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Ep. 66 - Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020 - John Garth


Welcome to the Catholic Culture podcast. I'm Thomas v Muris. This podcast is an offering to the holy family and less importantly production of Catholic culture. Dot Org Everybody in today's episode we're going to pay tribute to Christopher Tolkien. who sadly passed away on January worry sixteenth? Before I get to that I wanted to mention that my friends at online grade books are just about to open up another enrollment period. If you've always wanted to read the great books but didn't get the chance to study them in college or you don't have access to a discussion group near you or you. Just find it a little intimidating to to approach these great works of Western literature and Philosophy and theology. I highly recommend online great books and the reason I say that is because the program Ms specifically designed to work for people who have day jobs and families and can't just spend time reading discussing books all day at it proceeds at a very accessible assessable pace. 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If you're listening to this ask you to pause a moment and pray for the repose of Christopher's soul and now that I think of it for his father as well so they may be reunited in heaven but as to Christopher being the topic of today's episode. His work is of the utmost importance in understanding the legacy of this greatest of Catholic twentieth century. Fiction authors in my estimation actually arguably a Author of the Greatest Work Fiction of the twentieth century in what many have recognized to be a unique collaboration between father and son. Christopher continued continued. His father's decades of work building middle earth in combing through editing and publishing many of his father is incomplete texts most notably the Sylmar alien without which we would be much disadvantaged in our knowledge of the true richness Nisa and depth and unique nature of Tolkien's artistic genius but we also have Christopher to thank for a great deal more scholarly work on his father's writings which we will discuss in this episode with my guest John Gareth. He is one of today's most acclaimed token scholars most notably for having written and Tolkien and the Great War. A- groundbreaking biography focusing on tokens early years up through his participation as a soldier in World War One John. It's an honor to have you on the show. Thank you very much Thomas. Good to be. I'd like to start with your your own. Personal acquaintance with Christopher. Christopher helps me out advised. Raised me corrected me at a certain point when I was working on token on the Great Wall and we occasionally corresponded thereafter. Always because I had written to him with some query or request and he was piloting responding so we had a mostly good good relationship always polite relationship and yes it began with me approaching the end of Tolkien in the Great War and it ended with Chris Day in fact I had posted a letter to him on the eve of his death which is surreal ashamed Never reached him to go back to Tolkien in the Great War. I won't on talking to the Great Wall for several years and Christopher Tolkien approved publication in principle for the publisher Harpercollins in the UK and a late stage. I sent him him an almost complete draw with which turned out. He was very happy. I've been given the privilege of working. With tolkien's papers. The letters between him and his closest friends during the first World War in particular and also his collection snow's papers military papers from that war and Christopher. The book that I had written was is too focused on pursuing an argument rather than telling a story on the that by I had in some someway misused my privileged access to those papers so this was a bit of a shock to me frankly and I have to think about the how to respond but it seemed to be a very critical point on. I wasn't really sure whether the would appear but I desperately wanted it to appear. Yeah and I didn't think it was a perfect book so I was thinking about a way of addressing the problem with various edit some brines sections if the book to make it less focused on my argument that the first war influenced tolkien's writings Komo focused on simply telling the story of what happened and giving a broader common tree on the regional development. Don't of his legendary at that time. Umbrella smelling they saw on communication seem to be fault because it was all going going through the proper channels to publish a through the tolkien states lawyer. Christopher reached out to me and offered to discuss things with meat directly north face to face and in fact we use facts on. This was very generous often very sensitive. He need not have done it. I don't and why he did it but he did. And essentially it meant that my book was saved. I made the changes. That I've been mulling over. I think they improve the book. Frankly because now you can read it and you can go way enjoying conclusions without me any trying to proselytize too much so that was the sort of that and his faxes to me. Were great right. They were very helpful in spotting absurdities of which there were few in spotting arrows and he was very forthright in what he said to me. I I think that some people receiving that kind of thing might have or been astonished or upset or all defensive but I that time was working for London. ANYTHING STANDARD THE LOW London's Daily newspaper which was very high energy place to work where the people top had no qualms about being very very routine eighteen to your face if you if you happen to make a mistake so Christopher he was so polite and it was it was very easy for me to take take it on the Chin and deal with it and it was just. It was a joy to be in that position working to to get this book and Ernest After you finish that book did you have further contact with Christopher or did he just you in any other projects while he helped let me with permissions for various things at Notably small book. I wrote as a kind of codicil to Tolkien on the Great Wall which is cool Tolkien at Exeter College. Just a short account of his undergraduate days an alien a gap in Tokyo in the Great War where although I cover that period by necessity I have to say little about it because the focuses is on Tolkien and his school friends. His friends from school before he was at university so to have gone into his university career in depth. Would've who've been alleged de tool in a book that should not have been any longer than it is so I save a lot and I went over it for token axe to college allege that I was allowed once again to go into the restricted family papers of the Butler Library Oxford onlooker box of material. Israel gyro Tolkien had saved from his undergraduate days looking at things like photographs of himself with friends his invitations to college concerts literary societies. He was involved in on site force and then the final thing with which Christopher helped to me is a project I've been working on for few years. I've looked very very closely at trying to I suppose shed. You don't own a very important aspect of Christopher tolkien's Focus on his work. Which is the chronology her knowledge he of composition the ordering which things were and trying to establish if possible is closely as possible? Exactly when things went went In particular I've been focusing on my favorite period which is his earliest period. Those warriors when he was first inventing what became middle earth and there was a big question in my mind about the date of particular story The story story of the music of the Iowa the creation myth the start of the summer and the question was. When did gyro token I write that story and I had a hunch backed up by various very complex evidence from published papers that Giro? Tolkien had misremembered embiid when he wrote that tail. Christopher allowed me last year to go back to the boullion. Unlock the manuscripts For the book of Tales the first version of the Somalian to gather further evidence and I just actually last week completed a paper based on that research which will hopefully appear in volume being published by the Butler library that was going to be affects shrift for Christopher a celebrate Trie volume to be presented to him but will now L. sadly have to be an in Memoriam volume. Actually you know might be worth asking because it it sort of relates to some of the the work that Christopher dead. How would you explain to a lay person you know? What's the significance of that that kind of chronology? What why does it matter? What order something was composed? In for example the question of creativity in general is a fascinating one a perennial topic of of research will want to now in principle where the magic comes from when someone writes something or make something. Paint something astonishing right. That's why people read. Biographies of the Beatles will watch movies about Beethoven. And that's why a lot of us read the history of Middle Earth which is the twelve volume series of books written and edited by Christopher Tolkien along the trace the development of his father's legendary from its beginnings all the way three tastes death in nineteen. Seventy three is a story that has to be told across twelve league because it's immensely complex. There are surprises as you go. There are reshaping 's his father was not the most efficient of writers. You wouldn't wouldn't really be able to write a guide for the aspiring writer based on the methods of our toll because he would leave things unfinished a return to the he would revise the knife or neighbor again. If you're lucky he would finish them. I'm published them. But on the whole the majority of of of what he wrote never saw the light of day in his lifetime and the the Saturdays aspect of that is the assume early on his. Life's work will say considered it was left in disorder unfinished on his death and that problem was addressed by Christopher Tolkien in editing quite astonishingly. That's complex of Celtic papers for publication as a as a coherent book that was consistent with load of the rings in the previously published books in nineteen seventy seven when you say the film rolling was Tokens. Life's life's work. You're not exaggerating. Because it goes back to World War One essentially essentially in its earliest germ. And he's working on it up until his death at various times he wanted wanted to have it published alongside the Lord of the Rings and in fact it was almost a deal breaker with with the publisher to the point. Where when they said they didn't want to publish them both together talking went shopping around for another publisher and it was only when that didn't work out that he went back to? I Guess Allen and Unwin. That's try. Yeah Yeah So. He flirted with colons for a while Discovered the the the cullens editor been talking to him. Wasn't really that interested in the slum really on either so he returned with great humility to George Allen and unwin he welcomed. I'm back sadly I think that. That's fury that that problem with his ambition to have the summary unpublished alongside. Lord of the Rings took the wind out of Giro toll in sales so that whereas it been he'd been immensely productive in between finishing the Lord of the Rings in Nineteen One thousand nine hundred forty eight and the failure of talks with Collins in the early fifties he returned to his writings on the similarly on and he'd rewritten huge amounts with great verve beauty. Applying everything that he learned Dan from the huge huge lesson. Croft that wolves the writing the Lord of the Rings and then sadly he he never quite seemed to return to the issue with the same kind of energy off the bat. So what you have what you have from. That point onwards homewards from the end of the fifties really is a different gyro. Tolkien going back and looking at what he'd written earlier and looking at it with quite critical is and I think I think his self criticism came from the sense. The Lord of the Rings he had written something of extraordinarily high standard and he had some qualms about whether the could match it for various good reasons. The one that always gets mentioned. I think I think professor thome shipping is has has made a point of this and that the Lord of the rings benefit enormously from the sense of deep history behind and it the sense the characters the can talk about refer back to events in the distant past about which should we we know little so. There's a huge sense of three dimensionality about it. On the sense of distant mysteries the somberly early on because it begins with the creation of the world can have no deeper history by definition so that was one of the factors I think in other the fact actors who just I guess anxiety that you get as a writer when you realize you've got to go to please your readers and I think that Tolkien had reached a point in his life where he it lost some of his energies at somebody's creative engine had switched off and and and another engine at how come into play as well which was a desire to look at his own works from a philosophical point of view to consider the philosophical philosophical underpinnings of the world he had created and two right now with that mode and all of this of course contributed massively flee to the problem that Christopher Tolkien had offer his father's death so not only were the papers in chaos not only were sections of the similarly on existing getting in multiple versions and many of them unfinished in themselves. The whole thing unfinished as a whole but also there. There was a difference in kind between things written before the Lord of the Rings and things written after it. The late material presented problems because it was straying into matters of philosophy. The marriage laws of the Eldar. Aw The owls for example was one of the things that preoccupied him. So I if if if you have a married Elvin couple one one of them dies can the author remarry you know you can see the the the dilemmas as Catholic writer because because the owls Truly died that souls that spirits continue to exist in within the world so yeah that was the kind of thing so Christopher hat to make very tough executive decisions when editing the early on about what to include what to exclude food and I think he quite rightly chose to edit as his fall might have envisaged it around the time of the completion of the Lord of the rings or little later but not too much later before that turmoil of the late fifteen fifteen to one thousand nine hundred sixty s when everything came under Rolpa destructive revision by Tolkien. The interesting because that example that marriage issued shoot. Doesn't come up in the film really as we have it in the published version. I'm sure some of it must be in the history of Middle Earth series which I've only read a few volumes of mainly the ones dealing with Lord of the Rings. Yeah I mean I've I've gotta say the material in itself is absolutely fascinating is profound and it's there A volume ten mogul ring for Iowa. He wants to dive straighten era discussions about a mortality and mortality. Take for example which Just just astonishingly thought provoking and moving to because he was not he hasn't lost his ability to crystallized these thoughts within a narrative. The had the power to to uplift into move. Yeah I can certainly believe that and added if it's not of a piece with what had been written before it's hard to form a coherent work with inks with very different focus because very different tone. Are we still have some great metaphysical stuff in the summer. Alien Mainly Creation Story Miss Incredibly wretch which metaphysically and I did a whole episode with Jonathan McIntosh who wrote a book on Tolkien Acquaintance. Where we just did a close reading of the first few few pages of the selmer alien from a metaphysical point of view right? Yeah Yeah it's abundantly rich and I keep funding new insights in that to a non hoping that my attempt to establish a new date for its composition will help to shine new. You lie toll nuts creation story as well. I'd like to jump back to Christopher's childhood because he had a hand end in the writing of his father's stories or or in the revisions process at the very least from a very young age. And I think it's it's fascinating to learn about that but it's also important in terms of sort of getting a sense of this as Christopher is sort of birthright because certainly a specially early on with the publication of some really and people would would be questioning. You know Christopher's decisions in editing which which is fine. But but I think it's it's worth getting a sense of how deeply he was involved as a young man right so he was one of four children and he was the most of those for the most alive his father's imagination the most in tune with it I say this with all due respect to the others Especially Priscilla who still alive. The youngest child Christopher seems to have just been on the same wavelength as his as his father from from from Dario Liana and he said some things that evoke Allow me to to read a couple of things. So he will cushion describes how in the evening he would come into my bedroom and standing in front of the chimney he would tell me formidable stories such as Baron and Lucian for instance everything. The interesting to me came from his way of looking at things and also said for me the cities of the Somalian. Mole Real Babylon Babylon which is an amazing way of looking at it. So in other words his father's imagination had entered into him and opened out there and and had helped build Christopher's mind from the very beginning so that that makes him that put him in a unique position. The as a potential collaborator which I think he was in certain ways Dow's executor and editor. Even in his in childhood. Christopher did play a sort of a role as a proofreader. In a sense right. Yeah so so. They listened to the hub it when it was being written and Christopher and it was begun in it was being read to the kids before the start of nineteen sixty so Christopher was was was very young at that point he was no older than six just turned six by this time and he would pick up on points that His father had missed the other day. You said the bill buys Dole was blue. Now it's green. I'm his father would cast boy. It's about the very grateful for these corrections and make sure he amended his story so that it was all consistent it was an interesting point. I think token senior was already pretty punctilious about these things but in in fact if you look at his output. It's in the early nineteen thirties that he starts to be very very careful about pinning things down so stoltze producing animals chronologies of events in middle earth and the early nineteen hundred. He's to make sure that everything is properly synchronized between these in a complex multi threaded stories that he's writing so you you might wonder whether in fact that was a reflection of Christopher's passion for detail and consistency but it's not just that it's also just the sheer love of his fault as imaginary veterinary world. So don't think that some with Christopher as sharp attention to detail and excellent memory would've had all the tools necessary for what he later did with his father works. I think it took an absolute passion full. They imaginative if project to allow him to work like that. Because you know the the history of Middle Earth with eighteen years of work eighteen years at sitting getting bashing away on his father's typewriter off days if he pulled it to look what's little with set about now. These books being published in the Press Oli found would have been indifference difference and sometimes just downright school and the. There's no flow of comments that have been made about scraping the bottom of the barrel publishing. Jarrow Jero Tokens shopping lists which is deeply unfair. What we have in the history of Middle Earth is I think a unique record of human creativity? There's nothing like the creative process. The GIRO token engaged. Engaged in. And there's nothing like what he produced the books Midler. And there's nothing like the scholarly study study of all of that which Christopher Tolkien has presented us with now Christopher as he got older continued to be involved with his his father's writings and and with his father's circle of literary friends the inklings with the inklings have been after world. War Two e-eh yeah. I think honestly if we're GONNA talk about collaboration we should go back to the very beginning of the Lord of the rings which was December nineteen. He said he seven. Because that's Christmas. Holiday from school was beginning of three years. He's off school for Christopher Economic. And this was. This was a crucial period. When he's his father's beginning is brittle masterpiece in fact and there is his son the child who's most interested in these things Christopher walls his prime audience at that time aside from CS Lewis? And it's clear from Jaro Tolkien's letters having them Abbas. An audience had an impact on what he was writing so in terms of saint. Louis I think that's the story of the wall. The Wall of three three hopes across the child probably owed little to awoke. That's Tolkien and Lewis. Another of the inklings taken the previous year in Somerset. But it's it's no of mine absolutely true that Christopher Tolkien's taste for Hobart talk encouraged his fault the to write an awful lot of Hobbit talk to the point where he had to deliberately stop himself because CS Lewis said too much. So when you say hobbit talk you mean like basically pointless by charming and humorous conversations between the hobbits. Well well you put it very harshly ostensibly pointless but there. There are many points being made in a second suspect way yet and then as a later point in this in the Second World War Wall where Christopher was in the Royal Air Force and he was sent by the ARA to train as a spitfire fought pilots in South Africa on his father and him they wrote to each other very regularly and his father. During during this period wrote book for Lord of the Rings Stoning Section. From where FRODO AND SAM set out for more door Orel narrow meet Golam reached the black gate of mortal meet far Amir encounter shield and the the quest appears is to have reached its final disaster ended up book he wrote about while his son was in South Africa and he sent it chapter by chapter out to South Africa for Christopher Christopher to read on Christopher said the he would come back from flying his plane. I go from read a chapter right and I understand that. It wasn't a passive situation. You can get a sense of this reading between the lines. uh-huh in the published letters of our toll. Christopher was sending his fault knowingly encouragement but also details critiques of what Hadrian his father was responding to them. I mean the the the known point of what she responded was not to change the name of Sam Ganji because token senior had decided the full Phila- logical reasons. That Ganji was not a good name. I hope it on he was GonNa Renamed Sam Goodchild Christopher had deep affection for the surnamed Ganci because Oh it went back to stories the his father told long before motoring this was around so it stock and then on a different level again I think he influenced his father at Tyne wind in his writing because his father was writing many letters of advice to him. Basically saying I understand. Hey a you I understand that what you'll going through is unpleasant. Onerous disturbing frightening but I two went through this in my wall and I learned from it and I survived. I came through and you will too to. I think it's clear. The DOT correspondence with Christopher took token senior back back to Rian Habit his own memories of the First World War on that Visa Kamal's in book. Four of Lord of the Rings. These come out most was famously in the dead marshes where frozen Salmon Golan Paul through among pools of water where there are dead faces looking up out of the water in the desolation before the black gate of mortal which is described like a blasted battlefield and in many other ways throughout. But which had less this realist less direct less obvious. But you know for example in Farah Mir so say talking point is letter says that if anyone in my booking Farah Mir except. I wasn't too good office right so so I think yet talking. Christopher by letter helped to shape the Lord of the Rings in particular by Chris Criticisms of it critiques of it and because Christopher sent his father back to the I will so after the war Christopher comes back to England and gets involved in the inklings at least to the extent of coming to read his father's new chapters chapters to the group because they preferred his reading voice to his father's yes he's follow. Hud's unclear delivery. It makes anything sometimes of his his handwriting. To sometimes his handwriting is beautiful and Cata graphic and you you can hear him reading while the recorded some pieces this from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit that that will towns on Vinyl and shortly after his death I think but sometimes if he saying being interviewed it's almost impossible to understand to figure out what on Earth he said there is points and I imagine this was a problem when he was redan length. Lord the ring so yes. Being very much welcomed young Christopher coming along and taking a readings I think is followed. Appreciated it too. Because it meant he he personally was not quite so much in the firing line not having to perform while his work was dissected disputed by the inklings could be a very harsh audience. Now you've already talked about some of the textual problems. uh-huh involved with all the different drafts of the Sylmar Leeann or parts of it spanning decades with not only different story details as you say but with very different imaginative approaches. And I can't help but think that you know. Part of the reason for getting more philosophical awful was the fact that Tolkien was now getting all these letters from people about the Lord of the rings with questions about the philosophical and metaphysical implications of of them including challenges from Catholics. I I remember a letter from a priest that he responded to his collected letters where he took some of these questions very seriously about the nature of ORCs about reincarnation. Christopher comes through decision and as you said he he was decided to sort of pick the approach that Tolkien was taking around the time of the completion of the Lord of the rings the Sylmar. I'm really incomes out. What's the what's the response to that? When it? When it is finally published the reviews of the Somalian were mixture of astonishment and bafflement affluent? I think so many recognize that it was an extraordinary achievement for one person to have created a mythology that had these the era of being something that a whole people might have created but at the same time there were those had patients reading it. Those he missed the habits especially and I think I think that's a valid criticism of the Somalian. Actually I think that's why the Lord of the rings is his real masterpiece not because of the whole base in isolation but precisely because of the whole bit In contradistinction to this more more ancient bowl grand enchanted world so each aspect costs is a foil for the other on the hope. It's all our the the people that we can could assholes inside. We can see everything. From that viewpoint. The Somalian does not have that. But he's not trying to is trying to be something else entirely. I think the years it's been taken to halt enrollment numbers of Tolkien fans so it didn't full of Tolkien fans who his best work. He's hey pulsa that the absolute favorite parts of anything e-right so my understanding is that some people were questioning because of the lack of transparency at that time so to speak in in Christopher's thought process in making the editorial L. decisions that he made there. There was some question from people of you know how much of this is j r Tolkien. And how much of this is is Christopher Tolkien right absolutely lately and again. That was a very valid question to ask. Even though I think Christopher in his introductory comments had tried to anticipate it and give assurances that it was virtually every word in it with his father's if we're going to read something that says it's by one person we don't want to suspect that is really by someone else writes on. Christopher was acutely conscious of of in fact he apparently said the ultra came out and he was so worried. About what done the ad says. He told the French newspaper low mold. I was in my father's office in Oxford. He entered the began and look for something with great anxiety. Then I realized with horror that it was still Merlin. I was terrified by the idea that he might discover what I had done. What a terrible terrible nightmare to have so he set about then beginning to publish the history of Middle Earth breath which showed it wasn't designed to show the process of editing early on but it does show the history of Salil and gives you an opportunity to read in essentially unedited for almost all constituent materials and to understand downed where Christopher had to make his editorial decisions and understand why to? He's already published unfinished tales at this point correct. Yes so the unfinished tales is it kind of tasted for the history of middle Earth because first of all it has a revolver tiff title for anyone. Who's read the the Somalian and already four? Oh you know this is too much for me. Then all GonNa look unfinished tales and think. That's the one for me. They're going to be put off by that. And I think that was deliberate on on Chris. Paul he wanted to make sure that nine one was gonna be misled by this book and it also introduces readers into the idea that his father stories went through major processes of revision. So there's a chapter on the history of Galadriel and Kelly born which discusses an overflow of short texts in which Jr.. Tolkien kept changing his mind. About who Caliber was and and the history together. So that was that was a taste of for what was to come much more readable than the history of Middle Earth series. The thing with the history Midler I think if you want to pick up sections of it and read it for pleasure with most the volumes you. CanNot she do that pretty well. Just skipping Christopher's bids it'd be missing a a great deal if you did that. But he's not a bad way of setting out. If you don't have that taste for scully. Commentary Tree if you don't feel the need to understand the creative process. If you don't feel the need to to have Christopher highlighting the this is how a particular section differs from the published Somalian United you can go in and you can read version of the Summer Liam from about nineteen eighteen thirty from start to finish as an objective literature. Yes is more rule than the final thing but as that what I love about the history is the miles as though she every volume has some nugget in some some sort of unexpected jewel of attacks. You weren't you've never heard of before. So in the shaping of Middle Earth has this embar- cantor which is description of the cosmology of middle earth. And it's just exquisite Sets at south by describing these vast rules of gloss steel surround the glue wbt Earth and goes on from there the next exfoliating. The lowest road has an unfinished story about time. Travel through dream and for people like me. Fascinating awesome and in love with Tokens elfish language inventions. There's a whole swathe of a mini dictionary of roots roots of Elvis Woods called the optimal cheese. which is just a joy to roam free just started the lost road and that's that's the one where CS Louis and he decided that they'd both right? Some science fiction C. S. Lewis Greatest Space Travel Story and Tolkien read a time travel story and presumably. We think the space travel story of Lewis has ended up being out of the silent planet. Where looking didn't finish his story I won't they won't to actually was to tap into these budgeting new news genre of of science fiction in order to reach a popular audience because at that stage wasn't quite happening it Tolkien? It was big breakthrough gift talking because that was that was the year that the hope it was coming out and I think he sold the opportunity to stop presenting his legendary him. No as a relatively indigestible collection of legends but as something introduced through fiction adventure and they set it aside because he had to stop Lord of the Rings but I did want to come back to glossary because it contains one of those points where I think people would may sound greatly if they skip Christopher commentaries So aside light from the they extraordinary skill with which he explicatives illuminates his father's writings and that development alive living credible detail detail. Because he's fall the kept changing names of characters on what those characters did on how they related to other characters. And how they fit into the chronology Ah So everything was a moving target and Christopher manages to pin all these butterflies down. I'm present them to a stoning but from time to time among scholarship. You get a very beautiful passage. And there's a passage way. Christopher is talking about the the loss ride in what happens that and he says so the lowest rated features the character Landau who in the Lord of the Rings is remembered as the founding father of the Kingdom of Golden Door and the Kingdom of our nor in the north from which our goal and the rangers eventually in the edge. And in the Los Road Orlando is describing in one scene how the arrival of a sinister figure sour on in new model has turned and everything that Chris is. From a lendl's words there emerges a sinister picture. The withdrawal of the besotted and aging king from the Public Lakeview the unexplained disappearance of people unpopular with the government informants prisoners torture secrecy. Fear of the night right propaganda in the form of the rewriting of history the multiplication of weapons of war the invention of ships of metal that traverse the seas of outsail sale missiles. That pose with noise like thunder to strike their targets many miles away and then Christopher ads when this time my father reached back to the world of the first man to bear the name L. friend because that's what lender means. He found that an image of what he most condemned and feared in his I'm Christopher have the personal knowledge in science to to be able to write that with confidence and a related point. I went to this. Is that Christopher oversaw the writing of Humphrey Carpenter's all thrice biography of his father. And I think that was probably another situation where he. He gave the benefit of his insights. Shape help shape this book. I buy relatively young. Taro biographer has aged quite well. It certainly now very oriented date because of everything that Chris published but is pretty good so when it was written you can see in in the letters from Jr Christopher Tolkien during World War. Two you can see you a lot of discussion about modern war and the direction in which the world seem to be going the western world at least in those letters that are very very much tie Ryan with the passage that you just quoted from Christopher. Yeah and also the in some some of those same passages in his license gyro. tolkien uses his own mythological inventions as Analogies for what's going on so he says Christopher Went Christos out their training with the military day you will a hobbit among the Iraq. High a whole bunch of my walks. It's interesting to to read the history of Middle Earth so I've read. I read the volumes Dealing with Lord of the rings in their entirety in now sort of getting started on some of the other stuff. But it's interesting because there's a lot of material that's great any and sometimes you think I can understand understand why he didn't put that in there in the final draft but it's still like a fantastic idea or a great passage and then there's other things especially at the very beginnings or Lord of the Rings when he didn't quite know what it was going to become yet where you think. Oh my gosh. I'm I'm glad that that got dropped so well. Initially the story is about a Bilbo son Bingo baggins. And I I just don't think Bingo Baggins was the right name for her. The protagonist of the Lord of the Rings and then strider is originally trotter. Her who's a habit who whose so called because he wears wooden shoes which make a trotting sound as he walks with. I believe the ideas that he had had been a captain mortar at one point. They had tortured his feet rendering it necessary for him to wear wooden shoes. Yeah you know this is a fascinating kind of you could imagine in an alternative history in which it which that book had been published. But I think it's a bit like if you will if you're accustomed to listening to cal albums that have been recorded in the studio and then you get to hear things like the Beatles Anthology where the the rule studio Aga rehearsals revealed. You can always enjoy that. Oh no or live albums live performances. There there are some blue They want to hear it. No perfect like it is only album Ryan is not white. Matt's it's great fascinating too to just see the diversion. Divergence is even more fascinating when you see how they will knit together in a process of creativity. Yeah I mean one of my favorite bits in accounts with the the rising Lord Lord of the Rings is where the hope it's hiking across the Shah and they hear holes coming around the corner and they hide and then they figure comes around the corner. Colin were the hosts back at a scandal. An immediately token turned back. I'm rewrote it and made into a sinister ernest black writer and that was you can see an unpremeditated tiffany. I'm premeditated move into of inspiration. which changed the course of that book? So then it's a good jumping off point for what are some of the things. Broadly Lee speaking about unique creative process of toll keen that we learn taking big picture from the history of Middle Earth series because the details are not just for their own sake they they add up to a bigger picture of what kind of artists this man was. Yes so well first of all well. We learned the importance of invented languages in the course of his creation and we can see that in the history midlife breath because he keeps changing the names of the characters in the names. Aw formed from Elvis elements the names of the the the the the mortals We can see the desire to be constantly. Creating would sometimes fooled the ability to complete things so he would have a very energetic bursts. It's wronged thing that talking in says Louis Woods wrote like a coral roll insect slowly unfestive. Asli he didn't he seems to have written in Incredible bursts of almost Dickensian energy. And then if he completed his work he could he could go back and revise it with the festivities cat at which she also had but sometimes times he wouldn't quite finish something so he did not finish the first version of the summary on the version. He stopped in the first World War. The book of Lost Tales when he returns turned to writing on his legendary in the nineteen twenties he had a new urge that urge was to tell somebody stories the narrative festival. He wanted to explore the form of narrative. Verse that he must have the form of verse they most Love The alliterative meter. Yeah that was used by the Anglo Saxons and in areas of Britain in the in the Middle Ages so the Great Pyramid tolkien translated succour Wayne and the Green Knight is one example. The Old English bear wolf is another alliterative neater and talking rewrote. The story of the story of tour interim bar the delay of the children of her and in that meter and he rewrote the story. The love story of Baron Lucienne and rhyming couplets and and then later he revisited it all again. He began a new version of the wholesome early on on revising that from that Spring and celery works like chronologies to keep everything in synchronized which then become increasingly works of art in there a bright so he they started out simply as notes to himself about what happened when and then they become pseudo documents they become works of historical Cole writing by else within mental us. There is a certain economy with which tolkien uses his ideas ideas. I mean despite all of the unfinished drafts lying around. In the way in which he manages to incorporate they'd rather than simply dropping things if they're not quite right he manages to incorporate them into a very different context or in a different form than they they were originally conceived whether it's a character or an event or something like that it's it's interesting to see the way things get transformed like treebeard for instance. Yeah so treated began as a malevolent giant. There are no to that to that effect but he's GonNa Capture Frodo. He's going to be a real giant Matt massively toll than the couch in the Lord of the Rings in the event and apparently this was also. I'm unpremeditated vehicles. Turns into something entirely from evolved from malevolent hobbits another example which Christopher traces with great care. Where is the business of? Why gandalf wasn't there? When the whole bit set out in Lord of the Rings so in the published work he's he's captive he's been taken prisoner by the wizard Saruman and he's on the Pinnacle of the Tower of Ole thank island around? This was not by any means tokens first idea earlier on. He had been besieged by riders in one of the Elf towers that stem to the west of the Shah on another point. He's taking another of the hope. It ends up as Franco Franco Fatty Bolger in published. Lord of the rings as a kind of decoy to keep the chase away from Frodo and company Bingo go and company. That's we should say. I think that stage after the history of Lord of the Rings Series over the next decades Christopher publishes a number of other things a by his father both directly related to middle earth. And not so at a certain point. You know this is It's also worth mentioning that Christopher had his own career as an academic academic for a time so Anglo Saxon old English old norse and middle English close to. What is father had studied as Macadamia very very reclosed? This is another reason why he was such an excellent excellently equipped food for his job of editing. His father's writings because that stuff flus through middle earth. It's it's kind of life blood even if you don't recognize it's their so yeah. He edited Father's poems based on on a old Icelandic that meter. I'm based Home Devos. Owns the the story. That also inspired Ivanovna famously of seek feet or cigarette. The legend of cigarette good room is the the book that has Christopher. Does it He has his father's all those unfinished poem. The full of all sizes father's attempts to enter into the traditional you're in literature which is powerful a surprising rising. They're very sad that it wasn't he provided another full and coherent book for everyone to enjoy the children Orrin which can be read alongside the similarly owner offerings or before it Bible translation and commentary which she's filed as fairly early translation of by Wolf. Far More interesting actually a great deal of material from his father's lectures on bibles which which L. Fascinating and illuminating both full by wolf and for his office thinking on all kinds of matters to do with literature and Monsters installs a mess. The events and Lord of the rings do correspond to a more big picture version of those events. That's that's that's given in towards the end of the summer alien in the Selma Ralian. Although certain parts are given in more detail than others talking still wanted wanted to expand certain episodes that he viewed as very important into more of a sort of full book length treatment of their own and namely those would be the fall of Gondolen the tale of Turin or the children of were and as it was published by Christopher Tolkien and the tale of Baron and Lucian Dan and these were all are all some of the more recent publications that that Christopher edited and these are. I've only read the children of who are in in. In fact it's my favorite probably favorite work by talking other than Lord of the rings no the children of hearing is quite different from by our analysts in and the full of Gondola Krista final ty- books in those final books. Christopher essentially revisits material published in the history Camila selects from it selects selectively. Have better to put it in each one. He takes a single thread and shows us this. How that thread running through the whole wide legendary him through the decades of what his father put into it so the full of gambling was virtually the first story of middle earth ever written nineteen seventeen? He retold it in various forms in the book. The full look on Blinn. Christopher presents the earliest version and later versions to Anita's similar thing with Baron Lucian and this is quite a good introduction in fact to the history of middle earth it very accessible to comment on over-complex is peacefully illustrated visit violently. Both these books I'm the introductory material by Christopher is really very moving because he knew the stage that that he was approaching the end of his great project of editing his father's works and he's reflecting on last so if you were to read the children of who are in and expect expect the same sort of thing in the fall of guideline for example. You'd be disappointed but the fall of Guidolin is nevertheless sort of somewhere in between the children who are in I and the history of Middle Earth series. Yeah yeah absolutely. I know said I'm fat. Lagaan Lynn does include is the full nineteen seventeen tail the which is a tremendous piece of writing as long as you can accustom yourself to Amora cake style of English and the fact that there are clear contradictions of detail and the kind of the character of the world is so a somewhat different from the from from how it is in the summer early on as long as perpetual. Except that you've got a superb piece of writing the stomach toward force for somebody who's just come out of the battle of the Psalm. It's very interesting how we get these different versions of the children. Who are in? And they're all I think worth reading in their own right died version version of the in the unfinished tales. I remember correctly. I think that was the first one that I read. And then there's the version in the summer alien and they're both fairly detailed but the version Asian published by Christopher Tolkien more. Recently the children of horizon really does function as kind of a novel in. Its own right which I guess. Perhaps you can't say about any of the other things that that Christopher edited. Besides the Sylmar million astounds some really. It's the same kind. Olf Olf editorial piecing together of a massive disordered writings to produce. Something is coherent on powerful. So do you have a favorite of these these posthumous publications from a as a work of fiction standpoint. I would probably agree with you. I'd probably say the children of her and but I have got so much pleasure from reading. The history of the is and that is is where my work is not do that work because I love it. The children who are in I will warn people it is certainly the. I would think the darkest arcus thing that tolkien wrote. It's one tail within the whole of people talk about tolkien having the sense of tragedy but this in particular whereas is one piece of the whole Sylmar alien and it's one of the darkest parts sort of removed from its overall context in the summer Alien Leeann in particular. It is quite devastating. Yes absolutely I mean. Th Th the whole of the Somali on this is about the creation and unfolding of a fundamentally flawed world and why that allows full ultimate redemption earliest hints that development the children of her in a story of heroism against immense olds both external and internal. Because the hero is about as Florida's a hero could be and it's if you recognize as token admitted it's it combines elements from the Finish Story of cove. Oh the Finnish Kalevala the national ethic of Finland and the story of good the volts song from Iceland Saga and oedipus. It's an amazing synthesis of influences injected injected with an astonishing life of its own and St Louis Cardinals. He has away with writing characters especially in the sylmar alien who are very proud and in a sort of comes to bite them and yet you. You can't help but be deeply impressed with them. You know van or in Turin being too great examples of that. Yeah absolutely I won't speculate on on Turin and talking fan. All it is that you know token token compared his own creativity to two finals. Final creates jewels. The sylmar rolls around which the whole epic unfolds and he loves them with an inordinate love that leads him into deep fully. And I think that tolkien explored temptations and and flows to which. He felt that he might be prime like a lot of great writers. I think mentioned Dickens before by creating characters who follow do the logic of the floor to the bitter end or people who somehow come through aw aw redeemed by things such as good fellowship which we see more Lord of the rings will glad. Rail is a character. I think there was something of that with her. Not so much with her creations perhaps but that she was one of the elves who left the the blessed realm the realm of the Gods essentially. Because does she wanted to have a domain of her own in middle earth. And when you know that it gives a greater significance to her choices in and the Lord of the Rings yes so this is the other the other point about the And this is really key. I suppose the reason why most the people have been impacted by KRISTA. The has done. He has presented us with a whole complex of story in the summer. Leon Liam Myth Legend and history. which massively enriches the way we can enjoy the Lord of the rings and the Hobbit in read those books before you read the summary as I did and is wonderful to have that sense of have misty distances read them off to having read the similarly on and the sense of richness is just increased tenfold? Fold Yeah I mean I think a great reading order is the Hobbit and then the Lord of the Rings and then the Sylmar Alien and then the Lord is again you know and then and after you've done that anything else you care to read but but I think that's a great way to get the get the effect because you know you don't necessarily you want to read the Somalian. Before reading the Lord of the Rings. I have told to calls for our required. The students to do that but it was kind of in a cruel experiment. So if you had to recommend. Let's say somebody's read the Hobbit Lord of the Rings Film Really in. Let's say they've read the biography and they've read the letters letters. I would put them at informed. tolkien Fan who hasn't yet fully gone down the rabbit hole. What other book edited by Christopher Token? Would you recommend that they go to I. I would be torn. I think between one I haven't mentioned which is the monsters and the critics and other other essays because that's illuminating in that you get inside. Token head is a skull that will say you start to understand what makes him tick taken as a writer. He's writing about the by Wolf. I with immense inside. This was a this was a landmark lecture that he gave in Nineteen thirty. Six aches really has changed. The course of I will scholarship since but also if you recognize the water source of inspiration for Tolkien was creatively. Fli was was that for him. You can learn I think I think I would plump. Full the full of Gondolen because was that story is so stunning ambiguous. It was virtually I. And it gives you an introduction to the ideal. CEO of the history of middle of junk are thank you so much for coming on the show to pay tribute to Christopher Tolkien. And I hope we've done him some degree of justice in terms of his contribution to our understanding one of the most significant figures in modern literature. And thank you very much for giving me the opportunity. Uh ooh

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