December 4, 2001

J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

Although I know The Lord Of The Rings rather well, I found this lively volume filled with interesting insights. Shippey succeeded to Tolkien's chair of Anglo-Saxon, and reveals layers of linguistic complexity that the casual reader can easily overlook. (Nearly every character in the trilogy speaks his own language. Even the four hobbits each speak with a distinct accent; if you listen closely, because each has a slightly different social position. (Being an American, I hadn't quite understood the difference in standing between the Tooks, who are an ancient family, and the Brandybucks, who are country squires.) Shippey does a wonderful job of dissecting language and structure.