Thursday, June 9, 2016

Keeping it close to his chest . . .

So, I'm currently reading on what I think must be the best kept secret of the last few years in Tolkien studies: Raymond Edwards' new [2014] biography of Tolkien. This came out a while ago (2014) and seems to have sunk without a trace, despite being, so far at least, the best Tolkien biography since Carpenter. I saw a favorable mention on Wayne & Christina's site, but it didn't really register for me till a friend recommended it last week (thanks, Bill).

I'll hold off discussing the book as a whole until I've had time to finish it, but I was amused by the short final chapter on the films, which has every sign of being added at the publisher's behest (and of having been written before the final HOBBIT film was out). While admitting he's "not a fan" of the LotR films, aside from the first one, his criticisms are generally well-stated and restrained, until he gets to the part where he memorably describes Lee Pace's Thranduil as "distressingly reminiscent of Caligula as he might have been played by David Bowie in his cross-dressing phase".  He concludes of the HOBBIT films as a whole "not as bad as it might be, and the dragon is splendid" (p.288)

More on this one later.

--John R.
current reading: TOLKIEN by Raymond Edwards, roundtable discussion of the Lindop Ch.Wms. biography in the newest issue of THE JOURNAL OF INKLINGS STUDIES (p.127-166).


N.E. Brigand said...

I commented warmly on the shorter 2012 version of Edwards's book, J.R.R. Tolkien: His Life, Work and Faith, in "The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies 2012" in volume 12 of Tolkien Studies (2015). I wrote that Edwards "tells the story of Tolkien’s life in a fresh way, brimming with insight and flavorful writing" and gave a few examples.

John D. Rateliff said...

Glad to hear it. I don't have a copy of TOLKIEN STUDIES Vol. XII myself (one's supposed to be on its way to me but has not yet arrived) and so was not aware of this. I'll look forward to seeing that.
--John R.

David Bratman said...

And I reviewed the full version of the book, rather favorably, in the same issue of Tolkien Studies. I didn't want it to pass unnoticed.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi David. Glad to hear it. Like I said, I don't have a copy of the latest issue of TOLKIEN STUDIES but will be looking forward to reading that when it arrives.
--John R

Wayne and Christina said...

Since you mentioned it, Christina's review of Edwards in our blog is at