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But What Did He Really Mean?

But What Did He Really Mean? Verlyn Flieger “A coherent personality aspires, like a work of art, to con- tain its conflicts without resolving them dogmatically” —Judith Thurman. lmost from the date of its publication, The Lord of the Rings has A been subject to conflicting interpretations, appealing equally to neo-pagans who see in its elves and hobbits an alternative to the dreary realism of mainstream culture and to Christians who find an evangeli - cal message in its imagery of stars and light and bread and sacrifice. Tolkien was more patient with enthusiasts of both sides than many au- thors would have been, but he was also ambiguous, even contradictory in stating his own position—for example in his letters as to whether there was intentional Christianity in The Lord of the Rings, or in his es- say “On Fairy-stories” (written before The Lord of the Rings but strongly influencing it) whether elves (aka fairies) are real. Thus he could tell one correspondent that The Lord of the Rings was “fundamentally” religious and Catholic (Murray, Letters 172) and another that he felt no obligation to make it fit Christianity (Auden, Letters 144). He could, in “On Fairy-stories” both as published and in its rough drafts, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Tolkien Studies West Virginia University Press

But What Did He Really Mean?

Tolkien Studies , Volume 11 – Nov 27, 2014

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 West Virginia University Press.
ISSN
1547-3163

Abstract

Verlyn Flieger “A coherent personality aspires, like a work of art, to con- tain its conflicts without resolving them dogmatically” —Judith Thurman. lmost from the date of its publication, The Lord of the Rings has A been subject to conflicting interpretations, appealing equally to neo-pagans who see in its elves and hobbits an alternative to the dreary realism of mainstream culture and to Christians who find an evangeli - cal message in its imagery of stars and light and bread and sacrifice. Tolkien was more patient with enthusiasts of both sides than many au- thors would have been, but he was also ambiguous, even contradictory in stating his own position—for example in his letters as to whether there was intentional Christianity in The Lord of the Rings, or in his es- say “On Fairy-stories” (written before The Lord of the Rings but strongly influencing it) whether elves (aka fairies) are real. Thus he could tell one correspondent that The Lord of the Rings was “fundamentally” religious and Catholic (Murray, Letters 172) and another that he felt no obligation to make it fit Christianity (Auden, Letters 144). He could, in “On Fairy-stories” both as published and in its rough drafts,

Journal

Tolkien StudiesWest Virginia University Press

Published: Nov 27, 2014

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