Wednesday, April 14, 2010

10 Interesting Facts about J.R.R. Tolkein

At Mental Floss, Brian Gottesman compiled ten things about J.R.R. Tolkein that you may not have known:
2. He didn’t share your enthusiasm for Hobbits.
Tolkien saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. It always irked him that his scholarly works went largely unknown by the general public, who flocked to his fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were largely Tolkien’s attempt to construct a body of myth, and their success caught him largely unaware. In fact, he spent years rejecting, criticizing and shredding adaptations of his work that he didn’t believe captured its epic scope and noble purpose! He was also utterly skeptical of most LOTR fans, who he thought incapable of really appreciating the work, and he probably would have probably been horrified by movie fandom dressing up like Legolas.

8. He invented languages for fun.
A philologist by trade, Tolkien kept his mind exercised by inventing new languages, many of which (like the Elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin) he used extensively in his writing. He even wrote songs and poems in his fictional languages. In addition, Tolkien worked to reconstruct and write in extinct languages like Medieval Welsh and Lombardic. His poem “Bagmē Blomā” (“Flower of the Trees”) might be the first original work written in the Gothic language in over a millennium.

10. He wasn’t nearly as fond of Nazis as they were of him.
Tolkien’s academic writings on Old Norse and Germanic history, language and culture were extremely popular among the Nazi elite, who were obsessed with recreating ancient Germanic civilization. But Tolkien was disgusted by Hitler and the Nazi party, and made no secret of the fact. He considered forbidding a German translation of The Hobbit after the German publisher, in accordance with Nazi law, asked him to certify that he was an “Aryan.” Instead, he wrote a scathing letter asserting, among other things, his regret that he had no Jewish ancestors. His feelings are also evidenced in a letter he wrote to his son: “I have in this War a burning private grudge—which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler … Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.”

via Ace


MrsJoker said...

I've just finished reading the hobbit and now im onto reading the lord of the rings.Cant wait for the hobbit film to come out :D

John said...

I made it through Fellowship and most of Two Towers, but lost interest. I can appreciate Tolkein's craftsmanship, but I didn't really enjoy reading the novels.

Dan Trabue said...

Loved the trilogy, but didn't care for the Hobbit as much.

Seems like an interesting guy. And I guess you know he was part of the Inklings, along with CS Lewis and a bunch of other fellas I don't know - a literary "club"/discussion group that served as a sounding board for each other. I think such groups are interesting...

John said...

Yes, I've read a bit about the Inklings. There's a journal devoted largely to their work.