Tolkien Gateway

Letter 149

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 149
RecipientRayner Unwin
Date9 September 1954
Subject(s)First reviews of The Fellowship of the Ring

Letter 149 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien found that the reviews[note 1] were a great deal better than he had feared. They might have been better if quoting Ariosto had been avoided or without connexion to the extraordinary animosity directed towards C.S. Lewis. Tolkien acknowledged that without Lewis he would not have finished the book, but many commentators seemed to have preferred lampooning his remarks or review to reading the book.

The critics' "shapelessness" was due to issuing the story in three parts. The excess of "hobbitry" in Volume I was due to taking that work by itself and several critics obviously had not gotten much beyond Chapter 1. Tolkien said it was unfortunate that the Daily Telegraph had used Peter Green to review his book, who was so rude as to suspect him of malice. Tolkien was also puzzled by critics' remarks on the style of the book.

Tolkien had gathered that Unwin was not wholly dissatisfied. Others besides Lewis had written very appreciative notices. Cherryman and Howard Spring's comments were pleasing to one's vanity, and best was Cherryman's statement that he eagerly awaited the second and third volumes. H. Fawcett was brief but complimentary and the editor of the Oxford Times had given a long positive notice.

[edit] Note

  1. The The Fellowship of the Ring was published on 29 July, 1954, and reviews began appearing in August.