Men, Halflings & Hero Worship
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by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Category: Fantasy/Classic Literature
Description: An analysis of the role of love in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1973 Men, Halflings & Hero Worship
eBookwise Release Date: April 2007
17 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [56 KB]
Reading time: 32-44 min.
It is probably a very considerable compliment to the ability of Dr. Tolkien at weaving a spell; not until weeks after I had completed reading his monumental saga and was lovingly working through the appendices did a very curious fact strike me. In four volumes, comprising substantially over a thousand pages of unlarge type, there is almost nothing which could be construed as love interest. The books are, in fact, almost womanless. There are at least thirty major male characters, and at least as many more about whom we know something, who are described briefly and given a line or two to speak. But even including the supernumeraries, there are exactly seven female characters in the entire trilogy.
This is not unusual in children's books of a certain kind. But these are not children's books. They have, it is true, a great appeal to some children, particularly the precocious and imaginative; but they are genuinely adult novels, adult in thesis, concept, manner and structure. Edmund Wilson, it is true, in his disparaging review of the trilogy, after commenting that he had just completed reading the whole thing to his seven year old daughter, remarked that "except when he is being pedantic and boring the adult reader, there is little ... over the head of the seven year old." If Mr. Wilson is sincere, then he must read even more superficially than the average critic is sometimes accused of doing; undoubtedly a seven year old could follow the story and might enjoy it, but a book which does not yield up all its complexities even to the educated adult on first reading could hardly be said to be wholly comprehensible even to the possibly precocious little Miss Wilson.
The critic is possibly deceived by this fact; they are probably the only books written for adults in the past twenty years or so which are almost devoid of overt sexual motivation.