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The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faerie

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The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faerie
The Flame Imperishable.jpg
AuthorJonathan S. McIntosh
PublisherAngelico Press
ReleasedDecember 2017[1]

J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth is a 2017 study of J.R.R. Tolkien on Metaphysics.


  • Introduction
  • One: The Metaphysics of Eru
  • Two: The Metaphysics of the Ainur
  • Three: The Metaphysics of the Music and Vision
  • Four: The Metaphysics of the Valar
  • Five: The Metaphysics of Melkor
  • Final theme: Of Metaphysics and Myth
  • Bibliography
  • Index of proper names

From the publisher

J. R. R. Tolkien was a profoundly metaphysical thinker, and one of the most formative influences on his imagination, according to this new study of his works, was the great thirteenth-century theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas. Structured around Tolkien’s Middle-earth creation myth, the Ainulindalë, The Flame Imperishable follows the thought of Aquinas as a guide in laying bare the deeper foundations of many of the more familiar themes from Tolkien’s legendarium, including sub-creation, free will, evil, and eucatastrophe. More than merely using Aquinas to illuminate Tolkien, however, this study concludes that, through its appropriation of many of the philosophical and theological insights of Aquinas, what Tolkien’s literary opus achieves is an important and unique landmark in the history of Thomism itself, offering an imaginative and powerful contemporary retrieval, interpretation, and application of Thomistic metaphysics for the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


  1. "The Flame Imperishable", Angelico Press (accessed 8 June 2019)