A Writer Lives On…

 “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Gandalf, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

 

Every November 11th, I am drawn to my most-beloved author, J.R.R. Tolkien, who gave us “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”  My books are well worn from use over the years.

In his teens (1911), J.R.R. Tolkien formed an unofficial, semi-secret reading club named the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (T.C.B.S.) along with three friends: Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith and Christopher Wiseman.  With the onset of WWI, all four joined the army, serving in separate units.  In the forward to “The Lord of the Rings” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:

“One has personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years.  By 1918, all but one of my close friends were dead.”

December 1916, when J.R.R. Tolkien was in the Le Touquet hospital recovering from a severe trench fever, he received a letter from one of his T.C.B.S. reading club companions, Geoffrey Smith.

“My dear John Ronald,

My chief consolation is that if I am scuppered tonight – I am off on duty in a few minutes – there will still be left a member of the great T.C.B.S. to voice what I dreamed and what we all agreed upon.  For the death of one of its members cannot, I am determined, dissolve the T.C.B.S. Death can make us loathsome and helpless as individuals, but it cannot put an end to the immortal four!  A discovery I am going to communicate to Rob before I go off tonight.  And do you write it also to Christopher.  May God bless you my dear John Ronald, and may you say things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them, if such be my lot.

Yours ever,

Geoffrey B. Smith

Geoffrey Smith and Rob Gilson did not survive the war. Christopher Wiseman, who served in the navy, survived and remained a lifelong close friend.  J.R.R. Tolkien fulfilled his friend’s request to “say things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them.”

Today, as we remember those who have served in armed conflicts, may we live our lives to honour their legacy and live in a way that commemorates their sacrifice…

16 thoughts on “A Writer Lives On…

  1. Fascinating to read your post about Tolkein’s semi-secret reading club. Just re-reading Lord of the Rings at the moment and really looking forward to the new Hobbit movie.

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    • I am so glad that you stopped by for a visit. I am very much looking forward to the Hobbit – the cast looks exceptional. J.R.R. Tolkien is my favourite author ever since I was 15 (and that was many years ago). I did a little research on his life which made his writing even more relevant. I have often wondered what it would have been like to attend one of their club meetings…

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    • I accessed the link!!! “Christchurch’s own Nellie the cow could join the likes of Lassie, Flipper and Skippy when she makes an appearance in Peter Jackson’s upcoming blockbuster The Hobbit.” I will be on the lookout for Nellie when I see the movie. Thank you so much for the link – I would have never known the story behind the story. For in every narrative, there are many others that have given the breath of life to the one we that is told.

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  2. And me and my daughter loves his books. My daughter was so excited about the book of Tolkien – “Letters from Santa” !
    Your articles are very nice and delighted me every time.

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    • Thank you so much for reminding me of the Santa Letters!! With Christmas just a little over a month away, what a great way to celebrate the festive season. If I remember correctly there are about 23 or 24 letters. Tell you daughter that she has just given me a great tradition to add to our celebration…Your visits are very much appreciated…

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    • I find that quotes have a way of focusing my attention – I have them all over the house!!! Love those sticky notes…Thank you so much for stopping by – it is always a pleasure to hear your words.

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    • When I was doing some research a few years back, I found that it was C.S. Lewis that encouraged J.R.R. Tolkien to continue his work on Middle Earth. How I would have loved to attend one of those Inking get-togethers!

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  3. I am really touched by this text. In this context am thinking about the book burning rituals as less important but significant aspect of war destruction.

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    • I agree – war brings death in many ways, one being the end of knowledge and culture. There have been many libraries that have been destroyed over the centuries. Epang Palace (China), Library of Alexandria (Egypt) Library of Serapeum (Egypt), Library of Ctesiphon (Persia), Library of al-Hakam II (Cordoba) and the list goes on. We must continue to find peaceful solutions – it is a matter of great urgency.

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    • Another kindred spirit!! I am looking forward to “The Hobbit” movie coming out in the next couple of months. The movies are never quiet the books, but I always have fun… I am looking forward to following your blog…

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