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Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings is a book written in 1969 by fantasy author Lin Carter.

This book is scholastic in style - although Lin was not a professor or per se a scholar - and it tells of J.R.R. Tolkien's story as a writer, and of the invention of The Hobbit and Middle-earth, then functioning as a survey of things underlying the story of The Lord of the Rings - discussing Tolkien's sources and inspirations, and examining the fantasy genre through history.

The book can serve as an introduction to readers who are new to Tolkien's books but not new to Western thought.

One cover-description of the Ballantine publication of the book reads: A delightful in-depth exploration of Tolkien's classic trilogy...

The cover-description on another publication reads: A joyous exploration of Tolkien's classic trilogy and of the glorious tradition from which it grew.

Table of contents

  • Author's Note
  • An Introduction
    1. The Lives and Times of Professor Tolkien
    2. How The Lord of the Rings Came to be Written
    3. Tolkien Today
    4. Of Middle-Earth and the Story of The Hobbit
    5. The Story of The Fellowship of the Ring
    6. The Story of The Two Towers
    7. The Story of The Return of the King
    8. The Trilogy—Satire or Allegory?
    9. Tolkien's Theory of the Fairy Story
    10. Fantasy in the Classical Epic
    11. Fantasy in the Chanson de Geste
    12. Fantasy in the Medieval Romance
    13. The Men Who Invented Fantasy
    14. Tolkien's Basic Sources
    15. On the Naming of Names
    16. Some People, Places, and Things
  • Postscript: After Tolkien
  • Appendix A: A Checklist of Critical Literature on The Lord of the Rings
  • Appendix B: A Selected Bibliography


A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings was first published by Ballantine Books (Toronto) in the year it was written, and was reprinted five times until 1978. From then till 2003, the book was out of print. Gollancz (Britain) published the book in that year, and in the year following the first American publication was made, by Tor Books (New York City).


Foreign Language Translated name
Danish Tolkien: bagom Ringenes Herre

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