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

446 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 masterly and inspiring movies of The Lord of the Rings).

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4 Comments

  1. Gnome Chompsky
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    For anyone who has not seen it, the rotoscope
    animation take by Ralph Bakshi is very good,
    unfortuntely, he was unable to get the money to
    finish it, so it ends at some stage in
    The Two Towers, followed by a ‘so our
    heros ride off ….’ bad ending.

    Jackson used that movie to compose several
    scenes in Fellowship, to me, the best, the tavern
    scene in Bree, but it is better in the old animation.

    The Frodo character was much beter than (((Elijah
    Woods))).

    This is not off-topic, Tolkien expressed his intention that
    his mythos would inspire derivative works in dance..
    theatre, poetry. etc.

    A few heavy metal and prog-rock songs, sure.

    In the current situation, his dream on that point
    seems imposible, except on on a very local scale,
    probably as it should be.

    Sure DO NOT WANT to see a black Galadriel, a
    paki Aragorn, or a jewish Frodo (but, of course,
    the last of those has already happened).

  2. Gnome Chompsky
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Sorry for the one horrid formatting error and one spelling error. I hate typing on a phone instead of a keyboard, tried to check, failed in two spots. Also, need new specs. Embarassing!

  3. Gnome Chompsky
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Good article, I also enjoyed the linked reviews, don’t entirely agree on LoTR, but even whilst watching the first, was thinking ‘This is as good a cinematic representation as we are going to get.’

    My three points that are directly relevant as supplements to the articles follow.

    I. Referring to Tolkien as a ‘traditional Catholic’ is something of an oxymnoron, there was no other type at the time, except the lapsed, and a few theolngians, some of them (((theologians))). Don’t forget, Fr. Coughlin was a contemporary of Tolkien, and (((they))) sure as hell hated and hate Coughlin. It was only at Vatican II that (((they))), through infiltration again, reversed ancient Church teaching on (((themselves))).

    II. Tolkien subsribed to a British Union of Fascists or Mosleyite publication for a time.

    III. Tolkien also described orcs and the uruk-h ai in terms of both phonology and physique, in published correrpondence with, IIRC, his publisher, in a way that suggests he was thinking particularly of Turks and Arabs. If one is to consider the analogies between Gondor and Arnor on the one hand, and the real histories of the eastern and western Roman empires on the other, it sure fits.

    As Jackson seems to have proved with his take on The Hobbit, any further use of Tolkien’s work by Hollywood would be tragically bad, thank Iluvatar that Christopher Tolkien refused rights to the Silmarillion.

    I didn’t like the LoTR movies as much as many others here, but from the start, had to think that any remake or new take would have to be far worse.

    This is perhaps too long for a newish poster, but Tolkien draws on (((them))) in various ways in Wormtongue, Saruman, others, as others here have said. Having recently read The Children of Hurin, the petty dwarves seem to be the clearest representation of (((their))) mentality in mid- to late mediaeval Europe.

  4. Ben
    Posted January 4, 2018 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Read the epilogue to “On Fairy Stories”.

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