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One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien's Mythology

by Anne C. Petty

This academic analysis of, "The Hobbit," and, "The Lord of the Rings," leads Tolkien fans to consider his work in new ways. It suggests that Tolkien's myth conforms to the mythic content, characters and story progressions Joseph Campbell has described. The author also sites evidence that artists are responsible to inspire, not by stating lessons and rules, but by creating complex myths where values are demonstrated by characters' actions and choices, and in which readers can imagine themselves facing the challenges of a quest. She uses many examples of elements of folklore in Tolkien's work as described by Propp and Levi-Strauss. Using a list of lettered and numbered abbreviations, she creates equations which summarize the storylines of the epic from Bilbo's meeting with the dwarves in the Hobbit to Frodo's sailing away from Middle-earth with the elves in the last volume of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As Petty employs her abbreviations liberally throughout the text, the reader may find it helpful to consult appendix A on page 120 where they are listed. These are followed by Appendix B, schemes of the Tales, notes listed by chapter, a bibliography and an index.

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