MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 17

Maker of Middle-Earth

While it is not a story set in the twentieth century, Tom Shippey (author of J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century) claims that The Lord of the Rings is very much a work of the twentieth century; the momentum of evil sweeps characters into action before they understand the events in which they are involved. Joseph Pearce (author of Tolkien: Man and Myth) defends The Lord of the Rings fantasy genre against those who would claim that realistic fiction is a better vessel for truth. Because mythology is stripped of the factual, he explains, it can deal with truth unencumbered and therefore convey its moral more directly. Literary critic Ralph C. Wood explains why he has been drawn to J. R. R. Tolkien's moral Middle-Earth since his first reading of The Lord of the Rings in the 1960s. It is a world ordered by heroism, friendship, loyalty, and hope. These ties alone, he states, enable the hobbits to complete their quest and go where no one else can. 86 minutes.

Preview
This item is available for purchase. Please log in or register to add it to your cart.

Part 1

  • Description
    Tom Shippey: “. . . in 1996, they ran a poll for the five greatest books of the century, and The Lord of the Rings won it by a landslide . . .”
  • Description
    “. . . One of the striking things at the very heart of The Lord of the Rings is [that] we’re told that everyone starts off with good intentions. . . .”
  • Description
    Joseph Pearce: “When I read The Lord of the Rings, I realized the real power of myth to engage the spirit and to engage the imagination, and to transcend allegory and get to a truth which is beyond allegorical.”
  • Description
    “One of the great things about The Lord of the Rings is the objectivity of good and evil: It’s something which is; it’s not an opinion . . .”

Part 2

  • Description
    Ralph C. Wood: “Tolkien regarded himself fundamentally as a philologist . . .”
  • Description
    “Students often report to me that after reading Tolkien, they feel clean; they mean that they’re in a moral world . . .”
  • Description
    “I think Tolkien had a deeply tragic vision. . . . He never had any assurance that anything would last, that anything was permanent, that all things are radically transient, passing away, evanescent. . . .”