J.R.R. Tolkien, Unrated Genius, Visionary and Creator of Fantasy Worlds. His Novels and Influence on Today's Youth

Essay, 2012

11 Pages, Grade: 1,0




Tolkien’s Biography

Middle-earth after J. R. R.



Is J. R. R. Tolkien a genius, a visionary ? I will figure it out.

So at the beginning I would like to define fantasy genre because it's mainly connected with J. R. R. Tolkien. Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme. Fiction worlds where magic is common. "The widespread appeal of fantasy was first sparked off by J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Though a great number of people hailed Lord of the Rings as the first true fantasy."[1] Secondly we need some informations about Tolkien because without that we can’t go ahead.

Tolkien’s Biography *

Philologist, author and creator of "Middle Earth".

Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, a brilliant philologist, and a self-described "hobbit," J. R. R. Tolkien created two of the best-loved stories of the 20th century.

"The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", recently made into a multiple award-winning movie by the director Peter Jackson for New Line Cinema.

Early Life.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to English parents. At the age of three his mother brought him and his younger brother, Hilary, back to England. Tolkien's father died soon afterwards in South Africa, so the family stayed in England and by the summer of 1896 his mother found them a home in the hamlet of Sarehole, just outside the city Birmingham. Tolkien's family lived in genteel poverty, eventually moving to Moseley a suburb of Birmingham, just north west of Sarehole. When he was 12, Tolkien's mother died, and he and his brother were made wards of a Catholic priest. They lived with aunts and in boarding homes thereafter. The dichotomy between Tolkien's happier days in the rural landscape of Sarehole and his adolescent years in the industrial centre of Birmingham would be felt strongly in his later works.

The young Tolkien attended King Edward's School in Birmingham in the years 1910 and 1911, where he excelled in classical and modern languages. There are six known contributions he made in the King Edward's School Chronicle. In 1911 he went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he studied Classics, Old English, Germanic languages, Welsh, and Finnish. He quickly demonstrated an aptitude for philology and began to create his own languages. In 1913 Tolkien published his very first poem, called 'From the many-willow'd margin of the immemorial Thames', in the Stapeldon Magazine of Exeter college.

The Great War.

By the time Tolkien had completed his degree at Oxford in 1915, World War I had erupted across Europe. Tolkien enlisted and was commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers, but he did not see active duty for months. In this period he wrote the poem 'Gobin Feet' which got published in "Oxford Poetry 1915". When he learned that he would be shipped out in March 1916, he married his longtime friend Edith Bratt, the girl the poem was written for.

Tolkien was sent to the Western Front and fought in the Somme offensive. Almost all of his closest friends were killed. After four months in and out of the trenches, he contracted a typhus-like infection and was sent back to England, where he served for the rest of the war.

Academic Career.

Tolkien's first job was as a lexicographer on the New English Dictionary (helping to draft the Oxford English Dictionary). Tolkien wrote "A Middle English Vocabulary", but it was not published until 1922, but after it was published some copies were bound with 1st impressions of Sisam’s book, "Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose" which was published one year before. During this time he began serious work on creating languages that he imagined had been spoken by elves. The languages were based primarily on Finnish and Welsh. He also began his "Lost Tales" a mythic history of men, elves, and other creatures he created to provide context for his "Elvish" languages. He made the first public presentation of his tales when he read "The Fall of Gondolin" to an appreciative audience at the Exeter College Essay Club. Tolkien then became a professor in English Language at the University of Leeds, where he collaborated with E. V. Gordon on the famous edition of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. Tolkien remained at Leeds until 1925, when he took a position teaching Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. In Leeds Tolkien found the time to make a lot of contributions on various Magazines and books like, Gryphon Magazine, Microcosm, TLS, Yorkshire Poetry, Leeds University Verse, e.o.

Tolkien at Oxford.

Tolkien spent the rest of his career at Oxford, retiring in 1959. Although he produced little by today's "publish or perish" standards, his scholarly writings were of the highest caliber. One of his most influential works is his lecture "Beowulf, the Monsters and the Critics."
At Oxford Tolkien became a founding member of a loose group of like-minded Oxford friends "The Inklings" who met for conversation, drinks, and readings from their works inprogress. Another prominent member was C. S. Lewis, who became one of Tolkien's closest friends.

"In a hole in the ground . . ."

It was also during his years at Oxford that Tolkien would scribble an inexplicable note in a student's exam book: "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit." Curious as to what exactly a "Hobbit" was and why it should live in a hole, he began to build a story about a short creature who inhabited a world called Middle-earth. This grew into a story he told his children, and in 1936 a version of it came to the attention of the publishing firm of George Allen and Unwin (now part of HarperCollins), who published it as The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, in 1937. It become an instant and enduring classic.

Middle-earth after J. R. R.

J. R. R. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973. His death did not mark the end of Middle-earth for readers, though. After Tolkien's death his son Christopher endeavored to complete his father's life work. He edited The Silmarillion and saw it published in 1977. In 1980 he began to publish the rest of his father's incomplete writings, culminating in the 12-volume History of Middle-earth series.

Tolkien in his works has shown us the world of Middle-earth, the world he created himself. This is certainly the most compact and elaborately designed world in history of world literature. On the map of Middle-earth we find many countries and provinces. The most important of them. Shire full of green elements located in Eriador between the river Baraduina and the distant Hills inhabited by Hobbits. Lothlorien the forest kingdom of Elves in which houses were like hammocks. Moria the capital city of Dwarves called also Khazad-Dum. Dwarves forged there gold from the beginning of the First Age. This city was well-known because of it’s amazing architecture. Sadly, Dwarves woke up the sleeping demon named Balrog who banished them from their mines. Rohan where Rohirrims bred horses on beautiful fields with big amount of space. Fangorn named like this because of the guardian whose name was Fangorn. He was the oldest Ent big tree which is moving and talking. Next Mordor very important place to the plot because of Mount Doom there. It was capital city of Evil side where Sauron had his fortress called Barad-dur. After the destruction of the Only Ring, Sauron's fortress collapsed, and the whole Mordor was devastated by an earthquake.

"He coins words like Dali painted images and crafts visions of places that are unforgattable. For example, the hidden valley of Rivendell, the last home of the High Elves in Middle Earth. And he sanctifies the place with an older, more magical name from a misty, forgotten past, Imladris. Contrast this against the lurking, black, evil sites of Thangorodrim and Mordor or the threatening sound of ancient, dark servants, the Balrogs. His wordsmith talent alone was masterful."[2]

Elves, dwarves, humans and dragons, this and other races you can find in every fantasy book but only Tolkien placed them all in the one world. He also created new once like Ents and Hobbits about who people never heard before. Hobbits are the most humorous and suprising race. "Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt [...] They possessed from the first art of disappearing swiftly and silently [...] Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure [...] They dressed in bright colours, being notably fond of yellow and green [...] but they seldom wore shoes, since their feet had tough leathery soles and were clad in a thick curling hair, much like the hair of their heads."[3] Dwarves were very brave, combative and hard-working. They usually lived in caves and tunnels where they built huge strongholds and palaces. They were strong and husky. They were the best at crafting and found mithril – very tough and fine metal but they easily started to be angry. Elves were the most cleaned and the oldest race in Middle-earth. They were pleased about their immortality. They generally were high and really beautiful. They used to make amazing items, had abilites like magical powers and they were strongly connected with nature so it’s why they lived in forests. Now weak humans. Race with many problems like pride, avarice and stubborness. They didn’t like to go far away from their lands because of their lazy lifestyle but many brave people came off human race. Orcs. Breed of Evil forces. Opposite to Elves and made from them by really cruel experiments. They were characterized by their stupidity. They cannot opposed their lord.

"Tolkien writes with a passion and literacy that few achieve. I got the impression that the man was sorry to let the work end, that he might have been satisfied to continue it forever and even lose himself within its intricacy, so mightily did he craft the world. This is more than mere entertainment, more than just fantasy. It is a genius and a work of art to be held in awe by readers and reverence as authors."[4]

Middle-earth is a world full of beings, which are using many languages. In books we can find many languages and two dialects. First of them and well made Quenya. It’s a primeval common language of Elves. Left as daily speech. Sindarin language of Grey Elves very simple form of Quenya. The smallest amount of knowledge we have about Dwarf's and Ent's languages because they don't use it when they are near other race. This past two are hold in secret. Black Speech appeared in two dialects: Black Speech of Mordor and Black Speech of Barad-dur. First of them was used by Orcs another one by Uruk-Hai and Trolls.


[1] L.A. Solinas, The Grandfathers of Fantasy. * Humphrey Carpenter, J. R. R. Tolkien: A biography. Harper Collins, Glasgow 2002.

[2] William Alan Rieser, An Appreciation of Tolkien.

[3] J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

[4] William Alan Rieser, An Appreciation of Tolkien.

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J.R.R. Tolkien, Unrated Genius, Visionary and Creator of Fantasy Worlds. His Novels and Influence on Today's Youth
University of Bielsko-Biała
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Tolkien, fantasy, genius
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Łukasz Gołąbek (Author), 2012, J.R.R. Tolkien, Unrated Genius, Visionary and Creator of Fantasy Worlds. His Novels and Influence on Today's Youth, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/342627


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