The Hobbit, Tolkien & Fantasy

January 18, 2013

The recently released blockbuster film 'The Hobbit' has once again brought into focus the extraordinary writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. The work of Tolkien has been a regular topic of interest at CASE. On 10th March 2004 Lord of the Rings devotees gathered at New College to explore a theological perspective on Tolkien’s trilogy and the contemporary film treatments. The conference had the theme 'Creation, redemption and Lord of the Rings'. Three papers were presented. The papers by Dr Greg Clarke and Dr Diane Speed were published in Case #4. The third paper, by Dr Kirsten Birkett, can be downloaded from the CASE (HERE).

The paper by Dr Greg Clarke titled 'Tolkien and Theology: Believing in Fairy-Stories' explores Tolkien's particular view of fantasy and its purposes and possibilities. In it Dr Clarke writes:
In 1947, Tolkien published a very significant and revealing essay, ‘On fairy-stories’. In the essay, he explores the meaning of a way of thinking called ‘faerie’, commonly expressed in fairy tales. Tolkien is at pains to point out that most people have a very narrow and mistaken view of what such a tale is—that it is a simple made-up story containing small unreal creatures. Tolkien’s own definition is more metaphysical: a fairy-story contains events, words and ideas that are magical or fantastical, but in a serious way such that it seems real. Such a tale is marked especially by the attempt to recover from a loss. Fairy-stories could achieve at least three things: recovery, escape and consolation.

Greg Clarke's full paper and his expansion of Tolkien's three things fairy stories can achieve was reprinted in Case magazine #4 (2004). You can download it free HERE.
You can also read an excellent post from the newspaper 'Eternity' on 'The Hobbit' HERE.

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