To celebrate the 75th anniversary of "The Hobbit," and the release of the film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the Springfield-Greene Library County System is hosting Tolkien Festival 2012 until December 15, 2012.
Oxford scholar Tom Shippey called J.R.R. Tolkien the "Author of the Century". Professor Tolkien's works have been translated into over 35 languages. "The Lord of the Rings" was voted Britain's best-loved novel (and "The Hobbit" was voted into the top 100) by the British public in the BBC's "Big Read 2003." Taken as a whole, "The Lord of the Rings" films earned almost three billion dollars worldwide, making the series one of the top grossing film series of all time.
In the "Dictionary of Literary Biography", Augustus M. Kolich said, "Not since Milton has any Englishman worked so successfully at creating a secondary world, derived from our own, yet complete in its own terms with encyclopedic mythology; an imagined world that includes a vast gallery of strange beings: hobbits, elves, dwarfs, orcs, and, finally, the men of Westernesse."
Though his fantasy world arose from the languages Tolkien invented (such as Elvish), he also wanted to create a mythology for his native land. English myth and legend had almost disappeared after the Norman Conquest. He blended themes of Nordic sagas and Anglo-Saxon legends with elements of his own. His passion for "heroic legend on the brink of fairy-tale and history" led him to create the complex world of Middle-earth and all of its peoples.
While he was teaching at Oxford, Tolkien met C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and other lovers of imaginative literature. They formed an informal society called "The Inklings" and met in their rooms at Oxford to read their manuscripts. They also gathered at an Oxford pub called "The Eagle and The Child" to discuss their literary work. The pub still houses a collection of memorabilia related to "The Inklings."
In the 1960's "The Lord of the Rings" was released in paperback in the United States and gained a huge following. Though printed in three volumes, "The Lord of the Rings" is considered one book by Tolkienists. To the delight of film fans, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be released on December 14, 2012 and the second film, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" will come out in December 2013. The last part of the series, currently being filmed in New Zealand under the direction of Peter Jackson, is "The Hobbit: There and Back Again." It will be released in July 2014. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won 11 Academy Awards, tying with "Titanic" and "Ben-Hur."
Brentwood's "See The Movie, Read the Book" series features the animated version of "The Hobbit" at 1:30 pm on November 20, 2012 and a book discussion the following Tuesday, November 27 at 1:30 p.m. On Saturday, November 17th, Tolkien scholar Justin Noetzel will give his presentation "J.R.R. Tolkien: His Life and Inspiration" at 2 p.m. at the Brentwood Library.
At 2.p.m. on November 17, "Hobbit-Fest" for grades 4-12 will be held in The Story Hour Room at The Library Center. That same evening at 7 p.m. Justin Noetzel will be "Talking Tolkien" about "The Lord of the Rings" films compared to the book and what we can expect to see in the upcoming "Hobbit" movies.
In December, The Library Center and The Library Station will be screening "The Lord of the Rings" film series on consecutive Saturdays beginning at 1 p.m. on December 1, 2012.
The Library has a large selection of Tolkien's books and related titles:
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.
The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring
Frodo the hobbit and his eight companions set out to deliver the One Ring of Power to the dark land of Mordor in order to destroy the Ring in the forge of its creation, Mount Doom.
The Two Towers
And so begins the opening of the War of the Ring, in which the members of the broken Fellowship join the forces of Rohan and Gondor to fight Saruman, the traitor wizard and minion of Sauron. Frodo and Sam journey to Mordor, Sauron's black and blighted kingdom.
The Return of the King
From the lofty towers of Minas Tirith to the Elven lands to the north, the War of the Ring rages across Middle-earth. Frodo and Sam attempt to cross the blasted and burning landscape of Mordor to Mount Doom. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli trod the Paths of the Dead to reach Minas Tirith before the beleaguered city falls. The White Rider faces off with the chief of the Nazgul, the Witch King of Angmar.
This volume, published after Tolkien's death, contains his legendarium, from the creation of Arda to the Fall of Numenor. It is more a work of mythology than a novel. "The Silmarillion" provides answers to most of the historical references in "The Lord of the Rings."
You can find some of Tolkien's lesser-known works as well by doing an author search for Tolkien, J.R.R. His son Christopher Tolkien has also published new works by his father and "The History of Middle-earth" series.
For more about Tolkien, here are selected titles you might enjoy:
The Road to Middle-earth by T.A. Shippey
Rather than a biography, this title is more about Tolkien's background as a philologist and the sources for his literary inspirations. Shippey is considered to be one of the foremost Tolkien scholars in the world.
A Tolkien Treasury edited by Alida Becker
This oversized book presents a collection of works celebrating the world of Middle-earth, its characters, and its author.
Tolkien and Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Colin Duriez
Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. However, few of their readers and fans know about the complex friendship between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth
An award-winning title, this book explores the importance of Tolkien's schoolboy friends and their war experiences. Two of Tolkien's friends were killed at the Somme, and Tolkien himself was caught up in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war. His friend Geoffrey Bache Smith wrote from the trenches: "...May you say the things that I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them, if such be my lot."
Unsung Heroes of the Lord of the Rings by Lynnette Porter
Porter discusses how Merry, Pippin, Galadriel, Eowyn, Arwen, Legolas, and Gimli can all be considered heroes despite their relatively smaller roles.
The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver
In his early years at Oxford, the young Tolkien found work by helping to compile words for one of the masterworks of the English language, "The Oxford English Dictionary."
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