Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Tolkien in the Land of Heroes

Tolkien in the Land of Heroes : Discovering the Human SpiritTolkien in the Land of Heroes : Discovering the Human Spirit by Anne C. Petty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been sitting on my nightstand for a couple of months and was a quite enjoyable read for me. It was the subject matter and the critical analysis of the themes and rivulets of thought that comprise Tolkien's literary legendarium that was most interesting to me. The author presents her analysis of the core themes of the fall of humanity, despair, hope, and heroism in the face of unqualified optimism that extends from his legendarium into our modern world. It is also a useful cliff-notes for Tolkien's extensive extra-LOTRs writings found in the Silmarillian that comprise the Creation of the world in the singing of the first song and the discord that some of children of Il├║vatar (Father of All) introduced at the first singing of the song, and how that discord introduced the fall into every strain and tendril of the Music of Life. The author then expounds her impressions and analysis of how the themes of good and evil, hope and despair technology and pristine nature, etc., run throughout Tolkien's grand works, how they may have been interpreted in the days of the two great world wars, and how modern (or post-modern) society has treated these themes in reaction to the longevity of Tolkien's legendarium.

I don't usually read books on literary analysis, but this one was quite good (although some might find the PhD-dissertation style employed by the author a little dry) and was quite inspiring--introducing some new thoughts about the Fall of man, Creation, Hope, and the Human Condition that I hadn't considered before in reading Tolkien's and Lewis's works. I would classify this as one book that rose above escapist leisure and enriched my imagination and understanding, and for that I would say it was worthwhile.

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