Talk:The Lord of the Rings

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How I got Houghton Mifflin to fix the dustjacket

I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings circa 1963, in college, when it was only available in hardbound, and known to a relatively small group of people. After reading them, I immediately bought The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which was a very significant expense for a college student. I deeply regret not having preserved the dust jacket of The Hobbit, because I made an interesting discovery. The U. S. edition was, of course, published by Houghton Mifflin. The dustjacket said Houghton Mifflin on it.

But, around the edge of the dustjacket, is a decorative inscription in runes. Unlike the more well-developed fictional languages and alphabets in The Lord of the Rings, it turned out on inspection to be a direct letter-for-rune transliteration. And the runes said "The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, etc. etc. ... and published by George Allen and Unwin." I immediately wrote Houghton Mifflin pointing out their terrible mistake, got a polite reply, and in the next edition the runes, as well as the ordinary letters, said "Houghton Mifflin."

I still have the book, but since I am a reader and not a book collector the dustjackets long ago wore out. I keep meaning to see whether the book collectors noticed the change and whether I would have had a valuable rarity if I'd kept the dustjacket... Dpbsmith 17:10, 10 February 2007 (EST)

The books are amazing along with the movie. No one can try to make books like that again. They can but not as good. Will N.

  • Darn tootin.' Dpbsmith 09:53, 11 February 2007 (EST)
  • Yep! It's really sickening when people try to imitate Tolkien's masterful writing. A prime example of this is the recently film adapted book, Eragon. Not only does this book copy Tolkien by having races of men, elves, and dwarves, but it even plagarizes many of his names. For example, The main character Eragon falls in love with an elf princess named Arya, their names are way to similar to Aragorn and Arwen. ~ SharonS 12:24, 11 February 2007 (EST)

It seems that Chritopher Paolini (the author of Eragon) actually borrowed a couple of names directly from Tolkein (such as "Beor" and "Melian") as well as mant ideas, yet his books definately have some very original qualities.

--BenjaminS 12:54, 11 February 2007 (EST)

  • Many aspects of Christopher's books are certainly original, and his writing is very good. My sister read the sequel to Eragon, Eldest and really liked it and encouraged me to give it a try, so I read it rather reluctantly and was pleasantly surprised. Much of the derivative nature of Eragon has not been continued in Eldest, it was was a very enjoyable read. Christopher Paolini was only fifteen when he wrote Eragon, and I think his writing has gotten much better since then. Anyway, this is getting off topic so I'll be quiet now :) ~ SharonS 15:30, 11 February 2007 (EST)
    • It's not necessarily off-topic if someone wanted to add a section on writers who were influenced by The Lord of the Rings. Dpbsmith 17:24, 11 February 2007 (EST)
      • You'd have a much easier time finding all the fantasy writers who weren't influenced by Lord of the Rings. It's be a much smaller list, too. --Gulik 04:52, 11 March 2007 (EDT)
  • Don't you think the poetry in the Lord of the Rings ("Earendil was a mariner that tarried in Alvernion/He built a boat of timber felled in Nimbrethel to journey in," etc. is pretty awful, though? Dpbsmith 17:23, 11 February 2007 (EST)
  • That bit of poetry is pretty bad, but I think it is supposed to be that way because it is by Bilbo and he's not supposed to be at all good compared to the elves. Many of the other poems in the book are excellent. I especially like the first poem in the chapter called "Farewell to Lorien" (the one that is not in elvish). In short, I think that Tolkien was very skilled in writing poetry, but instead of always writing his best, used poetry as a means to reflect and develop his characters' personalities. ~ SharonS 19:30, 11 February 2007 (EST)

When i read Eragon, all i thought was like, this is a version of someone tring to compete or copy Tolkein, i am not done with eldest so dont spoil anything!!! shhhhh!!!! Will N.

  • If you guys like Tolken's poetry then you guys should read The Lays of Beleriand. These two poems, are incredibe and beat all of the poetry in Lord of the Rings by far. One is a love story and one is a tragety. I just suggest that you read the Silmarillion and read the history of Middle Earth first because the poems are poetic remakes of the two stories found in the Silmarillian, Beren and Luthien and Turin Turambar. --James G. 08:38, 13 February 2007 (EST)
  • The Lays of Beleriand are excellent, especially the Lay of Lethian (the one about Beren and Luthien). Tolkien was exceptionally talented to write work like that. As for the prose stories, I like the version of Beren and Luthien in The Book of Lost Tales II called The Tale of Tinuviel, For Turin Turambar, I like the Narn i Hin Hurin (the Tale of the Children of Hurin) in Unfinished Tales. ~ SharonS 09:26, 13 February 2007 (EST)
  • I haven't read The tale of Tinuviel yet but I did read the Fall of Gondolin. That was a great battle and I have read Narn I Hin Hurin and next to The Lay of Lethian its my favorite of Tolkens works. What really shocks me is how many people read the Hobbit annd The Lord of the Rings and think thats it. There is so much more in Tolkens Middle Earth that many people dont know along with deeds like in Beren and Luthien that make the war of the ring look like a little skirmish.--James G. 10:49, 14 February 2007 (EST)
    • Is that in the Silmarillion? I tried to read that once. I couldn't get into it at all... Dpbsmith 12:36, 14 February 2007 (EST)
  • Yes it is and if you read through the first part of the book dont try to really get. The first time I started to read the Silmarilian I started by skipping Ainulindale and starting in the Valaquenta. That helped me a little.--James G. 08:58, 15 February 2007 (EST)

The Silimarilian is very hard to read. I barely read it. But it is one of Tolkein's great works. Will N.

  • Personaly I think its better than Lord of the Rings by far.--James G. 19:03, 15 February 2007 (EST)

The 7-volume Harry Potter series is Lord of the Rings for 11-year-olds, and it does a fine job too. It combines a few elements from Chronicles of Narnia, particularly that Summerhill clone where the the good kids get bullied before taking a voyage with a stalwart Mouse, rescuing (!) a dragon, etc.

I'd like to do a comparison of LOTR vs. HP for things like:

  1. a villain no one sees or dares to name
  2. communication by fireplace or palintir
  3. rings vs. wands
  4. the "hero's journey" Bilbo/Frodo vs. Harry
  5. Gandalf vs. Dumbledore
  6. little Sam vs. big Hagrid

Lots more, and thank God there's no prohibition on original research here! --Ed Poor 00:04, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

What About The Bible??Is the magic justified??

Why does this article not mention the absolute prohibtion against magic in the Bible? This book, along with Harry Potter, just lures kids in to thinking magic is fun and can be used for good without realizing that its use is an abomination to God, punishable by death. Not that I expect anyone will pick up this book and start casting spells, but it's the first step towards accepting magic as not inherently evil.

Before anyone chimes in, I recognize that Tolkien was a Christian , but he was still evidently not one who was very concerned with saving his readers' souls or bringing the good news to those around him. He preferred to keep his head buried in the occult and in false pagan mythology...not exactly a role model for a conservative. --JesusSaves 04:54, 10 March 2007 (EST)

I'm not sure what magic you are referring to. The only magical things I can think of off the top of my head are the One Ring and the Palantiri. The One Ring was forged by Sauron, the ultimate force of evil, and its evil power threatens Middle Earth. The Palantiri were at first used for good, but now they have lead to the downfall of both Saruman and Denethor. These are the only examples of magic I can think of, and neither of them would make anyone think magic is fun. Rather, they demonstrate how dangerous it is. I have read The Lord of the Rings numerous times, and have never found anything in it conflicting with my faith. Could you provide me with some examples of non-Christian elements in the Lord of the Rings? Thank you! ~ SharonS 18:19, 10 March 2007 (EST)
I agree with you that there is nothing in LOTR that conflicts with christianity, but there are other examples of magic. Gandalf uses it to make fire, Galadreil's mirror is magic, gandalf and the Gandalf and the balrog fight over a door using magic, etc.
There are also magic glowing swords, the wizard who create orc soldiers, Galadriel's magical phial that they use to keep the spider at bay, other magic rings (Galadriel had one), Gandalf's magically glowing staff. It's not wall to wall magic, like Harry Potter, but there is magic and the good guys use it without any consideration for the morality of doing so. Some might argue that the fact that someone would say "nothing in LOTR that conflicts with christianity" shows its pernicious and dangerous effects. Magic is expressly forbidden in the Bible. Deut 18:10-12 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you." Now, I am not suggesting that anyone who likes LOTR is a bad Christian, just that like Harry Potter there is a subtle pro-occult attitude in the stories that conflicts with the express commandments of God. A Christian can read stories of practices that God despises, but he or she should realize what those aspects are and avoid accepting anyone who engages in such sins as "heroic" in the way LOTR suggests they might be. Everyone in those novels seems to be in desperate need of saving, especially anyone who accepts the counsel of Gandalf or the other wizards. I'd argue that Gandalf is the worst of the bunch, because he seems wise and benevolent, when in reality he the is the sort who we are supposed to drive out from our presence (in fact, under Exodus 22:18 and Leviticus 20:27, we are commanded to put him to death), lest he should "seduce [us] from the way in which the LORD [our] God commanded [us] to walk." (Deut. 13:5) --JesusSaves 004:35, 11 March 2007 (EDT)

I seem to recall that Gandalf is the Middle-Earth equivalent of an angel, if that helps at all. I don't know about the elves, though.

Thank you for that. I must admit that I was not aware Gandalf was an "angel." I am not sure that does make a difference to my concerns. Gandalf is obviously a fictional character and hence not "really" either a wizard or angel. The point is that Gandalf and other aspects of the novels appear to make magic and the occult acceptable in a way that they should not be. Admittedly, if all the magic used by the good guys were to be recast as miracles or the divine power of God manifested in Middle-Earth, this problem would disappear; but if that is the basis of "magic" in Tolkien's view, then it is a deeply hidden rationale. To a casual reader, there appears to be magic and occult influences that are of use to otherwise heroic characters. If Gandalf is an angel, though, I promise not to put him to death. ;-) --JesusSaves 05:40, 11 March 2007 (EDT)

In 1962, before the "The Lord of the Rings" became well-known, the people who introduced me to it described it as "Christian fiction." If anything with "magic" in it is deemed anti-Christian, it seems to me you'd have to include the Tales of the Brothers Grimm, most of Hans Christian Andersen's stories, two-thirds of all operas, most of Disney's animated cartoons (think of every cartoon in which a character waves a magic wand... Mickey Mouse himself, in "The Sorceror's Apprentice..." my goodness, the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Fantasia...), most of Disney's live-action movies (Doesn't Mary Poppins perform magic? Isn't "flubber" a magical substance), Ovid's Metamorphoses, The Wizard of Oz, the Arabian Nights, Shakespeare (fairies in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, the witches in Macbeth, the ghost in Hamlet), and, in short, a good portion of both the pop and high culture of Western civilization.

The famous British Catholic Cardinal Newman wrote that "I used to wish the Arabian tales were true: my imagination ran on unknown influences, on magical powers, and talismans."

As my son used to say when we worried about his seeing guns and violence on TV, "It's OK, Dad, it's just a movie. It's not real." Dpbsmith 07:06, 11 March 2007 (EDT)

Okay, I get it. You like the LOTR and feel the need to dismiss me. I am not a fanboy of the series myself, though, and my points reflect legitimate concerns of many Christians. True there is magic in many works of literature (though citing the magic used in works by pagans like Ovid or by "witches in Macbeth" is irrelevant since they were evil, the concern us magic being displayed in a positive light and presented as "Christian fiction" just as you noted these books are). I would object to my kids reading any work of supposedly "Christian literature" that depicted wizards and magic as consistent with God's plan for us, because the Bible expressly says that they are not. See my Biblical citations above.
I have refrained from editing the article itself precisely because I knew that my views would be disputed by some legitimately conservative Christians, but I do note that these concerns are raised in the Harry Potter entry, and it's hard to imagine that the Harry Potter series would exist but for LOTR, since they so greatly enhanced the literary status of the occult fantasy genre, so I am not merely "off my rocker" here. Harry Potter doesn't even pretend to be a Christian allegory. LOTR is frequently sold to our community that way, based on Tolkien's deep faith.--JesusSaves 08:14, 11 March 2007 (EDT)


The lead-in to the synopsis sounds much more like the movie than the book. I've read the book 8 or 9 times and have seen TFOTR at least 3 times. --Ed Poor 13:07, 11 April 2007 (EDT)


Do we really need a {fact} tag attached to the assertion that Tolkien was deeply religious? This is common, surface knowledge in any book about, and many books by, Tolkien. Would a simple reference to Letters, passim suffice?--All Fish Welcome 14:23, 3 May 2007 (EDT)


For future reference anyone claiming Prof. Tolkien was a homosexual or a Satanist should be blocked immediately. There is no evidence for either. Geo.Complain! 00:32, 15 August 2007 (EDT)

Proposed Merge

To reduce the amount of fancraft, increase accessibility to information and help to promote further development it is proposed that a number of Lord of the Rings related articles be merged. Please view the proposal here. TheGySom 22:26, 29 March 2008 (EDT)

Number of books

We all called LOTR "the trilogy" in the Sixties, when it was a favorite of college students. But it's really one continuous story.

It was merely published in three volumes, and there was a significant delay between the appearance of the first and last volume.

Tolkien had at one point conceived of his story as having 6 parts (which he called "books", I think). He gave titles to these parts.

The "appendices" may have comprised a 7th part.

Recall that the air or style of the writing was that of a historian narrating real adventures from a heretofore unknown world. I think Mark Twain did a similar thing with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Here's my suggestion. Either (A) treat the story as one long novel, and ignore the division into volumes and/or books; treat the appendices as part of the story, a sort of epilogue. Or (B) give the name of each "book" and "appendix". --Ed Poor Talk 09:10, 31 January 2010 (EST)