Child's play or not, copies of Tolkien's The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring have been blossoming on college campuses like elves in the dell, and this is a collection of previously published and original critical material. To be sure, Tolkien's body of massive poetic allegory leads easily and naturally to jigsaw puzzle allegory-opening: is it indeed a model of Lewisian Christianity; a synthetic Wagnerian Ring; a political statement? (Professor Tolkien, in his eyrie, wisely has growled out something about ""read the book."") In his essay. Auden investigates ""the Quest"" and speaks of The Lord of the Rings as doing supreme justice to ""our experience of social-historical realities."" Most of the essays here deal skillfully with the rich density and wit as well as breadth of vision of Tolkien's work. Difficult, strenuous, mainly for the scholar, this is nonetheless a firm push toward a judicious evaluation of Tolkien's books as works of art.