Despite the plethora of scholarship and commentary on Tolkien’s fiction, I make the case that our felt experience of The Lord of the Rings has yet to be coherently understood and that such coherence is achieved through an exploration of the story’s ‘hidden pictures.’ The real value of this story for our world has remained elusive, like how dreams can haunt us until we finally map the dream images onto our experience. When we take the feelings and associations of dream images seriously, they can guide us to the right understanding of the dream.
— Mark McGivern
Those who know and love J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy know that it is not only an inexhaustible source of wonder, delight, and excitement, but also a profound tale relevant to our time and to the vital question: What does it mean to be a human being?
Rediscovered by each new generation, this story has proved captivating ever since its publication in 1954. It’s a good story, to be sure, but is there something more — a profound aspect that we recognize or sense, speaking directly to something deeper and hidden within us?
Many scholars and commentators have attempted to address this and similar questions. Tolkien scholarship has achieved remarkable insights into his unique use of language, his deep knowledge of storytelling aesthetics in our human heritage of myths, and his ability to weave together an exploration of myriad themes into one story.
Nevertheless, few if any scholars have approached the profoundest aspects of Tolkien’s work with the esoteric spiritual insights of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy as the basis for illuminating their studies. With Tolkien’s Hidden Pictures, Mark McGivern does exactly this, while also building upon the work of scholars such as Verlyn Flieger, whose open-hearted and serious studies, born of love and appreciation for Tolkien’s masterpiece, already suggest the depths, the “hidden pictures,” and the lessons for life and human possibilities contained in The Lord of the Rings.
Anyone interested in delving more deeply into the imagery, feelings, and forms of Tolkien’s great work will find in this volume an illuminating and accessible resource in McGivern’s concise, well-researched, and insightful study.