Tolkien Gateway

Letter 208

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 208
RecipientC. Ouboter, Voorhoeve en Dietrich, Rotterdam
Date10 April 1958
Subject(s)No "message" in The Lord of the Rings, Death in the story

Letter 208 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien stated that The Lord of the Rings had no "message" – no preaching, no delivering of a person vision of truth. He wrote an exciting story with an atmosphere and background he found personally attractive, although inevitably one's own taste, ideas, and beliefs become incorporated. Only upon reading the work himself with criticism in mind did Tolkien notice the theme of Death (hardly an original "message" said Tolkien). There was a "message" that it was perilous to confuse true "immortality" with limitless serial longevity, the first being freedom from time while the second is clinging to time. The confusion is the work of the Enemy; compare the death of Aragorn with a Ringwraith. The Elves were tempted towards idle melancholy, burdened with memory, and attempts to halt time.