Printer Friendly

The comedy of enchantment in The Lord of the Rings.

Abstract: In this article, J. R. R. Tolkien's conception of the "enchantment" of fantasy as articulated in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" is initially discussed in relation to the Catholic imagination and its inclination toward inspiring a comedic narrative. In The Lord of the Rings, among others, it is incorporated through the enchanted hierarchical structure of Middle-earth that inspires some of its benign inhabitants, especially the hobbits, to "rightly order their lives" in terms of community and their attitude toward death, and likewise creates a universe "hospitable to the humane." Tolkien's comedic narrative also awakens readers from the complacency that typically accompanies the contemporary spirit of disenchantment and helps readers in seeing their world anew.

**********

Ralph Wood astutely encapsulates one of the more telling distinctions between the work and thought of J. R. R. Tolkien and his fellow Inkling C. S. Lewis:

For Lewis it is possible for the Gospel to exist without the ethos which it creates. Thus did he discern a potential divide between Christ and culture that Tolkien never observed. Whereas Tolkien sought to build up what might be called a Christian culture, Lewis was an evangelist who sought first and last to make the case for Christianity, whether by straightforward argument ... or by fictional embodiment.... ("Conflict and Convergence" 318)

No doubt intellectual temperament plays a role, but I feel this distinction can also be explained in that to a fairly high degree Tolkien and Lewis are, respectively, exemplars of the analogical and dialectical religious imaginations. According to the theologian David Tracy, the theistic imagination is on the one hand dialectical, picturing God as distant from creation; on the other hand it is analogical, wherein God is also felt to be close to the world and to people (Greeley 5-9). Although the relationship of these two tendencies is dynamic and shifting, the Catholic imagination inclines toward accepting the closeness of God to creation. This, among others, is evidenced by the importance of the sacraments, which stress the availability of grace to God's creatures. The religious sensibility that evolves from this perspective multiplies metaphors demonstrating the proximity of God to humanity and values human community. In contrast, the first tendency, which is more likely for the Protestant sensibility, tends to view community as an obstacle to a more direct relationship with God. Andrew Greeley summarizes the different sensibilities: "Catholics tend to accentuate the immanence of God, Protestants the transcendence of God" (5). Tracy stresses the complimentarity of the two religious sensibilities and that neither is superior to the other, while Greeley, a sociologist, has studied how they become embodied in the art, literature, and attitudes of society, particularly in the United States; he concludes there is a connection between the religious imagination and how people live and the themes that permeate their creativity. Due the tendency of the analogical imagination to see grace virtually everywhere, Greeley often refers to it as the "enchanted" imagination. (1)

It would, of course, be simplistic to say that Lewis with his "divide between Christ and culture" was uniformly the embodiment of the Protestant imagination and Tolkien the Catholic imagination, and I will give evidence of the interpenetration of the analogical and dialectical imagination in Tolkien. Nevertheless, it is a useful point of departure to indicate the predominance of the Catholic imagination in the author of The Lord of the Rings, especially in this major work. (2)

Because the "enchanted" imagination is fairly optimistic in art and literature, it tends toward the comedic mode. For our purposes, as Francesca Aran Murphy puts it, generally in comedy "[t]he hero ascends toward a community of love. He uses prudence and discernment to reach it. He suffers as much as the tragic hero; he struggles against evil forces. But the swing of the comic plot hauls him up" (7). Suffering on the part of the hero, the possible experience of both "sorrow and failure" is certainly evident in Tolkien's fiction.

However, what makes The Lord of the Rings a "comedy of enchantment" is more than just a narrative mode. Of course Greeley's connection of enchantment with the analogical imagination is another point of departure, and it shall be examined, but in Tolkien it additionally takes on a polemical stance with modernity and even postmodernity. Before coming to this, it is useful to examine some of Tolkien's own concepts that pertain to his creative work.

Although in his Beowulf essay Tolkien famously admires the virtues of Northern courage, I would largely agree with Wood that "he could not finally affirm the overwhelming darkness and hopelessness of [its] outlook" (Gospel According to Tolkien 75). This is particularly evident in "On Fairy-Stories," which, among others, brings Tolkien in line with one of the outstanding contributions of Athens and Jerusalem, i.e. an ethical system based on human flourishing. It should be recalled that the predominant ethical systems beyond the West, such as Confusionism, place a higher value on duty than on happiness, and the same can be said for Northern courage.

Known philosophically as "eudaimonism;' happiness was understood as the ethical goal of most ancient philosophical systems of the Occident as well as being accepted by Christianity. To give an example, much like in the case of Aristotle, as Darrin McMahon notes, for St. Thomas Aquinas "happiness is a process, a continual becoming, in which we realize our full potential by fully realizing ourselves" (132). For Christian thinkers, human flourishing was intended to go beyond personal excellence and strengthen the sense of community (cf. Gomes 63).

In Tolkien's essay "On Fairy-Stories," eudaimonism is incorporated in a comedic narrative theology: much as happiness is the proper end of the virtuous life, joy is the proper end of the fairy tale, or fantasy. Tolkien takes the climactic "joyous turn;' or "eucatastrophe," as he famously termed it, of the fairy story to a theological climax by claiming that it gains its strength through echoing, however faintly, the Gospel story, while the Gospel story in turn absorbs fairy stories by fulfilling the desires embodied in them in the real world. As Verlyn Flieger notes, this narrative theology echoes Erich Auerbach's discussion of the representation of reality in Western literature, in which "the story of Christ is such an integral part of the mind and imagination of Western narrative since its time and has made the mix of everyday reality and high tragedy the norm for narrative literature" (30). Flieger points out, however, that in Tolkien's conception story contains the "mixture of potential tragedy and the happy ending" (30). Ultimately the fairy story becomes a kind of conversion experience, taking the reader from despair to joy (31).

In the same essay, Tolkien complains that goodness has been "bereft of its proper beauty" and implies the function of fantasy is to restore the balance ("On Fairy-Stories" 151). In this and his theological concept of subcreation, Tolkien connects beauty with a sense of wonder, further claiming: "we make in our measure and in our diminutive mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker" ("On Fairy-Stories" 145). Although his own obsession was language, in connecting sub-creation to an affect, "eucatastrophe," Tolkien ultimately left open the means by which it is attained. This likens the concept to what Greeley says of the Catholic imagination, which is "rooted in metaphorical 'God talk' and because metaphors are polysemous, the Catholic religious imagination can disclose itself in many different forms" (19).

It should be pointed out, however, that for Tolkien sub-creation is not in any way a supernatural process, "fabricat[ing] a new world ex nihilo, as only God does, but rather ... creat[ing] a Secondary World of fantasy" (Wood, "Conflict" 328). To some extent, creating a Secondary World reflects our own limited capabilities. Thus it could be said sub-creation is a religious activity "concurring in God's work" (3) but also stressed that it is not a religion of itself. That is a necessary distinction in regard to the modernist view that with advancing secularization art replaces religion. As one scholar puts it, "Moving throughout the discourse of Modernism in art was a dominant conception of the sacred, one which distanced art from institutional religion, most importantly Christianity, in order to secure the freedom of art as an autonomous cultural force that was sacralized in its own right" (Morgan 40).

That Tolkien was concerned with the processes of secularization and its effects seems evident in his relating sub-creation to the "craft" of "enchantment" ("On Fairy-Stories" 143). Enchantment as a critical term stands obviously enough in opposition to Max Weber's "disenchantment." But in Tolkien's case it is not so simple. If, as Charles Taylor explains it, disenchantment is, among others, the sense which developed after Newton that "there is absolutely no question of higher meanings being expressed in the universe around us" then traditionally in an enchanted world "there is a strong contrast between the sacred and the profane." Furthermore, in the political sphere "kingdom[s] existed not only in ordinary, secular time, in which a strong transitivity rule held, but also existed in higher times" (A Secular Age 446).

And while in his fiction Tolkien's "enchantment" may similarly look anachronistic, i.e. depicting a world with the presence of spirits and demons, the concept in the essay is not a mere return to an irretrievable past; he was aware "re-enchantment" cannot turn back the clock. Rather his conception strongly critiques a particular byproduct of disenchantment, i.e. "the active instrumental stance toward the world" (Taylor, Secular 98), which Tolkien terms "magic": "Magic produces or pretends to produce an alteration in the Primary World. It does not matter by whom it is said to be practiced, fay or mortal, it remains distinct from [enchantment]; it is not an art but a technique; its desire is power in this world, domination of things and wills" ("On Fairy-Stories" 143). Tolkien is not against science as such, which in its pure form represents "the spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are 'other' and wholly independent of the enquiring mind" (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien 192). Enchantment as art is superior to "magic" in that it can create a Secondary World without in any way disrupting or dominating the Primary World, and this is true Art.

Although this seems a great deal to claim on behalf of fairy tales, Tolkien appears to be on to something in that they have been deemed potent enough for none other than Richard Dawkins to attack. The militant atheist, and neo-Puritan, deplores what he feels is the tendency of fairy tales to produce "anti-scientific" thinking in children (cf. Woodlief). Conversely, Tolkien defends the ability of fairy stories to sharpen reason. "The keener and clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make," explains Tolkien, adding a little further on:

For creative fantasy is founded upon the hard recognition that things are so in the world as it appears under the sun; on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it.... If men really could not distinguish between frogs and men, fairy-stories about frog-kings would not have arisen. ("Fairy-Stories" 144)

Moreover, Tolkien is not a great proponent of fairy tales for children either; the allusion to the Book of Ecclesiastes in the above quote, one of the darkest biblical books, is hardly accidental. Before eucatastrophe "turns" the tale there is "dyscatastrophe" or as Murphy says of comedy above, the hero "suffers as much as the tragic hero" The connection between fairy tales and children is something of a historical accident, claims Tolkien--part of the course of "disenchantment" it might be said--and the essay "On Fairy-Stories" largely attempts to recover the form, under the term fantasy, for adults: "If a fairy-story as a kind is worth reading at all it is worthy to be written for and read by adults" ("Fairy-Stories" 137).

One might add in this context that "disenchantment" can also lead to a serious lacunae in understanding the contemporary world for many "adults" The philosopher Peter Dews suggests why, despite the horrors of the twentieth century that led thinkers like Hannah Arendt to predict that it would be the primary intellectual dilemma of the post-war period, evil has proved so difficult to face squarely: "in the disenchanted and predominantly secularized West, the religious assumptions--however implicit--that gave the notion of evil its place in our thinking about the world, as the violation of a divinely sanctioned order, are no longer shared by the majority of people" (51). Unsurprisingly, instead of this process enabling thinkers to get at the heart of the subject of evil, it slowly led them to drop the subject or left them bereft of the conceptual tools to get at its heart.

No doubt this disenchantment of evil to some extent also leads to the increasingly common phenomenon of pitying the monsters that can be perceived in popular culture, especially in vampire films such as Interview with the Vampire (1994) and its various successors. When he describes the dragon in Beowulf, for instance, as "a personification of malice, greed, destruction (the evil side of heroic virtue), and the undiscriminating cruelty of fortune that distinguishes not good or bad (the evil aspect of all life)" ("Beowulf" 17), Tolkien recognizes monsters for what they are. Among others, monsters are symbolic representations of internal vices that need to be overcome. Evil is "enchanted" which is not to say that it is glorified; the reverse is true.

Tolkien's conception of evil is fundamentally Augustinian in that it is essentially parasitical on goodness. As Scott A. Davison explains it: "Evil is like the darkness of a shadow: light is necessary for shadows to exist, but shadows are not necessary for light to exist. Goodness is primary and independent, whereas evil is secondary and dependent on goodness" (102). In The Lord of the Rings, this is implicit when Elrond says: "For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so" (261). Significantly, Sauron's influence is described as the Shadow, while Gandalf exhorts the Lord of the Nazgul at the gates of Minis Tirith: "Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your master" (Rings 811).

From the logic of the narrative, observes Brian Rosebury, "The Ruling Ring offers a challenge that requires two alternative responses to evil-passive forbearance and active opposition--to unite. Frodo and his friends must ... both renounce [the Ring] and actively seek its destruction" ("Good and Evil" 150-51). All the while the corrupting power of the Ring gnaws away at Frodo's will. The climax of his mission where he fails to throw the Ring into the Cracks of Doom seems to demonstrate another Augustinian concept by a narrative negation: "Augustine believed that we achieve true freedom not by doing what we want, but by conforming our wills perfectly to the will of God, so that nothing in us rebels against him. What Frodo experiences is the demonic counterpart of that freedom, a wholeness of will that is perfect enslavement" (Jacobs 93). That Frodo, one of the heroes of the novel, succumbs to its power is consistent with Tolkien's oft-expressed conviction that the power of evil is too great to be resisted by incarnate creatures without the assistance of grace. In this, as one critic wryly observes, he is "more Protestant than the Protestants" (Rutledge 11). It is also the factor that makes The Lord of the Rings not simply a binary "good versus evil" tale: the best characters either realize that evil is not only in the "other," but also a potential within themselves, or they learn this at some point in the narrative. Indeed, barring the climax, the evil Ring is within the hands of the "good" characters for the duration of the novel.

Tolkien counters evil, or the "Shadow" with light, i.e. the "primary and independent" goods that justify and support the comedic structure of Middle-earth. One scholar frames the contrast as that between the possessive and imitative desire of evil, which ultimately has no substance, and the authentic being of goodness, which has no desire for possession. Tom Bombadill is perhaps the purest incarnation of such goodness, whom Goldenberry describes as simply being, i.e. "He is" (Rings 122). The incident with the Barrow Wight confirms this contrast, in which "Tolkien suggests that authentic 'being' necessarily repulses illusory 'being': in the character of Tom Bombadill the real and absolute prevail over the merely imitative" (Head 147).

Through its implicit theological telos, substantive being is structurally supported throughout Middle-earth. One of the striking things about Tolkien's sub-created world is its ordered nature (Zimbardo). The Catholic imagination recognizes the need for hierarchy for a healthy community or, as Greeley puts it, the necessity of structure: "Structure implies organization, which is not possible without leadership, which in turn requires hierarchy.... Hierarchy is implicit in the notion of community because without leadership community soon descends into anarchy" (138). Wood recognizes that the hierarchical structure of Middle-earth is grounded in the author's religious sensibility. "Tolkien's fantasy world is a realm in which each part must be subordinated to the whole," observes Wood, and concludes: "Tolkien believes that our loss of hierarchy signals a larger moral and religious loss as well: we are deprived of the means of rightly ordering our lives" (Gospel 38). Providing readers a hierarchically structured world that demonstrates this order is part of the motivation behind his sub-created world. And so we have a hierarchy from inanimate and animate beings, to sentient beings of which humans are not even on the top, up to Iluvatar the godhead. One might add that this hierarchy largely complies with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity in that the benign sentient creatures are generally aware of the limits of their competence.

Another element that becomes evident is the historical ordering of time in the Middle-earth cosmos. In "On Fairy-Stories" Tolkien claims, "History often resembles 'Myth' because they are both ultimately of the same stuff" (127). However, if the vernacular understanding of mythical time evokes the image of cycles and recurring events, nothing could be further from Tolkien's mythology, in which events stand for themselves and are not repetitive. This is a fundamentally theistic approach to history. Tolkien stresses that we must act in time despite our incomplete knowledge of the consequences of our actions. As Wood puts it, "Humanity's wondrous and terrible ignorance of the future gives time its enduring ethical and religious importance. It means that we are at once radically dependent upon everything that has come before us, but also that we are radically responsible for everything that comes after us" (Gospel 44).

If history is like myth it is partly because both depend on narrative to help us make sense of events and our part in them. It is Sam Gamgee that articulates this perspective on the stairs of Cirith Ungol when he relates the history of Middle-earth from the travails of First Age heroes right up to the stellarized Earendil and concludes: "And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We've--you've got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still!" (Rings 69697). Like Hayden White, Tolkien understands the imaginative structure of history, but he does not relativize it. Lee Oser puts it succinctly: "For Tolkien, the mysterious (ultimately Christian) teleology of human nature and its corollary, mimetic art, supply a common ground of history in any age" (65).

In the unfolding narrative of Tolkien's Silmarillion mythology there is a clear line from the divine creation of the cosmos, in which Iluvatar is aided by angelic beings, to the creation of the First Born, the elves, and subsequently the Second Born, or humans. Some of the immortal elves have met these angelic beings and live long enough to relate their meetings to men. However, by the Third Age, the period when The Lord of the Rings is set, most of these select elves have either died in the numerous battles or left Middle-earth. And so the continuing action of Iluvatar in Middle-earth resembles that of God in our own world. Providence is implied and even recognized at a number of junctures, like when Gandalf suggests that Frodo was "meant" to find the Ring. However, its subtlety and the fact that often providence can only be detected in hindsight, has moral and dramatic significance in the narrative: "The mysterious, incomprehensible designs of providence underscore the importance of human effort, a sense that, in spite of the apparent odds, one must press on to do one's duty in the fight against evil" (Hibbs 170).

The strength for this struggle comes partly from within but also from resources outside the self. Among them are those connected with the benign characters being embedded in community. One of the most obvious signs of the Catholic imagination is its focus on community. Greeley suggests that "under ordinary conditions Catholics picture society as supportive and not oppressive" (130). In The Lord of the Rings, Thomas Hibbs points out, "Tolkien gives us characters who can only understand themselves and their duties as parts of larger wholes, as members of nations and races, as participants in alliances and friendships for the good, and ultimately as part of a natural cosmos" (173). Wood contrasts Lewis, for whom "most of [his] heroes are virtual solitaries," with Tolkien, who "places communal life at the very center of the Rings epic" ("Conflict" 319, 320).

Tolkien initially establishes the theme of community in the novel by presenting the hobbits and their ways. These fundamentally simple people are full of joie de vivre. "The Hobbits are firmly enfleshed,' observes one critic. "They love gardening, visiting, eating and drinking--'six meals a day (when they could get them)'--and parties and presents. Also, unlike the other lands we see, the Shire is full of children, for Tolkien tells us that Hobbits have very large families" (Mathie 137). If, as Greeley says, the Catholic imagination loves festivals and leisure and it "revels in stories that are festivals and festivals that are stories" (52), then the presence of the hobbits and all they represent are the primary manifestation of the Catholic sensibility in The Lord of the Rings.

Authentic being is shared to a greater or lesser extent in Middle-earth by its benign peoples. These people are all fallible, but the good characters are guided by human virtues that are completed by grace: "Tolkien the Christian imbues The Lord of the Rings not only with pagan virtues as they are classically conceived," Wood observes, "but also with the conviction that, when completed and perfected, prudence issues in holy folly, justice in undeserved mercy, courage in unexpected endurance, and temperance in joyful self-denial" (Gospel 77). Joyful self-denial is a key here. For one thing, the virtue provides a crucial advantage over evil, personified by Sauron, who, for all his power and malicious intelligence, "cannot imagine selflessness" (Rutledge 162): this lack of moral imagination ultimately leads to his downfall. For another thing, self-denial relates to a paradoxical view of power. As Nancy Enright observes, "characters who are ultimately most powerful are those, whether male or female, who willingly lay down their own power and even, in some cases, their lives for others.... Aragorn, Gandalf, Faramir--to name just a few key male characters--all exhibit this renunciation and enjoy greater power because of it" (103, 106). (4)

The greatest self-denial, however, is the acceptance of death. Tolkien claimed in his correspondence that together with immortality the theme of death is dominant in The Lord of the Rings. By the author's admission, it pervades the novel structurally through "the mystery of the love of the world in the hearts of a race 'doomed' to leave and seemingly lose it [and] the anguish in the hearts of a race 'doomed' not to leave it, until the whole evil-aroused story is complete" (Letters 246). Tolkien is referring to the contrast between human beings, with their short lifespans, and elves, who possess the potential of deathlessness. Thus the contrasting state of the latter acts as a thematic foil.

Much has been written on the topic of death in Middle-earth; at this juncture I will simply relate it to the discussion of hierarchy helping to provide structure in the sub-created world. For Christians death introduces its own hierarchy, likewise encouraging "rightly ordering our lives." As Peter Gomes puts it, "The awareness of mortality, the first fruit of the Garden of Eden, is one of the continuing themes of self-awareness, self-discipline, and moral intelligence throughout the Bible; and the awareness of death is the first key to the discipline that contributes to the good life" (137). This disciplining is partly reflected indirectly in The Lord of the Rings. As has been noted, in Tolkien's world, "immortality and long life lead even the noblest creatures to a spiritual dead end, or to outright corruption" (Mathie 10-11). The elves, for instance, are a fairly stagnant "antiquarian" people, the ents are declining, while barrenness also marks the city of Minis Tirith, home of the Numenoreans known for their longevity: for instance Beregond tells Pippin, "There were always too few children in the city" (Rings 747). Anna Mathie notes the paradox that the race least interested in longevity for its own sake offers the greatest resistance to evil and relates it to the hobbits' pursuit of the "mortal" path of immortality, i.e. parenthood:
 This fertility, this willingness to pass life onto a new generation
 rather than grasping for "endless life unchanging" is the Hobbits'
 great strength .... It makes them at once humbler than immortals,
 since they place less confidence in their own individual abilities,
 and more hopeful, since their own individual defeats are not the
 end of everything. The life that lives its life for its offspring
 may never achieve perfection, but neither is it ever utterly
 defeated. Some hope remains. (11)


Through the juxtaposition of the mortal approach to death on the part of the hobbits with the sense of the miracle of the ordinary their lifestyle evokes, i.e. the sacramental dimension of life, the somber theme of death becomes integrated with the comedic thrust of the author's work.

To a large extent, it is the richness and variety of Middle-earth that makes the struggle against evil all the more vivid. The "earthly" aspect of eucatastrophe is crucial in linking it with human flourishing. Rosebury aptly observes that in The Lord of the Rings the "eucatastrophe is aesthetically compelling ... because its optimism is emotionally consonant with the work's pervasive sense of a universe hospitable to the humane" (Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon 71).

Tolkien's religious imagination operates on a highly reflexive level in his conceptual thinking about the nature of beauty and his creative exploration of its nature in The Lord of the Rings. It is worth recalling the observation cited above that "Tolkien sought to build up what might be called a Christian culture" This places the author in line with today's religious humanists, of whom Gregory Wolfe says that on account of their understanding that "symbolism, imagery, and language play a crucial role in forming attitudes and prejudices" they "have devoted themselves to nourishing the imaginative life" (quoted in Bequette xvi).

One of the inheritances of our modern sensibility is a chronocentrism in which each generation acquires a sense of "moral exceptionalism" (Taylor, Sources of the Self 394). (5) Thus some of the values listed above will leave a number of readers untouched or confused. For instance, Thomas Hibbs points out that "[c]oncepts like duty and providence are often seen as limits to our own unique ethical choices. In Tolkien's world, however, doing one's duty is a free choice made by good beings in the fight against evil" (170). Nevertheless, the modern self and its ethos are themselves passing things. Among others, the goal of self-realization directed at attaining the autonomous self that is presently so highly valued ultimately falls flat because, as ever more people realize, such a self is largely an illusion. To the succor of those unhappily entangled and who can't quite see their way out, Tolkien uses fantasy undergirded by a theological "deep narrative" (Rutledge 3) to tear away some of the veils of this illusion.

The enchanted comedy of The Lord of the Rings combines a deep narrative with an essentially earthly vision of paradise offered in the annus mirabilis in the final portion of the book. In a manner analogous to Jeffrey Burton Russell's observation on Dante's Purgatorio, "The earthly paradise makes us wish even more keenly for the celestial paradise" (163). Desire in this case also awakens us from the complacency that the disenchanted world tends to impose upon us and helps in seeing the world anew. As Aragorn puts it, "The green earth ... is a mighty matter of legend, though [we] tread it under the light of day" (Rings 424).

Maria Curie-Sktodowska University

WORKS CITED

Bequette, John P. Christian Humanism: Creation, Redemption, and Reintegration. Lanham, MD: UP of America, 2007.

Davison, Scott A. "Tolkien and the Nature of Evil." The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy. Eds. Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson. Chicago and La Salle: Open Court, 2003.99-109.

Dews, Peter. "Disenchantment and the Persistence of Evil: Habermas, Jonas, Badion." Modernity and the Problem of Evil. Ed. Alan D. Schrift. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2005.51-65.

Enright, Nancy. "Tolkien's Females and the Defining of Power:' Renascence 59.2 (Winter 2007): 93-108.

Flieger, Verlyn. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983.

Garbowski, Christopher. "Tolkien's Middle Earth and the Catholic Imagination." Mallorn 61 (2003): 9-12.

Gomes, Peter J. The Good Life: Truths That Last in Times of Need. New York: Harper Collins, 2002.

Greeley, Andrew. The Catholic Imagination. Berkeley: U of California P, 2000.

Head, Hayden. "Imitative Desire in Tolkien's Mythology: A Girardean Perspective." Mythlore 26.1/2 (Fall/Winter 2007): 137-48.

Hibbs, Thomas. "Providence and the Dramatic Unity of The Lord of the Rings:' The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy. Eds. Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson. Chicago and La Salle: Open Court, 2003. 167-78.

Jacobs, Alan. Original Sin: A Cultural History. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2008.

Mathie, Anna. "Tolkien and the Gift of Mortality." First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion & Public Life 137 (November 2003): 10-12.

McMahon, Darrin M. Happiness: A History. New York: Atlantic Monthly P, 2006.

Morgan, David. "Art and Religion in the Modern Age:' Re-Enchantment. Eds. James Elkin and David Morgan. New York: Routledge, 2008. 25-45.

Morrow, Jeffrey. "J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in Light of Hans Urs von Balthasar:' Renascence 56.3 (Spring 2004): 181-96.

Murphy, Fransesca Aran. The Comedy of Revelation: Paradise Lost and Regained in Biblical Narrative. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2000.

Oser, Lee. The Return of Christian Humanism: Chesterton, Eliot, Tolkien and the Romance of History. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2008.

Rosebury, Brian. Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

--. "Good and Evil," J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Ed. Michael D. C. Drout. New York: Routledge, 2007. 250-51.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton* A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1996.

Rutledge, Fleming. The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.

Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap P of Harvard UP, 2007.

--. Sources of the Self The Making of Modern Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1989.

Tolkien, J. R. R. "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. London: Harper Collins, 1997.5-48.

--. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter. London: Harper Collins, 1990.

--. The Lord of the Rings. London: Harper Collins, 1994.

--. "On Fairy-Stories" The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. London: Harper Collins, 1997. 109-61.

--. The Simarillion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977. Wood, Ralph. "Conflict and Convergence on Fundamental Matters in C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien." Renascence 55.4 (Fall 2003): 315-37.

--. The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Woodlief, Tony. "OK Virginia, There's No Santa Claus. But There Is God" Wall Street Journal Opinion. December 19, 2008. Web. 3 September 2009.

Zimbardo, Rose A. "Moral Vision in The Lord of the Rings." Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism. Eds. Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil D. Isaacs. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.68-75.

NOTES

(1) Greeley even starts his The Catholic Imagination with the words: "Catholics live in an enchanted world" (1), and on the second page the phrase "enchanted imagination" occurs even before the author explains the key concepts of analogical and dialectical imaginations.

(2) I argue this claim more extensively, largely on the basis of The Lord of the Rings, in "Tolkien's Middle Earth and the Catholic Imagination" pages 9-12.

(3) The phrase is from Hans Urs von Balthasar (quoted in Morrow 185), who, as Jeffrey Morrow convincingly argues, felt much the same about imagination as Tolkien.

(4) Enright goes on to claim "the fact that Tolkien shows female characters exhibiting this kind of power better and more significantly than many of the males undercuts much of the supposed male dominance perceived by some readers of the novel, a perception largely based on the low number of female characters (which is less significant than the roles they play) and the supposed stereotypes these female characters fulfill (stereotypes undercut by an accurate analysis of gender in connection with the definition of power in the text)" (106).

(5) Taylor dates the phenomenon of each generation acquiring a sense of "moral exceptionalism" back to the Victorians.
COPYRIGHT 2011 Conference on Christianity and Literature
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Garbowski, Christopher
Publication:Christianity and Literature
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:5632
Previous Article:Be Always Coming Home Triolet Church Signs.
Next Article:In Memory of John Updike, 1932-2009.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters