I was in 6th grade when I first read Tolkien. I watch the movies every year, many quotes and themes often come back to me.
This is what a timeless work of literature is. The outlines of Tolkien’s world began to take form a century ago, yet the story is as relevant today as when it was written. That’s the power of mythos.
Tolkien’s oeuvre is a collection of Northern European mythology distilled into a more modernized form. And that’s precisely why it’s timeless. Mythos speaks of the battle of good vs. evil, both accepting and resisting fate and finding meaning beyond ourselves. The question of evil dominates his work — where does it come from, is it absolute, can it be redeemed? Each person, each generation has to struggle with these questions for themselves. And that’s what powerful mythos does.
The woke internet doesn’t like Tolkien. His books don’t have complex female characters — although most of the male characters are also mere archetypes. There are accusations of racism since the “good guys” inevitably resemble the English whereas many of the forces of evil are not white. There are no transgender, gay or other social groupings that became popular only in recent years. A bit of searching shows that these criticisms aren’t hard to find.
I find this whole discource indicative of the shallowness of the current criticism of the past. The woke crowd can only understand the most literal and concrete reading of anything, with a narrow literalism that rivals only Fundamentalist Protestants.
Tolkien’s ideal world is a vast tapestry of different cultures, peoples, languages all living in harmony and mutual respect. The lust for power and dominance is the root of violence and evil. The highest good is to serve others and protect the weak.
I genuinely find it odd that someone is unable to read these themes, written in the guise of much older Northern European mythology, and not apply the universal values to our times, with out own issues. One does have to look hard to find those lusting for power attacking the vulnerable, sowing discord and destroying a beautiful multicultural tapestry with a cruel monoculture.
Of course, each generation also needs to retell the old myths in their own way. I’d rather see the effort invested in attacking the past put into creating something new that will stand the test of time.