A Toast to the Professor

 

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Every year on January 3rd, Tolkien fans from around the world are invited to raise a glass and toast the birthday of this beloved author at 21:00 (9 pm) local time.

The Tolkien Tree
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Black Pine

J.R.R. Tolkien lost his mother at an early age.  Friendships were to be a steadying influence throughout his life.  He was a member of the famous Inklings, a literary society that included among the notables, C.S. Lewis and his elder brother Warren Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and Tolkien’s son, Christopher.  There was an earlier society, The T.C.B.S. (Tea Club, Barrovian Society) named after their meeting place at the Barrow Stores.  The T.C.B.S. members continued to correspond closely, exchanging and critiquing each other’s literary work until 1916.  WWI took a toll on this band of brothers.  Two of J.R.R. Tolkien’s friends, Robert Gilson and Geoffrey Smith, were not destined to outlive the war.  In Geoffrey Smith’s last letter to J.R.R. Tolkien, the message was prophetic:  “Yes, publish… You I am sure are chosen, like Saul among the Children of Israel. Make haste, before you come out to this orgy of death cruelty… May God bless you, John Ronald, and may you say the things I have tried to say long after I am not here to say them, if such is my lot.”

In his writings, J.R.R. Tolkien celebrated and acknowledged the great deeds that were done in the name of friendship. He made good on his promise to his much-loved friend, Geoffrey Smith.

 

20 Comments

    1. Clanmother

      What precious memories! I read LOTR when I was 15. I reread them with my son when he was about 12 as a way to have him read aloud. He would read one page and I would take the next. There is something about speaking words that add significance. LOTR is an embodiment of Joseph Campbell’s a Hero’s Journey. Facing darkness without hope of survival. But it deals with a great many themes that speak to the narrative of humanity: friendships, forgiveness, power, death and immortality, father and sons, war, loss and farewell, nature versus technology and the list goes on. For me, the most significant was his thoughts on euthanasia, which is dealt with in the appendix that deals with what happened next.

      J.R.R. Tolkien enjoyed writing long descriptive passages that could have been reduced, however no one would dare edit the grand gentleman. I have the book of his letters which give insight into his thoughts. His friendship with C.S. Lewis was a pivotal point in both men’s lives: LOTR and Narnia. Ah, would it not be amazing to be a fly on the wall when they were sharing a pint. Thanks for stopping by, Letizia.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ms Frances

    Thank you for this post. I thought I knew a lot about the Inklings but I have learned more from this post! I like the photos of the tree made famous by Tolkein. I understand it no longer stands so brave and strong. Photos are important to remember things like this. I toasted our friend with thousands of others at 9 last night!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz

    Ah, the Maestro! A fitting tribute, Becky, thank you. We have a fansastc dramatised audio version of LOTR to which I am planning to listen through the year – happy days are those spent with riches like this! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      Oh!!! That sounds wonderful, Liz! There is something about settling into a comfortable chair, closing our eyes, and letting the voices come across the room. The oral traditions are still alive and well in our modern age. I think I will join you. I agree – “happy days are those spent with riches like this.”

      Liked by 1 person

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