Bored of the Rings

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Bored of the Rings
First edition
AuthorHenry Beard, Douglas Kenney
IllustratorWilliam S. Donnell (map)
Cover artist
CountryUnited States
SubjectThe Lord of The Rings
GenreFantasy satire
PublisherSignet (New American Library)
Publication date

Bored of the Rings is a 1969 parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. This short novel was written by Henry Beard and Douglas Kenney, who later founded National Lampoon. It was published in 1969 by Signet for the Harvard Lampoon. In 2013, an audio version was produced by Orion Audiobooks, narrated by Rupert Degas.


The parody closely follows the outline of The Lord of the Rings, lampooning the prologue and map of Middle-earth; its main text is a short satirical summary of Tolkien's plot. The witty text combines slapstick humour and deliberately inappropriate use of brand names.[1] For example, the carbonated beverages Moxie and Pepsi replace Merry and Pippin. Tom Bombadil appears as "Tim Benzedrine", a stereotypical hippie married to "Hashberry",[2] a reference to Haight-Ashbury,[3] a district of San Francisco nicknamed Hashbury for its hippie counterculture at that time.[4] Other characters include Dildo Bugger of Bug End and Frito Bugger (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins), Goddam (Gollum), and Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt (Aragorn, son of Arathorn).[5][6][7]

The book includes:

  • A laudatory back cover review, written at Harvard, possibly by the authors themselves.
  • Inside cover reviews which are entirely contrived, concluding with a quotation by someone affiliated with the publication Our Loosely Enforced Libel Laws.
  • A list of other books in the "series", none of which exist.
  • A double-page map which has almost nothing to do with the events in the text.
  • The first text a browsing reader is liable to see purports to be a salacious sample from the book, but the episode never happens in the main text, nor does anything else of that tone; the book has no explicit sexual content.


  Goodgulf sat dejectedly before the obstinate portal, mumbling spells.
  "Pismo", he intoned, striking the door with his wand. "Bitumen. Lazlo. Clayton-Bulwer." Save for a hollow thud, the door made no sign of opening.
  "It looks grim", said Arrowroot.
  Suddenly the Wizard sprang to his feet. "The knob", he cried...

Chapter V, "Some Monsters", p. 82

The Tolkien critic David Bratman, writing in Mythlore, quotes an extended passage from the book in which Frito, Spam Gangree (Sam Gamgee), and Goddam jostle on the edge of the "Black Hole" (a tar pit), commenting "Those parodists wrought better than they knew", explaining that Tolkien, in his many drafts, came very close to "inadvertently writing the parody version of his own novel".[5]

The author Mike Sacks, quoting the book's opening lines, writes that the book has had the distinction, rare for a parody, of being continuously in print for over 40 years, was one of the earliest parodies of "a modern, popular bestseller", and has inspired many pop culture writers including those who worked on Saturday Night Live and The Onion.[8]


The Signet first edition cover, a parody of the 1965 Ballantine paperback covers by Barbara Remington,[a][9] was drawn by Muppets designer Michael K. Frith.[10][11] Current editions have different artwork by Douglas Carrel,[12] since the paperback cover art for Lord of the Rings prevalent in the 1960s, then famous, is now obscure.[13] William S. Donnell drew the "parody map"[14] of Lower Middle Earth.[15][16]

Derivative works[edit]

Several role-playing games developed in the 1980s, such as Delta 4's Bored of the Rings for machines such as the ZX Spectrum, were parodies based on Bored of the Rings.[17][18]


  • Estonian: Sõrmuste lisand ("Addition of the Rings", sounding like Sõrmuste isand), was translated by Janno Buschmann and published in 2002.[19]
  • Finnish: Loru sorbusten herrasta ("A rhyme about the lord of Sorbus", Sorbus being a brand of rowan-flavored fortified wine manufactured by Altia with reputation as a bum wine; sounding like Taru sormusten herrasta) was translated by Pekka Markkula and published in 1983. Following the release of the Peter Jackson film trilogy, it was republished in 2002.[20]
  • French: Lord of the Ringards ("Lord of the Has-beens") was issued in 2002.[21]
  • German: Der Herr der Augenringe ("Lord of the Eye Rings"), was translated by Margaret Carroux [de], who also did the 1969–70 translations for Lord of the Rings.[22]
  • Hungarian: Gyűrűkúra ("Ring Course", as in rejuvenation course, sounding like Gyűrűk Ura). This version was published first in 1991.[23]
  • Italian: Il signore dei tranelli ("Lord of the Traps", sounding like Il Signore degli Anelli) was issued by Fanucci Editore in 2002. The cover was drawn by Piero Crida, the same person who designed the covers of the "Lord of the Rings" translations issued by Rusconi Libri s.p.a. in 1977.[24]
  • Polish: Nuda Pierścieni ("Boredom of the Rings") was translated by Zbigniew A. Królicki and issued by Zysk i S-ka in 1997 and republished in 2001.[25]
  • Portuguese (Brazil): O Fedor dos Anéis ("The Stink of the Rings", sounding like O Senhor dos Anéis) was published in 2004.[26]
  • Russian: Published in 1993 as Тошнит от Колец (Toshnit ot Kolets, "Sick of the Rings"), and in 2002 published again with the translation credited to Andrey Khitrov; another translation by Sergey Ilyin entitled Пластилин Колец (Plastilin Kolets, "Plasticine of the Rings", sounding like Властелин колец, Vlastelin kolets) published in 2002.[27]
  • Spanish: El Sopor de los Anillos ("The Doze of the Rings", sounding like El Señor de los Anillos) was translated by Jordi Zamarreño Rodea and Salvador Tintoré Fernández and published in 2001.[28]
  • Swedish: Härsken på ringen ("Angry at the Ring", sounding like Härskarringen) was translated by Lena Karlin and published in 2003.[29]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bratman, David (2013) [2007]. "Parodies". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 503–504. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
  2. ^ Barnett, David (8 February 2011). "After Tolkien, get Bored of the Rings". The Guardian Books Blog. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  3. ^ Bored of the Rings, 2012 Touchstone edition, footnote to page 28.
  4. ^ Spann, Edward K. (2003). Democracy's Children: The Young Rebels of the 1960s and the Power of Ideals. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 111.
  5. ^ a b Bratman, David (2000). "Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from 'The Lord of the Rings.: A Textual Excursion into the 'History of "The Lord of the Rings"'". Mythlore. 22 (4 (86)): 13–37.
  6. ^ Richlin, Amy (1992). The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor. Oxford University Press. p. 236 note 3. ISBN 978-0-19-802333-3.
  7. ^ Houghton, John Wm, Jr. (2017). "Laughter in Middle-earth: Humour in and around the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien (2016) edited by Thomas Honegger and Maureen F. Mann". Journal of Tolkien Research. 4 (1): Article 4.
  8. ^ Sacks, Mike (2014). Poking a Dead Frog. Penguin Books. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-10161327-6.
  9. ^ Overview of fantasy from the period, including the Ballantine edition of Rings.
  10. ^ The World Wide Walrus. "Bored of the Rings". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Bibliography: Cover: Bored of the Rings". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Bibliography: Cover: Bored of the Rings". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  13. ^ LOTR Scrapbook Critical review of Ballantine cover art for the three books.
  14. ^ Bored of the Rings Parody Map, on Internet Archive
  15. ^ The World Wide Walrus. "Bored of the Rings". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Bibliography: Bored of the Rings (Map)". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  17. ^ Burdge, Anthony (2013) [2007]. "Gaming". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
  18. ^ "Bored of the Rings". Lysator (Linköping University). Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  19. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Sõrmuste (l)isand (in Estonian). Pegasus. ISBN 9985-9424-6-9..
  20. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (1983). Loru sorbusten herrasta (in Finnish). Kustannusosakeyhtiö Nemo. ISBN 951-9287-01-9. 2002 republication: ISBN 952-5180-57-3.
  21. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Lord of the Ringards (in French). Bragelonne. ISBN 2-914370-69-5.
  22. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (1983). Dschey Ar Tollkühn, der Herr der Augenringe (in German). Munich: Goldmann. ISBN 3-442-23835-8.
  23. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (1991). Gyurukúra (in Hungarian). Walhalla Páholy. ISBN 963-7632-00-X.
  24. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. Il Signore dei Ratti (in Italian).
  25. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2001). Nuda Pierscieni (in Polish). Zysk i S-ka. ISBN 83-7150-202-8.
  26. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2004). O Fedor dos Anéis (in Portuguese). Ver Curiosidades. ISBN 85-88210-52-5.
  27. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Пластилин Колец (in Russian). Симпозиум. ISBN 5-89091-193-7.
  28. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2001). El Sopor de los Anillos (in Spanish). Devir Iberia. ISBN 978-84-9571-255-4.
  29. ^ Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2003). Härsken på ringen (in Swedish). Alfabeta Bokförlag. ISBN 91-501-0283-4.

External links[edit]