Labour Saving Machinary

“There is the tragedy and despair of all machinery laid bare. Unlike art which is content to create a new secondary world in the mind, it attempts to actualize desire, and so to create power in this World; and that cannot really be done with any real satisfaction. Labour-saving machinery only creates endless and worse labour…I will forgive Mordor-gadgets some of their sins, if they will bring [this letter] quickly to you…”

J.R.R. Tolkien, in a letter to his son Christopher, 7 July 1944.

Tolkien and His Car

“There was the unforgettable occasion in 1932 when Tolkien bought his first car, a Morris Cowley that was nicknamed ‘Jo’…After learning to drive he took the entire family by car to visit his brother Hilary…At various times during the journey ‘Jo’ sustained two punctures and knocked down part of a dry-stone wall near Chipping Norton, with the result that Edith refused to travel in the car again until some months later – not entirely without justification, for Tolkien’s driving was daring rather than skilful. when accelerating headlong across a busy main road in Oxford in order to get into a side-street, he would ignore all other vehicles and cry ‘Charge ’em and they scatter!’ – and scatter they did.”

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter, 162.

The Tolkiens

“A principal source of happiness to them was their shared love for their family…Tolkien was immensely kind and understanding as a father, never shy of kissing his sons in public even when they were grown men, and never reserved in his display of warmth and love.”

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter, 161.

Tolkien’s Friendship with Lewis

“Friendship with Lewis compensates for much, and besides giving constant pleasure and comfort has done me much good from the contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual – a scholar, a poet, and a philosopher – and a lover, at least after a long pilgrimage, of Our Lord.”

J.R.R Tolkien, quoted in, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter, 152.

Tolkien’s Humour

He could laugh at anybody, but most of all at himself, and his complete lack of any sense of dignity could and often did make him behave like a riotous schoolboy. At a New Year’s Eve party in the nineteen-thirties he would don an Icelandic sheepskin hearthrug and paint his face white to impersonate a polar bear, or he would dress up as an Anglo-Saxon warrior complete with axe and chase an astonished neighbour down the road. Later in life he delighted to offer inattentive shopkeepers his false teeth among a handful of change. ‘I have,’ he once wrote, ‘a very simple sense of humour, which even my appreciative critics find tiresome.’

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter, 134.

The un-importance of News

[Tolkien], like his friend C.S. Lewis, regards ‘news’ as on the whole trivial and fit to be ignored, and they both argue (to the annoyance of many of their friends) that the only ‘truth’ is to be found in literature. However, they both enjoy the crossword.

J.R.R. Tolkien – A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter, 121.

Finding God in the Lord of the Rings

“Tolkien cast his mythology in his form because he wanted it to be remote and strange, and yet at the same time not to be a lie. He wanted the mythology and legendary stories to express his own moral view of the universe; and as a Christian he could not place this view in a cosmos without the God that he worshipped. At the same time, to set his stories ‘realistically’ in the known world, where religious beliefs were explicitly Christian, would deprive them of imaginative colour. So while God is present in Tolkien’s universe, He remains unseen.

When he wrote the Silmarillion Tolkien believed that in one sense he was writing truth. He did not suppose that precisely such peoples as he described as, ‘elves’, ‘dwarves’, and malevolent ‘orcs’, had walked the earth and done the deed that he recorded. But he did feel, or hope, that his stories were in some sense an embodiment of a profound truth.

J.R.R. Tolkien – A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter, 99.