This article examines major academic approaches used in the study of J.R.R. Tolkien. It argues that certain themes from political philosopher Leo Strauss, by helping us to develop a new theoretical lens, can elucidate several politically salient aspects of Tolkien's work, including thymos and his dialectic between ancient and modern. Four previous (though flawed) Straussian interpretations of Tolkien are highlighted. Finally, by analyzing the tensions that arise when pairing critical theory and its attendant bias against nature with Tolkien and epic fantasy, this article argues for the timeliness of a Straussian lens for studying fantasy and Tolkien alike.



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