By Michael Kenney, Globe Correspondent

”The Lord of the Rings,” due out in time to be a moviegoer’s Christmas present, could well be the movie of the year. But J.R.R. Tolkien, ”author of the century”? That provocative claim is not just a publisher’s book-jacket puffery but the argument of T. A. Shippey in this authoritative – and timely – critical study of Tolkien’s masterwork. Shippey, now at St. Louis University, taught the same curriculum established by Tolkien at Oxford University and succeded him, 54 years later, as chairman of English language and medieval literature at Leeds. [More]