J. R. R. Tolkien was born this day in 1892. He needs no introduction to the readers of this blog. As Charles Rutledge says in his tribute, the world of fantasy today would be a smaller and poorer place with him and his works. He’s correct.
I read somewhere years ago that most, if not all, fantasy written after the 1960s (I’m paraphrasing quite a bit here since I don’t recall the source) was either an imitation of or a reaction against The Lord of the Rings. While that the extent to which that statement is true might be arguable, what can’t be argued is that Tolkien’s shadow still looms large over the field today, and not just fantasy but literature in general.
I saw The Desolation of Smaug over the Christmas holidays. I”ll save my comments on the film for another time, save for this. Watching the movie reminded me why I began to read fantasy in earnest. I’d been reading science fiction for a few years when I read The Lord of the Rings in high school. My mind was blown, and I haven’t been the same since.
I last read Tolkien when the LotR films came out. It’s time to plan a rereading sometime this year. My life has been richer because of Professor Tolkien’s works. It’s time revisit them.
Here’s a little something from last year honoring Tolkien I couldn’t resist adding: