How To Read Tolkien

How To Read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

Dr. Michael D. C. Drout, a medievalist and philologist at Wheaton College, shows us the many layers within The Lord of the Rings that makes it different from most other books in the fantasy genre.

In addition to creating his own world and languages, Tolkien used his knowledge of received texts to write Lord of the Rings like a received text.

This is something that many literary critics have missed when they did not appreciate it on its initial release. I think most of us know about the Silmarillion and other writings that explain the world before The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. However, I hadn’t thought about the things he mentions here.

Dr. Drout also mocks current fantasy authors for their chapter two being a brain dump about how their fantasy world works. Tolkien is more creative and reveals it through the interaction of the characters.

After watching this video, I find that I want to read the series again. I’ve read them close to ten times in the last 30+ years, and like any book, there is always something that is missed, like many of the passages referenced in the video.

Many of the points raised here apply not only to authors of multiple fiction genres, but to game designers, and game masters. There are interesting tidbits on how to add patina to your creations so that they seem real and reasonable.

While pseudo references will work in a book, any GM that makes a reference to anything has to have some explanation for it. Some players want to know that name and story behind everything. So any pseudo references will quickly become another false reference to flesh out the game world.

Unless you just love designing intricate game worlds, most won’t have this level of detail unless they run for many years.

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