The Modern Scholar: Tolkien and the West

  • by Michael Drout
  • Narrated by Michael Drout
  • 5 hrs and 15 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien are quite possibly the most widely read pieces of literature written in the 20th century. But as Professor Michael Drout illuminates in this engaging course of lectures, Tolkien's writings are built upon a centuries-old literary tradition that developed in Europe and is quite uniquely Western in its outlook and style. Drout explores how that tradition still resonates with us to this day, even if many Modernist critics would argue otherwise. He begins the course with the allegory of a tower - a device which Tolkien himself crafted in one of the most famous academic works of all time - as a way to illuminate how Tolkien's works continue and build upon a tradition that goes back as far as Beowulf itself.
Drout's lectures take us on a literary journey that explores Tolkien's most celebrated writings: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. As he brings these works life, he explains Tolkien's technique and themes, which he shows reverberate all the way back though the Western literary tradition. In the end, Drout shows us how J.R.R. Tolkien crafted literary worlds that the reader cares desperately about and wishes to save. Those worlds, in turn, are allegories for a Western literary tradition - a tower - that is worthy of preservation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Professor Who Loves Tolkien As Much As You Do

I love Professor Michael Drout, perhaps because there are a lot of things he loves, especially very old and very new literature. He certainly does love Tolkien's work, and for any devotee of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, these lectures are a cheerful delight.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a professor of medieval literature, and he brought very old forms into his own writing, which was much influenced by the evils he experienced in World Wars I and II. Like Shakespeare and Churchill, Tolkien wrote from the very bones of English itself, and his language calls powerfully to modern English-speakers who can feel what he is doing. Tolkien's work has strongly influenced 20th and 21st century writing, and major movie epics have been made of his books. He is important, and this course tells why and how.

You can't go wrong with Professor Drout. I've listened to a number of his courses, and he has charm and youthful enthusiasm. It's a winning combination.
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- Phebe

Recommended for Tolkien fans

Professor Drout already had an earlier lecture series ("Rings, Swords, and Monsters") that focused largely on Tolkien; do we really need another one? In my opinion, after listening to both of them, the answer is a definite yes. Drout has enough to say about Tolkien that he isn't just repeating himself here (plus, this newer series gives him a chance to comment on the Peter Jackson movies). And, as in all his lectures, Professor Drout is a joy to listen to, lecturing with plenty of enthusiasm, expertise, insight, and humor.

This "class" is a bit more advanced, so start with the earlier series if you haven't already listened to that one, especially if you're not a die-hard Tolkien enthusiast. But if you're the kind of person who can't get enough discussion of Tolkien, don't hesitate to get this lecture series.
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- Steve and/or Jodene

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-06-2012
  • Publisher: Recorded Books