marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

J. R. R. Tolkien:  Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

In which he takes another look at Tolkien's writings.  With surprisingly little overlap with The Road to Middle Earth.

The Edwardian middle-class nature of hobbits.  Why Tolkien invented the plural "dwarves."  The confusions of the Council at Rivendell, which could have moved along much more briskly if Elrond had acted like a proper chairman, but in its form, contained many levels of language.  The interlacing of the plot elements in The Lord of the Rings, handled much more competently than those in the medieval romances he took it from.  What sort of name Frodo is, and its real world legendary equivalent.

I think his analysis of evil is a little lacking here as in Road, where it does overlap.  He cites Boethius's statement that all fortune is good to describe the view that evil is a privation, except that fortune is what happens to you.  It does not entail their being no evil in how it happened to happen.  (Positive evil can arise in a world where all things are good, and evil is only privation; by choosing a lesser good over a greater one.)

It touches rather more on how the works are related to the modern world.  Like the situation at the end, in the Shire, which reflects a lot of societies where the government is running everything and bungling it all.
Tags: j. r. r. tolkien, lit crit, non-historical non-fiction reviews

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