Tolkien Gateway

Letter 30

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 25
RecipientRütten & Loening Verlag
DateJuly 25, 1938
Subject(s)Translations, Politics

Letter 30 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Summary

Rütten & Loening Verlag, a German publisher, had enquired about the possibility of a translation of The Hobbit, and asked about his ancestry and Aryan-ness.

Tolkien answers that he thinks the matter of his Aryan-ness is not what they are after. They would much rather like to know whether he was Jewish. He tells them he is not - but he regrets that he has no Jewish blood. He continues with stating that though he is an Englishman for several generations, he carried his German surname with pride, even in World War I. But if politics and literature are so mingled, there may come a time when he would not be proud of German heritage.

Tolkien closes the letter with the statement that, though the publishing house is only following the laws of its country, they cannot expect foreigners to follow these rules.

Notes

This letter is often cited as a counterargument when Tolkien is accused of racism.