Art and Literature News

‘Tolkien: The Forest and The City’ – Exploring Culture and Nature

Whether it is the Shire with its cosy Hobbit holes or Rohan’s vast plains, Middle-earth captures ones imagination, and suddenly, all you want to do is to go for a stroll. With its rich beauty, it is easy to get yourself lost somewhere in the numerous forests or plains. For that reason, Tolkien’s Middle-earth has been frequently associated with the natural world while the “built environment” seems to be neglected. The, yet to be published, book Tolkien: The Forest and The City wants to examine “the interaction of culture and nature” by focusing on Middle-earth as a “landscape and built environment.”

Published later this year, Tolkien: The Forest and The City will include essays by Tom Shippey and Verlyn Flieger. The book will also include essays written by innovative younger scholars such as Jane Carroll and Dimitra Fimi.

About the Book:

Despite the popular and scholarly association of Tolkien with the natural world and literary world-building, Middle-earth as landscape and built environment has been relatively neglected as background, foreground and actor in his texts. Tolkien: The Forest and The City presents new work by some of the finest scholars in Tolkien studies, as well as research from a number of emerging scholars, addressing this lacuna. The permeable interface between nature and culture, creation and sub-creation, within Tolkien’s world is of absolute importance to our understanding of Tolkien’s larger point in writing. From deforestation to the shape of a window, from Sam’s cooking gear to the origins of the party tree, this book surveys a world written to distill and intensify the realities of our own. Drawing on a wide variety of critical approaches, from philology to ecocriticism, in a clear, approachable style, this collection explores the interaction of culture and nature that imbues Tolkien’s secondary world with the immediacy of our own.

Tolkien: The Forest and The City is one of the rare books on Tolkien that manages to be both serious and accessible, avoiding the twin plagues of Tolkien criticism – defensively eulogistic fandom, and defensively arcane academicism. Essays by world experts on the subject, such as Tom Shippey and Verlyn Flieger are supported by innovative younger scholars, such as Jane Carroll and Dimitra Fimi, and between them they have produced a fine volume on the interface between nature and culture in his books. Although Tolkien’s work has been widely appropriated by ecocritics, this volume, by exploring a remarkable range of Tolkien’s cultural reference from the Arts and Crafts movement to the Spanish Civil War, from landscapes to food, and from deforestation to Dante, demonstrates the complexity of his intellectual positions. This is an engaging, lively, and in many ways groundbreaking contribution to Tolkien scholarship.’ Peter Hunt, emeritus professor of English and Children’s Literature, Cardiff University and editor of J.R.R. Tolkien: a new casebook(2013).

You will be able to purchase Tolkien: The Forest and The City on amazon.com and fourcourtspress.ie.

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