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TCG Letter #478 / Carpenter Letter #165


From
J.R.R. Tolkien
To
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Date
30 June 1955
Type
Unknown
Transcript
Partial
"Out of sheet pity" for any new enquirer, Tolkien enclosed a few notes in his letter for Houghton Mifflin.

He stated that his name is TOLKIEN and not –kein, being an Anglicization of the German Tollkiehn (from tollkühn). Tolkien felt that he was more of a Suffield.

Alliterative verse Tolkien wrote for pleasure, fragments of which had appeared in The Lord of the Rings. Another "fallacious fact" was his birth in Bloemfontein, Orange River Free State, fallacious because he was shipped to England in 1895 and had lived in Birmingham and Oxford for most of 60 years thereafter (except for 5 or 6 years in Leeds at the university there).

Tolkien wanted to elucidate his remark about "philology" from the Harvey Breit article: A primary fact about his work was that it was all of a piece and fundamentally linguistic in inspiration.

The Lord of the Rings is only "about" itself, said Tolkien, stressing that it was not allegorical.
Tolkien also insisted that "Middle-earth" was not a never-never land unrelated to our world. He used the Middle English middel-erde (or erthe), altered from Old English Middangeard, for the inhabited lands "between the seas".

Certain themes moved Tolkien specially, such as the inter-relations between the "noble" and the "simple", particularly the ennoblement of the ignoble. His love for plants and above all trees was obvious.


Wayne Hammond and Christina note in their Chronology (see reference below) that Tolkien wrote to Nancy Smith (https://www.tolkienguide.com/guide/letters/511) saying he wrote a story of a "great green dragon" when he was aproximately six years old yet in his letter to W.H. Auden of 7 June 1955 (https://www.tolkienguide.com/guide/letters/476) he says that he is "about seven". he also notes to Nancy Smith, and in a letter to Paula Coston (https://www.tolkienguide.com/guide/letters/700) that he worte some verses about the dragon, and he says to W.H. Auden he had written a "story".


See also Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to The New York Times Book Review • 5 June 1955 (#1016)
Tags
References
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 217-21, p. 446 (Carpenter notes)
The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide - Chronology (2017), p. 5 (entry for 1896-1899), p. 478 (?May 1955 entry for letter to Harvey Breit), p. 484 (entry for 30 June 1955), p. 818 (see entry for 1898-1899)
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 327-32, p. 636 (notas de Carpenter)
The Lord of the Rings: Souvenir Booklet Commemorating Twenty Five Years of Its Publication, p. 10
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. 372 note 32, p. 373 note 36
Marco Cristini "The Fall of Two Cities: Troy and Gondolin." Thersites 15 (2022), p. 3
The Battle of Maldon: together with The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, p. 49 (short quote begins "My name is TOLKIEN" ending "ancestors may have been."


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