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Remembering J. R. R. Tolkien:
January 3, 1892–September 2, 1973

471 words

“I am in fact a Hobbit.”—J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is a favorite author of New Left “hippies” and New Right nationalists, and for pretty much the same reasons. Tolkien deeply distrusted modernization and industrialization, which replace organic reciprocity between man and nature with technological dominion of man over nature, a relationship that deforms and devalues both poles.

But philosophically and politically, Tolkien was much closer to the New Right than the New Left. Tolkien was a conservative and a race realist. His preferences ran toward non-constitutional monarchy in the capital and de facto anarchy in the provinces, but he recognized that state control can be minimized only in a society with a deep reverence for tradition and a high regard for individual honor and self-restraint.

Many of Tolkien’s most fervent New Right admirers are neo-pagans. But Tolkien himself was a devout Roman Catholic traditionalist, albeit one with a deep love of pre-Christian myth, epic, and tradition. And although The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with their many themes from Norse and Celtic mythology, resonate especially with pagans, the ultimate mythological framework of Middle Earth, particularly as expressed in the posthumous work The Silmarillion, is biblical in inspiration, with a creator God (Eru Ilúvatar), a devil (Melkor), a fall, and even a hint of the necessity of a divine incarnation to save creation.

In honor of Tolkien’s birthday, I wish first to draw your attention to several works on this website:

For more background on Tolkien’s life and work, I recommend two introductory books, which are accessible even to teenagers: Leslie Ellen Jones’ Myth and Middle-Earth: Exploring the Medieval Legends Behind J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Bradley Birzer’s J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth. The most thorough and serious biography and overall interpretation of Tolkien is Joseph Pearce’s Tolkien: Man and Myth.

For those who need no introduction, there is no better commemoration than to spend a winter evening snug in one’s own Hobbit hole reading the works of the man himself (or watching Peter Jackson’s masterly and inspiring movies of The Lord of the Rings).


  1. Traddles
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    “[Tolkien] recognized that state control can be minimized only in a society with a deep reverence for tradition and a high regard for individual honor and self-restraint.”

    This is similar to John Adams’ position regarding the American republic: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    Like Tolkien, I’m a very traditional Christian who loves the old Germanic and Celtic myths and traditions. I can think of no better and more rewarding pastime than reading and studying them. If Tolkien can regard Christianity and those European pagan belief systems highly, then I believe we can accommodate them all in our movement.

    • Gnome Chompsky
      Posted January 5, 2019 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      It is nice to see a comment here from a fellow Christian.

      As for Tolkien, the Children of Hurin is heart-searingly sad, much of it is in the Silmarillion, but the edition assembled by his son is well worth reading, an epic tragedy.

      I like to constrast Frank and Brian Herbert (traitor to his father’s legacy), with J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien, the latter faithful to his father’s legacy.

      Of course, the mythos of Tolkien and Herbert are not to be compared, the former far superior.

      • Traddles
        Posted January 5, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Gnome C. I know what you mean about encountering kindred spirits, and feel the same way. And I’m glad you reminded me about the Silmarillion and the Children of Hulin. Have you ever read Tolkien’s essay about fairy stories? It was very good also (I forget its title at the moment).

  2. Peter Quint
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I am reading “The Worm Ouroboros” by E. R. Eddison right now, and it is easily up there with “The Lord Of The Rings.” I recommend that everybody read it.

    • Gnome Chompsky
      Posted January 5, 2019 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      I am not to have read the worm yet, but the names etc. are nonsense.

      • Paul
        Posted January 7, 2019 at 1:04 am | Permalink

        Eddison came up with some of his characters and lands as a young kid and he kept them once he came to write his novel as an adult, hence the silly names.

      • Djuka
        Posted January 8, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        The names are silly, but his prose is a thing of beauty…

        Some shitlib fantasists like Moorcock like to champion Eddison over Tolkien but that has more to do with their hatred for the later author. Eddison was man of the Right to the core. The Worm is suffused with Nietzchean heroic ethos.

        Eddison didn’t like to be compared with Tolkien, he tholght Tolkien’s work to be too soft and pacifist. It should be noted that Eddison failed to walk the walk as they say though. Softie Tolkien experienced the hell of WW1 on his own skin, whereas Eddison shirked the army.

    • Paul
      Posted January 7, 2019 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      Oh yes, wonderful stuff. For those interested, there’s an unusually excellent Librivox audiobook of it avaiable.

  3. Tyler
    Posted January 4, 2019 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I was recently listening to one of Johnson’s interviews in which he says he left a life of modern academia in which his works would only be read by a scant amount of people, and I’m glad he did so I can enjoy something like this that wouldn’t exist otherwise. I’m sure you don’t need the reassurance, but know there are people out there who really appreciate what you do Greg. Now I’ll go back to reading some Tolkien.

  4. Gnome Chompsky
    Posted January 5, 2019 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Dr. Johnson, I was reading your old review of Hyperborea, and it brought to mind (((Ursula Le Guinn’s))) really Kroeber, Always Coming Home. Her Phillip K. Dick copy, Lathe of Heaven, not bad.

    I have come to see the anti-White factor, and ignorance of east Asians in her fiction, but I still think that novel Always Coming Home (more than a novel) is worth reading.

    I can see that her Disposessed is just cheap Zionist progaganda, although in my early youth, I was fooled by the mask of a reasonable anarchism.

    Also, her reaction to Ghibli Studio’s take on Earthsea was clearly anti-European and anti-east Asian.

    If you or other CC posters have read it, it would be interesting to hear thoughts on Always Coming Home.

  5. Trau dich Deutschland
    Posted January 5, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I also like The Lord of the Rings. What do you think of the movie Titanic, Greg?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 5, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Which Titanic?

      • Trau dich Deutschland
        Posted January 5, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        The one from 1997 directed by James Cameron. With Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted January 5, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          I thought it was an awful, middlebrow, quasi-Marxist movie.

          • Trau dich Deutschland
            Posted January 5, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink


            • Greg Johnson
              Posted January 5, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

              Sorry, I don’t have time to write a review of that film.

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