Susie and I just got back from Place de l'Odeon, where we saw the new movie, THE HOBBIT, in the original version [which is to say, in English, and also in Elvish and Orkish and ancient Dwarvish with French subtitles -- it was a trifle odd.] I loved it, but that is not the occasion for this blog post. On the way walking home, I bethought myself of the brilliant unpublished essay by Charles Mills on THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Mills is, in my opinion, one of the really important political theorists of our time. His first book, THE RACIAL CONTRACT, is one of the two or three most important pieces of political theory of the past century -- way more important, for example, than Bob Nozick's delightful book, ANARCHY, STATE, AND UTOPIA.
As readers of my autobiography may recall, I was called on to evaluate Mills when he came up for tenure at Illinois Chicago Circle [he now has a chair at Northwestern.] The main piece of writing they sent me was the manuscript of what became THE RACIAL CONTRACT, but included in the packet was the essay on Tolkein, which I just raved about. For my sins, as people used to say, I got to write a little plug for the back cover of Mills' book. I was honored.
THE HOBBIT is apparently the first of a trilogy to be made from Tolkein's slender book. I hope I live long enough to see all three.