinion in the foreword to the second edition of the novel, stating he preferred applicability to allegory. He concludes that Christianity itself follows this pattern of inner consistency and external truth. His belief in the fundamental truths of Christianity leads commentators to find Christian themes in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien objected strongly to C. Lewis's use of religious references in his stories, which were often overtly allegorical. His love of myths and his devout faith came together in his assertion that he believed mythology to be the divine echo of "the Truth".
Tolkien's devout Roman Catholic faith was a significant factor in the conversion of C. Lewis from atheism to Christianity, although Tolkien was dismayed that Lewis chose to join the Church of England. He once said, "It may be said that the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.
According to his grandson Simon Tolkien , Tolkien in the last years of his life was disappointed by some of the liturgical reforms and changes implemented after the Second Vatican Council:. I vividly remember going to church with him in Bournemouth. He was a devout Roman Catholic and it was soon after the Church had changed the liturgy from Latin to English.
My grandfather obviously didn't agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right. Tolkien voiced support for the Nationalists eventually led by Franco during the Spanish Civil War upon hearing that communist Republicans were destroying churches and killing priests and nuns. Tolkien was contemptuous of Joseph Stalin. Tolkien said, "I utterly repudiate any such reading , which angers me.
The situation was conceived long before the Russian revolution. Such allegory is entirely foreign to my thought. Tolkien vocally opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party before the Second World War , and was known to especially despise Nazi racist and anti-semitic ideology. To Tolkien's outrage, he was asked beforehand whether he was of Aryan origin.
In a letter to his British publisher Stanley Unwin , he condemned Nazi "race-doctrine" as "wholly pernicious and unscientific". He added that he had many Jewish friends and was considering "letting a German translation go hang". The more tactful letter was sent and was lost during the later bombing of Germany. In the unsent letter, Tolkien makes the point that " Aryan " is a linguistic term, denoting speakers of Indo-Iranian languages. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.
My great-great-grandfather came to England in the 18th century from Germany: I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.
In a letter to his son Michael, he expressed his resentment at the distortion of Germanic history in "Nordicism":. You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil. But no one ever calls on me to "broadcast" or do a postscript.
Yet I suppose I know better than most what is the truth about this "Nordic" nonsense. Anyway, I have in this war a burning private grudge Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. Nowhere, incidentally, was it nobler than in England, nor more early sanctified and Christianized.
In , he objected to a description of Middle-earth as " Nordic ", a term he said he disliked because of its association with racialist theories. Tolkien criticized Allied use of total-war tactics against civilians of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In a letter to his son Christopher, he wrote:. We were supposed to have reached a stage of civilization in which it might still be necessary to execute a criminal, but not to gloat, or to hang his wife and child by him while the orc-crowd hooted.
The destruction of Germany, be it times merited, is one of the most appalling world-catastrophes. Well, well,—you and I can do nothing about it.
J. R. R. Tolkien - Wikipedia
And that [should] be a measure of the amount of guilt that can justly be assumed to attach to any member of a country who is not a member of its actual Government. Well the first War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter—leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: In he wrote in a letter to his son Christopher:.
There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: What of the writer? The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: Tolkien was horrified by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , referring to the scientists of the Manhattan Project as "these lunatic physicists" and " Babel -builders". During most of his own life conservationism was not yet on the political agenda, and Tolkien himself did not directly express conservationist views—except in some private letters, in which he tells about his fondness for forests and sadness at tree-felling.
In later years, a number of authors of biographies or literary analyses of Tolkien conclude that during his writing of The Lord of the Rings , Tolkien gained increased interest in the value of wild and untamed nature, and in protecting what wild nature was left in the industrialized world.
Tolkien devised several themes that were reused in successive drafts of his legendarium , beginning with The Book of Lost Tales , written while recuperating from illnesses contracted during The Battle of the Somme. Tolkien wished to imitate Morris's prose and poetry romances,  from which he took hints for the names of features such as the Dead Marshes in The Lord of the Rings  and Mirkwood ,  along with some general aspects of approach.
Edward Wyke-Smith 's The Marvellous Land of Snergs , with its "table-high" title characters, strongly influenced the incidents, themes, and depiction of Bilbo's race in The Hobbit. Tolkien also cited H. Rider Haggard 's novel She in a telephone interview: Critics have compared this device to the Testament of Isildur in The Lord of the Rings  and to Tolkien's efforts to produce as an illustration a realistic page from the Book of Mazarbul. Tolkien wrote of being impressed as a boy by S. Tolkien was inspired by early Germanic , especially Old English , literature, poetry , and mythology , which were his chosen and much-loved areas of expertise.
These sources of inspiration included Old English literature such as Beowulf , Norse sagas such as the Volsunga saga and the Hervarar saga ,  the Poetic Edda , the Prose Edda , the Nibelungenlied , and numerous other culturally related works. Tolkien also acknowledged several non-Germanic influences or sources for some of his stories and ideas. Anderson , John Garth, and many other prominent Tolkien scholars believe that Tolkien also drew influence from a variety of Celtic Irish , Scottish and Welsh history and legends.
Needless to say they are not Celtic!
Neither are the tales. I do know Celtic things many in their original languages Irish and Welsh , and feel for them a certain distaste: They have bright colour, but are like a broken stained glass window reassembled without design. They are in fact "mad" as your reader says—but I don't believe I am. Fimi pointed out that despite his dismissive remarks about "Celtic things" in that Tolkien was fluent in medieval Welsh though not modern Welsh and declared when delivering the first O'Donnell lectures at Oxford in about the influences of Celtic languages on the English language that "Welsh is beautiful".
One of Tolkien's purposes when writing his Middle-earth books was to create what his biographer Humphrey Carpenter called a "mythology for England" with Carpenter citing in support Tolkien's letter to Milton Waldman complaining of the "poverty of my country: Chesterton engaging in a series of polemical essays with Yeats over the question of the superiority of Irish vs. Catholic theology and imagery played a part in fashioning Tolkien's creative imagination, suffused as it was by his deeply religious spirit.
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion", to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism. Kocher argues that Tolkien describes evil in the orthodox Christian way as the absence of good.
Kocher sees Tolkien's source as Thomas Aquinas , "whom it is reasonable to suppose that Tolkien, as a medievalist and a Catholic, knows well". Shippey contends that this Christian view of evil is most clearly stated by Boethius: He says Tolkien used the corollary that evil cannot create as the basis of Frodo 's remark, "the Shadow Stratford Caldecott also interpreted the Ring in theological terms: It appears to give freedom, but its true function is to enslave the wearer to the Fallen Angel.
It corrodes the human will of the wearer, rendering him increasingly 'thin' and unreal; indeed, its gift of invisibility symbolizes this ability to destroy all natural human relationships and identity. You could say the Ring is sin itself: As well as his fiction, Tolkien was also a leading author of academic literary criticism. His seminal lecture, later published as an article, revolutionized the treatment of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf by literary critics.
The essay remains highly influential in the study of Old English literature to this day. Beowulf is one of the most significant influences upon Tolkien's later fiction, with major details of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings being adapted from the poem. The piece reveals many of the aspects of Beowulf which Tolkien found most inspiring, most prominently the role of monsters in literature, particularly that of the dragon which appears in the final third of the poem:.
As for the poem, one dragon, however hot, does not make a summer, or a host; and a man might well exchange for one good dragon what he would not sell for a wilderness. Wilderness books once focused on how an encounter with wild nature altered the human soul and human consciousness; now, they tend to ruminate on how wilderness has been altered and diminished by human tools and patterns of consumption. The book that did more than any other to spark the modern environmental movement in America, this is an indispensable text for students of the natural world and a human land ethic: Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?
Based on real-life events along the Mexican-American border in the s, McCarthy's novel about a group of bounty hunters reminds us that the European encounter with untamed frontiers in America was a very bloody business. The leader of the group, very learned but wholly barbarous, sums it up this way: An impassioned, tactile, acidly funny memoir of Abbey's seasons as a park ranger in the rugged Utah wilderness: While not a "wilderness book" per se, this novel makes the outdoor world of the northern Rockies as much a character as the unforgettable sisters at its heart, whose hometown "was chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.
The strange and wondrous account of a Spanish explorer's wanderings in 16th century America, one of the great adventure stories of all time and an underappreciated classic: A slyly humorous, beautifully observed account of her obsession with a band of elusive desert bighorn sheep: Nature is a place 'out there,' the not-home place, much as history is 'back then,' the not-us time. In this elegant essay, Fowles ruminates on his attraction to untamed trees, wild copses, and abandoned pastures, exploring the link between wildness and creativity: To try to capture it verbally immediately places me in the same boat as the namers and would-be owners of nature: Refusing to resign herself to this life, she escapes with the aid of forces both human and magical.
The Eighth Day by Dianne K. The False Prince by Jennifer A. The Fog Diver by Joel N. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. The Keepers by Ted Sanders. Andrews sees the sign from the bus—a sign with his own name on it—everything changes.
The sighting leads him underground, to the House of Answers, a hidden warehouse full of mysterious objects. The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer. The Land of Stories fairy-tale characters—both heroes and villains—are no longer confined to their world! The Luck Uglies series by Paul Durham. Unfortunately, her curses tend to do more good than harm.
12 terrific books for tween girls.
Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson. The Princess and the Page by Christina Farley.
She comes from a long line of Word Weavers who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder. And together, he and Cinderella are about to turn the legend and the evening upside down on their way to a most unexpected happy ending! The Real Boy by Anne Ursu.
The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell. The Seer of Shadows by Avi. Then he becomes an apprentice photographer and discovers an eerie—and even dangerous—supernatural power in his very own photographs. The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. The Thickety series by J. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic…except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech.
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination.
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. Wildwood by Colin Meloy.