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Theosophical Classics
back in print

Frodo's Quest:
Living the Myth in The Lord of the Rings

Robert Ellwood

160 pages
24 black & white illustrations
7 3/8 x 9 1/8

$18.95 paper
Foreign rights are available.
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The three planned movies of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings introduced millions of new fans to the great epic fantasy that has enthralled readers since the first book was published in 1955. But is it more than just a fantasy? Tolkien said his work had no deeper meaning, but Robert Ellwood finds much insight concerning the spiritual path. Retelling key parts of the story to orient us, he interprets it in terms of core themes of the ancient wisdom tradition, including the development of higher consciousness, death and rebirth, and the triumph of good over evil.

As Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings movie, stated at the Academy Awards, “Frodo is Everyman.” Ellwood agrees that like Frodo, we each experience times of change and challenge that propel us on our own quest, which is finally the adventure of exploring inner realities and growing spiritually. The characters in The Lord of the Rings can be seen as archetypes for the people we meet along the way. Do you have a Gandalf (a spiritual guide) or a Sam (a friend/partner) in your life already? If not, you may soon encounter them!

Ellwood adds fanciful line drawings, meditations, and exercises to help us see our lives as a great journey full of mission instead of just dreary routine. “Ultimately,” he says, “the Quest gives opportunity for doing deeds that can change one’s own existence—and the world—for the better—if one has the courage!”

A Note on the Author's Own Quest:

Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has affected the inner lives of millions of readers--Robert Ellwood among them, as he recounts in Frodo's Quest. When the story first came out in 1955, Robert read it as an Episcopal seminary student in New Haven, Connecticut. A year later, walking down the hedge-rows of the English countryside, he imagined he was in the Shire, at the outset of Frodo's adventure.

In the 1960's, the course of this adventure took Robert to the University of Chicago graduate school. There he and his roommates lived in an old Victorian house they called "Toad Hall" and threw parties where the entertainment was often dramatic readings from The Lord of the Rings. It was then that Robert first met his future wife Gracia out of their common love for the Tolkien books.

In the 1970s, the Ellwoods joined the Los Angeles Mythopoetic Society, a group that not only read Tolkien aloud but also held costumed events based on the colorful characters. "Some afternoons," Robert recalls, "casual drivers would be astonished to see a city park peopled by Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, a Wizard or two, perhaps even a menacing Nazgul -- strange sights even for the environs of Hollywood!"

Later in the 1970s, when Robert encountered and began to write about Theosophy, he now attributes his intense interest to the sense of wonder awakened by The Lord of the Rings. He finds many parallels between the two worldviews, including the themes of deep cause-and-effect, initiation into higher levels of consciousness, death and rebirth, and the belief in the eventual triumph of good over evil.

Dr. Robert Ellwood is Professor Emeritus of Religion, University of Southern California. A native of Normal, Illinois, he received his B.A. from the University of Colorado and his Ph.D. in History of Religions from the University of Chicago.

He was a professor of world religions at the University of Southern California for thirty years from 1967 until his retirement in 1997. During and since his tenure at Southern California, he has appeared as a guest lecturer at various universities. For more information about the author visit his

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Quest Books publishes nonfiction works to facilitate spiritual growth and healing; to encourage the study of religion, philosophy, and science; and to promote fellowship among all peoples of the world. In addition to a comprehensive selection of Theosophy titles by noteworthy authors like H.P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater, and others, Quest offers books on a variety of topics including alternative healing, development of creativity, transpersonal psychology, deep ecology, mythology, comparative religion, consciousness, spiritual evolution, ancient wisdom, mysticism, esoteric studies, and perennial philosophy.

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