Tom Bombadil's Dominion
A Good Reason for the Appearance of Tolkien's Obvious Misfit
The most controversial character in The Lord of the Rings has got to be Tom Bombadil. He doesn't seem to fit anywhere—not in Peter Jackson's film adaption, not in Tolkien's vast backstory, and some even say, not in the plot of the book. Yet, there he is, with his ridiculous blue jacket and yellow boots, living in the Old Forest between the Shire and Bree.
By his own estimation he's the oldest living creature in Middle Earth. And significantly (in my estimation, anyway), he's actually older than The Lord of the Rings itself. Tolkien's poem The Adventures of Tom Bombadil appeared in The Oxford Magazine in 1934. That makes Tom even older than The Hobbit, which was published in 1937.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
C. R. Wiley is a member of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters and has written for numerous periodicals. He is the author of The Household and the War for the Cosmos (Canon Press, 2019) and Man of the House (Wipf and Stock, 2017), as well as short fiction and the first book in a young-adult fantasy series, The Purloined Boy, which was republished by Canon Press in 2017.
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more on J. R. R. Tolkien from the online archives
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor