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Tolkien Among the Moderns


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This book is currently available from Notre Dame Press. 

It has long been recognized that J. R. R. Tolkien’s work is animated by a profound moral and religious vision. It is less clear that Tolkien’s vision confronts the leading philosophical and literary concerns addressed by modern writers and thinkers. This book seeks to resolve such uncertainty. It places modern writers and modern quandaries in lively engagement with the broad range of Tolkien’s work, while giving special attention to the textual particularities of his masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings.

In ways at once provocative and original, the contributors deal with major modern artists and philosophers, including Miguel de Cervantes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Emmanuel Levinas, Iris Murdoch, and James Joyce. The essays in Tolkien among the Moderns also point forward to postmodernism by examining its implications for Tolkien’s work. Looking backward, they show how Tolkien addresses two ancient questions: the problems of fate and freedom in a seemingly random universe, as well as Plato’s objection that art can neither depict truth nor underwrite morality. The volume is premised on the firm conviction that Tolkien is not a writer who will be soon surpassed and forgotten—exactly because he has a permanent dwelling place “among the moderns.”