I don’t understand why people complain about a lack of multiculturalism, or the presence of Euro-centrism in Tolkien. I really don’t understand it. 

Let’s look at the facts: 

  1. Aside from the creation of a world the history of which would provide linguistic verisimilitude for the languages he was inventing, one of Tolkien’s primary goals in writing his stories was to create a mythology that was specifically English. To criticize him for not being more multicultural, or for being too “Euro-centric” (Anglo-centric would be more accurate), is, as C.S. Lewis wrote in his Preface to Paradise Lost, to treat as faults “those very properties which the poet labored hardest to attain and which, rightly enjoyed, are essential to its specific delightfulness.” It would be like criticizing James Joyce for being too Gaelo-centric (if that’s an actual word). 
  2. No work of art is under any obligation to be widely representative or inclusive, and least of all those which are set in a historical time period (or purport to be historical) and a very specific region. The more regional a work is, the less likely it is to be multicultural, and the more multiculturalism would be a flaw. Think of the Iliad. This is a poem about a war between the Greeks and Trojans. If we asked Homer to be more inclusive, say, to have an African character, a Chinese character, an Indian character, and a Germanic character, then we would not only be submitting him to requests that were unreasonable given the scope and nature of his work, but ones that would, if fulfilled, severely damage its quality by diluting its focus. The same can be said of other narrowly-focused works, such as Japan’s The Tale of Genji, or England’s Pride and Prejudice. One may not have a taste for such things, but that’s no defect of the authors of any of these works; nor of Tolkien’s. 
  3. Tolkien’s work is, within its scope and nature, multicultural. You have Shire culture, Rohirric culture, Elven culture, Entish culture, and Dwarvish culture, and that list is not even exhaustive. Even if I were to list the culture of every race, even that would be a simplistic account of things. You don’t just have Hobbit culture. You have Harfoot culture, Stoor culture, and Fallowhide culture, each of which differs from the others, and in addition you have Bree culture and Shire culture. Even within Shire culture, you have the culture of Hobbiton, which differs significantly from the culture of more outlying locations like Buckland, enough so that members of one group would call members of the other “queer”. Similarly, the culture of Lossarnach is different enough to contrast with that of Minas Tirith, and likewise the culture of the Westemnet from that of the Eastemnet, all the while still belonging to one larger culture as a whole (Gondorian and Rohirric, respectively). Those who say Tolkien isn’t multicultural enough for them either aren’t paying close enough attention, or mean something other than the actual, literal meaning of the word. What they really seem to mean is that Tolkien’s fantasy world does not bear enough resemblance for their tastes to the actual world we live in — a complaint that I think has been answered enough times and by enough intelligent writers and thinkers that I needn’t do so here. 

Edit: Also please read my amendment to the second point. 

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    I don’t understand why people complain about a lack of multiculturalism, or the presence of Euro-centrism in Tolkien. I...
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