“For myself, I find I become less cynical rather than more–remembering my own sins and follies; and realize that men’s hearts are not often as bad as their acts, and very seldom as bad as their words.”
“She was (and knew she was) my Luthien. I will say no more now… For ever (especially when alone) we still met in the woodland glade and went hand in hand many times to escape the shadow of imminent death before out last parting.”
~ On why we wishes to include the name “Luthien” on Edith’s tombstone (written to Christopher Tolkien)
“I felt a curious thrill, as if something had stirred in me, half wakened from sleep. There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind those words, if I could grasp it, far beyond ancient English.”
~ On reading the Cynewulf lines about the star Earendel
“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 on C.S. Lewis
“These grey days wasted in wearily going over, over and over again, the dreary topics, the dull backwaters of the art of killing, are not enjoyable.”
~ On his time serving in WWI
“I remember nothing about it except a philological fact. My mother said nothing about the dragon, but pointed out that one could not say ‘a green great dragon’, but had to say ‘a great green dragon’. I wondered why, and still do. The fact that I remember this is possibly significant, as I do not think I ever tried to write a story again for many years, and was taken up with language.”
~ Commenting on his own story about a dragon
“My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith.”
(Tolkien’s mother was a Catholic, and was criticised by other members of the extended family.)
“My ‘Sam Gamgee’ is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself.”
“They arose in my mind as ‘given’ things, and as they came, separately, so too the links grew. An absorbing, though continually interrupted labour (especially, even apart from the necessities of life, since the mind would wing to the other pole and spread itself on the linguistics): yet always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’.”
~ On the tales in The Silmarillion
“It is written in my life-blood, such as that is, thick or thin; and I can no other.”
~ On the writing of Lord of the Rings.
“I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.”
~ On the pending publication of LotR
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
“What has it got to do with the story? Where is this place? Why emus? And what is the thing in the foreground with pink bulbs?” ~On a cover painting for The Hobbit that depicted a hill, two emus, and a Christmas tree.
– – J.R.R.Tolkien
“I begin to feel that I am shut up in a madhouse.” ~On hearing that the artist of the aforementioned painting had not read The Hobbit
“Touching your cap to the Squire may be damn bad for the Squire, but it’s damn good for you.” ~On respect for one’s superiors
“A pathetic and shadowy medley of half-remembered traditions and mutilated beliefs.” ~On the Church of England
“Charge ’em and they scatter!” ~On driving a car among other vehicles
“I am in fact a hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.”
We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
“I travelled all the way from Motherwell to Wolverhampton with a Scotch mother and a wee lassie, whom I rescued from standing in the corridor of a packed train, and they were allowed to go ‘first’ without payment since I told the inspector I welcomed their company. My reward was to be informed ere we parted that (while I was at lunch) the wee lassie had declared: “I like him but I canna understand a word he says.” To which I could only lamely reply that the latter was universal but the former not so usual.”
– J.R.R.Tolkien, ~On a 1953 railway journey returning from Glasgow
“Being a cult figure in one’s own lifetime I am afraid is not at all pleasant. However I do not find that it tends to puff one up: in my case at any rate it makes me feel extremely small and inadequate. But even the nose of a very modest idol cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense.”
A Elbereth Gilthoniel!
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
o galadhremmin ennorath,
Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, sí nef aearon!
Hymn to Elbereth from Lord of the Rings
Source of several quotes on this page: J.R.R.Tolkien Quotes at Arwen – Undomiel
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien at Amazon
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit at Amazon
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