Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Richard L. Lane


Nearly 20 years have now passed since critic Phillip Toynbee confidently but mistakenly assured readers of the London Observer that Lord of the Rings would soon be passing into “merciful oblivion.” The subsequent success these books have enjoyed has proven this prediction wholly unfounded. Far from fading into oblivion, The Lord of the Rings has found a very receptive audience among readers and critics of widely varying literary tastes, and while it is obviously too soon to suggest that the popularity it has enjoyed and the genius it displays will assure Tolkien a place among other great English writers like Chaucer and Milton, it seems certain that Tolkien will never fade into oblivion as Toynbee predicted in the summer of 1961. What seems equally certain is that his popularity will continue to grow as readers and critics read The Silmarillion, the collection of mythological tales about the earliest ages of Middle-Earth history, which forms the background for The Lord of the Rings.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of English and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1980 Michael A. Witt.

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