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book cover of Tolkien and the Great War

Tolkien and the Great War

(2004)
The Threshold of Middle-earth
A non fiction book by

 
 
"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 areaction to the Second World War. Tolkien and the Great War tells for thefirst time the full story of how he embarked on the creation of Middle-earthin his youth as the world around him was plunged into catastrophe. Thisbiography reveals the horror and heroism that he experienced as a signalsofficer in the Battle of the Somme and introduces the circle of friends whospurred his mythology into life. It shows how, after two of these brilliantyoung men were killed, Tolkien pursued the dream they had all shared bylaunching his epic of good and evil.

This is the first substantially new biography of Tolkien since 1977,meticulously researched and distilled from his personal wartime papers and amultitude of other sources.John Garth argues that the foundation of tragic experience in the FirstWorld War is the key to Middle-earth's enduring power. Tolkien used hismythic imagination not to escape from reality but to reflect and transformthe cataclysm of his generation. While his contemporaries surrendered todisillusionment, he kept enchantment alive, reshaping an entire literarytradition into a form that resonates to this day.

    

"It is a strange story that Garth tells, but he tells it clearly and compellingly." - Tom Shippey

"Very much the best book about J.R.R. Tolkien that has yet been written." - A N Wilson


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