Item description for Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life by Joseph Pearce...
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings took first place in a recent nationwide British poll to find the greatest book of the century. He may be the most popular writer of our age, but Tolkien is often misunderstood. This major new study of his life, his character and his work reveals the facts and confronts the myths. It explores the background to the man and the culture in which he wrote.
Tolkien: Man and Myth observes the relationships that the master writer had with his closest literary colleagues. It reveals his unique relationship with C.S. Lewis, the writer of the Narnia books, and the roots of their estrangement. In this original book about a leading literary life, Joseph Pearce enters the world created by Tolkien in the seven books published during his lifetime. He explores the significance of Middle Earth and what it represented in Tolkien's thinking. Myth, to him, was not a leap from reality but a leap into reality.
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.27" Height: 0.74" Weight: 0.75 lbs.
Release Date Dec 1, 2001
Publisher Ignatius Press
ISBN 0898708257 ISBN13 9780898708257 UPC 008987082576
Availability 0 units.
More About Joseph Pearce
Joseph Pearce is a biographer and literary researcher who resides in Norfolk, England. He is the author of several books, including Tolkien: Man and Myth, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G. K. Chesterton, and Literary Converts.
Reviews - What do customers think about Tolkien: Man and Myth?
Great Book About the Author of The Lord of The Rings Feb 12, 2006
I read this book not knowing what to expect. A great pick for Lord of the Rings fans because it gives a deep insight into the man and the beliefs of the man who wrote such a great trilogy. I recommend for anyone that is a fan of Tolkien and anyone who would like to learn more about the religious themes behind his writings.
The True Myths Jun 21, 2004
Joseph Pearce's biography on J.R.R. Tolkien is a short, yet fully engrossing and insightful read about one of the greatest literary minds of anytime. For those who disagree with my statement, imagine a man who not only rights a fantasy, but creates a new world even to the extent in creatng a language, and yet, thoroughly entertaining and teaching his readership. Pearce's book delves into the reasons why Tolkien developed the art he did while avoiding teh overly Freuden' psychological pitfalls of reading too much into the subject.
There are no deep secrets here, just good common sense by listening to Tolkien's life, letters and writing. One gets to pierce Tolkien's Middle Earth and his Roman Catholic life and how is religious faith ineteracted with everything he did, from his marriage to his friendships. This is not a re-hash of facts and show-and-tale sensasonalism, but instead, a look into the man and the true nature of myths. An outstanding read!
The Man With the Myth Mar 11, 2004
If you have never read a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, purchase this one. Biographies often tend toward the overly factual without great attention to the question of "Why?" What motivates the subject of the biography?
Here we find that J.R.R. Tolkien was motivated in life and in his work by his Catholic faith. He used the power of creative myth to demonstrate his truths. These two concepts are Pearce's theses regarding Tolkien. This are not difficult theses. Tolkien wore his faith on his sleeve and he was very direct and forthright in stating that the Lord of the Rings is indeed a Catholic work.
What I found very refreshing about Pearce's biography is that it is colored throughout by the influence of Tolkien's friends. These men (Chesterton, C.S. Lewis etc.) had an immediate and lasting impact on Tolkien's work and his world view. Giving the details here would spoil the biography for you, however.
To that end, I recommend you pick this book up. It reads quite quickly and is far from difficult in its purposes and intent. You will not be disappointed if you are even the slightest bit interested in Tolkien, the man with the myth.
A Very Full & Readable Account Jan 20, 2004
When choosing which biography to read on Tolkien, I chose this one because the author seemed to have great respect for Tolkien...so great that he was willing to take on the intelligentsia of England. As Pearce explains, in 1997 a poll was done in England to see what the best books of the century were. When "Lord of the Rings" turned up on top, the literary critics all over England (as well as the professors) were up-in-arms. They thought the craze for this work had come and gone. They thought that Tolkien only had a small, cult-like remnant left to his following (Tolkien's official biographer being among these scoffers). They condemned this work on many fronts.
And so another poll was taken...and another. But, no matter who did the poll and how, "Lord of the Rings" kept turning up on top. What horrified the "experts" even more was that Tolkien himself was voted as the best author of the century. What could possibly be contained in his works that led to such unanimous support from the people and such criticism from the experts?
That is what Pearce explores in this well-crafted biography. And, if you like Tolkien, you have to admire Pearce's approach from the beginning. He knew that Tolkien despised pop-psychology type biographies that tried to analyze an author's works based on his upbringing and life's events. Thus, while giving a sketch of Tolkien's life, Pearce respects Tolkien's wishes to not be dissected psychologically.
Rather, Pearce took on the rather large task of helping laymen understand how Tolkien's faith - a particularly Catholic faith - influenced his writings. When I first read "Lord of the Rings" myself, I wondered how one man (Tolkien) could come up with all the depth expressed in this work. (For instance, I was in awe of the depth of the idea that Sauron could never anticipate Frodo's journey to DESTROY the ring because Sauron was so evil that he couldn't anticipate selfless acts.) What Pearce helped me realize was that much of the depth came from Tolkien's reading the likes of St. Augustine and other church fathers. I believe that Tolkien himself would say that he stood on the shoulders of Giants in order to get anywhere near the understanding he portrays.
In addition to such fascinating accounts of how Tolkien's faith manifests in his work, Pearce has a particular knack for addressing subjects that a reader would be curious about...without ever going too far. In this book, he writes about such things as Tolkien's marriage, his work, his experience in WWI, his friendship with C.S. Lewis, his critics, and his advice to his son when his son was getting disillusioned with the church. In all these things, Pearce gives you a full picture while retaining a delicacy for the the people involved.
As someone who wanted an overview of Tolkien and an understanding of how his faith intersected with his life and work, I felt I had found the perfect source in Pearce's book.
An Insightful Look Into A Rich Life Jul 15, 2003
The further I delved into Tolkien: Man and Myth, the more I realized that calling it a "biography" is a misnomer. I came to this conclusion because only a minor portion of the book presents biographical information. Instead, the book could better be described as a work of "apologetics". Apologetics, in its most classic sense, uses writings and examples to both clarify a philosophy and refute critical comments about that philosophy. This method is exactly what Pierce employed to near perfection in Tolkien: Man and Myth. Pierce uses the writings of Tolkien and others to refute the criticisms of Tolkien's works. In the process, he provides the reader with a thorough understanding of the philosophy that shaped Tolkien's writings, how Tolkien arrived at this philosophy, and how it influenced his interactions with others. The result is a deeper appreciation for Tolkien's efforts.
Pierce deserves much credit for using the writings of the "man" to dispel many of the "myths" surrounding Tolkien and his books. By taking an apologetics approach to Tolkien's life and works, Pierce provides the reader with a better understanding of his subject than any standard biography could provide. Consequently, Tolkien: Man and Myth is an essential work for anyone studying the life of this literary giant.