TOLKIEN AND MODERNITY

by Stratford Caldecott | Source: www.review.humanitas.cl
Was J.R.R. Tolkien a modern writer? The author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion is undoubtedly "modern" in the sense that he lived in our own historical period (he died in 1973). Furthermore, his writing is extraordinarily popular with modern readers. But critics often allege that he was not modern but rather pre-modern in his approach to literature, and certainly they are right in the sense that it was ancient storytelling traditions and Anglo-Saxon literature such as Beowulf that particularly inspired him. His book contained many archaic elements. It was not, however, archaic or pre-modern in itself. The Lord of the Rings is a novel with modern concerns. It could not have been written in an earlier age. It contains an implicit but very strong critique of modernity – of aspects and tendencies of the modern world – such as globalization, socialism, and reliance on technology. But is this regressive or progressive? Only time will tell.



Humanitas 2013, IV, pp. 386-399
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