Monday, March 11, 2019

Lord of the Rings — Resources for Digging Deeper

Some of my favorite resources for opening up the Lord of the Rings. (For resources on The Hobbit, look here.)
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MY ESSENTIALS
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These are the resources that brought the book alive for me
Your milage may vary. (Which is why I have plenty of other options below!)


The Tolkien Professor

This is the one that began opening up The Lord of the Rings for me. After listening to these recordings of Corey Olsen's class, I was determined to read the book, despite having failed several times to get further than The Fellowship of the Ring. Thanks to the audiobooks and these classes, I did it! And am now on my eighth reading.

Download them from the link above. They are clearly labeled and if you only want Lord of the Rings, begin with week 8.


J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: 
Understanding Middle-Earth
by Bradley J. Birzer
My absolute favorite. Simply excellent overview that ties together Tolkien's underlying worldview from both his life and from his literature.







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LISTENING
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Mythgard Academy
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King

The Tolkien Professor was so popular that Corey Olsen was able to begin Mythgard Academy, offering free on-line book courses and later branching out into an actual on-line university. If you like the Tolkien Professor's classes, these are essentially the same but more in-depth. I love them. Scroll down at the link to see all the past classes, beginning with the LOTR ones. There are links for different ways to get them - watching or listening.


A Good Story is Hard to Find

Scott and I did a two-part series on the book. Part 1, Part 2.

(We also discussed the movies in this episode. Because, you know, we're completists.)



SFFaudio Podcast

Because one set of discussions was not enough (when is it ever?) ... I also joined this discussion with Jesse, Seth, and Maissa at SFFaudio.

This is a 6-part series as we talked about LOTR following the way Tolkien divided the books up in sections.




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READING
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The Gospel According to Tolkien: 
Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth
by Ralph C. Wood

The Gospel According to Tolkien examines biblical and Christian themes that are found in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Some of the insights I already knew, but others are from things I didn't know referencing a larger literary view, Tolkien's past, history, and Christianity. Wood is a graceful and interesting writer. I bought this one.



Lord of the Elves and Eldils: 
Fantasy and Philosophy in C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
by Richard L. Purtill

I was surprised to see that quite a bit of this winds up addressing Tolkien's critics. I had no idea how many people, both positively and negatively inclined, have tried to shove The Lord of the Rings into their own narrow worldview. It is really interesting to see how much broader Tolkien, with his devout Catholic worldview, has managed to be simply because he himself wanted to write a story that was pre-Christian. I bought this one. My full review here.


On the Shoulders of Hobbits: 
The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis
by Louis Markos

I've read several other books looking deeper into The Lord of the Rings, in particular, and this book still managed to provide new ideas for reflection. Markos really does a fantastic job of revealing the characteristics of various characters in Middle-Earth and Narnia and the virtues we can see in them. This is a thoughtful and thought provoking book which I can't recommend highly enough. My full review here.



The Fellowship: 
The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski

I've read enough about Tolkien, Lewis, and the Inklings that I resisted this behemoth of a book at first. What hooked me was that the authors delve into both their faith and their literary works more deeply than the other things I've read. I read slowly, just picking it up here and there, and it was oh so satisfying. My full review is here.




J.R.R. Tolkien: 
A Biography 
by Humphrey Carpenter

Like Dr. Who's TARDIS, we're all bigger on the inside and Tolkien's inner landscape held a vast imagination coupled with interest in so many topics that he was sometimes unable to finish a project unless prodded by deadlines or friends. It is Humphrey Carpenter's ability to reconcile Tolkien's inner and outer man, while including his popular fiction in the timeline, that make this book so riveting. We feel we truly know J.R.R. Tolkien by the end. My full review here.

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