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Letter 93

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 93
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
DateDecember 24, 1944
Subject(s)Samwise the Genuine, Harebells, flowers of Middle-earth

Letter 93 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Summary

Tolkien was happy that Christopher had enjoyed the next three chapters of the Ring and told him new consignments should reach him about 10 December and 14 January. He said that Sam was the most closely drawn character, the successor to Bilbo, and the genuine hobbit. Frodo was less interesting because he had to be highminded. The book would probably end with Sam since Frodo would be too ennobled and rarefied by the Quest and would pass into the West with all the great figures. Sam would settle down to the Shire. C. Williams said the great thing is the centre is not in strife and war and heroism but in freedom, peace, ordinary life and good liking. Yet he agreed that these very things required the existence of a great world outside of the Shire.

Christopher had written Harebell and emended it to Hairbell. Tolkien had once looked up the names after arguing with a dogmatic scientist. The ancient name was harebell, and refers to the hyacinth, not the campanula. Hairbell was a fictitious alteration made by meddlesome book-botanists, and Tolkien then proceeded to discuss the origin of foxglove. Why these flowers had animal-associated names was unknown. Perhaps, mused Tolkien, they depended on lost beast-fables and he thought it would be interesting to make some fables to fit the names.

Tolkien asked if Christopher was still naming nameless flowers that he found. Tolkien said his best inventions were elanor and nifredil, although he liked the Anglo-Saxon symbelmynë. He thought he would invent some more for Sam's garden in the end.