The Mythopoeic Code of Tolkien

A Christian Platonic Reading of the Legendarium


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About the Book

J. R. R. Tolkien is arguably the most influential fantasy writer of all time–his world building and epic mythology have changed Western audiences’ imaginations and the entire fantasy genre. This book is the first wide-ranging Christian Platonic reading on Tolkien’s fiction. This analysis, written for scholars and general Tolkien enthusiasts alike, discusses how his fiction is constructed on levels of language, myth and textuality that have a background in the Greek philosopher Plato’s texts and early Christian philosophy influenced by Plato. It discusses the concepts of ideal and real, creation and existence, and fall and struggle as central elements of Tolkien’s fiction, focusing on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The History of Middle-earth. Reading Tolkien’s fiction as a depiction of ideal and real, from the vision of creation to the process of realization, illuminates a part of Tolkien’s aesthetics and mythology that previous studies have overlooked.

About the Author(s)

Jyrki Korpua is a teacher and researcher at the University of Turku and the University of Oulu, Finland. He has edited 20+ special issues of journals and published more than 20 articles on literature, video games, graphic novels, and film studies.

Donald E. Palumbo is a professor of English at East Carolina University. He lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

C.W. Sullivan III is Distinguished Professor of arts and sciences at East Carolina University and a full member of the Welsh Academy. He is the author of numerous books and the on-line journal Celtic Cultural Studies.

Bibliographic Details

Jyrki Korpua

Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 202
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7288-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4361-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1

1. Construction of Mythology 13
On Constructive Mythopoeics 17
A Fictional Mythology Dedicated to England 20
Speculative Historical Epic 22
Myth and Genre 36

2. Creation and Existence 57
The Song of Ainur: Christian Platonic Creation Myth in The Silmarillion 57
Cosmology and the Chain of Being 78
Tolkien’s Christian Platonic Mythopoeics 90
Concerning Sidney and Coleridge 94
The Philosophy of Afterlife 101
The Inklings and the Power of Words 109

3. Fall and Struggle 117
Long Defeat 117
Mythopoeic Allegories 122
Mythic and Biblical Heroes 135
The Fall: Númenor as an Atlantis Myth 149
The Struggle: The One Ring and the Ring Motif 154

Conclusion 164
Notes 167
Works Consulted 175
Index 185