The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and many other books by the British writer and philologist J. R. R. Tolkien have been among the most popular literary works in the world for many years. The spectacular transfer of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books to the big screen further increased the popularity of Tolkien’s works. In short, the works written by the British author are considered among the most successful fantasy literary works in history. The universe in which these stories take place, almost all of which are connected, Tolkien calls Middle-earth. In other words, Middle-earth is the general name for this magical world that Tolkien worked on for almost his entire life. However, it is known that the First World War played an extremely important role in the life of Tolkien and, therefore, in the creation of Middle-earth. Here are traces of the First World War in Tolkien’s magical world…
JRR Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in the British colony of South Africa.
However, after the death of his father, who was a bank manager, he and his mother returned to England from this British colony in Africa. Although Tolkien lived in South Africa for a very short time, during Tolkien’s lifetime Africa had what would become one of the hallmarks of Middle-earth in later years! As a small child bitten by a spider, Tolkien had a lifelong fear of spiders. Maybe that’s why spiders in Middle-earth have always been portrayed as evil and serving evil…
Returning to England, Tolkien became interested in literature at the behest of his mother.
Tolkien, who lost his mother at the age of 12, began to deepen his knowledge of literature and language at the boarding school where he began to study. So much so that he wrote poetry with his school friends and had already begun to form his thoughts about literature…
Like his time in South Africa, his trip to Switzerland in 1911 was one of the important events that shaped Middle-earth.
Shortly before starting his studies at Oxford University, Tolkien went on a trip to Switzerland with his friends. This trip to Switzerland contributed greatly to Tolkien’s Middle-earth, especially geographically.
For example, he almost exactly used the sights he saw while climbing in Switzerland in his book The Hobbit. Dense forests, high hills, and even the “Misty Mountains” in the book were among the places that existed in Middle-earth as a result of landscapes seen by Tolkien in Switzerland…
His participation in the First World War in 1915 was an important watershed for both Tolkien and world literature.
Tolkien, who was sent to France during the war, managed to survive many battles with the help of his luck. But throughout the war, the fear of death, sickness, misfortune, evil, goodness, destruction, loss, friendship, and many other themes are deeply rooted in Tolkien’s mind. All these themes will create Middle-earth years later…
After the end of the war, Tolkien became a respected scholar of Old English literary texts.
During this period, he married his great love Edith and began to lead a happy life. One of her favorite activities was writing stories for her children. This leisure of Tolkien resulted in the first drafts of The Hobbit in the early 1930s… In 1932, Tolkien completed The Hobbit, which he had written with a rather fabulous story compared to his later works. However, he did not intend to publish The Hobbit as a book. Therefore, only his literary friends and a few students knew about the existence of the Hobbit. But The Hobbit was published as a separate book in 1937 at the insistence of the publisher.
The first edition of The Hobbit sold out in no time! The book was an incredible sales success.
The sales success of The Hobbit continued for many years. II. It was reprinted many times until there was no more paper during World War II… This success story inspired both Tolkien and his publishers to write a new story. So the British writer began his new project, which he wanted to equip with much darker themes than The Hobbit: The Lord of the Rings.
When Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings, he tried very hard to fit in with The Hobbit.
Because the author wanted to achieve perfect thematic harmony between his two works. This thought of Tolkien applies to the books that he would write later. For this reason, Middle-earth became living history, with which Tolkien constantly struggled until his death, making corrections and changes …
Many scholars agree that Tolkien was significantly influenced by the First World War.
The military environment in which he was in his youth influenced Tolkien in all its positive and negative aspects, as well as influenced his literary character. Themes such as the resistance of the seemingly weak against the destructive industry that first arose during the war, friendship and courage were also the basis of many heroic narratives in Middle-earth.
The First World War was not the only thing Tolkien influenced in the creation of Middle-earth.
Tolkien was influenced by ancient English literary texts and Norse mythology, as well as by the war he witnessed. For example, Gandalf, one of the most recognizable characters in Middle-earth, and many other characters were named after Norse mythology. According to some reports, even Middle-earth itself was a reflection of Midgard in mythology…
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