John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Tolkien managed to create probably the largest cult, not only in English culture, and founded the genre of modern fantasy.
J.R.R.Tolkien was born on 3rd April 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. His father Arthur died very soon, so his mother Mabel took him and his younger brother to Birmingham. When he was studying at the School of King Edward, he lost also his mother. The Orphaned boys were brought up by their aunt. John passed an entrance exam to the Oxford University, where he studied Literature and English. During the First World War, Tolkien married his child love Edith Brath, finished university and as an officer fought and survived the battle at Soma. However, the terror of war caused him serious psychical problems. During his rehabilitation he started to write the Silmarillion.
Tolkien was lecturing English at first in Leeds, later in Oxford. Another important British writer C.S.Lewis became his close friend. In 1937 The Hobbit or There and Back Again was published. When the Second World War was raging in Europe, Tolkien was writing his second novel, The Lord of Rings. The first part of this trilogy was printed in 1954, the other two in the following year. The real boom started after the publication in the United States. The author retired and dedicated his time to his family. He had four children, sons John, Michael and Christopher and daughter Priscilla. He amplified the vision of his fiction world the Middle-Earth and wrote a book of fairy tales. In 1972, The Queen awarded him for his lifetime work. He died on 2nd September 1973. He was eighty-one years old.

His son Christopher afterwards edited his father’s notes and published other fourteen books. You should know at least the Silmarillion (1977) or The Unfinished Tales (1980). Some critics say that The Lord of Rings reflects the WWII and Sauron symbolizes Hitler, but Tolkien denied these speculations. He didn’t suppose such big success; he just wanted to create a mythology for England, because there weren’t any good legends and myths in English culture.

The Lord of the Rings
The plot of this trilogy takes place in a Middle-Earth, the small part of a fictive world Arda. The first part, The Fellowship of the Ring, starts when the hobbit Bilbo Baggins gives a ring he had found 60 years ago to his nephew Frodo and leaves Hobbiton and the Shire. The good and wise wizard Gandalf recently found out that Frodo’s ring is the One Ring crafted by Sauron, the lord of Mordor.
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the dwarf–lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where Shadows lie.
The Ring must be destroyed. The Dark Lord is preparing a horrible army of orcs. Gandalf seeks other wizard Saruman and sends Frodo to Bree. Frodo with his friends Sam Gamgree, Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took leaves the Shire. Sauron’s servants, the Black Riders, pursue hobbits. In Bree (a small town), a strange man Strider joins the group and leads it to Rivendell, the shelter of elves. The Black riders attack and lethally hurt Frodo. Fortunately, Elrond the Elf saves his life in Rivendell. The company is here established, it includes four hobbits, Strider, Gandalf, a dwarf Gimli, an elf Legolas and a mortal man Boromir from Gondor. They must reach the Cracks of Doom in Mordor and melt the Ring there. Gandalf is defeated in a combat with an evil creature balrog in mines of Moria; the reminder of company enters Lorien, the elvish area. Boromir tries to gain the Ring, when a large group of orcs assaults our heroes. Boromir is killed, Merry and Pippin kidnapped, Frodo with Sam run away and direct to Mordor. Strider, Gimli and Legolas have to decide what to do. Here ends the first part.
The second one (Two Towers) describes the battle in the Isengard, Frodo’s pilgrimage to Mordor. The last part, the Return of the King, narrates the siege of Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, and events in Mordor.
The book also includes appendixes about history of Middle-Earth, some family trees, maps and indexes. It is impossible to mention all the characters; there are mighty men, keen elves, stout dwarfs, wise wizards, evil orcs and many others. Tolkien added about one hundred poems and songs to animate the story. Heroes seems to be real, author totally characterized them. Many authors (e.g. David Eddings or Tad Williams) were trying to imitate the Middle Earth, but none of them succeeded. Book is written in beautiful English. I can recommend it to everyone, who likes fairy tales and fantasy stories.
Extract:
Things would have gone ill with Sam, if he had been alone. But Frodo sprang up, and drew Sting from its sheath. With his left hand he drew back Gollum’s head by his thin lane hair, stretching his long neck, and forcing his pale venomous eyes to stare up at the sky.
‘Let go! Gollum,’ he said. ‘This is Sting. You have seen it before once upon a time. Let go, or you’ll feel it this time! I’ll cut your throat.’
Gollum collapsed and went as loose as wet string. Sam got up, fingering his shoulder. His eyes smouldered with anger, but he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay grovelling on the stones whimpering.
‘Don’t hurt us! Don’t let them hurt us, precious! They won’t hurt us, will they, nice little hobbitses? We didn’t mean no harm, but they jumps on us like cats on poor mices, they did, precious. And we’re so lonely, gollum. We’ll be nice to them, very nice, if they’ll be nice to us, won’t we, yes, yess.’
‘Well, what’s to be done with it?’ said Sam. ‘Tie it up, so as it can’t come snaking after us no more, I say.’
‘But it would kill us, kill us,’ whimpered Gollum. ‘Cruel little hobitses. Tie us up in the cold hard lands and leave us, gollum, gollum.’ Sobs welled up in the gobbling throat.
‘No,’ said Frodo. ‘If we kill him, we must kill him outright. But we can’t do that, not as things are. Poor wretch! He has done us no harm.’
‘Oh hasn’t he!’ said Sam rubbing his shoulder. ‘Anyway he meant to, and he means to, I’ll warrant. Throttle us in our sleep, that’s his plan.’
‘I daresay,’ said Frodo. ‘But what he means to do is another matter.’ He paused for a while in thought. Gollum lay still, but stopped whimpering. Sam stood glowering over him.
It seemed to Frodo then that he heard, quite plainly but far off, voices out off the past:
What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had a chance!
Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.
I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.
Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.
‘Very well,’ he answered aloud, lowering his sword. “But still I am afraid. And yet, you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I see him, I do pity him.
Vocabulary:
sheath pouzdro, pochva smoulder doutnat
whimper kňourat sneak plížit se
well up prýštit grovel plazit se (po zemi hlavou dolů)
wretch ničema, ubožák harm škoda, zlo
throttle uškrtit glower mračit se
eager nedočkavý orc skřet
Hobitton Hobitín Rivendell Roklinka
Sting Žihadlo (meč) dwarf trpaslík
Elf (elves) elf, elfové Shire Kraj
Weathertop Větrov Bree Hůrka
Strider Chodec Pipin Took Pipin Bral
Merry Smíšek Sam Gamgree Sam Křepelka
Gollum Glum Middle-Earth Středozem

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