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TCG Letter #402 / Carpenter Letter #154


From
J.R.R. Tolkien
To
Naomi Mitchison
Date
25 September 1954
Type
Autograph Letter Signed
Transcript
Complete
Tolkien explained why he had not written long before: he had been plagued by business, troubles, illness, and journeys. Mitchison was the only commentator, Tolkien said, that had recognized the book not only as "literature" and serious but also as an elaborate game of inventing a country. Tolkien said that he was not incapable of or unaware of economics, and believed that the economic situation for Men, Hobbit, and Dwarfs could be worked out.

Some of the modernities among Hobbits were a mistake, said Tolkien, especially umbrellas. On the same order were their silly names, tolerable only as deliberate "Anglicization" to contrast them with other peoples. Some reviewers, reported Tolkien, called the whole thing simple-minded, a plain fight between Good and Evil, with the good just good and the bad just bad. In the imagination of the Lord of the Rings we are now living on a physically round Earth. But the "legendarium" contains a transition from a flat world to a globe.

Before the Downfall there lay beyond the sea and west-shores of Middle-earth an earthly Elvish paradise in Eressëa and Valinor beyond (land of the Valar, the "gods" although that was not strictly an accurate equivalent). The Eldar, the High Elves, had for their sufferings in struggling against the prime Dark Lord a promise that they could always be able to leave Middle-earth by passing over the Sea by the Straight Road to the True West.

There may be rare exceptions (such as there always seem to be) where certain "mortals", having played great parts in Elvish affairs, could go to Elvenhome. Tolkien was sorry that the Ice-bay of Forochel had no significant part.

Tolkien apologized for the length of this letter, hoping that Mitchison’s kindness and interest offered an excuse.
Tags
References
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 196-99, p. 445 (Carpenter notes)
Sotheby's, English Literature and History, London, 18 December 1986, lot 183
Sotheby Parke Bernet, Catalogue of Valuable Autograph Letters, Literary Manuscripts and Historical Documents, London, 12-13 December 1977, lot 365
J.R.R. Tolkien A Descriptive Bibliography, Di1, p. 350; Dii38, p. 359
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 301-5, p. 635 (notas de Carpenter)


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