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Home arrow Books arrow Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham -- J. R. R. Tolkien

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Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham -- J. R. R. Tolkien Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 01 February 2007
Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham
This book is a collection of two short stories by J. R. R. Tolkien: Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. Each of the stories reflects Tolkien's efforts to develop a mythology for England and his fascination with the fantastical. Smith is a story about Faery land and the adventures of a mortal, Smith, who finds himself suddenly having access to this magical realm. It is an exploration of the elvin and faery world.
Farmer Giles, on the other hand, is a comedic look at an unlikely hero who deals with a reluctant dragon. On the surface this story seems little more than a funny child's story but it seems that there is more going on here. Tolkien more than once lamented the fact that England didn't have a mythology to inform their history. This story is one attempt by Tolkien to create some of that missing heritage. After a few word tricks and philological acrobatics (of which Tolkien was a master) we see the Farmer Giles of Ham is really a story about ancient England's throwing off of the Roman empire and establishing itself independently. Tolkien even tosses in an explanation for the word Thames and why it is pronounced "tames" instead of "thames".
Tolkien fans will likely find these stories interesting simply because they are Tolkien material. Readers new to Tolkien might be tempted by the shortness of the books to pick these up as a first introduction to the author but that would be a mistake. They are in no way a good representation of the master storyteller's use of the craft. I believe that Tolkien may have intended one or both of these stories to be a follow-on to his book The Hobbit. For either one of these to have become a full length book in that same vein would have taken quite a bit of reworking.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 February 2007 )

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