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(did you mean Carpenter's Letter #255?)

TCG Letter #255 / Carpenter Letter #109


From
J.R.R. Tolkien
To
Stanley Unwin
Date
31 July 1947
Type
Unknown
Transcript
Partial
A "fair" typescript of Book I of The Fellowship of the Ring had been given to Rayner Unwin and on 28 July 1947 he had sent his comments to Tolkien. Rayner noted "tortuous and contending events…almost overpower one". He suspected the story to shift into pure allegory and said that the converting of the original Ring into its new form took some hard explaining. He was not sure who would be the audience for the book, noted some corrections to be made, but judged it to be a brilliant and gripping story. Tolkien wrote his reply on 31 July but sent it on 21 September, as explained in Letter 111.

If Rayner felt overpowered Tolkien was sorry, and he particularly missed any reference to the comedy, which may have misfired. Tolkien was adverse to stories that set out to be funny but felt it was precisely against the darkness of the world that comedy arose.

Tolkien insisted that there was no "Allegory". Even the struggle between darkness and light is part of the pattern of history but not The Pattern, and the actors are individuals. The only perfectly consistent allegory is real life and the only fully intelligible story is an allegory. But life and literature start from opposite ends.

Rayner, said Tolkien, had spotted the inevitable weakness: the linking. He was glad that Rayner felt that it had been done fairly well. He had to have his loved hobbits and a glimpse of Bilbo.

Tolkien listed the various people who all liked the story: C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Christopher Tolkien, a solicitor, a doctor, an elderly army officer, an elementary school-mistress, an artist, and a farmer, which did not count professionally literary folk. Tolkien revealed that he had a Forward that would retell part of The Hobbit and add information requested by “fans”. He returned to the opinion that the only liberty taken was making Bilbo's Ring the One Ring.

In a postscript Tolkien mentioned revising The Hobbit.
Tags
References
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 119-23, p. 441 (Carpenter notes)
Error in hardcover and Kindle editions: me end > the end p. 175
Marco Cristini "The Fall of Two Cities: Troy and Gondolin." Thersites 15 (2022), p. 16 note 66
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 185-9, p. 629 (notas de Carpenter)


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