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JRR Tolkien and the Twentieth Century

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The early twentieth century saw an upheaval of normal life in Europe because of the Great War and the changing political and social systems. In the midst of this time, JRR Tolkien found himself transformed from a young student at Oxford to a soldier in the British army as war broke out across the continent. This war affected his life deeply, whether indirectly while he was at Oxford or through his time in the trenches in direct combat. As a dedicated academic, however, Tolkien never abandoned his passion for languages and mythology but used his experiences to bolster his own writings and creative pursuits.

One of the largest influences on Tolkien’s life was through his experiences at Oxford. There, he met his closest friends who would stay with him throughout his life, classes that encouraged his interest in languages and mythology, and professors who challenged the way he viewed the world. Despite his interested in his studies, however, Tolkien tended to put more effort into his own projects: developing his own languages, divining the changes these imagined languages would have over centuries, and medieval literature . Shortly after joining Oxford, Tolkien found a group of colleagues who shared his same interests. They met often to discuss their research and writings, allowing Tolkien a creative outlet to pursue his own work.

Tolkien’s group of fellow students at Oxford University led to two results. Firstly, in addition to ignoring what they deemed as modern literature, they also were able to avoid current events. Hidden in Oxford, the students could engross themselves in the medieval poetry they admired without venturing out beyond the academic world. This privileged position meant that they had no need to ...

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... pressing questions of his generation and address basic problems he found in the world. Throughout his life, Tolkien remained an ever devoted academic, passionate about languages and creating his intricate mythology and world of Middle Earth, despite obstacles in his life.

Works Cited

Blake, Andrew. JRR Tolkien: A Beginner’s Guide. Hachette: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003.

Duriez, Colin. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: the Gift of Friendship. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring, 2003.

Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Fimi, Dimitra. Tolkien, Race and Cultural History. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Rosebury, Brian. Tolkien: a Cultural Phenomenon. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Tolkien, JRR. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. New York: Ballantine Books, 1954.
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