The Lord of the Rings
This is a portal page for quotes from the three standard volumes of the novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; they contain some "spoilers". For quotations from the movie adaptations, go to the page for The Lord of the Rings movies.
The following four titles are links to separate pages of quotes from each of the three volumes, and the appendices:
- Books I and II - The Fellowship of the Ring
- Books III and IV - The Two Towers
- Books V and VI - The Return of the King
- Appendices to The Lord of the Rings
Foreword to the Second Edition (October 1966)
- The 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.
- Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.
- The most critical reader of all, myself, now finds many defects, minor and major, but being fortunately under no obligation either to review the book or to write it again, he will pass over these in silence, except one that has been noted by others: the book is too short.
- I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
Quotes about The Lord of the Rings
- I rarely remember a book about which I have had such violent arguments. Nobody seems to have a moderate opinion: either, like myself, people find it a masterpiece of its genre or they cannot abide it, and among the hostile there are some, I must confess, for whose literary judgment I have great respect. A few of these may have been put off by the first forty pages of the first chapter of the first volume in which the daily life of the hobbits is described; this is light comedy and light comedy is not Mr. Tolkien's forte. In most cases, however, the objection must go far deeper. I can only suppose that some people object to Heroic Quests and Imaginary Worlds on principle; such, they feel, cannot be anything but light "escapist" reading. That a man like Mr. Tolkien, the English philologist who teaches at Oxford, should lavish such incredible pains upon a genre which is, for them, trifling by definition, is, therefore, very shocking.
- To present the conflict between Good and Evil as a war in which the good side is ultimately victorious is a ticklish business. Our historical experience tells us that physical power and, to a large extent, mental power are morally neutral and effectively real: wars are won by the stronger side, just or unjust. ... As readers of the preceding volumes will remember, the situation n the War of the Ring is as follows: Chance, or Providence, has put the Ring in the hands of the representatives of Good, Elrond, Gandalf, Aragorn. By using it they could destroy Sauron, the incarnation of evil, but at the cost of becoming his successor. If Sauron recovers the Ring, his victory will be immediate and complete, but even without it his power is greater than any his enemies can bring against him, so that, unless Frodo succeeds in destroying the Ring, Sauron must win. ... The demands made on the writer's powers in an epic as long as "The Lord of the Rings" are enormous and increase as the tale proceeds-the battles have to get more spectacular, the situations more critical, the adventures more thrilling — but I can only say that Mr. Tolkien has proved equal to them.
- W. H. Auden in "At the End of the Quest, Victory" in The New York Times (22 January 1956)
- Oh, fuck, not another elf!
- Hugo Dyson, Tolkien's friend and fellow academic, during a reading of The Lord of the Rings at a meeting of the Inklings; as quoted in C.S. Lewis: A Biography (1990) by A. N. Wilson, p. 217
- And The Lord of the Rings would begin with Hugo lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying, "Oh God, no more Elves."
- Christopher Tolkien's account of readings of The Lord of the Rings in the television documentary A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien (1992) directed by Derek Bailey.
- On one memorable occasion a small group had gathered in Lewis's rooms and were listening to Tolkien read the last installment of The Lord of the Rings. They were sitting there puffing on pipes and sipping tea when Hugo Dyson, who had been lounging on a sofa and growing increasingly bored with the proceedings, suddenly exclaimed: "Oh, fuck! Not another elf!"
- J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy remains the ultimate quest, the ultimate battle between good and evil, the ultimate chronicle of stewardship of the earth. Endlessly imitated, it never has been surpassed.
- John Mark Eberhart and Matthew Schofield, “After half a century, The Lord of the Rings towers over fantasy fiction — and now the films loom,” The Kansas City Star, 1 October 2000: J1.
- I wonder how could he have been able to invent all this stuff. It feels more like Tolkien discovered some sort of long-lost scrolls.
- Such a book has of course its predestined readers, even now more numerous and more critical than is always realised. To them a reviewer need say little, except that here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart.
- Review by C.S. Lewis, as quoted in The Essential J. R. R. Tolkien Sourcebook: A Fan's Guide to Middle-Earth and Beyond (2004) by George W. Beahm, p. 28
Not fully sourced
- The English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them.
- Sunday Times
- Among the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century.
- Sunday Telegraph
- Masterpiece? Oh yes, I've no doubt about that.
- Evening Standard