Tolkien Gateway

Letter 64

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 64
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
Date30 April 1944
Subject(s)War as waste, missing his son, progress on The Lord of the Rings

Letter 64 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien missed his son and said that war was an utter stupid waste – materially, morally, and spiritually. Always was (despite the poets) and always will be (despite the propagandists), but in 30 years few will have the direct experience that goes to the heart. Sometimes Tolkien felt appalled at the sum total of human misery at the present moment. Were it visible the planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapor.

Although the products of worldwide anguish would be mainly evil (historically considered) there was a value in all things and deeds. Evil vainly laboured with vast power and perpetual success, which prepared soil for unexpected good to sprout in. Though we needed all human courage and religious faith to face the evil we could still pray and hope. Tolkien called Christopher a special gift and was certain that there was no end to their love.

Tolkien had recently been too tired to attend the Lewis "séance". He hoped to see him the next day and read more of "the Ring", which had been growing and sprouting. He listed the latest adventures of Frodo and Sam: Going through Sarn Gebir, climbing down the cliff, taming Gollum, crossing the Dead Marshes, and arriving at the main gates. That being impassable they headed towards Minas Morghul[note 1] and Kirith Ungol. Ithilien was lovely, there was bother about stewed rabbits, they were captured by Gondorians, and witnessed them ambushing a Swerting army. An elephant of prehistoric size is loose and Sam has his life-long wish of seeing an Oliphaunt. In the upcoming next chapter they reach Kirith Ungol and Frodo gets caught. Tolkien then included the whole poem "Oliphaunt" in the letter. Sam treats Gollum like Ariel treats Caliban.

Tolkien noted that it was spring but decried the roar and riot of noise of all the "infernal combustion" engines. Humanity, he said, and even more, engineers, were both nitwitted and malicious as a rule. He felt the tenuousness of communication by flimsy bits of paper and wished it could be written in Runes beyond the Craft of Celebrimbor of Hollin to fill Christopher with visions. Tolkien had first begun to write the History of the Gnomes[note 2] in army huts and now his son was in the same prison.

[edit] Notes

  1. "Morgul" was spelt "Morghul" in this letter.
  2. An early title for The Silmarillion.