J. R. R. Tolkien: The Author of the Century
by Tom Shippey
A book review by Mark L. Olson
Houghton Mifflin, 2000, 347 pp, $26.00, October 2001
Tom Shippey is an academic who is one of the major Tolkien scholars who is also a fan. (I've seen pictures of him at 1970s Eastercons.) Shippey followed Tolkien in his chair at Oxford, which is as good a credential as you can have.
Shippey makes a very strong case that Tolkien may well be the most influential author of the 20th century, and argues that this is not simply because of the vast numbers of books he has sold. (Worldwide sales of LotR is around 50,000,000 sets and sales of The Hobbit is around 70,000,000.)
(In fact, Shippey points out quite correctly that a lot of the anti-Tolkien venom among some academics is precisely because Tolkien has been so successful.)
This is probably the best and most accessible book of Tolkien scholarship I've seen.
Highly recommended. (This will certainly be on my Hugo list next year.)
NESFA homepage | Review Index | More Reviews by Mark L. Olson