Italian Politics’ Strange Obsession With Tolkien

Italy - Where Politics Meets Fantasy

Tolkien fan: Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Credit: Georgia.meloni/

ITALY is about to open an exhibition dedicated to the great British author J.R.R. Tolkien, but there is a little-known back story that goes beyond mere fairy tales.

Scheduled to open on November 16, the exhibition, titled ‘Tolkien: Man, Professor, Author’, marks the fiftieth anniversary of both the author’s passing and the first Italian edition of ‘The Hobbit’.

Meloni’s Lifelong Tolkien Fascination

Tracing back to her formative years, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has shown a deep-rooted interest in Tolkien’s narratives.

This admiration extends into her political life, intertwining with the ideologies of her party, the Brothers of Italy. For them, Tolkien’s creations are not just stories, but philosophical texts embodying their core beliefs, writes BNN.

Tolkien: A Symbol For Italian Conservatism

For the Italian right, Tolkien’s literature is more than fiction; it’s a bastion defending Christian and Western ideals against modern threats. They resonate with the author’s emphasis on community, nature, tradition, and the critique of the modern world’s impersonal nature.

The exhibition has been funded with €250,000 from the Italian Ministry of Culture. Its secretary, Gennaro Sangiuliano commented: ‘Prime Minister Meloni was not involved in the organisation, she found out about it later, but I know she loves Tolkien like millions of other readers and I know she will come to the inauguration.’

Exhibition Overview

The exhibition is being curated by Oronzo Cilli, a member of the English Tolkien Society and a renowned Tolkien scholar. The exhibit is notable for its size and the prestige of the international icollaborators.

According to Cilli, it aims to be non-ideological, an ambitious goal considering the writer’s influence on arts, society, and culture. The exhibition will be housed at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art under director Cristiana Collu.

The showcase is divided into three sections: ‘Man’, highlighting Tolkien’s challenging childhood, family, and World War I experiences.

‘Professor’, focusing on his teaching years at Oxford and the connection between philology and narrative.

‘Author’, featuring the global success of his works, translated into 70 languages. Over 1,300 pieces will be displayed, including manuscripts, letters, photographs, and 900 books in various editions.

The event also celebrates Tolkien’s profound impact on modern mythology. It includes animated projections of Middle-earth maps and over 100 works by artists and illustrators inspired by his epic works. Also referenced are the influences of Tolkien’s work in various media, from films to music such as several songs by the rock band Led Zeppelin.

The Exhibition is scheduled to commence in Rome and continue into next year, visiting other cities throughout Italy.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.