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You'll notice that in the trilogy, anything remotely mechanical or
technological is associated with capital-E Evil.
I wouldn't go so far as to include those "anything remotely"-words.
The high craftsmanship and skill of the dwarves and the master elves
are valued and presented as fundamentally admirable, even though even
in those cases, there's the inevitable dark side of how this great
skill is inadvertedly twisted so that it produces dark, undesirable
About modernity, one thing that I've always found interesting is that
even though Tolkien was a medievalist, a good part of the setting in
the "Lord of the Rings" is actually not medieval, but_early modern_.
The Shire, for example, has a perfectly functioning administrative
system and elaborate legal practices ("seven signatures on a will, in
red ink"), a society of independent farmers and bourgeoisie, and of
course, they grow New World crops such as potatoes, cotton and
tobacco. They have a functioning postal system. They read books, which
suggests that they may have invented some form of printing. They even
_play golf_ in the Northern Farthing, which, judging by those few
throwaway lines, probably looks a bit like early-modern Scotland.
The outside world is strikingly backward in comparison, but doesn't
look consistently medieval, either. Esgaroth appears as a renaissance
city-state, and Gondor looks more like a late classical realm. The
_rohirrim_ may speak Anglo-Saxon, but the Kingdom of Rohan with its
manors and high-class military organization in itself is definitely
_late_ medieval, very much post-Norman.
An anachronistic world, in other words. Which leads to the question:
what if the fantasy literature that followed Tolkien was also placed
primarily in an early-modern setting comparable to the 16th or 17th
century, instead of a "medieval" world? Let's double-barrel this and
assume that Robert E. Howard decides to focus on Solomon Kane instead
of Kull and Conan. So, we'll get fantasy literature which seeks its
primary inspiration from the Elizabethan and Cromwellian England, the
Great-Power era Sweden, the Thirty Years' War, and so on. Besides
having frigates on the Earthsea, what other effects could there be?
About Mike's original inquiry, like most others here, I believe that
the First World War was more significant in Tolkien's experience, but
there were a few direct effects of the Second World War which are, in
my opinion, most visible in the First Part of the Trilogy. I don't
believe that Sauron was an allegory of Hitler, but that described flow
of refugees westwards was, I think, a direct result from the pre-war
experience. And I doubt that the part where the Nazgul knocks on Fatty
Bolger's door late in the night would look _quite_ so much like an
allegory of a Gestapo or NKVD official intruding to someone's home if
the Europe of the 1930s and the 1940s had not been what it was like.
(Of course, the scene may have also resulted from something completely
different. Even though Tolkien did leave South Africa at the age of
three, perhaps that "Open, in the name of Mordor"-part was actually an
inadverted allegory of some Johannesburg policeman checking up a