The works of J.R.R. Tolkien are quite possibly the most widely read pieces of literature written in the 20th Century. But as Professor Michael Drout illuminates in this engaging course of lectures, Tolkien's writings are built upon a centuries-old literary tradition that developed in Europe and is quite uniquely Western in its outlook and style. Drout explores how that tradition still resonates with us to this day, even if many Modernist critics would argue otherwise.
He begins the course with the allegory of a tower - a device which Tolkien himself crafted in one of the most famous academic works of all time - as a way to illuminate how Tolkien's works continue and build upon a tradition that goes back as far as Beowulf itself. Drout's lectures take us on a literary journey that explores Tolkien's most celebrated writings: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. As he brings these works life, he explains Tolkien's technique and themes, which he shows reverberate all the way back though the western literary tradition.
In the end Drout shows us how J.R.R. Tolkien crafted literary worlds that the reader cares desperately about and wishes to save. Those worlds, in turn, are allegories for a western literary tradition - a tower - that is worthy of preservation.
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