'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power': The inspiration behind JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel

It is believed that Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungs served as inspiration for Tolkien to write the epic story but was it the only inspiration?

'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power': The inspiration behind JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel
'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' featuring Nazanin Boniadi and Ismael Cruz Cordova (IMDb)
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'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' is currently the most anticipated fantasy television series based on the novel 'The Lord of the Rings' by JRR Tolkien. Developed by showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay for Prime Video, the series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before Tolkien's 'The Hobbit,' and 'The Lord of the Rings.' 

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The new series is primarily based on the appendices of 'The Lord of the Rings,' which include a discussion of the Second Age, and per the Amazon's deal with the Tolkien Estate, it is not a continuation of the 'Lord of the Rings,' and 'Hobbit' film trilogies. Despite this, the production intended to evoke the films with similar production design, and several members of the series' large international cast portray younger versions of characters from the films. 

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The world in JRR Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings' left many people wondering where he got the idea for the universe in the first place. However, much like Middle-earth, the answer is complicated. "While Tolkien's influences span across both mythology and Christianity, with Beowulf being a notable inspiration, he also drew upon his own life experiences from his childhood, his profession in philology, and his time serving in World War I." says a report by CBR

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According to an article by BBC, "The series takes its cue from an appendix Tolkien wrote for the final installment of his epic, slenderly outlining the history of Middle-earth's Second Age. This was a time when the legendary rings were forged and the dark Lord Sauron rose to power, a time when the island kingdom of Númenor flourished (and then fell), and elves and men were compelled to band together in order to do battle for the soul of Middle-earth."

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What inspired Tolkien to write the 'The Lord of the Rings' novel series?

It is sometimes assumed that Tolkien was inspired by the most famous ring in opera, Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungs. The German composer began work on the libretto and music for his cycle almost a century before Tolkien first introduced his rings to readers with the publication of 'The Hobbit' in 1937. Tolkien himself was dismissive of the notion, famously writing to his publisher, "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." Yet as his biographer John Garth tells BBC Culture, It's a moot point because there are other resemblances - power, a corrupting influence.

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It's still more understandable that by the time 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' the first installment of the trilogy that's now published as 'The Lord of the Rings,' appeared in 1954, Tolkien would have wanted to distance himself from a composer who had become deeply problematic. In a letter written during World War One, the author can be found railing against "that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hilter" for "ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making forever accursed, that noble Northern spirit." 

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 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' will premiere exclusively on Prime Video on Thursday, September 1, 2022.

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