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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 12:32 am 
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I went to the Tolkien exhibition at The Morgan today, and enjoyed the very rare (for me!) to see examples of the Professor's letters and penmanship in the original.

The Professor shared much of his work, including maps and unpublished material intended for the LoTR appendices with Naomi Mitchison in advance of publication. In one of his letters to her, in which he addressed many of her questions, I came across this statement:

"Tom Bombadil is not an important person - to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a comment...
I would not have left him in if he did not have some kind of function. [snip]

"The story is cast in terms of a good side against a bad side, beauty against ugliness...consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power...if you have, as it were, taken a 'vow of poverty', renounced control, and take delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself... then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you..."

I loved the succintness of this statement. Old Tom is there deliberately, Tolkien chose to retain him as the symbolic ultimate pacifist, a counterpoint to those who are still embedded in the eternal interchange and flow of power.

And Tolkien makes a point of emphasizing that this is Tom's ongoing choice, not a choice he made way back in some mysterious past but in a cintinuing way - that he makes the pacifist choice again when faced with the stark truth that "...ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue."

Tom was important to Tolkien, he left him in because he had a function - and that makes me happy because I love Tom.

***

Aside - Tolkien's penmanship is truly admirable!

Typed on a tiny phone keyboard on Tapatalk - typos inevitable.

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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 1:43 am 
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Oh what a treasure! That must have been a sight. I do like his explanation (however brief) of Tom's place in his world.

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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 12:28 pm 
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(Pls excuse typos and grammatical stumbles... am an exhausted tourist!)

Typed on a tiny phone keyboard on Tapatalk - typos inevitable.

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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 2:41 am 
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So, I bought the big-fat catalog book from the Exhibition, and after meeting Impy this morning (yay!) and talking about this letter, I just spent 15 minutes going through that book to find that letter. And it's not there. I am very disappointed.

But it will spur me to finally buy my physical copy of Letters.

Imp, I wonder if you know if *this* particular letter is part of Letters?

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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 2:58 am 
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Yes, it is. But is, but it is labeled as 25 April 1954, not 24 April 1954.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:29 pm 
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Impenitent wrote:

I loved the succintness of this statement. Old Tom is there deliberately, Tolkien chose to retain him as the symbolic ultimate pacifist, a counterpoint to those who are still embedded in the eternal interchange and flow of power.

And Tolkien makes a point of emphasizing that this is Tom's ongoing choice, not a choice he made way back in some mysterious past but in a cintinuing way - that he makes the pacifist choice again when faced with the stark truth that "...ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue."

Tom was important to Tolkien, he left him in because he had a function - and that makes me happy because I love Tom.

It is a subtle but important point, isn't it? I have friends who are Quakers, and I lean toward/empathize with their views, but there comes a time when one has to face harsh realities facing greater humankind (as in WWII, for example). Endless wars/conflict are not the answer either. It would be so much easier if the 'other side' were all evil Orcs, wouldn't it?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:11 am 
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RoseMorninStar wrote:
It is a subtle but important point, isn't it? I have friends who are Quakers, and I lean toward/empathize with their views, but there comes a time when one has to face harsh realities facing greater humankind (as in WWII, for example). Endless wars/conflict are not the answer either. It would be so much easier if the 'other side' were all evil Orcs, wouldn't it?


It would indeed. Sadly we are not faced with so neat a divide. :(

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