One World To Rule Them All: How J.R.R. Tolkien Used Original Intertext to Create Middle-Earth

Caitlin Eha


J.R.R. Tolkien is well known today as a beloved and skillful fantasy author. He is best known for his novels set in the mythical world called Middle-Earth, a realm that, although fictitious, has been fascinating and enchanting readers for many years. This essay argues that the rhetorical element which made (and continues to make) Tolkien's novels so popular and successful was his skillful use of intertextuality—specifically, his use of “original intertext,” a concept unique to this paper. Original intertext is a type of intertextuality that draws on original content created by the same author who is using the intertext. By examining three key elements of Tolkien's original intertext—legend, landscape, and language—this paper demonstrates how he employed intertextual rhetoric to make Middle-Earth seem like a real place to his readers, and thereby shows how modern creative writers can emulate his use of rhetoric to make their own fantasy worlds just as powerful and enduring.


Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, intertextuality, rhetorical analysis

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Copyright (c) 2016 Caitlin Eha