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TCG Letter #404 / Carpenter Letter #156


From
J.R.R. Tolkien
To
Father Robert Murray
Date
4 November 1954
Type
Draft
Transcript
Partial
Tolkien thanked Murray for his letter that contained comments on The Lord of the Rings. One of the reasons he could answer at once was because he had finished ordering all the minutes and resolutions of a long and argumentative College-meeting.

Sméagol had not been fully envisaged at first but had an implicit character that just needed some attention. Gandalf really "died" and was changed. The only real cheating was representing anything called "death" as making no difference.

Why the Istari took physical form is bound up with the "mythology". At the time of the War of the Ring their purpose was to limit and hinder any exhibition of their "power" in Middle-earth and instead to train, advise, instruct, and arose hearts and minds of others to oppose Sauron, and not do the job for them. What Gandalf did was what the Authority wished. The "wizards" were failures as they had been and needed enhancement to match the gravity of the crisis.

Men were "fallen" (Tolkien stressed that any legends located in our actual world must accept this fact) but the Men of the West are Re-formed. The highest Men were of the Three Houses who fought the Dark Lord and received Númenor as their reward, along with a triple lifespan (but not elvish "immortality", which was tied to the duration of the Earth).

The Númenóreans began as monotheists with only one centre of worship on the Meneltarma. But they "fell" too when they sailed west trying to be "immortal". Tolkien explained that going to the Blessed Realm to obtain immortality was a Satanic lie. Emissaries from the Valar clearly informed Ar-Pharazôn that the land did not confer immortality.

The Valar, having no jurisdiction over Men – being forbidden to destroy them or coerce them with a display of their power – had to appeal to God, which caused a catastrophic "change of plan". In a kind of Noachian situation, nine ships of the Faithful escaped, led by Elendil, Isildur, and Anárion. They established kingdoms in exile, inheriting hatred of Sauron, friendship with elves, knowledge of the True God, and (unfortunately) yearning for longevity.

Tolkien does mention briefly a reason why he used 'dwarves' rather than 'dwarfs' by writing "[e]ven the dwarfs are not really Germanic 'dwarfs' (Zwerge, dweorgas, dvergar), and I call them 'dwarves' to mark that."

Christopher Tolkien noted that the draft continued to discuss the istari and Gandalf, largely repeating the earlier part of this draft.
Tags
References
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 200-07, p. 445 (Carpenter notes)
Silke Anzinger, "Von Troja nach Gondor.Tolkiens „The Lord of the Rings“ als Epos in vergilischer Tradition," in Vestigia Vergiliana: Vergil-Rezeption in der Neuzeit edited by Thorsten Burkard , Markus Schauer and Claudia Wiener. (2010) pp. 363-401. p. 371 note 28
ἀγγελος [with acute γ] > ἄγγελος [A typo since 1981 _Letters_]. or which > of which p. 302 fn.
Marco Cristini "The Fall of Two Cities: Troy and Gondolin." Thersites 15 (2022), p. 8 note 28
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 307-15, p. 635 (notas de Carpenter)


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