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> Tolkien's Lord of the Rings...literary reactions to that time period

It was also a response to WWI. Tolkein's childhood friends were killed and shattered by that war...and why? Because in 1831, Britain agreed to be a guarantor of Belgian neutrality.

So when Gondor calls for aid... when Isildur calls the Men of the White Mountains to war... when Minas Tirith is besieged... what ought elves and men do but honour their allegiance? We now have all seen that war is obscene as cancer, but perhaps to march to death is still more fitting than to forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship.

Otherwise... what was the point?






Tolkein apparently furiously denied allegory - although there are preexisting tropes that predate even his influence (decline of the mythic past Götterdämmerungn Atlantis) is hard to not see. Which I suppose probably owes itself both to decline of youthful myths like "parents and ancestors as infalliable" and the distant mutated memories of the Bronze Age collapse where the greatest empires indeed did fall from lofty heights and take millenia to be reached again.

What I'm pointing to isn't allegory though. Allegory would be if the Rohirrim at Helms Deep represented the Belgians and the elves led by Haldir represented the British Expeditionary Force. They don't.

But stories are still about (among other things) the choices people make, the way we see those choices, and the things we think about our own choices.


He denied allegory with WW2 in the foreword to Lord of the Rings. It's nearly impossible that his own service in WW1 with its industrial warfare had no influence on his writing. Mordor bears a striking resemblance to the trench-infested battlefields of Europe.



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