Deconstructing Tolkien: A Fundamental Analysis of The Lord of the Rings
Edward J. McFadden III
Padwolf Publishing, 179 pp.
Despite the scholarly title this is one of the most approachable analyses of Tolkien that I’ve read. McFadden alternates between his own opinions on Tolkien and fiction from authors that he feels had some influence on The Lord of the Rings. He picks selections from Wells, Poe, Lovecraft, and Chaucer and then illustrates how the author’s work may have had an affect on Tolkien’s writing. Even when the connection seems a stretch, it still gives readers a nice introduction to other works that nicely complement the tales of Middle Earth. The essays that make up the other half of the book come off more as “one man’s opinion” than as a dry deconstruction of the story, covering a range of topics such as Tolkien’s background, the use of sex and drugs in LotR, and where the recent movies failed and succeeded in adapting the original text. I found myself disagreeing with McFadden’s points almost as often as I agreed with them but, most importantly, McFadden’s analysis always made me look deeper at a story that I thought I knew pretty well already. And isn’t that what all good analyses should do?