An Appreciation of Tolkien
by William Alan Rieser
Page 1 of 2
I haven't read everything he's written, but I have absorbed all of the
ring saga from
the Hobbit, LOTR, The Silmarillion and the Unfinished Tales collated by his son,
Christopher. Any fantasy poll I have seen rates him number one, almost without
exception, but it is misleading. I say that because it is readily apparent that
not all those
who swear by his work are devotees of fantasy. In fact, I know many admirers
they've never read anything else because they don't really care for the genre.
really going on is that Tolkien transcends all genres with the ring, so much so
books have created a cult of afficionados to such an extent that no other
make that claim. Yet those who are addicted to the genre also claim that the
defines modern fantasy more than anything else and prescribes its limits,
conundrum in itself.
What we have here is a monumental work that commenced as a simple
tale and blossomed into a drama of such vast dimensions that it overwhelms most
with its implications and complex messages. Yet he complained that it was too
what he really wanted. Some critics claim that WWII influenced the writings
tremendously, especially because the man was caught up in it and deeply
though he denied it. Clearly he was plagued by his personal war and undoubtedly
man's most common activity to show his readers that it could be overcome, that
was always hope, regardless of how powerful the forces of evil might seem. That
also the message of Ghandi, if you recall, only Tolkien made it personal,
youngsters with the Hobbit and eventually for the rest of us.
I have read a critique that chastised the ring as juvenile because it
confrontation with sexual and other issues that trouble our civilization. That
because in creating Middle Earth, Tolkien was painting a world where virtue,
honor, the key symbols of the best parts of our real Middle Ages, could be
only we conquered our darker selves. That was the main message of the Trilogy.
assist him in this glorified vision of what we were and could still be, he
story with magical denizens and demons, all of whom possessed unique powers and
characteristics. Yet every upstanding resident had a counterbalancing foe, a
representation of the good and evil in all of us. For the elves there were
goblins, for the
dwarves, wargs and dragons, for men their were Southrons and ringwraiths, for
there were trolls.
Even Gandalf, the ultimate hero, was opposed by Saruman and Sauron,
by the steeds of the Nazgul and Frodo and Bilbo by Gollum, Ungoliant and many
others. The whole point of all this confrontation was the war within ourselves
good to triumph over bad, to permit ourselves to take the wonderful things
given to us
by God and allow them to develop as they should without marring their inherent
His message clearly shows us that we must suffer much in order to enjoy the
such fruit, that if we are willing to do that, all is not lost. This, of
course, is more than
the promise of fantasy and the reason why the ring is so powerful even today.
story is unquestionably couched in fantastic terms, with languages, dialects,
descriptions of lands and peoples of such unique traits that we find ourselves
about the place. Next Page
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 William Alan Rieser, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.