Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Thoughts on Tolkien

Reading JRR's letters and thinking about Eowyn, my favourite of his characters (along with Faramir), it occurred to me where she may have come from. I imagine that one of Professor Tolkien's female students, brilliant and beautiful, fell in love with him and told him so. He being a man of integrity and honour, married to his LĂșthien, and also a strict Catholic would have reacted as Aragorn did to the White Lady of Rohan. "Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned." Now THAT kind of insight smacks of experience.

And just a further thought, regarding the dismay in literary circles when Tolkien was hailed "Writer of the 20th Century" by readers worldwide. Fantasy is a much maligned branch of writing and absurdly so, given that it has contributed so many classics to literature. Absurd, also, given that literary giants have loved and praised it. WH Auden was one of the first to review and defend The Lord of the Rings, and the late great Iris Murdoch also declared herself a fan.

I tend to avoid people who dislike fantasy. It's not so much that they lack humour -- though, God knows, so many of them do (e.g. AS Byatt grumping away against JK Rowling, with psychobabble 101)-- but there's something lacking in people who can't see past their own noses. I think it might be a soul ...

3 comments:

Pomona said...

Longtime fan posting here...

That is so true. Not only are people who dislike fantasy kind of boring, I often wonder if they know how much they're missing out on.

The funny thing is, they think we're the weird ones.

OR Melling said...

Ah, but they are right. We ARE the weird ones. "Weird" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word wyrd, meaning destiny. I think we fantasy lovers are more aware of the invisible forces such as fate and destiny. As Tolkien would say, we are the People of the Great Journey.
Mind you, I do believe we are ALL on the road heading toward the sacred mountain, but it's just that not all of us are aware. Fantasy books are like guides or, for want of a better word, prayerbooks, to help us along the way. As the author of Tristan once said, I think fantasy writers write "to comfort noble hearts."

Katanya said...

I agree. It seems that as time goes by and modern ways increase, people tend to forget how fantasy doesn't really have to be only experienced in our minds but that it can exsist all around you if you allow it to. Most people have the ability to dream just dont want to pursue it, which makes having a conversation with them that much duller because it has no adventure in it.