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The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All (Popular Culture and Philosophy) Paperback – August 4, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Popular Culture and Philosophy (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Open Court; 1ST edition (August 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812695453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812695458
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

General reader will find much to think about...would also be useful for students of Tolkien and in undergraduate teaching. -- Science Fiction Research Association, #271, Jan-Feb-Mar 2005

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Customer Reviews

So, when you encounter something that is fresh and new concerning the book it is a special treat.
Bill
One expects them to do better than this, and to integrate their two subjects with subtlety instead of undergraduate bland awkwardness.
David Bratman
If you know enough to understand what they're talking about then this book is wonderfully enlightening.
Lauren Dahlin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By David Boyle on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book, despite the ostentatious title which Tolkien himself might've disavowed (he might humbly have thought that the Bible and other works, not his own books, were the true "books to rule them all"), is well worth reading.
It covers many aspects of philosophy and thought, including Plato, Nietzche, existentialism, Eastern religion, etc., which do not always receive the discussion vis-a-vis Tolkien that they deserve.
One of the best essays is Alison Milbank's "'My Precious': Tolkien's Fetishized Ring", an analysis which resembles Brenda Partridge's (in)famous 1983-or-so essay "No Sex, Please, We're Hobbits: The Construction of Female Sexuality in The Lord of the Rings", in its commentary on Shelob's scary voracity. Milbank also mentions Karl Marx's "commodity fetishism" as a factor in Tolkien's work (and the Ruling Ring is certainly one hot commodity in Middle-earth, even before Frodo "gives Gollum the finger" on Mount Doom and the action heats up a bit)...though Milbank notes that Tolkien probably had no "People's Republic of the Shire" in mind when writing Lord of the Rings!!
Another standout essay is "Happy Endings and Religious Hope: The Lord of the Rings as an Epic Fairy Tale" by John J. Davenport. Of all the essays, it perhaps draws most deeply on a variety of Tolkien's works, including the Silmarillion and Tolkien's influential essay "On Fairy-Stories".
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Colon on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you buy this book looking for what philosophical ideals Tolkien imbued his literature with, you may be disappointed with this book. While there are some essays I think Tolkien would certainly agree with, there are also many he wouldn't. This book is first and foremost about philosophy. What this book does is illustrate different philosophical ideas by using characters and situations from the Lord of the Rings as examples to help you understand. With this in mind, I think a lot of people can certainly enjoy this book.
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45 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Emily Held on February 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
the most disappointing so far in the 'popular culture and philosophy' series, these essays have little to do with either LotR or Philosophy in the traditional sense, instead attempting to cover everything from environmentalism to narrative structure. As a general format, the authors state their intentions to mold Tolkien's world to their own pet ideas and quote profusely while saying little that convinces. One of the essays even admits that the Buddist parallels it's spent the last few pages proposing are clearly "superficial" - why waste the print, then? Another oddity here is a collection of quotes by various noted philosophers that have nothing to do with either the themes in LotR, or, in many cases, the topics the essays address. Extremely discouraging.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
In this Popular Culture series, this is one of the better editions. The mix of approaches to Tolkien gives a broad range of ideas, and most of them are well thought out and presented. The intent here is not scholarly exegesis, which you can get in many other books. This is Tolkien looked at from a more general viewpoint, which is still a valid way to approach the books of Middle-earth. I don't have any problem recommending this collection of essays.
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45 of 60 people found the following review helpful By David Bratman on December 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
If I were a junior college lit instructor who gave the assignment, "Write a paper on the philosophical implications of The Lord of the Rings", and received these papers, I'd give most of them solid B's. They're diligently researched, competently written, and show that the authors have grasped the nature of the problems they discuss. But the authors aren't college freshmen, they're professors themselves. They shouldn't look like children next to the scholars in "Tolkien the Medievalist", "Tolkien's Legendarium", or "J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances", but they do. One expects them to do better than this, and to integrate their two subjects with subtlety instead of undergraduate bland awkwardness. One author who'd not get a B is Scott A. Davison, who completely messes up his summary of Tom Shippey's subtle but clear perspective on the nature of evil in Tolkien, as expressed in his "The Road to Middle-earth" and "J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century", thus unfairly making Shippey out to be an idiot.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Dahlin on January 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is definately a great book for people who have read the books and want a bit more. I recommend this book ONLY to people who have read the books. I got a friend of mine to start reading a bit of a certain chapter and she was completely bewildered. If you know enough to understand what they're talking about then this book is wonderfully enlightening. After reading the chapter about the elves, I felt a kinship with Galadriel that I had not felt before. This book is a great read that gives The Lord of the Rings much more meaning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Lawrence on January 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Lord ofthe Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All" by Gregory Bassham is a surprising survey of philosophical concepts. Metaphysics, Epistimology and especially Ethics; based on and using characterizations, scenarios, issues and examples from the Lord of the Rings. It allows a refesher of some of the philosophic concepts previously learned or for new students of Philosophy an enjoyable juxtoposition of those concepts in a great piece of literature.
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