The Catholic Culture Podcast: 101 – The Non-Reactionary Tolkien

Mar 29, 2021J.R.R. Tolkien is commonly perceived as a reactionary who
totally rejected the modern world, and whose literary influences
began and ended with the Middle Ages. Holly Ordway’s new
book, Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the
Middle Ages, debunks that view of Tolkien’s life and
Ordway begins with an invaluable critique of the sources of this
misconception, especially the official biography written by
Humphrey Carpenter, who admitted his own bias and desire to portray
Tolkien as an uptight fuddy-duddy.
She then proceeds to examine the works of modern literature we
know Tolkien read, gleaning insights about how he may have been
influenced either by acceptance or rejection of what he found in
those works. In this interview we focus on Tolkien’s reading of the
father of modern fantasy, William Morris, the adventure writer H.
Rider Haggard, the now-unknown religious romance John
Inglesant, and even literary modernists like James Joyce and
Roy Campbell, and realists like Sinclair Lewis.
Watch this conversation on YouTube:
Tolkien’s Modern Reading
Daphne Castell interview with Tolkien
Diana Glyer’s books on the Inklings:
The Company They Keep


Some of the many books enjoyed by Tolkien mentioned in this
William Morris, The House of the Wolfings and The
Roots of the Mountains
H. Rider Haggard, She
Joseph Henry Shorthouse, John Inglesant
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Andrew Lang’s fairy tale collections
Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books
E.A. Wyke-Smith, The Marvellous Land of Snergs
John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps and the other
Richard Hannay books
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