Modernism, Liberalism & Tolkien

I posted this on my Tumblr blog but thought it worth reposting here as I find it fascinating.

Alan Jacobs is great blogger. He may not want to embrace that label but his Tumblr blog is full of interesting links, thought-provoking analysis and great quotes.  A great example is his post in response to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on high fantasy for young adults.

What really struck me was his conclusion on Tolkien and modern liberalism:

Modern liberalism likes to think that all our problems are epistemological: we are afflicted by never knowing with sufficient clarity what we ought to do. Our fictions tend to reflect that assumption. Tolkien, not being a modern liberal, thought it more interesting to explore situations when people know what they need to know but may lack the strength of will to act on that knowledge. He might say, and with some justification, that contemporary literary fiction is not simplistic in regard to such problems but oblivious to them.

What say you? True? Fair?

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


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