Thursday, January 05, 2012

30 Day Book Challenge - Day 13

No, that's not a typo.

Post 13 - Your Favorite Writer

I am, in fact, posting this installment a bit out of order, for the purpose of acknowledging the just-passed hundred-and-twentieth (Twelvetieth?) birthday of said favorite writer - J. R. R. Tolkien.

There are many reasons that I consider Tolkien to be my favorite writer - I've been reading his books for almost my entire life, and it's easy to see how they've impacted my tastes over the years. More broadly, his influence on fiction has been incalculable - not only in the genre that he practically invented, but in pretty much any work that has an invented culture or people group, if there's any thought put into them  at all they probably owe something to Middle-Earth.

In addition to his being incredibly creative, I've also always admired the craftsmanship with which Tolkien did his writing. The vast amounts of unfinished and draft material published since his death - and how many authors are there whose notes and drafts are viable candidates for publication, hmm? - especially underscore this, since it gives a better sense of both the breadth and the depth of Tolkien's creation.

Indeed, it's the latter of those two qualities that I really admire, the way in which he applied his vast knowledge of philology, mythology, and pre-modern literature into building a fictional world that feels almost as real as the one outside the front door. And, as if that wasn't enough, Tolkien was something of a perfectionist, constantly revising his work to make everything fit better, to the point where it's a wonder we have anything of his to read at all.

Fortunately, we do have those works, and it's no exaggeration to say that without them the world would be a far grimmer place. So, happy (belated) birthday, Professor, and thank you for all those years of pleasure and inspiration.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, 3 January 1892 - 2 September 1973