You will not have escaped the fact that the world has been hit by a gigantic pandemic for a year and it is extremely difficult to get over. As the words “containment”, “curfew”, “PCR test” and “vaccination campaign” have entered our daily vocabulary, one comedian wonders at the lessons that could be learned from “The Lord of the Rings”. JRR Tolkien.
A novel to unite them all?
Can’t Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings be content to be one of the most fundamental works of 20th century literature and to have laid the foundation for the modern imagination? Can he save the world? The humorist Frederick Sigrist gives an answer to this amazing question in his column on France Inter on Friday, January 8th, 2021.
While vaccination campaigns are at the center of the recent news, the French comedian believes that Tolkien’s work shows us the way forward and the attitude we need to have. How can a story of hobbits, elves, dwarves and orcs save us, combining Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon tales and Christian images? Sigrist replies: Because Tolkien’s masterpiece holds up to us a mirror of our societies in crisis.
To Tolkien, Sauron’s menace and ring are less interesting in what it might do than in what it reveals.
But what exactly does the Lord of the Rings reveal about our societies today that have been hit by Covid-19? What parallels can we draw between Middle-earth in the grip of Sauron’s rise to power and that of our virus-crippled globalized system?
All people of Middle-earth know how to destroy the One Ring from the start, but everyone will feel able to make better use of it! […] What Tolkien shows us is that in the face of a global threat, there is nothing worse than putting personal or nationalist interests first.
The French comedian then invites us to pay attention to who the real heroes of Lord of the Rings are. While the ring of power has the ability to corrupt anyone, to emphasize the egocentricity of its owner who uses it for personal use, and to keep his thoughts away from the common good, hobbits themselves are incorruptible.
The heroes of the Lord of the Rings are hobbits, little people … Simple people who face a thousand dangers, not to save the world, but only because they strive to be home together again … to be like before have a sip of beer and gaze at the stars! I can’t help but tell myself that, given the pandemic we are going through, we would benefit from acting less like men and more like hobbits.
For Frederick Sigrist, the Lord of the Rings encourages us to always strive for the simplicity of our pre-crisis life and not benefit from it.