J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings consistently appears near the top of popular lists of “the one hundred best books,” “books everyone should read,” and so on. Especially since the release of the movies a few years ago, it seems that LOTR is one of the best-known stories in current Western culture. The author of the story, however, is not so well and widely understood.
In Tolkien: Man and Myth, Joseph Pearce gives a thorough and thoughtful history of Tolkien’s life, sharing details of his childhood, family relations, education, and teaching career as well as his writing. He corrects errors and misconceptions that have grown out of earlier biographies, giving clear and convincing reasons for his disagreements with other accounts. Pearce also sheds light on the influence of the Inklings on Professor Tolkien’s work, giving particular attention to his close friendship with C.S. Lewis and possible reasons for the cooling of the relationship in later years. He explores and expounds upon the themes in The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s other writings, demonstrating beyond doubt that the “myth” behind the man, the foundation of all his beliefs and creative expression, was devout Catholic Christianity.
Pearce draws not only from Tolkien’s published works, but also from letters, essays, articles, and interviews from family members, friends, publishers, scholars, and critics to present a well-rounded and engaging picture of Tolkien and a deeper understanding of his sub-creation of the mythology of Middle Earth.