Tag Archives: J. R. R. Tolkien

Novels with Waterfalls and Secret Caves

When I was growing up, the adventure books that I read influenced how I regarded and interacted with nature.

Posted in Perkins (Lucy Fitch), Tolkien (J.R.R.), Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Road Goes Ever On and On

Tolkien’s “The Road Goes Ever On and On” is a good poem for travelers returning home.

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How Trump Is Changing the Discourse

Adam Gopnik of “New Yorker” and Andrew Sullivan of “New York” are very, very frightened by the rise of Trump. As they explain why, they quote Tom Stoppard, Sinclair Lewis, Mark Twain, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Plato.

Posted in Lewis (Sinclair), Stoppard (Tom), Tolkien (J.R.R.), Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

If Trump Tweeted Classic Lit Reviews…

Donald Trump has a very distinctive twitter style., one that would be great for classic book reviews. A BuzzFeed writer imagines how he might have reviewed “Hamlet,” “Tristram Shandy,” “Ulysses,” and other classics.

Posted in Hemingway (Ernest), Joyce (James), Shakespeare (William), Sterne (Lawrence), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ring Wraith Trump Wins in New Hampshire

Donald Trump, winner of the New Hampshire primary, has been promoting torture. I’ve been teaching “Lord of the Rings” recently and he reminds me of the temptation of the ring, which hollows one out.

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

British and American Fantasy Contrasted

An “Atlantic” article argues that British fantasy is richer than American fantasy. I agree that they are different and that there are interesting reasons for those differences–but that American fantasy is vibrant as well.

Posted in Grahame (Kenneth), Lewis (C. S.), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Criminal Case: Turkish Prez & Gollum

A character analysis of Gollum could determine whether a Turkish doctor goes to jail. This after he tweeted images of the Turkish president that resembled the film’s depiction of Gollum.

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How Fantasy Saves Our Souls

Great fantasy can always be seen as oppositional, pushing against prevailing modes of thought and opening up portals into new human possibilities.

Posted in Cervantes (Miguel de), Erdrich (Louise), Euripides, Sir Gawain Poet, Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frodo’s Battle with Sin

Students discover that “Lord of the Rings” is a story about their Christian journeys.

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Sauron’s Ring: Power Corrupts

The ring in “Lord of the Rings” lends itself to numerous approaches.

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A Spiritual Quest Begins inside a Whale

According to Joseph Campbell, a hero’s journey invariably involves a “belly of the whale” experience. Tokien describes the experience in fantasy, Dan Albergotti in everyday life.

Posted in Albergotti (Dan), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy’s Special Insight into Reality

Fantasy literature becomes something different after the world ceased believing in magic.

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The Return of King Peyton

The excitement over Peyton Manning is like that of the townspeople for Thorin Oakenshield in “The Hobbit.”

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Hobbits against Spiders in the Playoffs

The Heat-Pacers NBA series is like Sam Gamgee fighting Shelob in “Lord of the Rings.”

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Kate’s Pregnancy: Return of the King

Fascination with Kate Middleton’s pregnancy may be tied in with the “return of the king” trope found in much British fiction.

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.), White (T.H.) | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy, Because Reality Is Unsatisfactory

Fantasy is nothing in and of itself but takes its character in opposition to an unsatisfactory reality.

Posted in Keats (John), Lewis (C. S.), Shakespeare (William), Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Federer: Floating Butterfly, Stinging Bee

In the immortal words of Muhammad Ali, Roger Federer floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee as he won his 7th Wimbledon title yesterday.

Posted in Ali (Muhammad), Pope (Alexander), Shakespeare (William), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gazing into the Palantir in 2012

Tolkien warns us about gazing too deeply into the world’s darkness.

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , | 3 Comments

What Fictional Fantasy Means

Having taught British Fantasy Literature for the first time last semester, I need to think back on it before it becomes a distant memory.    By reflecting publicly, I can share some of the insights I gained from the course. Two major things I learned are that (1) fantasy is an oppositional genre—by which I […]

Posted in Andersen (Hans Christian), Barrie (J. M.), Carroll (Lewis), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Dickens (Charles), Grahame (Kenneth), Grimm Brothers, Haggard (Rider), Keats (John), Kipling (Rudyard), Rossetti (Christina), Shakespeare (William), Sir Gawain Poet, Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Beware Gazing at the Palantir in 2010

John Noble as Denethor    A palantir, as readers of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings know, is a crystal ball into which one may gaze and see events occurring around the world.   Although a seeming marvel, it can warp those who gaze into it.  The palantir holds lessons for us on how we to […]

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Discussing Literature without Teachers

My son Toby    My son Toby, who is with us for two more days before he leaves for the University of California-Davis English Ph.D program, gave a lecture to the St. Mary’s College Tolkien society on Friday. I am the club’s advisor but it was first time I had attended a meeting for several […]

Posted in Eagleton (Terry), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

I Was a Secret Holden Caulfield

I contrasted Lord of the Rings with J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye the other day.    It’s not a contrast that anyone other than I would make, and it’s all based on the fact that I loved the one and hated the other.  In my post today I explore my dislike of the Salinger […]

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Fantasy As a Roundabout Road to Truth

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn  I didn’t do entire justice in Monday’s post to the Tolkien essay of my son Toby. In correcting that here, I also open up a more complicated vision of fantasy in general, as well as Tolkien’s fantasy specifically. I was wondering if Tolkien had retreated into fantasy as a refuge from […]

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Fantasy: Help or Hindrance?

My friend Alan Paskow, who is struggling with cancer, queried me about my post on Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman,” wondering whether the poem wasn’t just an insubstantial fantasy. I’ve been writing about The Lord of the Rings as a fantasy perhaps indulged in by a World War I veteran who wasn’t willing to face up […]

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Tolkien’s Ring and World War I

 Otto Dix, Trench Warfare (1932) I have gained some new insights into The Lord of the Rings since my son Toby wrote an essay about it for the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate English program.  Toby informs me that there are a number of debates around the book, especially whether it should be considered great literature. The […]

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Aspiring to Be a Dwarf

Continuing the Lord of the Rings discussion, here’s an interesting insight passed on to me by my friend Rachel Kranz about my last entry.  I was interpreting my adolescent fondness for Gimli the dwarf as an indication that I felt myself a dwarf, hunkered down and plodding.  Rachel says that she was stunned by this self-description […]

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A Legendary Elf-Dwarf Friendship

After a year’s sabbatical, I am resuming my duties, one of which includes being the advisor of the Tolkien Society. The group gathers regularly to hear talks, forge chain armor, attend masked balls (not that there are any masked balls in Lord of the Rings), and engage in other Medieval-related activities. I’ll mark the occasion […]

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Literature about Health Care Reform

  At present I am one of those liberals in a high state of anxiety about the prospects of Obama’s attempts to bring us universal health care.   I find myself careening through the highs of hope and the lows of fear.  I watch the political proceedings minutely, then turn away discouraged, then read some columnist […]

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