On the anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, who was born on January 3rd, 1898, I ask you this; why has his writing lasted the test of time? Why is it that eighty-three years after the initial publication of The Hobbit and sixty-six years after The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, his books are still picked up by young readers and adults alike?
J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the most popular writers in the world today. According to Fox Business, it can be assumed his books have made $2.25 billion, not including the sale of used books. In addition to this, the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and the Hobbit movie trilogy have made a combined amount of $5.86 billion. If there is one thing that we can all be sure of, it’s that movies and books do not make that much money if they are not beloved by their readers and by their audience.
I tend to be the black sheep of my family, but The Lord of the Rings and all of Tolkien’s work is one commonality among us; and that is just my own experience. Therefore, I opened the floor to ask some of you why you think Tolkien has become such a driving force; not only in the world of fantasy, but in our world as a whole? Here is what you had to say:
“Tolkien was something that my brothers and I could grow with. A lot of people today don’t realize that The Hobbit was meant to be a children’s book, so when the movies came out, I think it wasn’t as popular because everyone expected it to be like The Lord of the Rings, but they were always meant to be different. Reading The Hobbit means singing the songs and reading an honestly silly story at some points. Then when I got older, I could dive into the heavier books like The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.”
“Tolkien created a world with magic, adventure, and friendship. It is the perfect world to escape and has been since its publication. We read to be transported elsewhere, for a sense of escapism, and readers will never stop needing that. I love Tolkien’s work not only for the talented and well thought out writing and world-building but also for a wonderful underdog story and camaraderie between creatures.”
“J.R.R. Tolkien has produced an allegory that has withstood close to a century of relevance in modern literature. The depth and detail of his writing has inspired countless others to write in the fantasy genre.”
“The Lord of the Rings, and all of the other books in the Tolkien universe, are a classic story of good versus evil. There are forces pulling characters in each direction, but good always wins in the end. There is nothing more satisfying than that storyline being played out through Tolkien’s words.”
“Tolkien’s craft was always writing. It’s difficult now for a younger audience, but once you’re at the level at which you can handle it, you can’t help but appreciate his ability to craft a story. His skills in linguistics are also a huge part of how his books can remain popular, because it’s absolutely fascinating to see the languages he came up with himself.”
“Escapism. It is always escapism. Tolkien wrote at a horrifying point in history and it was exactly what people needed. And while realism has become popular too, we will always need an escape. There is always a world from which we need a distraction or a dream that we want to visit. Tolkien gave that to us.”