tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process by Arne Zettersten (05.01.11 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

It was a nice sunny day in June that I will not easily forget. There I was sitting in a vineyard next to a castle, next to Professor Arne Zettersten, Beregond (Anders Stenström), and my friend Harm Schelhaas, smoking a clay pipe. Someone from Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands and myself from Belgium all enjoying the sun, the first time smoking a clay pipe and with one thing in common, a profound love for the works by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Smoking with Tolkien friends - picture by Ron Stevens

Next to that I recall the lecture "Discussing language with J.R.R. Tolkien" by Arne Zettersten, which left a deep impression on me. It was the first time I heard someone talk about his collaboration with professor Tolkien and the first time I heard first hand experiences on how "clever" Tolkien was with languages. It was the same weekend I first talked with Cor Blok, the artist who received the honour to fill this years Tolkien calendar. He was the second person I spoke who actually talked with Tolkien in person. All this happened at the 5th Unquendor (Dutch Tolkien Society) Lustrum celebration in Baarlo on the 9th till the 11the of June in 2006. This was a weekend that very much changed my life, but more about that in upcoming articles!

Arne Zettersten was, before from 1975 till his retirement, the Head of Department and Professor in English Language and Literature at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. During his lecture he discussed his collaboration with J.R.R. Tolkien on the AB language and their shared love for languages. From 1960 till the end of tolkien's life, Zettersten was a close friend of Tolkien and they were colleagues as well. In 1965, Zettersten presented his doctoral thesis on the AB language, a medieval literary dialect first identified by J.R.R. Tolkien. From 1992 to 1995 he was the President of the International Association of University Professors of English and from 1980 to 1992 the President of the Nordic Association for English Studies. He is Acting President of the International Council of the English-Speaking Union. Quit impressive right? You can imagine how interesting it is to listen to him talking and on the other hand how relaxed it can be to just enjoy the sun, the garden and smoking a pipe sitting next to him. You can imagine how happy I am now to announce the following news:

In April this year there will be released a book by Arne Zettersten that I very much look forward to, tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process. Just like his lecture in 2006 it will offer a personally informed analysis of tolkien's fiction.

In the light of his unusual life experience and enthusiasm for the study of languages, Zettersten finds in tolkien's fiction the same animating passions that drove that great author as a youth, a soldier, a linguist, and an Oxford Don.

The book will take us through the life of J.R.R. Tolkien and we will see how language was the key to his success and how this profound love for languages lead to the creation of the books we all love so much.

I believe this book will give a very fine view on Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, since the book will be written by someone who has spent many hours working and talking with him in person - someone who shared the same passion for languages and understood him in many aspects.

If this book will be as good as Zettersten 2006 lecture then this will be THE must have and read Tolkien related book of 2011. I'm pre-ordering this and hope to read and review it as soon as possible!
tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process

Table of contents

Our First Meeting
Like Lightning from a Clear Sky
tolkien's Double Worlds
From Bloemfontein to Birmingham
From Sarehole to Shire
An Orphan Drawn to Reading
Student Life in Oxford
Soldier at the Front
Experience of War in tolkien's Fiction
Research as Motor
Interlude at Leeds
Interplay between Research and Fiction
A Don on a Sidetrack
The AB Language - A Unique Discovery
Fantasy for Children and Adults
The Final Years
Facts and Fiction
On the Truth of Myths
The Reception of The Lord of the Rings in the World
New Media

As you can see this looks like a nice biography of tolkien's life. But this book is unique in that Zettersten acquired first hand knowledge of how Tolkien related to languages, university studies and both scholarly and fictional writing. The book is a new comprehensive reading and analysis of Tolkien’s strongly visualising fantasy fiction, here examined in relation to his scholarly research in its totality and his unusual life experience.

Into this new reading Zettersten weaves his memories of the linguistic equilibrist who spoke, wrote and reconstructed living, dead and invented languages. Zettersten approaches Tolkien’s creative process through a review of his life within his near-simultaneous, different worlds. These were characterised by changes between his primary, real world, and his secondary, fictional world, between research and fantasy, between evil and humanity, in fiction as in real life.

Title: J.R.R. tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life
Arne Zettersten
Palgrave Macmillan

Publication Date:

29 April 2011

hardcover, 256 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0230623149

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