Utopian and dystopian themes in Tolkien’s legendarium: by Mark Doyle

— review by Jay Rimmer

5 October 2021 | Tolkien Studies, XVIII, 255

Mark Doyle’s Utopian and dystopian themes in Tolkien’s legendarium is an interesting but flawed work of scholarship. Doyle draws from a wide-ranging array of numerous sources, but while the research and the treatment of the sources is impressive, the arguments constructed from them are highly dubious and detract from the overall work. Doyle is at his best introducing a source to the discussion and showing his reader how to fit the new source alongside the others. The weakest moments tend to come soon after the introduction of a source, as Doyle constructs arguments that are often unimaginative and occasionally self-contradicting or highly subjective. It is also difficult to know what audience this book is written for: one constant thread is that Tolkien is better than other authors for a plethora of reasons, and most of Doyle’s high-level, overarching arguments are variations on this theme.…

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