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ISBN 0-8126-9458-9
$21.95      paper
176 pages

The Rise of Tolkienian Fantasy

Jared Lobdell

When J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings appeared in 1954, it was hailed by readers but dismissed by critics as juvenile escapism. For many years both critics and professors of literature refused to take Tolkien seriously, yet today they reluctantly admit that he was indeed a great writer. Jared Lobdell claims that the literary achievement of Tolkien in fact represents a new mainstream of literary development. The future of fiction lies in fantasy, he argues, and Tolkien is part of a vital organic growth with roots in the past. Professor Lobdell surveys the predecessors of and influences on Tolkien, from Rudyard Kipling to William Morris and Kenneth Grahame. He explores the web of elements—Celtic revival, medieval revival, and "feigned history"—that make up Tolkienian fantasy. And he looks closely at the heirs of the master, modern fantasists Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King (for the Dark Tower series), and J. K. Rowling.

The Rise of Tolkienian Fantasy avoids the limitations of most books on Tolkien. Where critics generally squeeze him into a single mold, Lobdell gives the reader a rich, sweeping, and far more valid picture of the inspirations and sources that lie behind Tolkien’s work.”
 —Marjorie J. Burns
Author of Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth

“Jared Lobdell’s new book does not round up the usual suspects, but provides a sprightly and sophisticated look at many often-overlooked channels—from Piers Plowman to lesser-known Victorian and Edwardian authors—that converged to help form Tolkien’s work and what we now call fantasy literature.”
 —Richard C. West
Author of Tolkien Criticism: An Annotated Checklist

Jared Lobdell is the author of The World of the Rings (2004), The Scientifiction Novels of C.S. Lewis (2004), and This Strange Illness, a study of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (2004). His many edited works include A Tolkien Compass (1975), The Four Corners of the Tapestry: A Casebook of Palmer Hopkins (1999), and The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams (2003).  Professor Lobdell has published many articles on American history and on science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genres of literature.  He has been Secretary of the Special Investigation Group for Political Systems Analysis and Law of the Society for General Systems Research, and was recently Kirk Fellow at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University.


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