Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lord of the Rings and Philosophy edited by Eric Bronson

Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All edited by Eric Bronson is one of the many (now over thirty strong and growing!) Popular Culture and Philosophy books. I have enjoyed most of the books more than not enjoyed them. Because each is a collection of essays and some essays are simply better than others, the quality of each volume is contingent upon the contributors. I would say that I really enjoyed about one third of the essays, liked but didn’t necessarily love other essays, and didn’t like a few others. Over all, I liked more than I disliked. Some of the essays are too simplistic, pandering to a low-denominator expectation that doesn’t, in my opinion, make sense. Few people who would choose to read this book would not have indulged in immersing themselves in reading Tolkien’s brilliant series and, given the quality of his writing, the essay editor should have assumed a certain level of commitment and intelligence in the reader. It made me wonder if this volume was geared more to the movie watcher than it was to the Ringer who actually reads. However, given that the essays reference the books more than the movies, it would seem that the contributors were assuming that the reader would also have read the novels. This collection reminded me of all the reasons why I love reading and rereading The Lord of the Rings. It also made me want to watch the movies again. And, while I definitely enjoy reading literature from different philosophical perspectives and enjoy reading essays that do just this, I didn’t take away as much from reading these essays as I did from reading Tokien’s writing for myself. Nevertheless, if this book will inspire someone who hasn’t read The Lord of the Rings then that is wonderful. I hope that anyone who has only tasted the movies will come to someday savor the novels.

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