Tolkein’s foreward to 2nd edition of The Lord of the Rings has this very interesting comment:
But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so siince I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
So, I start reading LOTR as a historical novel, albeit one about a time before Exodus and Odyssey.