So I missed Top Ten Tuesday this week, and I had the perfect idea for the theme of the week—“Favorite Book Quotes” (i.e., I stole it from Bookwraith). But, luckily, this week is a freebie for Top Five Wednesday. So here we are. Inspired by the Bookwraith’s Tolkien quotes, by my current read (The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings), and by my upcoming Tolkien series, without further ado, I present five quotes about Tolkien from The Fellowship.
Quotes from The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings:
C.S. Lewis on what he talked about with Tolkien: “Sometimes we talk English school politics, sometimes we criticise one another’s poems; other days we drift into theology or ‘the state of the nation’: rarely we fly no higher than bawdy and ‘puns.’”
Why did Tolkien choose such a middle-class, conventional, well-regulated existence? Largely because he believed it was the right way to live. He had a deep admiration for ordinary people—butchers, police officers, mail carriers, gardeners—and a knack for befriending them. He valued their courage, common sense, and decency, all of which he had ample opportunity to observe in the trenches.
Tolkien disliked all things French—its fussy food, its language teeming with ‘polysyllabic barbarities,’ and now its battlefields, on which two of his closest friends had fallen.
Tolkien left the army with the rank of temporary lieutenant, a fitting title, for he was never, at heart, a warrior; he had done his duty and helped to save England, but his greatest contribution to the war effort would come decades later, when The Lord of the Rings apotheosized, in its account of hobbits battling ultimate evil in a landscape of fantastic redoubts and talking trees, the achievements of ordinary Tommies and Doughboys among the barbed wire, rats, mud, and machine gun fusillades of rural France.
Tolkien’s evolving conception of Bilbo was a watershed in his approach to storytelling. The glorious, solemn, violent, single-handed exploits of ancient Germanic heroes had weighed on his mind throughout the six or seven years during which he composed and revised his tale. Like the Beowulf poet, he wished to honor that heroic past, celebrating its memory while subtly Christianizing it. But Tolkien went a step further than his predecessor. While Beowulf is the Germanic hero transposed to a Christian key, preserving the pagan glory-seeking ethos with less swagger and self-absorption than his predecessors, Bilbo initiates a new kind of hero altogether, exalted because first humbled, yet never exalted too far above his fellows. . . . Beowulf was a figure of sacrificial nobility overshadowed by fate, Bilbo a creature of ordinary decency who would sacrifice his homely pleasures when necessary yet return to them.
Bonus Quote from The Hobbit:
Bilbo almost stopped breathing, and went stiff himself. He was desperate. He must get away, out of this horrible darkness, while he had any strength left. He must fight. He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pit mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering.