Sunday, May 23, 2010

Short Works and Otherwise

I came across a series of podcasts about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and decided to not only download and listen, but try to follow the readings in the course. A bit of shuffling finally turned up my copy of this book, which contains the first work looked at in depth.

One thing that struck me was the opening essay by Peter S. Beagle. How much better (and more appropriate) this would have been in a collection I recently read by Beagle, rather than some of the non-fiction entries that were chosen! Rights issues, maybe? This essay, along with a similar one by Gene Wolfe, should be passed to those who have not read Tolkien, or have only experienced him through the films.

Tree and Leaf is Tolkien's attempt to explain fantasy, much in the same way that H.P. Lovecraft tried to explain "horror" in a similar essay. Homecoming is a translation work by Tolkien, so-so to me. Farmer Giles is a short work about the rise from humble beginnings of the title character and is both funny and exciting. Tom Bombadil is a collection of Tolkien's poetry, it runs widely in terms of quality, but I like the majority of what is included.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Tolkien Reader (Ballantine Books; 1977; ISBN 0-345-25585-2; cover by Pauline Baynes).

Made up of: Publisher's Notes (unknown); Tolkien's Magic Ring (Peter S. Beagle); The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son; Tree and Leaf; Farmer Giles of Ham; The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

Counts as six entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.

FTC Disclaimer: All purchased by me, over the course of many years.

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