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John Garth – J.R.R. Tolkien


Award Winning Author

Lecturer: Oxford University


Selected works

  • Tolkien and the Great War : The Threshold of Middle-Earth

  • The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth


Translated into: French, Russian, Spanish, Czech, German, Italian, Chinese, Polish

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Episode #1

Q: John Garth – J.R.R. Tolkien – Intro


  • Read Lord of the Rings at age 9

  • Fascinated by names, places in Tolkien

  • Influenced by Tom Shippey

  • Studied literature at Oxford

Episode #2

Q:  What influenced Tolkien?


  • Deepest influences are from earliest memories

  • Orphaned at age 12

  • Focus on souls, life after, no natural mortality

  • Love of England’s landscapes

  • Religion, wife

Episode #3

Q: Did being an orphan drive Tolkien’s imagination?


  • Tolkien developed deep imagination at an early age

  • At 7 he was already, “world building”

  • Later, as a child, Tolkien invented his own languages

Episode #4

Q: Why does Tolkien resonate?


  • Readers come to Tolkien in different ways

  • Demographic of readers is very different

  • Mythic archetypes, multi-cultural

  • Wrote for kids and adults

  • Pushed barriers, not boxed in

Episode #5

Q: Are the movies, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, good?


  • Lord of the Rings – fine work of art

  • Succeed when they match pre conceived images

  • Fail when they do not

  • Good at getting kids to read the books

Episode #6

Q: Can you compare Tolkien’s works to Harry Potter?


  • J.K Rowling is an amazing author

  • Connects genres of fantasy, school & detective

  • Hard to compare

Episode #7

Q: What was it like to be Tolkien’s student at Oxford?


  • Mixed reports regarding his lecturing

  • Enunciation was often flawed

  • Tolkien was a natural performer

Episode #8

Q: What inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth?


  • Cultural heritage of Britain, Celtic, Anglo Saxon

  • Elves by the sea

  • Classical Greek & Roman myth

  • Word Sounds from the Old testament

Episode #9

Q: Were Tolkien’s dwarves, Jews?


  • Tolkien made the comparison himself

  • Comparison focuses on language, not race or religion

  • Source language of dwarves is Semitic, including Hebrew

Full Interview - John Garth

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