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RIP Christopher Tolkien
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Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 17, 6:58pm

Post #51 of 76 (1196 views)
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Thank you Clay. [In reply to] Can't Post

You've added more nuggets to our understanding of Christopher. What a marvellous experience it must have been for you, to be working at Houghton Mifflin during that heady time of the LOTR movies.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


(This post was edited by Ataahua on Jan 17, 9:59pm)


balbo biggins
Rohan


Jan 17, 7:50pm

Post #52 of 76 (1180 views)
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What would he have thought! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's sad to think that at the end of his life he had to suffer the stress of the amazon deal and an upcoming TV series that would be letting any old Tom Dick or Harry write stories in a world that he had spent a lifetime protecting.

He must have detested those plastic mini epic figurines!


squire
Half-elven


Jan 17, 8:00pm

Post #53 of 76 (1185 views)
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What a tale [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for that fascinating story of working on the Tolkien books during Christopher's latter years. I can't imagine what it was like, as you say, to correspond with him on the minutiae of his editorship.

I've always had a pet theory about The Children of Hurin, the only stand-alone fully realized work of fiction by Tolkien to be released after The Silmarillion thirty years earlier. I imagined it was Christopher's strategic volley against the recently-released films, giving new fans from the films and old fans from the original LotR book something new by J.R.R. Tolkien to ... READ.

I'm not sure it worked, but it was his best shot, as that tale was the one with the most complete manuscript in JRRT's 'mature' style, that he had tried to reapply to his earlier Silmarilion stories in the years after completing LotR. Sadly the Beren and Gondolin books, the other two of the three 'Great Tales', had never received a similarly full rewrite and had to be put out in the less reader-friendly mini-HoME format.

I remain in awe of Christopher's energy and output in the last two decades of his long life. Completing History of Middle-earth should have been his retirement party, but he pushed on into his nineties to publish the remaining scholarly works and the Great Tales, one way or another. I've always thought it was, at least partly, his horror of the film and associated media phenomena that drove him to soldier on at that point.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Jan 17, 8:09pm

Post #54 of 76 (1177 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

For all your efforts, and for sharing your experiences with Mr. Tolkien. What a fascinating picture begins to form from what you've said here.
A unique personality--and exactly the one needed for the task.



Former Steward
The Shire

Jan 17, 8:37pm

Post #55 of 76 (1167 views)
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modest contact [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the kind words. Others who have been known to chime in here a time or two had far more extensive working contact with Christopher than I did, and I certainly don't intend to make any grandiose claims. I only wanted to mark the end of an Age with a community who knows this is an important milestone, and recall fondly my modest contact with Christopher. And also recall just as fondly the occasional gentle reprimand received over a half-baked notion on my part.

Perhaps more first-hand remembrances will be forthcoming....


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 18, 2:01am

Post #56 of 76 (1113 views)
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Thank you, Clay [In reply to] Can't Post

for sharing those reminiscences and thus adding details to the tapestry. What a precious gift to have had that interaction with Christopher Tolkien.


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jan 18, 5:41am

Post #57 of 76 (1107 views)
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Condolences to the family [In reply to] Can't Post

... and to us all.


Noria
Gondor

Jan 18, 1:53pm

Post #58 of 76 (1049 views)
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Sad - and grateful [In reply to] Can't Post

Christopher Tolkien's was a long and well-lived life but this is still sad news. Condolences to the Tolkien family.

I'm forever grateful to CT for what he gave us, particularly The Silmarillion.


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 18, 5:22pm

Post #59 of 76 (1034 views)
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Yes indeed [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I got a glimpse of the man's sharp wit as well as his profound intelligence.... he seemed to suffer this fool prattling on enthusiastically


That's what I will remember,: his wit, his intellect, and above all his kindness. (As well as extraordinary skill at saying "no" politely and without giving the least offense.)

I suppose now I can lift my embargo at least to the extent of his very first letter to me, since it says nothing private, copyrighted or indeed that isn't common knowledge.



Quote
c/o George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
40 Museum Street
London WC1A 1LU
England.

15 August 1975

Dear Master Hicklin,

Thankyou for your letter. I must reply to your
questions very briefly, but I hope you will find the answers
adequate. I cannot tell you precisely when The Silmarillion
will be published, but I think certainly not before 1977, and
I very much hope by 1978. You ask when it was begun, and
that is a very difficult question; in a sense, it occupied
my father all his life, and much of the myth and legend that
it contains were in being before even the Hobbit was written.
A full life of my father is being written which will tell you
a good deal about it, and that will be published, I hope,
before long.
You also ask about the geography of the Elder Days.
The Silmarillion has very little to say about the lands of
Middle-earth west [sic] of Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains. Its
narrative is concerned with the Elves in Aman (the land of
the Valar in the West, over the Great Sea) and in Beleriand.
the region of Middle-earth between the shores of the Sea and
the Blue Mountains. Almost all this region was drowned,
and all that was left in later times was the country of Lindon,
which is marked on the Lord of the Rings map west of the Blue
Mountains. Thus Gondolin, Nargothrond and Thangorodrim
were in regions that had long since passed under the sea at
the time of the War of the Rings.
The Silmarillion will contain a map of the whole of
Beleriand, extending from the shores of the Sea in the west,
to Thangorodrim in the North, and to the Ered Luin in the east.
The book will also contain some texts other than the Silmarillion
proper, such as The Akallabêth, the Drowning of Númenor.

Yours sincerely,

[calligraphic signature done with a square nib]


There is nothing remarkable about this at all, except for one thing: he wrote it. Notwithstanding his immense literary labours, and the fact that (as he told me long after) he was in fact packing house for the move to France at the time, he nonetheless took the time to sit down and type up specific answers to the importunate questions of an American 13-year-old.

Do you have any idea how few other authors would bother?


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 18, 7:49pm

Post #60 of 76 (1003 views)
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I once wrote to Anne McCaffrey when I was a young teen [In reply to] Can't Post

and I was disappointed to get a mass-produced postcard in reply with a couple of generic sentences on it. Even then, I understood why - she was immensely popular and god knows how many gushing letters she received from fans - but still, part of me was let down by the lack of genuine connection.

Your letter from Christopher, however, was a gift. He shows such generosity of time and thought. Smile

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 18, 9:37pm

Post #61 of 76 (987 views)
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That was indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

remarkably kind. To have taken the time to write a comprehensive and quite lengthy response to your specific questions says much about the man, all the more so as it was at a period when he was even busier than usual.

I write personal replies to all the letters (emails these days) I receive from readers, but mine generally only run into a few hundreds per annum, not thousands/tens of thousands/even more.


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Morthoron
Gondor


Jan 19, 12:56am

Post #62 of 76 (959 views)
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Thanks for sharing, WCH.... [In reply to] Can't Post

The closest contact I ever got to CJRT was finding a pristine first edition of The Silmarillion (leather-bound Presentation Copy, dated September 15, 1977). Never had the inclination or fortitude to write him directly. Bravo to your 13 year-old self!

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Silmaril
Rohan


Jan 19, 11:33am

Post #63 of 76 (893 views)
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Thank you Christopher [In reply to] Can't Post

Loved the HoME and everything else.
RIP


sador
Half-elven


Jan 19, 3:14pm

Post #64 of 76 (882 views)
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'It's a gift!' he said. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
...He was referring to his art, and also to the result; but he was using the word quite literally.
He went on looking at the Tree. All the leaves he had ever labored at were there, as he had imagined them rather than as he had made them; and there were others that had only budded in is mind, and many that might have budded, if only he had time. Nothing was written on them, they were just exquisite leaves, yet they were dated as clear as a calendar. Some of the most beautiful – and the most characteristic, the most perfect examples of the Niggle style – were seen to have been produced in collaboration with Mr Parish: there was no other way of putting it.



Thank you, Christopher
For the gift you gave your father, and all of us.

Thinking about things I don't understand


Mari D.
Rivendell


Jan 19, 4:41pm

Post #65 of 76 (868 views)
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I knew this would be coming at some point, but ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... still, I was sad when I read about it. It took me one or two days to let the understanding sink in ... so nice it was to know that I was living on the same planet as this wonderful elderly gentleman. It is sad to know that now, that is no longer the case. But even as he moved on, my gratitude and appreciation lingers.

I am grateful that Mr. Christopher Tolkien reached such a ripe old age, with his mindpower undiminished and in seemingly relatively good health. Living with his wife, having trees or a garden around the house/appartment. I would have wished him no less, how beautiful that he was granted all this.

Also, I am grateful that not his lifespan, but his conscious decision it was that made him lay down his pen after many years of making more of his father's work accessible to us. How diligently and humbly he worked and "finished the race".

I trust he is now in a beautiful place and joined his father there. I, as many others, will keep him in fond memory.


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Jan 19, 4:43pm

Post #66 of 76 (862 views)
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Perfect. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you.



Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 19, 4:50pm

Post #67 of 76 (861 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

"But Finrod walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees in Eldamar."


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 20, 2:02pm

Post #68 of 76 (752 views)
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Wow [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not normally a fan boy, but just to have a personal letter from one of the two Tolkien great writers would leave me starry-eyed for days. You are so lucky to get a reply, indeed.


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 20, 3:51pm

Post #69 of 76 (744 views)
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Condolences [In reply to] Can't Post

My sympathy and love go out to the Tolkien family and everyone here who cared about Christopher. This is a terrible and sad loss.

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf (movie quote)


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 20, 5:56pm

Post #70 of 76 (728 views)
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Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I'm not normally a fan boy, but just to have a personal letter from one of the two Tolkien great writers would leave me starry-eyed for days. You are so lucky to get a reply, indeed.


...but it isn't about me, it's about Christopher, as an example of his generosity.


mushroom
Registered User

Jan 21, 8:43pm

Post #71 of 76 (629 views)
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CJRT obituary [In reply to] Can't Post

- Le Monde news Monday 20th (Tweet by Vincent Ferré)

https://twitter.com/vincentmferre/status/1219254931238150144?s=21


Christopher Tolkien obituary,

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/20/christopher-tolkien-obituary


- Var Matin news Tuesday 21th

CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN, THE HEIR OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS, WAS INCINERATED IN THE VAR

....

Thus, this noon at the Vidauban crematorium, the presence of parents and close friends was only accepted. The family through their Aix lawyer having said that "In accordance with the wishes of the deceased and his family, the funeral will take place in the strictest privacy".

Alongside his widow Baillie, the couple's two children, Adam and Rachel, who both live in the Marseilles area, were of course present to salute the memory of the kneaded patriarch of Heroic Fantasy.

The latter, a native of Leeds had therefore decided, unlike his father buried in Oxford, to find eternal peace in the Var region. Confirming his attachment to a French territory to which this naturalized British had passed "the ring on his finger" by marrying nationality for a long time.

https://www.varmatin.com/people/christopher-tolkien-lheritier-du-seigneur-des-anneaux-a-ete-incinere-dans-le-var-450340

RIP Sir Christopher [heart]
Attachments: 45CA5B23-26B5-42F4-93F5-F605BC40B1A1.jpeg (32.0 KB)


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 21, 11:08pm

Post #72 of 76 (619 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

The Guardian obit was written by John Garth, which was appropriate.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jan 22, 6:04pm

Post #73 of 76 (560 views)
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That's an eye-opener and no mistake! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for sharing that. I knew you had corresponded with Christopher (after all, he thanks you in one of the volumes of HoMe) but I did not know that your correspondence went back that far.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


kzer_za
Lorien

Jan 23, 10:32pm

Post #74 of 76 (496 views)
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As I said elsewhere, we can be very thankful we got someone of Christopher's integrity and discipline [In reply to] Can't Post

When we look at Dune and how Frank Herbert's son Brian has handled the legacy, we can see how differently it could have gone.

In partnership with Kevin J. Anderson, Brian Herbert has written thirteen prequels, sequels, and interquels so far (there are only six original Dune novels by Frank! With a likely seventh planned). All this is allegedly "based on his father's notes", which no one has seen and might never be released - whatever is in them, we can be sure he's added quite a lot of his own ideas.

The contrast with Christopher's very restrained and conservative approach is stark. The 1977 Silmarillion is the most "creative" he ever got.


(This post was edited by kzer_za on Jan 23, 10:32pm)


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 24, 12:22am

Post #75 of 76 (486 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When we look at Dune and how Frank Herbert's son Brian has handled the legacy, we can see how differently it could have gone.

In partnership with Kevin J. Anderson, Brian Herbert has written thirteen prequels, sequels, and interquels so far (there are only six original Dune novels by Frank! With a likely seventh planned). All this is allegedly "based on his father's notes", which no one has seen and might never be released - whatever is in them, we can be sure he's added quite a lot of his own ideas.

The contrast with Christopher's very restrained and conservative approach is stark. The 1977 Silmarillion is the most "creative" he ever got.


Yes. Compare also Audrey "Seuss" Geisel and her "milk the cash cow for all it's worth" splurge, after Ted had spent his life resisting exploitation

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