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Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  663 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings is a study of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien written by Lin Carter. It was 1st published in paper by Ballantine in 3/69 & went thru numerous additional printings. It was among the earliest full-length critical works devoted to Tolkien's fantasies, the 1st to set his writings in their proper context in the history of fantasy. It ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 9th, 211 pages
Published June 1975 by Ballantine Books (first published 1969)
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C.J. Edmunds
Finished it just after watching the movie version of The Hobbit. Almost forgot that I had this book if not for some holiday cleaning around the house.

Highly recommended for lovers of Professor Tolkien's work or for those who are just starting to acquaint themselves with his vast mythology. Here we are treated to the different and possible as well as confirmed references that the professor read in order to construct his vast world of Middle Earth.

While it may be true to a certain extent and parap
Robert Beveridge
Lin Carter, Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings (Ballantine, 1969)

Forget the title. Carter's book has about as much to do with Lord of the Rings as Silence of the Lambs actually has to do with lambs. They get mentioned now and again, but are really quite unnecessary to what's going on.

Carter's interesting little tome is actually more of an encapsulated history of fantasy literature up to the time of Tolkien-- the sources from which Tolkien got his ideas. LOTR serves as a convenient linc
Jun 26, 2013 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
First and foremost, it must be said that this book came out in 1969, roughly 15 years after the LOTR was initially published (it had a slow start until paperbacks), so some information about influences and other topics Carter supposes at have since been explained through The Silmarillion ('77) and other texts. That does not mean that this book has no value! Yes, much of the information is found more extensively in material we have since its publication (much of it electronic), but what is unique ...more
This study in Tolkien was readable from the beginning to the very end. It is simple, yet serious. I learned a lot of interesting facts and ideas about Tolkien's work. I know there are many studies in Tolkien's work that are new, more expansive and detailed, but this work is really nice exactly because of its simplicity. Also the interesting fact is that Carter wrote and published this book before the publishing of Silmarillion and the death of J.R.R.T., so you can find many interesting ideas Car ...more
Oct 20, 2015 verbava rated it liked it
Shelves: on-literature
видавництво "баллантайн" славилося своєю серією дорослого фентезі та огидними обкладинками. в принципі, з обкладинками для фентезі таке часто бува.
злі дизайнери мучили не лише авторів художньої прози, які все одно були далеко (або мертві) – від їхнього мистецтва не вдалося врятуватися й ліну картерові, який на видавництво працював, укладав антології оповідань і навіть написав кілька критичних текстів. у цього, про толкіна, і зокрема в цього видання сімдесятих років, дизайн іще нічогенький (якщо
Aug 02, 2014 Tina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tolkien fans, students of literature/fantasy literature major
A more accurate title for this book would be: Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, Shakespeare, Homer, H.P.Lovecraft, and perhaps all Fantasy/Romantic Epic authors of the 20th century: A speculation behind The Lord of the Rings' possible inspiration and sources in fairy tales.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the way Lin Carter keeps going on long tangents explaining each faery stories in great depth (there are a lot of examples in this book) rather than critically analyzing Tolkien's work; I can't say I enjoye
Gabriel Salter
Lin Carter isn't a particularly good critic, which is why I find his other book "Imaginary Worlds" to be so boring. Fortunately, this book isn't a critical analysis. Instead, Carter talks about the possible effect of Lord of the Rings may have on the fantasy genre (which is interesting because this came out not long after LOTR was published), about the sources Tolkien drew from to write LOTR (which is revealing and thought-provoking), and about the history of the fantasy genre in general. Someti ...more
I was going to give this some slack when it says from the get-go that this was first published in the sixties, before The Silmarillion was even published. But then it spends a good chunk of paper summarizing the trilogy, which makes little sense because one would think the target audience for this book is people who've already read the whole thing. So I skipped those-- I skimmed through it to see if there was commentary as the author summarized, which would have been mildly interesting, like lis ...more
Adam K.
This book won't change your life. The second half has little to do with The Lord of the Rings but instead serves as an overview of the literature that may have inspired Tolkien. In the first half, however, Carter paints a portrait of an author who despises overanalysis of his work, which renders the second half somewhat of an abomination--at least Tolkien would consider it such. I personally think there is MUCH to be gained from an analysis of The Lord of the Rings from several perspectives, inc ...more
Robert Beveridge
Lin Carter, Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings (Ballantine, 1969)
[originally posted 14Aug2000]

Forget the title. Carter's book has about as much to do with Lord of the Rings as Silence of the Lambs actually has to do with lambs. They get mentioned now and again, but are really quite unnecessary to what's going on.

Carter's interesting little tome is actually more of an encapsulated history of fantasy literature up to the time of Tolkien—the sources from which Tolkien got his ideas. LOTR
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]This book, originally published by Ballantine in 1969, has now been updated by Adam Roberts and republished by Gollancz, billed as "The companion to The Lord of the Rings". Unfortunately, it isn't. Tolkienology has come a very long way in the last thirty-five years, and very little in this book will be new to anyone who has read Humphrey Carpenter or Tom Shippey.[return][return]Even in 1969, the Tolkien-hungry reader could ...more
Dec 28, 2014 Cait rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Found this book quite interesting in the beginning although it was saying a lot that has been said before (in a better and more concise way).

Found it hard to take it seriously after it called Eowyn Theoden's daughter (twice) - it also confused the finding of the ring by Smeagol.

A lot of the information about historical texts seemed out of place - didn't really add to my understanding of how Tolkien was influenced.

Could also see quite clearly where the updated revisions were added.
May 03, 2016 Kenneth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This survey of the history of fantasy storytelling opened up a lot of worlds for me, functioning as a sort of reader's guide to the amazing run of republications Carter edited for Ballantine Books. It gave me a much deeper appreciation for Tolkien's achievement in LOTR and the inspirations he'd drawn upon, and turned me on to a bunch of great writers, amongst whom, I suppose, James Branch Cabell would stand tallest... except for Lord Dunsany, of course... or perhaps E.R. Eddison...?
Es un buen estudio sobre la Obra de Tolkien, nada maravilloso y bastante introductorio. Esperaba más, le falta profundidad y tiene algunos datos que podría discutir o sobre los cuales tengo serias dudas. Es un buen manual básico,y como saben, me gustan los manuales cuando empiezo las investigaciones.
Mário Henrique
Jan 21, 2016 Mário Henrique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A "revelação" da história de Tolkien, o modo como ele criou sua obra prima. Ótimo livro para quem queria saber mais
A fascinating look at the history of fantasy writing and stuff about Tolkien. =)
First time I've ever read a literary study. It gave me a new appreciation for the study of literature, despite it not being a "science".

The quick read when over the history of the fantasy epic starting with the Greeks up until Tolkien's era. It also went into many of the origins for the names, concepts, and themes that abound in the Lord of the Rings.

Written just 12 years after LOTR was first published, it is a little outdated (he spends some pages speculating what will come in the Simairillion
Michael Joosten
Feb 23, 2013 Michael Joosten rated it it was ok
To be fair to Carter's book, this was the first--or almost the first, anyway--book about Middle-earth that didn't come from Tolkien, and coming as it did while the author was still alive and yet without his assistance, and thus before so much material about Middle-earth came out. There was no Silmarillion or Biography--let alone the The Letters or HoME. Given what he had to work with, Carter did a reasonable job, but it has been utterly eclipsed by more recent work.
Erik Graff
Jan 20, 2010 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
I believe I picked this up, new, on a paperback carousel at, of all places, Harding Supermarket in Bridgman, Michigan. I'd read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and wanted some sort of background to the material and its author. Carter provided just that.
Dec 08, 2008 Arjen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting stuff about how Tolkien is NOT the inventor of the genre, but that its roots can be traced back a long time. Starting with the ancient Greek, Carter describes many innovative works that directly influence and culminate in Tolkien's work.
Feb 24, 2013 Arpad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like books
Shelves: geek
I loved this. Surprisingly, this was two parts compleat history of fantasy lit to one part Tolkien. The constant asides and insights made this something special. It makes me want to read more books from the Middle Ages. Great egghead read.
Jan 06, 2013 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It has been so long since I have read this book that I forgot it was on my shelf. This seems like a great time to re-read it, I'm sure it's been probably 20 years since I last touched it.
Apr 20, 2011 Kyrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
She looks at how the Lord the the Rings trilogy was written, what inspired it, things like that. Book best read by a college English major or a real Tolkien geek.
Intento de explicar el origen y la composición de la obra de Tolkien. Interesante, aunque no aporta "claves cerradas", y tiene conclusiones cuando menos discutibles.
Mar 31, 2013 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty informative on what genres and books had an influence on Tolkien and what may have sparked and fed his imagination at different parts of his life.
Evey Morgan
Nota: 2.5
Mar 05, 2014 sologdin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: speculative
pulp writer's estimations of tolkien. perhaps has a charming introductory value for bucolic virgins.
RoQue rated it it was ok
Jul 20, 2016
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Linwood Vrooman Carter was an American author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an editor and critic. He usually wrote as Lin Carter; known pseudonyms include H. P. Lowcraft (for an H. P. Lovecraft parody) and Grail Undwin.

Carter had a marked tendency toward self-promotion in his work, frequently citing his own writings in his nonfiction to illustrate points and almost always including at
More about Lin Carter...

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