Currently, I’m rereading The Lord of the Rings, which I hadn’t read since I was a kid. (I’m currently wondering whether I really finished it back then, because I don’t remember anything from the second half of The Two Towers on very well at all.) Anyway, what surprised me is that these are really great books. I think my opinion of them had been diminished by all the other fantasy dreck I’ve read since then. Anyway, as I’ve read the books, I’ve of course become obsessed with all things Tolkein … I even bought an atlas of Middle Earth. I’ve also been wondering how Tolkein’s world view shaped the overall mood of the novels. Andrew O’Hehir’s essay briefly discusses Tolkein’s upbringing and life, and reading it, my suspicions are confirmed.