In an early review of Tolkien's masterwork, C.S. Lewis wrote, 'The book is too original and too opulent for any final judgment.But we know at once that it has done things to us. We are not quite the same men.' Shortly after publication, The Lord of the Rings
provoked the criticism of academics and also a groundswell of grassroots support among readers-many of whom called for its addition to the literary canon. Of course, Tolkien has his share of literary detractors (more numerous than his admirers in the beginning), but this collection of essays narrows the field and focuses on the finest 'classic' critical reaction of the last fifty years. Rose Zimbardo and Neil Issacs' final selections include work by medievalist scholars, an Inkling, an esteemed poet, a science fiction/fantasy writer, a prominent folklorist, an environmentalist, and several respected scholars of eighteenth-century literature. Included are W.H. Auden on the quest hero, Edmund Fuller on the nature of the fairy tale, Paul Kocher on the imaginative world of Middle-earth, C.S. Lewis on the value of myth, Jane Chance on The Lord of the Rings
as epic, and Tom Shippey's examination of the book's translation to film. It is Tolkien's genius in creating a mythic world and narrating the transformation of its peoples-as Auden puts it, a 'literary mimesis of the subjective experience of becoming'-that gives these essays both enduring value and a sense of critical timeliness.
An Eighth Day View:
Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism is the definitive collection of e...