War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien presents a comprehensive and successful attempt by Janet Croft to investigate the influence of the two World Wars on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien as well as his attitudes to war. It is a long time ago I read a book of this quality on J.R.R. Tolkien.
This is the first book to examine war as a central theme in all of tolkien's works, and is essential reading for Tolkien scholars. Croft brings together tolkien's experience of both World Wars and his expertise in ancient heroic literature and shows how they influenced what he wrote. She also details how readers and critics have responded to the role and depictions of war in his writings. Some have disparaged Tolkien as a war-monger and others have praised him as a pacifist. Early Tolkien criticism tended to force The Lord of the Rings into a pattern of allegory for World War II, with the Ruling Ring cast as the atom bomb. More recently commentators have seen Tolkien as one of many authors deeply influenced by their experiences in World War I. This book brings these contradictory strands together to demonstrate tolkien's "well-thought-out, comprehensive, and realistic philosophy of war."
The seven chapters lead us through tolkien's life, showing how he developed the beliefs about of war that are fundamental to all his works.
2. The Great War and tolkien's Memory
3. World War I Themes in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
4. World War II: "The Young Perish and the Old Linger, Withering"
5. Military Leaders and Leadership
6. "The Dull Backwaters of the Art of Killing": Training, Tactics, Strategy, and Battlefield Communication
7. "War Must Be, While We Defend Our Lives": Philosophy, Pathology and Conclusions
Now every one of us is in the front line of a new war (the war on terror). Croft shows how tolkien's complex attitude to war is applicable to our present lives: some wars are just wars; true leaders lead from the front; dogged endurance must replace heroic action; and an attitude of mercy can lead to unexpectedly good results. By showing us this, she also shows us why even today Tolkiens books still touch us and why so many people find courage and hope inside the works.
A number of recent books about Tolkien appear to have been rushed to the marketplace. This one is refreshingly free of typographical errors, and even more important, it has no mistakes about tolkien's texts. I can only recommend this book!
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