J R R Tolkien This Far Land
|J. R. R. Tolkien: This Far Land by Robert Giddings, ed.|
|Title:||J.R.R. Tolkien: This Far Land|
|Published:||1990 by Barnes and Noble|
This collection of scholarly articles on Tolkien's work (primarily Lord of the Rings) from a variety of authors and critical perspectives (a pinch of narratology here, a smattering of deconstruction there) is something of a blast from the past--it was first published in 1983. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering about the material on offer here; what makes it stand out is that it dares to take Tolkien scholarship where few books had gone before: out of the stuffy Oxford reading room and into the dark, permissive sixties and seventies. Thus it is destined to be one of those books about Tolkien that Tolkien fans will either love or hate, because at least a couple of its chapters broach topics that would be considered taboo in our conservative, politically-incorrect times: class-ism, racism and feminism.
As a reviewer on Amazon.com points out, the two absolute highlights of this anthology are the contributions by Nick Otty and Brenda Partridge. Otty parodies Robert Foster with his amusing "Structuralist's Guide to Middle Earth": featuring entries on "Capital Letters", "Women" and the letter "Z". Die-hard LotR fans will loathe it! Partridge's essay, "No Sex Please--We're Hobbits: The Construction of Female Sexuality in The Lord of the Rings", is all the more intriguing for what it says about male sexuality in the novel (yes, she does mention Frodo and Sam in the same sentence more than once), and how this might be related to Tolkien's own relationships with his male friends and colleagues. Admit it . . . aren't you a little curious?
On the whole, there isn't enough criticism and analysis of Tolkien's work from the "Left" out there for mine: but I think it can be done a lot better than this.