Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Lord of the Rings Discussion Set

The Library will host a discussion of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien on Monday, November 11 at 7:00 PM. This will be second in the library’s fall series on British fantasy novels. The program will be free and open to the public.

Originally published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955, The Lord of the Rings became one of the most important and influential fantasy novels of the twentieth century. Indeed, its success was so great that the “high fantasy” mode that the book exemplified became the dominant, and almost only, commercially viable form of fantasy for many years. More than that, the book became an American cultural phenomenon in the mid-1960s and has become one of the best-selling titles in history.

The story concerns the efforts of a group of characters to destroy a magic ring and defeat an evil force that threatens their land of Middle-earth. From 2001 to 2003, the book was adapted in a series of three critically acclaimed and commercially successful films, directed by Peter Jackson. The third film in the series, The Return of the King, won eleven Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture.

J. R. R. Tolkien was a philologist and professor at Oxford University. Born in 1892 in what is now South Africa, Tolkien studied at Oxford and fought in World War I, though he fell ill and was sent home. Drawing on his interest in languages and mythology, he developed a long and complex history of a fantasy realm that he termed “Middle-earth,” and out of that material eventually grew The Hobbit, published in 1937, and The Lord of the Rings. More of this material was subsequently published after his death in 1973 as The Silmarillion (1977) and in other volumes edited by his son and literary executor, Christopher.

The library’s series “The Fantastic Fifties: British Fantasy at Mid-Century or, What’s With All the Initials?” will conclude on Monday, December 9 with a discussion of The Once and Future King by T. H. White. Copies will be available to borrow in advance.

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