Tolkien and the Great War

  • by John Garth
  • Narrated by John Garth
  • 11 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A new biography exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s wartime experiences and their impact on his life and his writing of The Lord of The Rings.
“To be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than in 1939 … by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.” So J.R.R. Tolkien responded to critics who saw The Lord of the Rings as a reaction to the Second World War.
Tolkien and the Great War tells for the first time the full story of how he embarked on the creation of Middle-earth in his youth as the world around him was plunged into catastrophe. This biography reveals the horror and heroism that he experienced as a signals officer in the Battle of the Somme and introduces the circle of friends who spurred his mythology to life. It shows how, after two of these brilliant young men were killed, Tolkien pursued the dream they had all shared by launching his epic of good and evil.
John Garth argues that the foundation of tragic experience in the First World War is the key to Middle-earth’s enduring power. Tolkien used his mythic imagination not to escape from reality but to reflect and transform the cataclysm of his generation. While his contemporaries surrendered to disillusionment, he kept enchantment alive, reshaping an entire literary tradition into a form that resonates to this day.
This is the first substantially new biography of Tolkien since 1977, meticulously researched and distilled from his personal wartime papers and a multitude of other sources.

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What the Critics Say

"Very much the best book about JRR Tolkien that has yet been written. Even if you are not a Lord of the Rings fan, I commend this book to you. It is all so interesting in itself, and I have rarely read a book which so intelligently graphed the relation between a writer's inner life and his outward circumstances." (A.N.Wilson, Evening Standard)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enjoyed the insight

Very interesting to get a deeper look into the great War and it's effect on JRR. Very much enjoyed this book!
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- Culpie

Great on every level

Tolkien and the Great War sheds new light on the influence of the Great War on Tolkiens thinking and writing through an astonishing amount of research.

Especially the comparison of him to the well known Great War Poets is enlightening.

The reader does an amazing job at delivering the often harrowing story of the expierience of an entire generation.

The only complaint is the butchering of the pronounciation of german names.
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- Benjamin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-28-2011
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited