glyph 1: JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Morgan, G. K. Chesterton, Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Lewis, Mary McDermott Shideler, Shideler, theology, philosophy, books, inklings, good, evil , fairy tales, stories ... hobbits, elves, dwarfs, dwarves, wizards, orcs ... significance of Tolkien's work . unfreezing the river of imagination


"Inklings of Another World", by Mary McDermott Shideler

The significance of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Mary Shideler was one of the first people to understand the significance of Tolkien's work. This essay was written in 1966.

... a new element is entering our careful calculations, and is threatening to change them. Into this highly secular, scientific and rational world have come the Nine Walkers who constitute the Fellowship of the Ring: Frodo the hobbit, carrying the great ring of Sauron, and his companions: an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, two men, and three other hobbits (or halflings, as they are sometimes called). And they are not being ignored or laughed at or relegated to the company of children.

Final paragraph:

It is good for us to confront steadily the ugliness in our world, to follow the histories of anti-heroes, to explore the caverns of meaninglessness, and to be confined within the secular city. But eyes that are fully dark-adapted will be blinded by sunlight, and the imagination and intellect that can discern every subtle variation among evils may not be able to discriminate at all between evil and good. As G. K. Chesterton once said: "we are face to face with the problem of a human consciousness filled with very definite images of evil, and with no definite images of good." But neither physically nor mentally is man a nocturnal creature. He is not only able to see light; he hungers for it; and when he finds it, he runs forth to call his friends to see it and share his joy. So it is when the Inklings dazzle our eyes with their appeal to our imaginations and their definite images of good. "Come, look for yourselves. Take and read."

Complete essay at:
entered before July 9, 2006; edited/updated August 21, 2021

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