The understanding of J.R.R. Tolkien in Russia is affected by two circumstances. One is that the general public is only familiar with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The other fact is that for the last 75 years cultural values and ethical rules have been methodically changed and replaced with communist ideology. So I’d like to divide readers of Tolkien into four groups: children, youth, general readers and the intellectual elite. J.R.R. Tolkien is of extremely great interest for children from 7 to 13. It seems that they enjoy their first meeting with true and really good fairy-story and explore this genre with care. The teenager’s perception is superficial. It depends on their increasing political and social apathy and is usually connected with escapism. Passions for war role-playing games and for writing imitations are typical for this group. The general public is bewildered if in touch with Tolkien at all. Social consciousness doesn’t have any scale of values fitting for The Lord of the Rings. Even literary criticism is extremely poor. Elite readers are familiar with other books by J.R.R. Tolkien together with Russian culture and world cultural traditions. So this group is interested mostly in Tolkien’s linguistics, philosophy, theology, etc.
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Mythcon 52: The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien
Albuquerque, New Mexico; July 29 - August 1, 2022