The Literary Value of The Lord of the Rings

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The most famous work in the epic fantasy genre is The Lord of the Rings, written by J. R. R. Tolkien over the course of ten years and published in 1954. Over the last few decades, there has been a lot of controversy over whether or not a story in this genre could be considered a valuable literary work. It was suggested that fantasy was clichéd and too unrealistic to be in touch with the daily life. However, when one reads between the lines, one can find a different interpretation within the same story; an interpretation that might not be as clichéd and farfetched as one might think. While it is often claimed that literary works in the genre fantasy cannot have any literary value, the The Lord of the Rings-trilogy contains the beautiful, the true and the good (Flood) and therefore is original, is historical or ethical relevant and has human truth value, which are necessary qualities for a literary work to be valuable.
First of all, the The Lord of the Rings-trilogy contains the beautiful and is original, not for the present day, but for its literary standards of its time, when epic fantasy was not nearly as frequently written as in this day. Avid readers of fantasy claim the book to be unoriginal, since it follows the structure of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth or the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is a predetermined structure, based on the typical epic fantasy adventure. It typically consists of a cycle of twelve stages, depending on which variant is used, (Campbell 391) and each story contains at least some the same standard archetypical characters. Examples of these are the hero, like Frodo, the magician, like Gandalf, and the trickster, a humorous sidekick like Sam. This trilogy concerns the journey of these heroes, as they se...

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...th value. The books contain more than just an epic tale: they are about what really matters, like good and evil, and on top of that, they are original in the sense of a modern-day myth.

Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 1949. Novato: New World Library, 2008. Print.
Flood, John. "Judging Literature." Introduction to Literature. Academy Building, Groningen. 14 October 2013. Lecture.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. "Letter 131." The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed. Humprey Carpenter &
Christopher Tolkien. Expanded ed. Hammersmith: HarperCollins, late 1951. Web. 17 Dec. 2013.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. "Letter 156." The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed. Humprey Carpenter & Christopher Tolkien. Expanded ed. Hammersmith: HarperCollins, 04 Nov 1954. Web. 17 Dec. 2013.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. “Now Read On…” Interview by Dennis Gerrolt. BBC Radio 4. BBC, 1971. Web. 11 Jan. 2014.
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