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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tolkien's 'world view'

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

Born on this date in 1892, Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor best known, of course, as author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa to English parents and came back to England at age 3 on what was to just be a family “visit.”  But his father died while they were there and the family ended up staying.  Tolkien could read and write by age 4 and was a voracious reader early in life.   He said he disliked Treasure Island and The Pied Piper and thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was "amusing but disturbing.” He liked stories about Native Americans and the fantasy works by George MacDonald and "Fairy Books" by Andrew Lang – all important influences on his own writing as was the epic Anglo-Saxon work Beowulf. 
                 After 5 years in the Army during and after WWI, Tolkien spent 6 years translating Beowulf, and while he didn’t have it published, an article and lecture he did on it in 1936 has had a lasting influence on all Beowulf research.  His translation was finally published by his son in 2014 and is considered a masterpiece.   A naturalist and environmentalist, Tolkien loved nature and the earth and led efforts to help protect both.

“If you really want to know what Middle Earth is based on,” he once said,  “it's my wonder and delight in the earth as it is, particularly the natural earth.“

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