It's been a few years since I read this book, and so I won't risk the sort of complete review the book deserves.
I used to hang out frequently in vari...moreIt's been a few years since I read this book, and so I won't risk the sort of complete review the book deserves.
I used to hang out frequently in various online Tolkien fan communities to share my love of Tolkien's works with other geek. One thing that always struck me about the conversations which developed in this places was how much fuller, deeper, and well reasoned the arguments were than those I encountered in published works by literary critics and scholars. The average literary critic reading Tolkien is I think, by virtue of his training, left poorly prepared to deal with Tolkien's work, and employs a method of analysis which is wholly alien to the author's nature and technique. For example, Tolkien openly hated overt allegory and metaphor, and eshewed as much as he could employing anything like one to one metaphors between the elements of his text and some real world figure or event. Yet, most scholars persist in seeing simplistic metaphors in his story and build up the most elaborate towers of balderdash about what the books are about despite the fact that such arguments fall apart under even the most cursory scrutiny.
Of all of Tolkien's published critics, I think Wood by far comes the closest to 'getting it' and actually getting at the depths of the text. He's certainly the only one who I think would usefully contribute to a discussion between actual fans of the sort that read the book annually, or continually, or to the point of having lost count of the number of times they've read it. (You know who you are.) Maybe that is because Wood is a fan himself.(less)