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Meloni during a rally as part of the campaign for general elections.

(Photo by Nicolò Campo/Sipa USA)

How Tolkien’s hobbits got political

What do Italian conservatives and American hippies have in common? A love for The Lord of the Rings. Though JRR Tolkien insisted his books were apolitical, his fantasy epic has fueled movements across the political spectrum and around the world.

Giorgia Meloni, a huge Tolkien fan, became Italy’s first female prime minister and its most conservative since World War II last year. At her final campaign rally, Pino Insegno – the voice of Aragorn in the Italian-dubbed version of “The Lord of the Rings” – introduced her by invoking Middle Earth’s Kingdom of Men with “Sons of Rohan, my brothers, people of Rome … the day of defeat may come, but it is not this day!”

Now, Insegno’s voice can be heard throughout Italy’s new Tolkien exhibit, a €250,000 traveling exhibition funded by Italy's culture ministry and opened by Meloni herself last week in Rome. Meloni, who considers the trilogy sacred texts, said that “Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in.”

Meloni’s tribute to Tolkien is no coincidence. “The Lord of the Rings” has influenced Italy's conservative movement since the fall of Mussolini.

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