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Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien

by Matthew T. Dickerson and Jonathan Evans foreword by John Elder afterword by Tom Shippey

Availablepaperback$35.00x 978-0-8131-2986-0
Availablecloth$70.00x 978-0-8131-2418-6
Culture of the Land
344 pages  Pubdate: 04/15/2011  6 x 9 x 1  

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With a Foreword by John Elder and an Afterword by Tom Shippey Though not often recognized as environmental or agrarian literature, the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien demonstrate a complex and comprehensive ecological philosophy. The ecology of Middle-earth portrayed in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion brings together three potent and convincing elements of preservation and conservation--sustainable agriculture and agrarianism, horticulture independent of utilitarianism, and protection of unspoiled wilderness. Throughout his work, Tolkien reveals his vision of the natural world and environmental responsibility. Ents, Elves, and Eriador examines the underlying environmental philosophy in Tolkien's major works as well as his lesser-known stories and essays. Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans evaluate Tolkien's writing, especially his Middle-earth legendarium, in the context of modern environmental literature. The authors compare Tolkien's work with that of some of the most important environmental scholars and nature writers of the past century, including Wendell Berry, John Elder, Aldo Leopold, and Scott Sanders, highlighting Tolkien's intellectual depth. A vital contribution to environmental literature and an important addition to Tolkien scholarship, Ents, Elves, and Eriador offers all fans of Tolkien a new way to understand his writings.

Matthew Dickerson, professor and member of the environmental studies program at Middlebury College, is the author or coauthor of several books, including Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in the Lord of the Rings and From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy.

Jonathan Evans, associate professor of English and director of the medieval studies program at the University of Georgia, is a member of the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program faculty. His essays on J. R. R. Tolkien have been published in J. R. R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances, Tolkien the Medievalist, and The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia.

Anyone who ever thrilled to Tolkien's fighting trees, or to the earthy Tom Bombadil, or to the novel charm of the Shire will want to read this important and lovely book. -- Bill McKibben, Scholar in Residence in Environmental Studies, Middlebury College

The writing style is engaging, and the book presents the first fully developed study of Tolkien and the environment at the same time that it offers insights into a range of Tolkien's major and minor works. -- Choice

A fascinating ecocritical evaluation of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Valuable for both Tolkien fans and those interested in ecocriticism and environmental literature. Especially useful given the popularity of the subject matter. -- Northeastern Naturalist

This book is a major new contribution to the subject of Tolkien's work in relation to the natural world and environmentalism. . . . The authors have devised an ingenious and useful distinction between agriculture for food (the domain of the Hobbits), horticulture for aesthetic beauty (that of Elves), and feraculture . . . for wilderness preservation (Ents). -- Tolkien Studies

Dickerson and Evans's ecological thesis has one outstanding merit, which is that Tolkien himself would have recognized and thoroughly approved of what they have to say. -- Tom Shippey, from the Afterword

Reading a non-fiction book about Tolkien's environmental vision may seem like a way to spoil the sheer fun of reading The Lord of the Rings and his other books. What I found as I read this book was that I wanted to reread every word of Tolkien to see for myself what the authors have given a glimpse of. This book is for everyone who loves the work of J.R..R. Tolkien, and who loves the world around them. -- Armchair Interviews

The two authors are unabashed in their effort to use the lure of Tolkien to draw readers to the Green movement. The book constitutes an unorthodox yet largely successful combination of scholarly reading and political manifesto. Dickerson and Evans seek to rouse Tolkien fans to scour their own Shires before it is too late and Mordor triumphs. -- Seven

A well-researched, readable, and relevant study of Tolkien’s ecological principles and concerns. And, as Tom Shippey comments in the afterword, Tolkien, no doubt, would approve. -- Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

This volume is a thorough and welcome explication of Tolkien’s vision of the natural world, and of the ways in which that vision is applicable to our own lives today. -- Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature & the Environment

Ents, Elves, and Eriador should...be praised for drawing attention to the multifaceted portrayal of the natural world in Tolkien’s work. -- Folklore

It is an enjoyable and intellectually valuable read for its detailed examination of the landscape cultures of Middle-earth and their liminal overlapping of one another. -- Studies in Medieval & Renaissnace Teaching

Does much to show why Tolkein should be recognized as one of those who laid the foundations for and formed the environmental movement as we know it today. -- Mallorn

Dickerson and Evans provide a valuable discussion of concepts of stewardship as figured by Gandalf, Treebeard, Sam, Galadriel, and various kings and leaders, and how such examples bridge our inner world of fantasy and what we think of as the outer world of reality. -- Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching

A fine introduction to Tolkein's environmental achievement. -- Flourish Book Review