The Good, the Pulp, and the Superversive – J.R.R. Tolkien

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

I introduced this new, intermittent series here at Every Day Should Be Tuesday in this post and attempted to define both “pulp” and “superversive.”  In this post I will try to flesh out what I mean by those terms by applying them to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.  My focus is on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s best known works by a wide margin.

In his own words, Tolkien explained that, in writing The Lord of the Rings, “[t]he prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.”  Thus he had both pulp and superversive aspirations.

In the end, Tolkien wrote stories that are extraordinarily good, extraordinarily superversive, and perhaps more pulp than you may suspect.  In…

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