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17834Re: [mythsoc] Re: new member introducing herself

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  • David Bratman
    Mar 15, 2007
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      At 09:35 PM 3/15/2007 -0400, Wayne G. Hammond wrote:

      >Daniel Grotta later expanded his surname to Grotta-Kurska, under which
      >later editions of his book have been published.

      Other way around: the first edition was signed Grotta-Kurska, the latter
      editions Grotta.

      It wasn't him, under either name, who came up with the Mabel-in-Zanzibar
      story: that comes, if I recall, from William Ready (an outstandingly bad
      book), and has been picked up by various other would-be Tolkien biographers
      since.

      Grotta does, as John Rateliff notes, have a few useful tidbits here and
      there, which makes his book of some modest value to the advanced student.
      But overall it's one of maybe a dozen extraordinarily dubious books that
      call themselves Tolkien biographies, which are best avoided. These books
      either rehash Humphrey Carpenter's biography, in which case Carpenter does
      it better, or invent new material which is simply wrong. Thus, where they
      are true, they are not original; and where they are original, they are not
      true.

      The list of WORTHWHILE books on Tolkien's life is very small and consists of:
      1. Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien: A Biography (and, supplementarily, his The
      Inklings)
      2. John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War
      3. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
      4. John and Priscilla Tolkien, The Tolkien Family Album

      That's the good stuff; that's it. A few of the better critical books also
      have reliable biographical material, but that's secondary to their function.

      David Bratman
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