The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Tolkien, J. R. R., 1892-1973.
         Full name: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. British author and academic born in Bloemfontein, South Africa whose work on his fictional creation of Middle Earth occupied a lifetime. His influence on the development of the fantasy genre as a whole is incalculable.
  • <- The Hobbit. 1937.
             Children's fantasy introducing hobbits, Tolkien's fictional race of little people, set in a prehistoric era inhabited by creatures from Northern European mythology and folklore, the flavor of which it successfully captures. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins is dragooned by Gandalf the wizard into the quest of a band of dwarves to recover treasure looted from their forefathers by the dragon Smaug. Enroute he acquires a magic ring of invisibility, the significance of which only becomes apparent later. Adapted to the stage in 1953, radio in 1968, television in 1977, and film in 2012-2014.
  • <- The Lord of the Rings. 1956.
             Tolkien's magnum opus, an adult sequel to The Hobbit which darkens, deepens, and brings an epic quality to his imagined Middle Earth. Gandalf discovers Bilbo's magic ring is actually the One Ring of Power of the demonic Sauron, defeated ages ago but rising again. Even without the lost ring Sauron is on track to overwhelm the remaining free peoples; if he recovers it his power will be unimaginable. Pursued by the enemy's creatures and aided only by a small group of fugitive companions, Bilbo's heir Frodo must spirit the ring to the heart of Sauron's power, the volcano where it was forged, as only there can it be destroyed. An enormous novel, originally published in three parts; The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), The Two Towers (1954), and The Return of the King (1955). Adapted to radio in 1955, 1956, 1979 and 1981, film in 1978 and 2001-2003, television in 1980, audiobook in 1990, and the musical theater in 2006.

Posted May 15, 2009, and last updated Apr. 13, 2015.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2015 by Brian Kunde.