=The Lord of the Rings=

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The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien's own cover designs for the three volumes of the first edition


The Fellowship of the Ring The Two Towers The Return of the King

Author J. R. R. Tolkien
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre High fantasy,

Adventure novel, Heroic romance

Publisher Geo. Allen & Unwin
Media type Print (hardback and paperback)
Preceded by The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy novel written by philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II.[1]

Although known to most readers as a trilogy, the work was initially intended by Tolkien to be one volume of a two-volume set along with The Silmarillion. However, when Tolkien submitted the first volume entitled 'The Lord of the Rings' to his publisher, it was decided for economic reasons to publish the work as three separate volumes over the course of a year in 1954–55, creating the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. [2][3][4][5]

The three volumes were entitled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Structurally, the trilogy is divided internally into six books, two per volume; with several appendices of background material, much abbreviated from Tolkien's originals, included at the end of the third volume. The Lord of the Rings has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many languages, becoming one of the most popular and influential works in the field of 20th-century fantasy literature and the subject of several films.

The title of the novel refers to the story's main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a hobbit land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across North-west Middle-earth, following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, notably the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) and Peregrin Took (Pippin), but also the hobbits' chief allies: Aragorn, a ranger, Gimli, a dwarf, Legolas, an elf, and Gandalf, a wizard.

Tolkien's work has been the subject of extensive analysis of its themes and origins. Although a major work in itself, the story was only the last movement of a larger epic Tolkien had worked on since 1917, in a process he described as mythopoeia.[6] Influences on this earlier work, and on the story of The Lord of the Rings, include philology, mythology, religion and the author's distaste for the effects of industrialization, as well as earlier fantasy works and Tolkien's experiences in World War I.[7] The Lord of the Rings in its turn is considered to have had a great effect on modern fantasy; the impact of Tolkien's works is such that the use of the words "Tolkienian" and "Tolkienesque" has been recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary.[8]

The enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings has led to numerous references in popular culture, the founding of many societies by fans of Tolkien's works,[9] and the publication of many books about Tolkien and his works. The Lord of the Rings has inspired, and continues to inspire, artwork, music, films and television, video games, and subsequent literature. Award-winning adaptations of The Lord of the Rings have been made for radio, theatre, and film.


[hide]*1 Synopsis

  • 2 Main characters
  • 3 Concept and creation
    • 3.1 Background
    • 3.2 Writing
    • 3.3 Influences
  • 4 Publication history
    • 4.1 Editions and revisions
    • 4.2 Posthumous publication of drafts
    • 4.3 Translations
  • 5 Reception
  • 6 Themes
  • 7 Adaptations
  • 8 Legacy
    • 8.1 Influences on the fantasy genre
    • 8.2 Music
    • 8.3 Impact on popular culture
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading
  • 12 External links

[edit] SynopsisEdit

The Lord of the Rings
Volume I
· Volume II · Volume III

The story takes place in the context of historical events in North-West Middle-earth. Long before the start of the novel the Dark Lord Sauron forged the One Ring to gain power over other rings held by the leaders of Men, Elves and Dwarves. He is defeated in battle, and Isildur cuts off his Ring and claims it as an heirloom for his line. Isildur is later killed by Orcs, and the Ring is lost in the river Anduin. Over two thousand years later, the Ring comes into the hands of the hobbit Sméagol, who hides under the mountains, where the Ring transforms him over the course of hundreds of years into a suspicious, corrupted being called Gollum. Eventually he loses the Ring, and, as recounted in The Hobbit, it is found by Bilbo Baggins. Meanwhile Sauron takes a new physical form and reoccupies Mordor, his old realm. Gollum sets out in search of the Ring, but is captured by Sauron, who learns that Bilbo has the Ring. Gollum is set loose, and Sauron, who needs the Ring to regain his full power, sends forth the Ringwraiths, his dark, fearsome servants, to seize it.

The novel begins in the Shire, as Frodo Baggins inherits the Ring from Bilbo. Both are unaware of its origin, but Gandalf the Grey, a wizard, learns of the Ring's history and advises Frodo to take it away from the Shire. Frodo leaves, taking his gardener and friend, Samwise ("Sam") Gamgee, and two cousins, Meriadoc ("Merry") Brandybuck and Peregrin ("Pippin") Took, as companions. They nearly encounter the Ringwraiths while still in the Shire, but shake off pursuit by cutting through the Old Forest, where they are aided by the enigmatic and powerful Tom Bombadil. After leaving the Forest, they stop in the town of Bree, where they meet Aragorn, Isildur's heir, who joins them as guide and protector. They leave Bree after narrowly escaping attack, but the Ringwraiths follow them to the look-out hill of Weathertop, and wound Frodo with a magical blade. Aragorn leads the hobbits toward the refuge of Rivendell, while Frodo gradually succumbs to the wound. At the Ford of Bruinen, the Ringwraiths attack again, but flood waters controlled by Elrond, master of Rivendell, rise up and overwhelm them, saving the company.

Frodo recovers in Rivendell under the care of Elrond. The Council of Elrond reveals much significant history about Sauron and the Ring, as well as the news that Sauron has corrupted the wizard Saruman. The Council decides that the threat of Sauron is too great and that the best course of action is to destroy the Ring by returning it to Mount Doom in Mordor, where it was forged. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring, and a "Fellowship of the Ring" is chosen to accompany and protect him: Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, and the man Boromir, son of the Ruling Steward Denethor of the realm of Gondor.

After failing to cross the Misty Mountains via the pass below Caradhras, the company pass through the Mines of Moria, where they are attacked by Orcs. Gandalf perishes while fighting the ancient and terrible Balrog, allowing the others to escape. The remaining company take refuge in the Elven forest of Lothlórien. With boats and gifts from the Lady Galadriel, the company then travel down the River Anduin to the hill of Amon Hen. There Boromir succumbs to the lure of the Ring and attempts to take it from Frodo, who breaks from the Fellowship to continue the quest to Mordor alone, though Sam insists on coming to assist and protect him.

Meanwhile, orcs sent by Sauron and Saruman kill Boromir and kidnap Merry and Pippin. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas pursue the orcs into the kingdom of Rohan. Merry and Pippin escape when the orcs are slain by the Rohirrim. The hobbits flee into Fangorn forest, where they are befriended by the tree-like Ents. In Fangorn forest Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas find not the hobbits but Gandalf, resurrected after his battle with the Balrog and now the significantly more powerful "Gandalf the White". Gandalf assures them that Merry and Pippin are safe, and they travel instead to rouse Théoden, King of Rohan, from a stupor of despair inflicted by Saruman, and to aid the Rohirrim in a stand against Saruman's armies. Théoden makes a stand at the fortress of Helm's Deep. Gandalf rides off to gather more soldiers while Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ride with Théoden to Helm's Deep. They are besieged by orcs, but Gandalf arrives with reinforcements, and the orcs are defeated.

The Ents attack Isengard, trapping Saruman in the tower of Orthanc. Gandalf, Théoden and the others arrive at Isengard to confront Saruman. Saruman refuses to acknowledge the error of his ways, however, and Gandalf strips him of his rank and most of his powers. Merry and Pippin rejoin the others and Pippin looks into a palantír, a seeing-stone that Sauron had used to communicate with Saruman, unknowingly leading Sauron to think that Saruman has captured the Ring-bearer, so Gandalf takes Pippin to Gondor.

On their way to Mordor, Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, who has been following them from Moria, and force him to guide them to Mordor. Finding Mordor's main gate impassable, they travel toward a pass known to Gollum. Gollum betrays Frodo by leading him to the great spider Shelob in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol. Frodo is left seemingly dead by Shelob's bite, but Sam fights her off. Sam takes the Ring, and forces himself to leave Frodo. Orcs find Frodo's body, and Sam learns that Frodo is not in fact dead, but unconscious. Frodo is carried to the tower of Cirith Ungol, and Sam determines to rescue him.

Sauron begins his military assault upon Gondor. Gandalf arrives at Minas Tirith in Gondor with Pippin, to alert Denethor of the impending attack. Minas Tirith is besieged, and Denethor, under the influence of Sauron through another palantír, loses hope and commits suicide. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come to Gondor by the Paths of the Dead, where Aragorn raises an undead army of oath-breakers in fulfilment of an old prophecy. The ghostly army help him to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar invading southern Gondor, and the forces freed from the south, along with Rohan's cavalry, help break the siege at Minas Tirith.

Sam rescues Frodo, and they journey through Mordor. Frodo weakens as they near Mount Doom, but is aided by Sam. Meanwhile, in the climactic battle at the Black Gate of Mordor, the vastly-outnumbered alliance of Gondor and Rohan fight desperately against Sauron's armies, with the intent of diverting Sauron's attention from Mount Doom. At the edge of the Cracks of Doom, Frodo is unable to resist the Ring, and claims it for himself. However, Gollum reappears, struggles with Frodo for the Ring, and bites off Frodo's finger, Ring and all, but in so doing falls into the fire, taking the Ring with him. The Ring is thus unmade. In the instant of its destruction, Sauron perishes, his armies retreat, his tower crumbles into dust, the Ringwraiths disintegrate, and the War of the Ring seemingly ends. Aragorn is crowned Elessar, King of Arnor and Gondor, and marries his long-time love, Arwen, the daughter of Elrond.

Meanwhile, however, Saruman has escaped his captivity and enslaved the Shire. The four returning hobbits raise a rebellion and overthrow him. Saruman is killed by his former servant Gríma Wormtongue, who is in turn killed by Hobbit archers. The War of the Ring thus comes to its true end on Frodo's very doorstep. Merry and Pippin are acclaimed heroes. Sam uses his gifts from Galadriel to restore the Shire, and marries Rosie Cotton. Frodo remains wounded in body and spirit, and some years later, accompanied by Bilbo and Gandalf, sails from the Grey Havens west over the Sea to the Undying Lands to find peace. Sam returns home, and eventually becomes Mayor of the Shire. After Rosie's death, Sam gives his daughter the Red Book of Westmarch, containing the story of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry. He crosses west over the Sea, the last of the Ring-bearers.

[edit] Main charactersEdit

For a more comprehensive list of characters see the navigation box The Lord of the Rings at the bottom of this article.


  • Frodo Baggins, a well-to-do Hobbit from the Shire who inherits the One Ring from Bilbo. Frodo is responsible for destroying the Ring in the fire of Mount Doom.
  • Samwise Gamgee, gardener for the Bagginses, who accompanies Frodo on the quest to destroy the Ring.
  • Meriadoc Brandybuck, or Merry, Frodo's cousin and companion in the Fellowship.
  • Peregrin Took, Pip or Pippin, Frodo's cousin and companion in the Fellowship.
  • Gandalf, a Wizard who aids Frodo in his quest.
  • Aragorn, heir of Isildur and rightful king of Arnor and Gondor.
  • Legolas, the Elven prince who aids Frodo and the Fellowship. Son of King Thranduil, King of the Elves of Mirkwood.
  • Gimli, son of Glóin, the Dwarf representative in the Fellowship.
  • Boromir, the favoured son of Denethor, ruling steward of Gondor.


  • Sauron, the Dark Lord and titular Lord of the Rings, a fallen Maia who helped the Elves forge the Rings of Power long ago. He forged the One Ring in secret to control all the other Rings of Power.
  • The Nazgûl or Ringwraiths, nine servants of Sauron. Men of old, they were enslaved to the One Ring through the Rings of Power.
  • The Witch-king of Angmar, the Lord of the Nazgûl, and Sauron's most powerful servant, who commands Sauron's army.
  • Saruman, a corrupted Wizard who seeks the One Ring for himself.
  • Gollum (named Sméagol earlier in his life) - a creature of Hobbit origin who formerly possessed the One Ring, which caused him to turn almost wholly evil and also gave him unnaturally long life.

[edit] Concept and creationEdit

[edit] BackgroundEdit

The Lord of the Rings started as a sequel to J. R. R. Tolkien's earlier work, The Hobbit, published in 1937.[10] The popularity of The Hobbit had led George Allen & Unwin, the publishers, to request a sequel. Tolkien warned them that he wrote quite slowly, and responded with several stories he had already developed. Having rejected his contemporary drafts for The Silmarillion, putting on hold Roverandom, and accepting Farmer Giles of Ham, Allen & Unwin thought more stories about hobbits would be popular.[11] So at the age of 45, Tolkien began writing the story that would become The Lord of the Rings. The story would not be finished until 12 years later, in 1949, and would not be fully published until 1955, when Tolkien was 63 years old.

[edit] WritingEdit

Persuaded by his publishers, he started "a new Hobbit" in December 1937.[10] After several false starts, the story of the One Ring emerged. The idea for the first chapter ("A Long-Expected Party") arrived fully-formed, although the reasons behind Bilbo's disappearance, the significance of the Ring, and the title The Lord of the Rings did not arrive until the spring of 1938.[10] Originally, he planned to write a story in which Bilbo had used up all his treasure and was looking for another adventure to gain more; however, he remembered the Ring and its powers and decided to write about that instead.[10]

Writing was slow, due to Tolkien having a full-time academic position, and needing to earn further money as a university examiner.[12] Tolkien abandoned The Lord of the Rings during most of 1943 and only re-started it in April 1944,[10] as a serial for his son Christopher Tolkien, who was sent chapters as they were written while he was serving in South Africa with the Royal Air Force. Tolkien made another concerted effort in 1946, and showed the manuscript to his publishers in 1947.[10] The story was effectively finished the next year, but Tolkien did not complete the revision of earlier parts of the work until 1949.[10]

[edit] InfluencesEdit

Mentioned at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, the Ivy Bush [13] is the closest public house to Birmingham Oratory which Tolkien attended while living near Edgbaston Reservoir. Perrott's Folly is nearby.Main article: J. R. R. Tolkien's influencesThe Lord of the Rings developed as a personal exploration by Tolkien of his interests in philology, religion (particularly Roman Catholicism[14]), fairy tales, Norse and general Germanic mythology,[15][16] and also Celtic[17] and Finnish mythology.[18] Tolkien acknowledged, and external critics have verified the influences of William Morris[19] and the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.[20] The question of a direct influence of Wagner's The Ring Cycle on Tolkien's work is often debated by critics.

Tolkien included neither any explicit religion nor cult in his work. Rather the themes, moral philosophy, and cosmology of the Lord of the Rings reflect his Catholic worldview. In one of his letters Tolkien states, "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."[14]

Some locations and characters were inspired by Tolkien's childhood in Birmingham, where he first lived near Sarehole Mill, and later near Edgbaston Reservoir.[21] There are also hints of the Black Country, which is within easy reach of north west Edgbaston. This shows in such names as "Underhill", and the description of Saruman's industrialization of Isengard and The Shire. It has also been suggested that The Shire and its surroundings were based on the countryside around Stonyhurst College in Lancashire where Tolkien frequently stayed during the 1940s.[22] The work was influenced by the effects of his military service during World War I.[7]

[edit] Publication historyEdit

A dispute with his publishers, George Allen & Unwin, led to the book being offered to Collins in 1950. He intended The Silmarillion (itself largely unrevised at this point) to be published along with The Lord of the Rings, but A&U were unwilling to do this. After his contact at Collins, Milton Waldman, expressed the belief that The Lord of the Rings itself "urgently needed cutting", he eventually demanded that they publish the book in 1952.[citation needed] They did not; and so Tolkien wrote to Allen and Unwin, saying, "I would gladly consider the publication of any part of the stuff."[10]

For publication, the book was divided into three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring (Books I, The Ring Sets Out, and II, The Ring Goes South,) The Two Towers (Books III, The Treason of Isengard, and IV, The Ring Goes East,), and The Return of the King (Books V, The War of the Ring, and VI, The End of the Third Age, plus six appendices). This was due largely to post-war paper shortages, as well as being a way to keep down the price of the book. Delays in producing appendices, maps and especially indices led to the volumes being published later than originally hoped — on 21 July 1954, on 11 November 1954 and on 20 October 1955 respectively in the United Kingdom, and slightly later in the United States. The Return of the King was especially delayed. Tolkien, moreover, did not especially like the title The Return of the King, believing it gave away too much of the storyline. He had originally suggested The War of the Ring, which was dismissed by his publishers.[23]

The books were published under a profit-sharing arrangement, whereby Tolkien would not receive an advance or royalties until the books had broken even, after which he would take a large share of the profits.[24]

[edit] Editions and revisionsEdit

In the early 1960s Donald A. Wollheim, science fiction editor of the paperback publisher Ace Books, claimed that The Lord of the Rings was not protected in the United States under American copyright law because the U.S. hardcover edition had been bound from pages printed in the United Kingdom, with the original intention being for them to be published in Britain.[citation needed] Ace Books then proceeded to publish an edition, unauthorized by Tolkien and without paying royalties to him. Tolkien took issue with this and quickly notified his fans of this objection.[25] Grass-roots pressure from these fans became so great that Ace Books withdrew their edition and made a nominal payment to Tolkien, well below what he would have been due.[citation needed] However, this poor beginning was overshadowed when authorized editions followed from Ballantine Books and Houghton Mifflin to tremendous commercial success. By the mid-1960s the novel had become a cultural phenomenon. Tolkien undertook various textual revisions to produce a version of the book that would be published with his consent and establish an unquestioned US copyright. This text became the Second Edition of The Lord of the Rings, published in 1966.[citation needed] Houghton Mifflin editions after 1994 consolidate variant revisions by Tolkien, and corrections supervised by Christopher Tolkien, which resulted, after some initial glitches, in a computer-based unified text.[26]

[edit] Posthumous publication of draftsEdit

From 1988 to 1992 Christopher Tolkien published the surviving drafts of the Lord of The Rings, chronicling and illuminating with commentary the stages of the text's development, in volumes 6–9 of his History of Middle-earth series. The four volumes carry the titles The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring, and Sauron Defeated.

[edit] TranslationsEdit

Main article: Translations of The Lord of the RingsThe novel has been translated, with various degrees of success, into at least 38 other languages.[27] Tolkien, an expert in philology, examined many of these translations, and made comments on each that reflect both the translation process and his work. As he was unhappy with some choices made by early translators, such as the Swedish translation by Åke Ohlmarks,[28] Tolkien wrote a "Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings" (1967). Because The Lord of the Rings purports to be a translation of the fictitious Red Book of Westmarch, with the English language representing the Westron of the "original", Tolkien suggested that translators attempt to capture the interplay between English and the invented nomenclature of the English work, and gave several examples along with general guidance.

[edit] ReceptionEdit

Main article: Reception of J. R. R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings has received mixed reviews since its inception, ranging from terrible to excellent. Recent reviews in various media have been, on the whole, highly positive and Tolkien's literary achievement is slowly being acknowledged as a significant one. On its initial review the Sunday Telegraph felt it was "among the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century."[29] The Sunday Times seemed to echo these sentiments when in its review it was stated that "the English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them."[29] The New York Herald Tribune also seemed to have an idea of how popular the books would become, writing in its review that they were "destined to outlast our time."[30] W. H. Auden, an admirer of Tolkien's writings, regarded The Lord of the Rings as a "masterpiece", further stating that in some cases it outdid the achievement of John Milton's Paradise Lost.[31]

New York Times reviewer Judith Shulevitz criticized the "pedantry" of Tolkien's literary style, saying that he "formulated a high-minded belief in the importance of his mission as a literary preservationist, which turns out to be death to literature itself."[32] Critic Richard Jenkyns, writing in The New Republic, criticized the work for a lack of psychological depth. Both the characters and the work itself are, according to Jenkyns, "anemic, and lacking in fiber."[33] Even within Tolkien's literary group, The Inklings, reviews were mixed. Hugo Dyson complained loudly at its readings, and Christopher Tolkien records Dyson as "lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying, 'Oh God, no more Elves.'"[34] However, another Inkling, C. S. Lewis, had very different feelings, writing, "here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart." Despite these reviews and its lack of paperback printing until the 1960s, The Lord of the Rings initially sold well in hardback.[35]

In 1957, The Lord of the Rings was awarded the International Fantasy Award. Despite its numerous detractors, the publication of the Ace Books and Ballantine paperbacks helped The Lord of the Rings become immensely popular in the United States in the 1960s. The book has remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the twentieth century, judged by both sales and reader surveys.[36] In the 2003 "Big Read" survey conducted in Britain by the BBC, The Lord of the Rings was found to be the "Nation's best-loved book." In similar 2004 polls both Germany[37] and Australia[38] also found The Lord of the Rings to be their favourite book. In a 1999 poll of customers, The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their favourite "book of the century."[39] The Lord of the Rings was awarded the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2009.

Ethan Gilsdorf, writing for The Boston Globe commented that while there are movements within academia to approach The Lord of the Rings as a serious literary work, the 2001–2003 film trilogy has contributed to a dumbing down of the reception of the novel by the forces of mass-commercialization.[40]

[edit] ThemesEdit

Main article: Themes of The Lord of the RingsAlthough The Lord of the Rings was published in the 1950s, Tolkien insisted that the One Ring was not an allegory for the Atomic Bomb,[41] nor were his works a strict allegory of any kind, but were open to interpretation as the reader saw fit.[42][43]

A few critics have found what they consider to be racial elements in the story, generally based upon their views of how Tolkien's imagery depicts good and evil, characters' race (e.g. Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, Southron, Númenórean, Orc); and that the character's race is seen as determining their behaviour.[44][45][46] Counter-arguments note that race-focused critiques often omit relevant textual evidence to the contrary,[47][48][49] cite imagery from adaptations rather than the work itself;[50] ignore the absence of evidence of racist attitudes or events in the author's personal life[47][50][51] and claim that the perception of racism is itself a marginal view.[51]

Critics have also seen social class rather than race as being the determinant factor for the portrayal of good and evil.[47] Commentators such as science fiction author David Brin have interpreted the work to hold unquestioning devotion to a traditional elitist social structure.[52] In his essay "Epic Pooh", science fiction and fantasy author Michael Moorcock critiques the world-view displayed by the book as deeply conservative, in both the 'paternalism' of the narrative voice and the power-structures in the narrative.[53] Tom Shippey cites the origin of this portrayal of evil as a reflection of the prejudices of European middle-classes during the inter-war years towards the industrial working class.[54]

The book has been read as fitting the model of Joseph Campbell's "monomyth".[55]

[edit] AdaptationsEdit

Main article: Adaptations of The Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the Rings has been adapted for film, radio and stage.

The book has been adapted for radio four times. In 1955 and 1956, the BBC broadcast The Lord of the Rings, a 12-part radio adaptation of the story. In the 1960s radio station WBAI produced a short radio adaptation. A 1979 dramatization of The Lord of the Rings was broadcast in the United States and subsequently issued on tape and CD. In 1981, the BBC broadcast The Lord of the Rings, a new dramatization in 26 half-hour instalments. This dramatization of The Lord of the Rings has subsequently been made available on both tape and CD both by the BBC and other publishers. For this purpose it is generally edited into 13 one hour episodes.

Three film adaptations have been made. The first was J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1978), by animator Ralph Bakshi, the first part of what was originally intended to be a two-part adaptation of the story; it covers The Fellowship of the Ring and part of The Two Towers. The second, The Return of the King (1980), was an animated television special by Rankin-Bass, who had produced a similar version of The Hobbit (1977). The third was director Peter Jackson's live action The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, produced by New Line Cinema and released in three instalments as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). All three parts received nearly universal acclaim and were each nominated for and won multiple Academy Awards, including consecutive Best Picture nominations. The final instalment of this trilogy was the second film to break the one-billion-dollar barrier and won a total of 11 Oscars, including "Best Picture", "Best Director", "Best Screenplay", and "Best Musical Score".

The Hunt for Gollum, a fan film based on elements of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, was released on the internet in May 2009 and has been covered in major media.[56]

In 1990, Recorded Books published an audio version of The Lord of the Rings,[57] with British actor Rob Inglis – who had previously starred in one-man stage productions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – reading. Inglis uses distinct voices for each character and reads the entire text, including performing the songs.[58] A large-scale musical theatre adaptation, The Lord of the Rings was first staged in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2006 and opened in London in May 2007.

[edit] LegacyEdit

Main article: Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien===[edit] Influences on the fantasy genre=== The enormous popularity of Tolkien's epic saga greatly expanded the demand for fantasy fiction. Largely thanks to The Lord of the Rings, the genre flowered throughout the 1960s, and enjoys popularity to the present day.

The work also had an influence upon such science fiction authors as Frank Herbert and Arthur C. Clarke[59] and filmmakers such as George Lucas.[60]

Dungeons & Dragons, which popularized the role-playing game (RPG) genre in the 1970s, features many races found in The Lord of the Rings, most notably halflings (another term for hobbits), elves, dwarves, half-elves, orcs, and dragons. However, Gary Gygax, lead designer of the game, maintained that he was influenced very little by The Lord of the Rings, stating that he included these elements as a marketing move to draw on the popularity the work enjoyed at the time he was developing the game.[61] Because D&D has influenced many popular video games, the influence of The Lord of the Rings extends to many of them as well, with titles such as Ultima, EverQuest, the Warcraft series, and the Elder Scrolls series of games[62] as well as, quite naturally, video games set in Middle-earth itself.

[edit] MusicEdit

In 1965, songwriter Donald Swann, who was best known for his collaboration with Michael Flanders as Flanders & Swann, set six poems from The Lord of the Rings and one from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ("Errantry") to music. When Swann met with Tolkien to play the songs for his approval, Tolkien suggested a different setting for "Namárië", which Swann accepted.[63] The songs were published in 1967 as The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle,[64] and a recording of the songs performed by singer William Elvin with Swann on piano was issued that same year by Caedmon Records as Poems and Songs of Middle Earth.[65]

In 1988, Danish composer and trombonist Johan de Meij completed his Symphony #1 The Lord of the Rings, which encompassed 5 movements, titled "Gandalf", "Lothlorien", "Gollum", "Journey in the Dark", and "Hobbits". In 1989 the symphony was awarded the Sudler Composition Award, awarded biennially for best wind band composition.

The Danish Tolkien Ensemble have released a number of albums that feature the complete poems and songs of The Lord of the Rings set to music, with some featuring recitation by Christopher Lee. Another band that makes use of the songs and poems featured in the stories is the Russian Caprice.

Rock bands of the 1970s were musically and lyrically inspired by the fantasy embracing counter-culture of the time; British 70s rock band Led Zeppelin recorded several songs that contain explicit references to The Lord of the Rings ("Ramble On", "The Battle of Evermore", "Over the Hills and Far Away", and "Misty Mountain Hop"). In 1970, the Swedish musician Bo Hansson released an instrumental concept album based on the book entitled Sagan om ringen (translated as "The Saga of the Ring", which was the title of the Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings at the time).[66] The album was subsequently released internationally as Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings in 1972.[66] The songs "Rivendell" and "The Necromancer" by the progressive rock band Rush were inspired by Tolkien. And Styx also paid homage to Tolkien on their "Pieces of Eight" album with the song "Lords of the Ring," while Black Sabbath's song, "The Wizard", which appeared on their debut album, was influenced by Tolkien's hero, Gandalf. The heavy metal band Cirith Ungol, took their name from a fictional place in Middle-Earth, Cirith Ungol. Progressive rock group Camel paid homage to the text in their lengthy composition "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider", and Progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest were inspired by the character Galadriel to write a song by that name, and used "Bombadil", the name of another character, as a pseudonym under which their 1972 single "Breathless"/"When the City Sleeps" was released; there are other references scattered through the BJH oeuvre.

Later, from the 1980s to the present day, many Heavy metal acts have been influenced by Tolkien. Blind Guardian has written many songs relating to Middle-earth, including the full concept album Nightfall in Middle Earth. Almost all of Summoning's songs and the entire discography of Battlelore are Tolkien-themed. Gorgoroth and Amon Amarth take their names from an area of Mordor, and Burzum take their name from the Black Speech of Mordor.

Enya wrote an instrumental piece called "Lothlórien" in 1991, and composed two songs for the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring—"May It Be" (sung in English and Quenya) and "Aníron" (sung in Sindarin).

[edit] Impact on popular cultureEdit

The Lord of the Rings has had a profound and wide-ranging impact on popular culture, beginning with its publication in the 1950s, but especially throughout the 1960s and 1970s, during which time young people embraced it as a countercultural saga.[67] "Frodo Lives!" and "Gandalf for President" were two phrases popular among American Tolkien fans during this time.[68]

In one scene of the 1993 film, Six Degrees of Separation, Paul (Will Smith) mocks the Lord of the Rings books in front of Ian McKellen's character. Less than a decade after this film was made, Ian McKellen would play the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Parodies like the Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings, the VeggieTales episode Lord of the Beans, the South Park episode The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers, the Futurama episode Bender's Game, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "Lights! Camera! Danger!" and the Internet meme The Very Secret Diaries[69][70] are testimony to the work's continual presence in popular culture.

In 1969 Tolkien sold the merchandising rights to The Lord of The Rings (and The Hobbit) to United Artists under an agreement stipulating a lump sum payment of £10,000[71] plus a 7.5% royalty after costs, payable to Allen & Unwin and the author.[72] In 1976 (three years after the author's death) United Artists sold the rights to Saul Zaentz Company, who trade as Tolkien Enterprises. Since then all "authorised" merchandise has been signed-off by Tolkien Enterprises, although the intellectual property rights of the specific likenesses of characters and other imagery from various adaptations is generally held by the adaptors.[73] Outside any commercial exploitation from adaptations, from the late 1960s onwards there has been an increasing variety of original licensed merchandise, from posters and calendars created by illustrators such as Pauline Baynes and the Brothers Hildebrandt, to figurines and miniatures to computer, video, tabletop and role-playing games. Recent examples include the Spiel des Jahres award winning (for best use of literature in a game) board game The Lord of the Rings by Reiner Knizia and the Golden Joystick award winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar by Turbine, Inc.

[edit] See alsoEdit

Middle-earth portal
  • 1954 in literature
  • 1955 in literature
  • Literature of the United Kingdom
  • Norse mythology in popular culture

[edit] ReferencesEdit

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  6. ^ "J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch". Retrieved 16 June 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Influences of Lord of the Ring". Retrieved 16 April 2006.
  8. ^ Gilliver, Peter (2006). The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861069-6.
  9. ^ Gilsdorf, Ethan (23 March 2007). "Celebrating Tolkien: Elvish Impersonators". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Lord of the Rings: Genesis" (PDF). Retrieved 14 June 2006.
  11. ^ Carpenter 1977, pp. 195
  12. ^ "I have spent nearly all the vacation-times of seventeen years examining [...] Writing stories in prose or verse has been stolen, often guiltily, from time already mortgaged..." Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #17, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
  13. ^ The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 8.
  14. ^ a b Carpenter, Humphrey (1995). The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-05699-8, Letter no. 142, page 172
  15. ^ Shippey, T.A. (2005 [1982]). The Road to Middle-earth, 3rd ed., HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-261-10275-3.
  16. ^ T.A. Shippey: Tolkien, Author of the Century HarperCollins, 2000
  17. ^ Terry Gunnell, "Tívar in a timeless land: Tolkien's Elves" (Retrieved 4 April 2008)
  18. ^ Handwerk, Brian (1 March 2004). "Lord of the Rings Inspired by an Ancient Epic". National Geographic News (National Geographic Society): pp. 1–2. Retrieved 4 October 2006.
  19. ^ The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. Letter #19, 31 December 1960
  20. ^ Shippey, Tom (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien Author of the Century, HarperCollins. ISBN 0-261-10401-2
  21. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, #178 & #303, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
  22. ^ "In the Valley of the Hobbits". Retrieved 5 October 2006.
  23. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (2000). The War of the Ring: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Three. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-08359-6.
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  25. ^ John Ripp. "Middle America Meets Middle-earth: American Publication and Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings". pp. 38.
  26. ^ “Note on the text” pp. xi–xiii, Douglas A. Anderson, in the 1994 HarperCollins edition of The Fellowship of the Ring.
  27. ^ "How many languages have The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings been translated into?". Archived from the original on 30 May 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2006.
  28. ^ Letters, 305f.; c.f. Martin Andersson "Lord of the Errors or, Who Really Killed the Witch-King?"
  29. ^ a b "The Lord of the Rings Boxed Set (Lord of the Rings Trilogy Series)".
  30. ^ "From the Critics". Retrieved 30 May 2006.
  31. ^ W. H. Auden, At the End of the Quest, Victory, 22 January, 1956
  32. ^ "Hobbits in Hollywood". Retrieved 13 May 2006.
  33. ^ Richard Jenkyns. "Bored of the Rings" The New Republic 28 January 2002.
  34. ^ Derek Bailey (Director) and Judi Dench (Narrator). (1992). A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien. [Television documentary]. Visual Corporation.
  35. ^ "J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch". Retrieved 14 June 2006.
  36. ^ Seiler, Andy (16 December 2003). "'Rings' comes full circle". USA Today. Retrieved 12 March 2006.
  37. ^ Diver, Krysia (5 October 2004). "A lord for Germany". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 March 2006.
  38. ^ Cooper, Callista (5 December 2005). "Epic trilogy tops favourite film poll". ABC News Online. Retrieved 12 March 2006.
  39. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (4 June 2001). "The book of the century". Retrieved 12 March 2006.
  40. ^ Gilsdorf, Ethan (16 November 2003). "Lord of the Gold Ring". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 16 June 2006.
  41. ^ The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power, (Revised Edition, by Jane Chance, copyright 2001). University Press of Kentucky, cited in "Influences on "The Lord of the Rings"". National Geographic Society.
  42. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. from Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. Macmillan Reference USA. Cited in "J. R. R. Tolkien Summary". BookRags.
  43. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (1991). The Lord of the Rings. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-261-10238-9.
  44. ^ Yatt, John (2 December 2002). "Wraiths and Race". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  45. ^ Bhatia, Shyam. "The Lord of the Rings rooted in racism".
  46. ^ Straubhaar, Sandra Ballif. "Myth,Late Roman history and Multiculturalism in Tolkien's Middle Earth". In Chance, Jane. p. 113.
  47. ^ a b c Curry, Patrick (2004). Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien: Myth and Modernity. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 30–33.
  48. ^ Chism, Christine (2007). "Race and Ethnicity in Tolkien's Works". In Michael Drout. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia.
  49. ^ Chism, Christine (2007). "Racism, Charges of". In Michael Drout. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia.
  50. ^ a b Rearick, Anderson (Winter 2004). "Why is the Only Good Orc a Dead Orc? The Dark Face of Racism in Tolkien's World". Modern Fiction Studies. pp. 861.
  51. ^ a b Magoun, John (2007). "The South". In Michael Drout. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. pp. 622.
  52. ^ "We Hobbits are a Merry Folk: an incautious and heretical re-appraisal of J.R.R. Tolkien". Retrieved 9 January 2006.
  53. ^ Moorcock, Michael. "Epic Pooh". Retrieved 27 January 2006.
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  55. ^ Jody G. Bower: The Lord of the Rings" — An Archetypal Hero’s Journey
  56. ^ Masters, Tim (30 April 2009). "Making Middle-earth on a shoestring". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 1 May 2009.
    Sydell, Laura (30 April 2009). "High-Def 'Hunt For Gollum' New Lord Of The Fanvids". All Things Considered (National Public Radio). Retrieved 1 May 2009.
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  59. ^ "Do you remember [...] The Lord of the Rings? [...] Well, Io is Mordor [...] There's a passage about "rivers of molten rock that wound their way ... until they cooled and lay like dragon-shapes vomited from the tortured earth." That's a perfect description: how did Tolkien know, a quarter of a century before anyone saw a picture of Io? Talk about Nature imitating Art." (Arthur C. Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two, Chapter 16 'Private Line')
  60. ^ "Star Wars Origins — The Lord of the Rings". Star Wars Origins. Retrieved 19 September 2006.
  61. ^ "Gary Gygax — Creator of Dungeons & Dragons". Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  62. ^ Douglass, Perry (17 May 2006). "The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames". IGN. Retrieved 29 May 2006.
  63. ^ Tolkien had recorded a version of his theme on a friend's tape recorder in 1952. This was later issued by Caedmon Records in 1975 as part of J.R.R. Tolkien reads and sings The Lord of the Rings (LP recording TC1478).
  64. ^ Swann, Donald and Tolkien, J.R.R. The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle New York: Ballantine Books (1967).
  65. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. and Swann, Donald. Poems and Songs of Middle Earth New York: Caedmon Records (1967). LP recording, TC1231/TC91231.
  66. ^ a b Snider, Charles. (2008). The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock. Strawberry Bricks. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-61517-566-X.
  67. ^ Feist, Raymond (2001). Meditations on Middle-Earth. St. Martin's Press.
  68. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-05702-1.
  69. ^ "Into the lists". London: The Telegraph. 2 April 2006.;?xml=/arts/2006/04/02/bolists.xml. Retrieved 10 January 2008. [dead link]
  70. ^ "Fallin' off a blog". The Age. 6 June 2002. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  71. ^ Lindrea, Victoria (29 July 2004). "How Tolkien triumphed over the critics". BBC. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  72. ^ Harlow, John (28 May 2008). "Hobbit movies meet dire foe in son of Tolkien". The Times Online (London: The Times). Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  73. ^ The Lord of the Rings: Popular Culture in Global Context. Wallflower Press, year=2006. 2006. pp. 25. ISBN 1904764827.

[edit] Further readingEdit

  • Lin Carter, Tolkien: A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings" (1969)
  • David Day, The World of Tolkien: Mythological Sources of the Lord of the Rings (2004), ISBN 978-0-517-22317-8.
  • Michael D. C. Drout, J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia.
  • Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (2005), ISBN 0-618-64267-6.
  • Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (2006), ISBN 0-618-39113-4 .
  • Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The History of The Lord of the Rings, 4 vols (1988–1992).

[edit] External linksEdit