Holly Ordway, Tolkien's Modern Reading

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Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages

Word on Fire, 2021. 1st edition/1st printing. Hardback. Illustrated.

This book addresses the claim that Tolkien read very little modern fiction, and took no serious notice of it. This claim, made by one of his first biographers, has led to the widely accepted view that Tolkien was dismissive of modern culture, and that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are fundamentally medieval and nostalgic in their inspiration. In fact, as Holly Ordway demonstrates in this major corrective, Tolkien enjoyed a broad range of contemporary works, engaged with them in detail and depth, and even named specific titles as sources for and influences upon his creation of Middle-earth. Drawing on archival research, Ordway shows how Tolkien appreciated authors as diverse as James Joyce and Beatrix Potter, Rider Haggard and Edith Nesbit, William Morris and Kenneth Grahame.