Another Tolkien letter

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geordie 17/Jun/2006 at 08:40 AM
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I was perusing the ’books I can’t afford’ pages of abe.books just now, and came across a most interesting letter from Tolkien, discussing the writing of LotR and the book’s characters, and its reception.

Look >here<
halfir 17/Jun/2006 at 04:27 PM
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geordie: Oh wow! Again we are as ever in your debt.X( What a fascinating synopsis. It’s such a pity that the whole letter is going to go out of the public domain and into a private one- and unless the purchaser allows an academic analysis- I doubt if we shall ever hear of it again. So sad!

We shan’t see such gems as these - contained in the synopsis:

Tolkien addresses his critics, comparing his treatment to a chemical analysis, ‘Alas! there are so many people who cannot "enjoy" anything’, and writes here also on a number of other subjects: his sympathy for Gollum; the value of the verse in The Lord of the Rings and how it escapes most readers; the trilogy’s non-alignment with any existing religion; and writing the prequels.

It also demonstrates just how much is still ’out there’ -and the pity that Carpenter  never managed to issue a second volume- as he hinted at in his Introduction.But, as we have said before, collectors can be magpies when it comes to sharing, and some private individuals clearly do not wish to disclose their correspondence with Tolkien. Such a shame, because he belongs to us all.

But the price! Perhaps we should ask the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation to set apart a minute portion of their $20 billlion chariatble assets to buy up and make public all future letters from Tolkien that come on the market!X(

And I remember so well ’Basildon Bond’ paper made- if I remember correctly by Dickinson’s at Apsley Mills in Hertfordshire!

Wayfarer 18/Jun/2006 at 05:55 AM
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Thanks for the link geordie.  It’s such a shame there are many unpublished Tolkien letters out there, I wish a copy of the actual text of this letter could be made public and published somehow - but alas as you say halfir, it is doubtful. "All items are understood to be sent on approval, and may be returned within a week of receipt if found unsatisfactory for any reason."
It would be illegal methinks but I can just imagine someone buying it, looking at it, making a copy and sending it back!  After that I’m not quite sure what limits they would have on sharing the information, very little I venture!

Dashûr 18/Jun/2006 at 07:27 AM
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Wayfarer, that would indeed be illegal, but not sharing the information contained in that letter is - in my mindframe - verging on illegality as well. Well ok, not really illegality in the right definition, but hogging of information that would be so well-received and loved by some many others, not graced with the funds to actually buy the thing.

I agree with halfir on the synopsis. It sounds awesome, for it discusses things so widely discussed and misunderstood. I know very little people that, after reading LOTR and diving into the sea of details, do not marvel at its depth and wonder about the process of creation. Also, hearing Tolkien again about allegory and existing religion pertaining to his work, or rather the absence thereof, could be clearing up issues for many people still attributing allegory and existing religion to part or even the whole of it. And sadly, I also agree with halfir on another thing... the price. Wow...

Ragnelle 18/Jun/2006 at 04:46 PM
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I wish I was rich. That letter is really something I would have wanted to read. It seems to consentrate on most of the topics I am interested in in relation to LotR. I vote for halfir’s sugestion
halfir 18/Jun/2006 at 05:36 PM
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Lady d`Ecthelion 18/Jun/2006 at 09:41 PM
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Tolkien rules out the allegorical reading of his books, ....
Instead he chose ‘deeply rooted "archetypal" motifs’ and put them ‘into an entirely new setting, carefully devised, that gives the sense of reality’.

The veil is rising!

That must be quite a valuable writing! I wonder... shall we not see a new edition of The Letters soon?

Thanks Northumbrian!

I... could not quite understand ... was the letter written in 1963?
Rohanna 18/Jun/2006 at 10:35 PM
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only 25 grand?  and you can’t afford it geordie?
halfir 18/Jun/2006 at 11:17 PM
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aldoriana: The answer is yes c.Dec 16 1963. The details are a little confusing as the format of the ’Book details’ page is essentially set -up for printed publications- hence:

Bibliographic Details

Publisher: [ca. 16 December 1963.]
Publication Date: 1963
Binding: Soft cover

Autograph letter signed (’J.R.R. Tolkien’) to Baronne A. Baeyens (’Dear Madame’) on writing The Lord of the Rings.


geordie:  I wonder if Madame La Baronne is related to Ms. Boyens of Peter Jackson fame!X(

geordie 19/Jun/2006 at 01:49 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Rohvanna - ooh, that’s cheeky! 25 grand is a lot in real money - thirteen and a half thousand pounds! I’ll never be able to spend that on anything.

Mind you, I do have a few nice things - no letters from JRRT, alas! but some pretty little items in my collection, which I’ve told my friends Wayne and Christina about years ago, of which I _hope_ some may find their way into their forthcoming two-volume magnum opus on Tolkien, due out later this year. They don’t tell me anything!

The thing is, even if one of us did win the lottery and buy this letter, we could’nt share the info willy nilly. The letter belongs to the person it was written to, or a subsequent buyer; but the _copyright_ belongs to the person who wrote the letter. Or his heirs, in this case. But from what I’ve heard and read of the Tolkien estate, they seem quite amenable to genuine requests about copyright issues. So: first one of us with a lottery win, let us know and we’ll approach the estate!

Halfir - La Boyens?? grrr...

As we’re picking out our favourite bits of the extracts of the letter, here’s mine:

and being particularly fond of writing this perilous kind of character: ‘if you become slack . and treat them as something soft (like India rubber) you find that that is only insulation covering a live wire connected with a dynamo - and you get anything from a smart titillation to a severe shock’.

What a way with words.
Kirinki54 19/Jun/2006 at 03:23 PM
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It seems the letter is rather unusual in all the ’scientific’ references to vivisection, rubber, electrical shocks, chemical analysis… Quite un-Tolkien-like to my mind. It would truly be interesting to read it in full!

geordie 19/Jun/2006 at 03:38 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Actually, Tolkien regarded philology as a science, and himself as a scientist - now and again.
Lady d`Ecthelion 19/Jun/2006 at 09:36 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by geordie on Monday, June 19, 2006
Actually, Tolkien regarded philology as a science, and himself as a scientist - now and again.

Ha! And who would regard it not as such ?

BTW, Kirinki, to read so much about modern-times’ technologies in a LOTR-regarding letter, moreover, in a Tolkien’s own LOTR-regarding letter, did, too, make me rise an eyebrow.
But ... well we do have a ’train’ in ME, and an ’express’ one at that, after all! And ... we do have a Palantir!