J. R. R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien

Eala Erendel engla beorhtast

Hail Earendel, angel brightest

ofer middangeard monnum sended

over Middle-earth unto men sent!


J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite fictional author. I especially enjoy the Sylmarillion, Tolkien's collection of myths which he wrote for his world. The above lines are from a poem that he read that inspired The Sylmarillion.


On Tolkien's Accomplishment:

"[Tolkien wrote] 'I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story... which I could dedicate simply: to England; to my country.'

"The enormity of this undertaking is staggering.  It would be as if Homer, before writing the Iliad and the Odyssey, had first to invent the whole of Greek mythology and history.  The degree to which he has actually succeeded is remarkable.  In large part Tolkien's invented mythology in the popular imagination has definitely become that of England.  Furthermore, it is certainly the most complex and detailed invented world in all literature." (David Day, Tolkien's Ring p. 13)


Tolkien and Symbolism:

Tolkien rejected the allegorical view of the Lord of the Rings and the Sylmarillion as too narrow.  "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." (J.R.R. Tolkien)  Thus the Orcs are not Nazis or Communists, nor is the One Ring the nuclear bomb as many have supposed, instead they represent broader concepts of greed and power which are applicable in any age or time.


Tolkien on Power:

"Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch of the specifically human race (not Elves or Dwarves)...They are entirely without non-human powers, but are represented as being more in touch with 'nature', and abnormally, for humans, free from ambition or greed of wealth.  They are made small partly to exhibit the pettiness of man, plain unimaginative parochial man ...  and mostly to show up, in creatures of very small physical power, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men 'at a pinch'. (J.R.R. Tolkien)

". . . No sooner had he [Sam] come in sight of Mount Doom, burning far away, than he was aware of a change in his burden.  As it drew near the great furnaces where, in the deeps of time, it had been shaped and forged, the Ring's power grew, and it became more fell, untamable save by some mighty will.  As Sam stood there, even though the Ring was not on him but hanging by its chain about his neck, he felt himself enlarged, as if he were robed in a huge distorted shadow of himself, a vast and ominous threat halted upon the walls of Mordor.  He felt that he had from now on only two choices: to forbear the Ring, though it would torment him; or to claim it, and challenge the Power that sat in its dark hold beyond the valley of shadows.  Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason.  Wild fantasies arouse in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr.  And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit.  He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.

"In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him.  The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command." (J.R.R. Tolkien The Return of the King p. 216)

"In Frodo the Hobbit, Tolkien found a twentieth-century Everyman who has, and will continue to have, universal appeal to people of any time and any place.  In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings the Hobbit teaches us that 'attempting to conquer Sauron with the ring' is no longer the goal of the quest.  In the end, it is not the power of the mind nor the strength of the body but the instincts of the human heart that save the world.  It is the simple human capacity for mercy that finally allows evil to be overthrown." (David Day, Tolkien's Ring p.183)


Tolkien on the Creation:

Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons--'twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we're made.
 

"We make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker." (J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories," p. 54-55)

"It is told that in their beginning the Dwarves were made by Aulë in the darkness of Middle-earth; for so greatly did Aulë desire the coming of the Children, to have learners to whom he could teach his lord and his crafts, that he was unwilling to await the fulfillment of the designs of Ilúvatar.  And Aulë made the Dwarves even as they still are, because the forms of the Children who were to come were unclear to his mind, and because the power of Melkor was yet over the Earth; and he wished therefore that they should be strong and unyielding.  But fearing that the other Valar might blame his work, he wrought in secret: and he made first the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves in a hall under the mountains in Middle-Earth.

"Now Ilúvatarknew what was done, and in the very hour that Aulë's work was completed, and he was pleased, and began to instruct the Dwarves in the speech that he had devised for them, Ilúvatar spoke to him; and Aulë heard his voice and was silent.  And the voice of Ilúvatar said to him: 'Why hast thou done this? Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power and thy authority? For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle.  Is that they desire?

"Then Aulë answered: 'I did not desire such lordship. I desired things other than I am, to love and to teach them, so that they too might perceive the beauty of Ea, which thou hast caused to be.  For it seemed to me that there is great room in Arda for many things that might rejoice in it, yet it is for the most part empty still, and dumb.  And in my impatience I have fallen into folly.  Yet the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee; and the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his father may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is the son of his father.  But what shall I do now, so that thou be not angry with me for ever?  As a child to his father, I offer to thee these things, the work of the hands which thou hast made.  Do with them what thou wilt.  But should I not rather destroy the work of my presumption?

"Then Aulë took up a great hammer to smite the Dwarves; and he wept.  But Ilúvatar had compassion upon Aulë and his desire, because of his humility; and the Dwarves shrank from the hammer and were afraid, and they bowed down their heads and begged for mercy.  And the voice of Ilúvatar said to Aulë: 'Thy offer I accepted even as it was made.  Dost thou not see that these things have now a life of their own, and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of they will.' Then Aulë cast down his hammer and was glad, and he gave thanks to Ilúvatar, saying: 'May Eru bless my work and amend it!' (Sylmarillion p. 43-44)



External Links:

The Lord of the Rings Movie

The One Ring.net