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J.R.R. Tolkien - Mythology and Truth

Common thought decrees that myth is not real. A process occurs over time whereby reality becomes transformed into legend and legend into myth.

But we long for myth to be real - that's why innumerable books have been written on the historic King Arthur, why Jesus is subject to redaction and reduction, and why modern pagans seek to interpret and use the knowledge of ancient days.

Our problem is that in today's world, we have been taught that "real" equals "truth."

This is not so. And in our hearts we know it.

In the world's myths lie the spiritual truths of who we are and who we are meant to be.

J.R.R. Tolkien drew upon the ancient indo-european myths of northwestern Europe and on the truth (as he believed it) of his devout Catholicism to structure the grand and glorious myth of Middle Earth.

His truth resonates in our hearts and we accept it and know that it is so.

One cannot read The Lord of the Rings and miss the truth as Tolkien saw it. There is good and there is evil - and no sane and honest person can fail to discern the difference. Good is better than evil and will triumph in the end. Deliverers and protectors will be provided, both mortal and immortal. The key to life is love. And love is sacrifice.

The challenge is to live a life of honor and integrity on a daily basis. We must try. And for that, we do need encouragement and inspiration. I revisit Tolkien's world whenever I am going through a particularly hard time. The story of Frodo and Sam, their friends and allies, never fails to lift me up and set me on the path again.

Below are J.R.R. Tolkien's fiction books and personal letters, etc.

Buy Books by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
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The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is an inexpensive four-volume paperback edition with cover pictures from the The Lord of the Rings movies. If you haven't read Tolkien before, or are new to fantasy, you might want to skip The Hobbit first time round. The Hobbit is a prequel about Bilbo Baggins' adventures and how he acquired the One Ring. It is not necessary to read it before reading the trilogy, though it's a delightful story.

Lord of the Rings Collector's Editions:

The Hobbit (Collector's Edition) - Beautiful, leatherbound green hardcover with gold embossing. Matches the trilogy edition.

The Lord of the Rings (Collector's Edition) - Gorgeous red-leather edition of Tolkien's classic trilogy; a wonderful gift for yourself or someone else.
Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition
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The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary Edition)
by J. R. R. Tolkien

"The Fellowship of the Ring, part one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, fist reached these shores on October 21, 1954, arriving, as C. S. Lewis proclaimed, "like lightning from a clear sky." Fifty years and nearly one hundred million American readers later comes a beautiful new one-volume collector’s edition befitting the stature of this crown jewel of our list. With a text fully corrected under the supervision of Christopher Tolkien to meet the author’s exacting wishes, two large-format fold-out maps, a ribbon placemarker, gilded page edges, a color insert depicting Tolkien's own paintings of the Book of Mazarbul and exceptionally elegant and sturdy overall packaging housed within an attractive slipcase, this edition is the finest ever produced." - book description.
The Children of Hurin
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The Children of Hurin
by J. R. R. Tolkien, compiled and edited by Christopher Tolkien (2007)

Tolkien's son, Christopher, has edited a variety of unfinished/unpublished Tolkien short stories and compiled them into a somewhat cohesive series of tales that will include genealogies, a couple of appendices, map and name list. Alan Lee is providing illustrations throughout the text.

From the press release: "The Children of Húrin, begun in 1918, was one of three "Great Tales" J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realized his ambition to see it published. Though familiar to many fans from extracts and references within other Tolkien books, it has long been assumed that the story would forever remain an "unfinished tale". Now reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien, painstakingly editing together the complete work from his father's many drafts, this book is the culmination of a tireless thirty-year endeavor by him to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's vast body of unpublished work to a wide audience."

This is the first new material by Tolkien to be published since The Silmarillion in 1977.
The Silmarillion
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The Silmarillion
by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Silmarillion tells the tales of Middle Earth during the ages prior to man's dominance (prior to the age of the Lord of the Rings). One of the tales is a great love story between a human warrior and an elven princess. Their names, Beren and Lúthien, are engraved on the headstone over the single grave of Tolkien and his wife. Edited and published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien.
Unfinished Tales
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Unfinished Tales : The Lost Lore of Middle-earth
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Collated and edited by son Christopher after Tolkien's death, the only bad part of this book is that, yes, some of the tales are "unfinished" - leaving us disappointed and forced to speculate. The stories span the ages of Middle-earth, all the way up to Bilbo's time. One of the best is the story of how Isildur lost the One Ring. If you want to know all you can about middle earth, don't pass this up.
Tales from the Perilous Realm
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Tales from the Perilous Realm
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Four of Tolkien's stories in one volume: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of poems written by our favorite hobbits. Leaf by Niggle and Smith of Wootton Major are faery stories. Farmer Giles of Ham involves a farmer's adventures with an unusual dragon. For Tolkien fans.

Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham - this edition just has the two stories. You might want to click through for more extensive reviews than those available for Perilous Realm.
The Tolkien Reader
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The Tolkien Reader
by J.R.R. Tolkien

This edition includes the stories mentioned above in the Perilous Realm volume, with the exception of Smith of Wootton Major. Instead, you get a lengthy essay called On Fairy Stories in which Tolkien discusses what fantasy is and why we want and need it. You also get The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son, the beginnings of a play.
Letters from Father Christmas
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Letters from Father Christmas, Revised Edition
by J.R.R. Tolkien

What a delight! Each year, Tolkien responded to his children's letters to Father Christmas with a lengthy response from Father Christmas himself, detailing all the goings on at the North Pole. Illustrated with Tolkien's maps and drawings. Perfect read-aloud with your own kids at Christmas.
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by J.R.R. Tolkien

Roverandom is a children's story about a dog turned into a toy by a wizard. This is a very funny story (not hideously sentimental and boring like the Velveteen Rabbit), but it was written in the 20s, so the references may amuse us much more than our children. Frankly, my own children really never cottoned to Winnie the Pooh (book form) or the Beatrix Potter books (though they did love Frog and Toad, so I guess real humor is forever). Buy it for yourself, and if your kids like it, so much the better.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
modern translation by J.R.R. Tolkien

The original 14th century author of this classic poem is lost in the mists of time, but Tolkien does a great job of translating Gawain's tale into modern English, while keeping the cadence and alliteration of the original. Includes two other medieval poems translated by Tolkien - Pearl and Sir Orfeo.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
by J.R.R. Tolkien, compiled by Humphrey Carpenter

When people wrote letters, their lives and thoughts lived on. Now we send email and our grandchildren will never know us. Carpenter waded through massive amounts of correspondence to select the letters here, a representative sampling (large - almost 500 pages) of Tolkien's private life and the evolution of his thought and writings.
The Monsters and the Critics
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The Monsters and the Critics
by J.R.R. Tolkien

A collection of lectures delivered on various occasions and over a period of time, and, as such, a bit unpolished and meandering, since they weren't meant to be published. The topic matter varies from Beowulf to Gawain to language and more. Includes "On Fairy Stories."
Histories of Middle Earth, Volumes 1-5
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Histories of Middle Earth, Volumes 1-5 (Boxed Set)
by Christopher Tolkien

Shortly after Tolkien's death, his son, Christopher, set about gathering up and publishing everything of his father's that he could lay hands on. I'm sure his motives were pure, and we are certainly enriched by the result (The Silmarillion, etc.). In this series, he has collated virtually all extant notes, drafts, research, everything to do with Middle-earth that didn't make it into the final books. If you are doing your thesis on Tolkien, or if you are just a die-hard fan, you may want these books. Personally, I feel it's a bit like looking in someone drawers.

Five of the twelve volumes are included in this boxed set.