Top Five Wednesday: Favorite Book Quotes – Tolkien Edition

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.

On top of Oathbringer for scale


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.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
This entry was posted in Sundry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Top Five Wednesday: Favorite Book Quotes – Tolkien Edition

  1. proxyfish says:

    What a fantastic idea for a theme! I’ve never read this book so it’s delightful to hear some quotes from it 😀 I must add it to my TBR!

    And of course a bonus Hobbit quote is always a good thing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy @PBTVS says:

    Brilliant topic. I didn’t even know this book existed, which is appalling and something I should remedy immediately.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. graycope14 says:

    That’s a great choice of quote from the Hobbit. It’s such an important part of the story as well as a lovely example of Bilbo’s character. Imagine how the story might’ve turned out if he’d ended Gollum’s life there and then. Gandalf understood this, as he mentions a couple of times during the Lord of the Rings. Respect to Tolkien!

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      I thought my last quote from The Fellowship leads nicely into, hence the decision to include a bonus quote, and I think both lead very nicely into the much more famous quote about mercy from the Lord of the Rings.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. John Boyle says:

    I have never heard of that book about the Inklings. Fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Xaver Basora says:

    I kinda understand Tolkein’s dislike of the French. Not all their food is fussy. Certainly not the in the south or in the France profonde
    In any case. The poilous were let down by their elites. In fact you can see a bit of the contempt for ordinary people that the proto social justice freaks showed.. It took a mutiny in 1917 for the elites ro finally treat the poilous with respect.

    My only criticism of Tolkein is like Orwell, he was obsessed with stripping English of its Latin words. Fine you can do it in English but you can’t do it in the Romance languages. However he’s right that French in particular needed to stop showing off by inventing crazy words and being too artificial at times.
    Simenon and de Villars wrote a very sparse but descriptive French that rival Orwell’s writings.

    Lastly he’s right about respecting the middle and working classes. They really are the bulwark against the elites and intellectual’s craziness.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: March 2018 Month-in-Review | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s