Tolkien - A Cultural Phenomenon
by Brian Rosebury
Palgrave Macmillan HCVR: ISBN 1403912637 PubDate: 10/01/03
Review by Edward Carmien
??? pgs. List price $ 19.95
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Brian Rosebury’s Tolkien, A Cultural Phenomenon is a revised and expanded edition of his 1992 book by the same name. Given the success of Jackson’s films to date, it is no surprise Rosebury undertook a new edition of his text.
This book addresses the battle in the culture wars (between the high and the low, of course) that concerns the place of Tolkien’s work in our world. There are chapters here that address what the High team argues are the literary shortcomings of Tolkien’s “genre” writings, and other chapters about Tolkien’s place in the history of ideas and as a figurehead in our popular culture.
Rosebury’s didactic tone will leave some American readers cool. There is a faint sense of reading a foreign language, and in a sense that’s just what Rosebury’s British academic English is. For anyone caught up in the debate about the literary value of Tolkien’s work, this is a thoughtful addition to the low culture’s armory. LOTR fans who are only fans (and not, say, scholars) will find more here than they need—this is an academic text, and is therefore not particularly entertaining.