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TCG Letter #394 / Carpenter Letter #149

J.R.R. Tolkien
Rayner Unwin
9 September 1954
Tolkien found that the reviews were a great deal better than he had feared. They might have been better if quoting Ariosto had been avoided or without connexion to the extraordinary animosity directed towards C.S. Lewis. Tolkien acknowledged that without Lewis he would not have finished the book, but many commentators seemed to have preferred lampooning his remarks or review to reading the book.

The critics' "shapelessness" was due to issuing the story in three parts. The excess of "hobbitry" in Volume I was due to taking that work by itself and several critics obviously had not gotten much beyond Chapter 1. Tolkien said it was unfortunate that the Daily Telegraph had used Peter Green to review his book, who was so rude as to suspect him of malice. Tolkien was also puzzled by critics' remarks on the style of the book.

Tolkien had gathered that Unwin was not wholly dissatisfied. Others besides Lewis had written very appreciative notices. Cherryman and Howard Spring's comments were pleasing to one's vanity, and best was Cherryman's statement that he eagerly awaited the second and third volumes. H. Fawcett was brief but complimentary and the editor of the Oxford Times had given a long positive notice.

In the 2023 revised edition of Letters, Tolkien begins the letter with apologies for delay and descriptions of heath issues he has had returning from Ireland. He ends the letter with a brief note that he will include a separate sheet with notes and queries about The Lord of the Rings, and mentions Rayner and his brother's new books and that he hopes they are selling well.

Noted in Chronology, Tolkien asks for copies to be sent to various people.p. 462[1]

1 p. 462
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 184-85, p. 444 (Carpenter notes)
The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide - Chronology (2017), p. 462-3 (note that details of large portions from this letter not included in the published version are contained in this entry.)
Error in hardcover and Kindle editions: chum > churn p. 277
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 286-8, p. 634 (notas de Carpenter)

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