Tolkien Gateway

Letter 71

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 71
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
Date25 May 1944
Subject(s)Africa, The Lord of the Rings writing, Orcs, dislike of Dorothy Sayers' works

Letter 71 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Letters from Christopher had poured in and Tolkien envied his son's stationing in Africa, which stirred a curious sense of reminiscence in him. Tolkien had not slept, partly due to deafening traffic but also because of his absorption in Frodo. The chapter on Shelob and Kirith Ungol had been written several times and took a lot out of him. Besides working on The Lord of the Rings he had made a hen-coop and chick-run.

Tolkien hoped Christopher could get more leave to see genuine Africa away from the "lesser servants of Mordor". He thought of orcs as real a creation as anything in "realistic" fiction. In real life they are on both sides. In allegories good is on one side while various modes of badness are on the other. In real (exterior) life both sides are a motley alliance of orcs, beasts, demons, plain natural honest men, and angels (but it did make a difference if your captain was orc-like).

Tolkien said he could not stand Gaudy Night.[notes 1] He had followed P. Wimsey from his attractive beginnings, but had conceived a loathing of him and his Harriet not surpassed by any other characters in literature known to him. Busman's Honeymoon[notes 2] made him sick.

[edit] Notes

  1. By Dorothy Sayers (1935)
  2. By Dorothy Sayers (1937)