Hungry Hobb CafeAnother of my 20 Books of Summer and although I don’t think I’ll have seven finished by the end of Tuesday, it will be six and a half at least, which keeps me on track. Still can’t share my Foyles incomings as I’m waiting for one of them to arrive and of course it’s one of the ones that gives balance and dilutes the performative aspect of having bought a few from my wishlist that were also on BLM recommended lists. So come on, Saga Land, and hurry up and arrive! This book jumped into my hand from the outdoor shelves at Any Amount of Books on the Charing Cross Road on a pre-Christmas trip to London to visit my best friend Emma and to stock up on Persephone books).

And the photo is to prove that I do indeed live quite near the Shire! This cafe is close to Sarehole Mill, which is slap bang in the middle of the Shire and about two miles from where I live. Note the name: it was called the Hungry Hobbit for years then the film people (not Tolkien’s people!) slapped an order on it.

Neil Isaacs and Rose Zimbardo (eds.) – “Tolkien and the Critics”

(13 December 2018, Any Amount of Books)

A 1968 volume so very early in Tolkien criticism, and this gathers together published and new essays by the likes of C.S. Lewis (on the dethronement of power), W.H. Auden (on the quest hero) and Marion Zimmer Bradley (on the levels of hero-worship in the books) and other less well-know critics, covering everything from Tolkien’s theory and practice of fairy tale to a Freudian reading. Zimbardo’s own essay on morality takes a religious frame that is mentioned elsewhere (the same quotations do tend to crop up repeatedly but that’s bound to happen in a volume like this) with even Sauron being a sort of fallen angel rather than inherently evil. John Tinkler brings out all the Old English in the land of Rohan and makes a rather snooty point that there’s an extra level of enjoyment in the books for those of us who know OE. Mary Quella Kelly does a close reading of the poetry of the various men, hobbits, elves and dwarves and Burton Raffel says the poetry is bad and the books not literature in a very narrow definition (but actually they are, at the end); his piece is notable for foregrounding Tolkien’s assertion of Reception Theory, in that he only sketches in mountains and landscapes because the reader will see the words and immediately see their own favourite example in their mind’s eye. Charles Moorman does a good job of defining the work as springing from Nordic myth.

A good read that makes me want to go back to the books, and I am also keen to read that great big exhibition catalogue volume I bought a couple of years ago.

This was Book 5 in my 20 Books Of Summer project.