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Letter 40

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 40
RecipientMichael Tolkien
DateOctober 6, 1940
Subject(s)Michael's university career cut short

Letter 40 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.


Michael Tolkien volunteered for army service in September 1939. He was told to spend one year at a university and then enlist. He entered Trinity College, Oxford, but then left in the summer of 1940 to train as an anti-aircraft gunner. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that he was sorry that Michael’s Varsity career had been cut in two. Tolkien philosophized that what we are and do in the present is what counts, not plans for the future, but found that cold comfort when considering the waste of time and militarism of the army. He stated that after he was pitched into the army he had been full of stuff to write and things to learn, but had never picked it all up again.