January 3, 1892 to September 2, 1973"/>
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Remembering J. R. R. Tolkien:
January 3, 1892 to September 2, 1973

407 words

“I am in fact a Hobbit.”—J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is a favorite author of New Left “hippies” and New Right nationalists, and for pretty much the same reasons. Tolkien deeply distrusted modernization and industrialization, which replace organic reciprocity between man and nature with technological dominion of man over nature, a relationship that deforms and devalues both poles.

But philosophically and politically, Tolkien was much closer to the New Right than the New Left. Tolkien was a conservative and a race realist. His preferences ran toward non-constitutional monarchy in the capital and de facto anarchy in the provinces, but he recognized that state control can be minimized only in a society with a deep reverence for tradition and a high regard for individual honor and self-restraint.

Many of Tolkien’s most fervent New Right admirers are neo-pagans. But Tolkien himself was a devout Roman Catholic traditionalist, albeit one with a deep love of pre-Christian myth, epic, and tradition. And although The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with their many themes from Norse and Celtic mythology, resonate especially with pagans, the ultimate mythological framework of Middle Earth, particularly as expressed in the posthumous work The Silmarillion, is biblical in inspiration, with a creator God (Eru Ilúvatar), a devil (Melkor), a fall, and even a hint of the necessity of a divine incarnation to save creation.

In honor of Tolkien’s birthday, I wish first to draw your attention to several works on this website:

For more background on Tolkien’s life and work, I recommend two introductory books, which are accessible even to teenagers: Leslie Ellen Jones’ Myth and Middle-Earth: Exploring the Medieval Legends Behind J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Bradley Birzer’s J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth. The most thorough and serious biography and overall interpretation of Tolkien is Joseph Pearce’s Tolkien: Man and Myth.

For those who need no introduction, there is no better commemoration than to spend a winter evening snug in one’s own Hobbit hole reading the works of the man himself (or watching Peter Jackson’s masterful and inspiring movies).

 

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5 Comments

  1. Posted January 3, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    The movies are a poor substitute for the books. If all you know is the film, don’t think you know Tolkien.

    • Greg Paulson
      Posted January 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I agree completely, the movies are a poor substitute for the book and you don’t know Tolkien without having read The Lord of the Rings. That being said, and I have my issues with the movies, I have yet to see a book adopted to a movie/movies that are as good as the Peter Jackson’s LOTRs movies. For instance, laying all the anti-white and egalitarian nonsense aside, the Harry Potter movies are complete and utter trash compared to the books (not to say that the books were much better or deserve to be compared to LOTRs).

      • Posted January 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        @ “the Harry Potter movies are complete and utter trash compared to the books”

        With the exception of the third movie, of course.

  2. Posted January 3, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    “But Tolkien himself was a devout Roman Catholic traditionalist…” Indeed.
    For the record, he used to attend mass everyday (Saint Pie V liturgy), and one of his sons was, or is, a traditionnalist priest.

  3. Posted January 3, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    While Peter Jackson got absolutely stunning visuals, in the second and third LOTR films he betrayed the pace you feel in the novel (which I’m reading btw) with typical, post-1970s Hollywood stridency. E.g., when Théoden’s forces travel to Helm’s Deep and they are attacked by Saruman’s Warg riders; let alone the extremely long and unnecessary scenes—again: read the novel—on the assault on Helm’s Deep. (Jackson did the same strident thing with his 2005 version of King Kong after that silly Apatosaurus stampede.)

    Is there a hidden pro-Western message in LOTR? Every fan of Tolkien should read “Lords of the Ring” by Michael Colhaze, originally published at TOO: a piece that I have rebaptized as “Wagner’s wisdom”.

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