Tolkien Gateway

Letter 53

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 53
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
Date9 December 1943
Subject(s)Grumbling about the future of England during World War II

Letter 53 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Life had lately been such a rush that Tolkien had not seen C.S. Lewis or Charles Williams for weeks, yet there was little to report – no fun, amusement, new ideas, or even thin small jokes, and even the newspapers with nothing but Teheran ballyhoo.[note 1] Tolkien was sickly amused that the bloodthirsty murderer Josef Stalin invited all nations to join to abolish tyranny and intolerance. Tolkien thought that Winston Churchill looked like the biggest ruffian in the photographs.

Tolkien lamented that the globe was getting smaller, duller, and flatter, foreseeing American sanitation, morale-pep, feminism, and mass production introduced everywhere, which would at least cut down travel. Col. Knox[note 2] said that one-eighth of the world spoke "English", which Tolkien called a damn shame. He called for the curse of Babel to strike all tongues and considered refusing to speak anything but Old Mercian.

Seriously, Tolkien found Americo-cosmopolitanism terrifying. He was unsure if victory would be much better for the world as a whole. This was the sentiment of a lot of folk but indicated no lack of patriotism. Tolkien loved England but not Great Britain and certainly not the British Commonwealth. But were he younger, Tolkien figured he would be grousing in the military, willing to go to the bitter end, and hoping that things might turn out better for England.

[edit] Notes

  1. The Teheran Conference of November 1943 was attended by British, American, and Russian leaders.
  2. A writer and popular journalist