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Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty

Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth

Authors: Coutras, Lisa

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About this book

 In this book, Lisa Coutras explores the structure and complexity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s narrative theology, synthesizing his Christian worldview with his creative imagination. She illustrates how, within the framework of a theological aesthetics, transcendental beauty is the unifying principle that integrates all aspects of Tolkien’s writing, from pagan despair to Christian joy.  
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Christianity is often held in an unsteady tension with the pagan despair of his mythic world.  Some critics portray these as incompatible, while Christian analysis tends to oversimplify the presence of religious symbolism.  This polarity of opinion testifies to the need for a unifying interpretive lens. The fact that Tolkien saw his own writing as “religious” and “Catholic,” yet was preoccupied with pagan mythology, nature, language, and evil, suggests that these areas were wholly integrated with his Christian  worldview.  Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty  examines six structural elements, demonstrating that the author’s Christianity is deeply embedded in the narrative framework of his  creative imagination.   

About the authors

 Lisa Coutras holds a PhD in Theology from King’s College London, UK, and an MTh in Applied Theology from the University of Oxford, UK.  

Reviews

“This book is an enormous achievement. It is wonderfully ‘heavy’ in content and ‘light’ (clear) in style.  The book unifies Tolkien’s vision, explains and interprets it accurately, probes it philosophically and theologically, and defends it against common misunderstandings (e.g. that Tolkien was anti-feminist).  Coutras has more than done her homework. This work will be a definitive touchstone for generations to come.” (Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, USA )

“This is a genuinely original, remarkably rich, and frequently absorbing contribution to theological aesthetics. One need not be a Tolkien enthusiast to learn from it; but enthusiasts and casual admirers alike are sure to be surprised and delighted by this book.” (David Bentley Hart, University of Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, USA)

“This book is particularly valuable for its explication of Tolkien’s integration of Marian and valkyrie imagery, resulting in female characters of transcendental beauty and heroism.” (Janet Brennan Croft, editor of Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature, and co-editor of Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien)

“Lisa Coutras gently but firmly corrects the many misrepresentations of narrative context and authorial intention that characterize too many works of Tolkien scholarship. Her discussion restores to their proper value those characteristics most central to Tolkien’s creative vision. Coutras provides an especially compelling and textually sensitive reading of female characters, suggesting that Tolkien integrates central Nordic and Christian mythological traditions into a profound statement on beauty.” (Leslie A. Donovan, co-editor of Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien)

Table of contents (16 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-55345-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $95.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-55344-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty
Book Subtitle
Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth
Authors
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-55345-4
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-55345-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-55344-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XVII, 279
Topics