Ask a random stranger about the geography of South America and you might get a vague confused reply. Now, replace that with ‘Middle Earth’ and chances are they’ll know every intricate detail. This, in itself, stands to show just how influential and popular the Lord of the Rings has grown to become.
The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien, is way more than a remarkable work of fiction – like any book that is truly great. It exposes the hollowness at the center of post-religious modernity and hopes for ‘a new springtime of the human spirit’. Written during the desolate times of World War II, it praises seemingly lost traditional values: romance, honour, loyalty, heroism, beauty, glory, truth and friendship. The novel confronts evil head on, refusing to be daunted. Some people believe the ring and the destruction it caused was actually a metaphor for the atomic bomb.
The title refers to the Dark Lord Sauron, the primary antagonist, who is credited with creating the “One ring to rule them all.” The story begins in the hobbit habitat called the ‘Shire’ (influenced by English countryside) and follows the course of the ‘War of the Ring’ through the eyes of its main characters- the hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin and their allies which include Legolas, the Elven prince, Gimli, a dwarf warrior and Gandalf, the wizard.
LOTR has sold over 150 million copies, making it the third best-selling novel ever written. The colossal popularity it achieved greatly increased the demand for fantasy fiction, making the genre flower around the 1960s. It’s profound impact on popular culture led to young people embracing it as a countercultural sage. Phrases such as ‘Frodo Lives!” and “Gandalf for President” grew immensely common in the United States of America. The books have also been adapted into an award winning film franchise.
So if you’re one of the few people who haven’t gotten their hands on this epic saga yet, we suggest you do right away. Open the book and be revolted by Gollum’s sliminess, fall in love with Frodo’s sincerity, support Aragorn’s claim to be the rightful king and marvel at Sam’s loyalty and friendship. LOTR is not a mere story, it is a long and marvelous journey where you will meet characters who will live in your heart for a lifetime.
By Sanjana Ahuja