EDITOR’S NOTE: National Review is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. Throughout the week, NRO will run some pieces from the archives to help take a trip down memory lane. This piece appeared in the September 28, 1973, issue of National Review.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who died a fortnight ago in his 81st year, was as much a writer of his time as the archetypical modern from whom he seemed to differ so radically and so sharply. All the arts of our century have been revivals of forms long abandoned. Joyce was our Homer, Pound our Dante. Tolkien dared to resuscitate romance, a form requiring the genius of a Rabelais or Spenser, a form which was shattered after its brilliant flowering in the hands of Boiardo and Ariosto by the publication of Don Quixote. Thereafter the demon realism ruled the roost. [More]