jrr tolkien

Tolkien and writing

This is really, really good writing advice.



One of the things that’s really struck me while rereading the Lord of the Rings–knowing much more about Tolkien than I did the last time I read it–is how individual a story it is.

We tend to think of it as a genre story now, I think–because it’s so good, and so unprecedented, that Tolkien accidentally inspired a whole new fantasy culture, which is kind of hilarious. Wanting to “write like Tolkien,” I think, is generally seen as “writing an Epic Fantasy Universe with invented races and geography and history and languages, world-saving quests and dragons and kings.” But… But…

Here’s the thing. I don’t think those elements are at all what make The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings so good. Because I’m realizing, as I did not realize when I was a kid, that Tolkien didn’t use those elements because they’re somehow inherently better than other things. He…

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Frodo undertook his quest out of love – to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that. I do not myself see that the breaking of his mind and will under demonic pressure under torment was any more a moral failure than the breaking of his body would have been – say, by being strangled by Gollum, or crushed by a falling rock.
That appears to have been the judgement of Gandalf and Aragorn and of all who learned the full story of his journey. Certainly nothing would have been concealed by Frodo! But what Frodo himself felt about the events is quite another matter.

“The Letters of JRR Tolkien, letter #246 (September 1963)

so, more or less, no power in the world can convince me he wasn’t a bloody hero. said it ten years ago, sayin’ again now.

(via numenna)

jrr tolkien: i really love my wife. i will make her into a beautiful, unearthly half-angel princess who beat satan almost single-handedly and won an argument with the keeper of the halls of the dead
jrr tolkien: i really love my best friend. i will make him into a grumpy old tree who never gets to the point

[via daisyachain]


… he claimed to be genuinely surprised when, in March 1956, he received a letter from one Sam Gamgee, who had heard that his name was in The Lord of the Rings but had not read the book. Tolkien replied on March 18:

Dear Mr. Gamgee,

It was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort, I hope, that the ‘Sam Gamgee’ of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic. So that perhaps you will not be displeased at the coincidence of the name of this imaginary character of supposedly many centuries ago being the same as yours.

― The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Letter 184

He proceeded to send Mr Gamgee a signed copy of all three volumes of the book. However, the incident sparked a nagging worry in Tolkien’s mind, as he recorded in his journal:

For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed ’S. Gollum’. That would have been more difficult to deal with.“― J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography



but Tolkien draws such cute dragons, omg



and look at this guy, I guess he’s supposed to be ferocious but it looks more like “whoa man chill out, I’m just saying that those shoes with that helmet was maybe not the greatest fashion decision, just a little friendly advice, no need to get defensive.”




I want this one to live in my pocket and be my sassy talking dragon sidekick


SO SMILEY!! “gonna go terrorize some helpless villagers aw yiss”


but my favorite is this little doodle here


just look at him


Tolkien Is Not Amused




Can Tolkien write a movie now or….

What I would give for Tolkien to meet Peter Jackson and just be like “Oh hey lemme explain you a thing”

No, guys, this is fantastic because it actually happened. From a letter Tolkien wrote to a friend, complaining about a proposed movie adaptation:

Here I may say that I fail to see why the time-scheme should be deliberately contracted. It is already rather packed in the original, the main action occurring between Sept. 22 and March 25 of the following year. The many impossibilities and absurdities which further hurrying produces might, I suppose, be unobserved by an uncritical viewer; but I do not see why they should be unnecessarily introduced. Time must naturally be left vaguer in a picture than in a book; but I cannot see why definite time-statements, contrary to the book and to probability, should be made. 

Seasons are carefully regarded in the original. They are pictorial, and should be, and easily could be, made the main means by which the artists indicate time-passage. The main action begins in autumn and passes through winter to a brilliant spring: this is basic to the purport and tone of the tale. The contraction of time and space in 2 destroys that. His arrangements would, for instance, land us in a snowstorm while summer was still in. The Lord of the Rings may be a ‘fairy-story’, but it takes place in the Northern hemisphere of this earth: miles are miles, days are days, and weather is weather. 

Strider does not ‘Whip out a sword’ in the book. Naturally not: his sword was broken. (Its elvish light is another false anticipation of the reforged Anduril. Anticipation is one of Z’s chief faults.) Why then make him do so here, in a contest that was explicitly not fought with weapons? 

Why has my account been entirely rewritten here, with disregard for the rest of the tale? I can see that there are certain difficulties in representing a dark scene; but they are not insuperable. A scene of gloom lit by a small red fire, with the Wraiths slowly approaching as darker shadows – until the moment when Frodo puts on the Ring, and the King steps forward revealed – would seem to me far more impressive than yet one more scene of screams and rather meaningless slashings.…. 

Rivendell was not ‘a shimmering forest’. This is an unhappy anticination of Lórien (which it in no way resembled). It could not be seen from Weathertop : it was 200 miles away and hidden in a ravine. I can see no pictorial or story-making gain in needlessly contracting the geography. 

Time is again contracted and hurried, with the effect of reducing the importance of the Quest. Gandalf does not say they will leave as soon as they can pack! Two months elapse. There is no need to say anything with a time-purport. The lapse of time should be indicated, if by no more than the change to winter in the scenery and trees. 

The Balrog never speaks or makes any vocal sound at all. Above all he does not laugh or sneer. …. Z may think that he knows more about Balrogs than I do, but he cannot expect me to agree with him. 

A splendid sight. It is the home of Galadriel… an Elvenqueen.’ (She is not in fact one.) ‘Delicate spires and tiny minarets of Elven-color are cleverly woven into a beautiful[ly] designed castle.’ I think this deplorable in itself, and in places impertinent. Will Z please pay my text some respect, at least in descriptions that are obviously central to the general tone and style of the book! I will in no circumstances accept this treatment of Lórien, even if Z personally prefers ‘tiny’ fairies and the gimcrack of conventional modern fairy-tales.

Z has cut out the end of the book, including Saruman’s proper death. In that case I can see no good reason for making him die. Saruman would never have committed suicide: to cling to life to its basest dregs is the way of the son of person he had become. If Z wants Saruman tidied up (I cannot see why, where so many threads are left loose) Gandalf should say something to this effect: as Saruman collapses under the excommunication: ‘Since you will not come out and aid us, here in Orthanc you shall stay till you rot, Saruman. Let the Ents look to it!’ 

Pan III…. is totally unacceptable to me, as a whole and in detail. If it is meant as notes only for a section of something like the pictorial length of I and II, then in the filling out it must be brought into relation with the book, and its gross alterations of that corrected. If it is meant to represent only a kind of short finale, then all I can say is : The Lord of the Rings cannot be garbled like that. 

I do earnestly hope that in the assignment of actual speeches to the characters they will be represented as I have presented them: in style and sentiment. I should resent perversion of the characters (and do resent it, so far as it appears in this sketch) even more than the spoiling of the plot and scenery. 

– excerpts from Tolkien getting angry over “the film treatment” of Lord of the Rings, Letters, Letter 210, June 1958



So when my dad was twelve, he was really into Lord of the Rings, and wrote Tolkien a five-page letter entirely in Dwarven Runes.

My parents believe (probably correctly) that this is the only item they own that my brother and I are going to fight over.

Every now and then I like to brag about it.

someone just liked and it showed up on my dash again, so let’s bring back a casual reminder that I am a legit nerd with an impressive pedigree




real talk why do so many fantasy universes think giant spiders are necessary

The sad part is there’s a decent chance a large proportion of them can be blamed on one spider.

The tarantula that bit JRR Tolkien as a child.

He swore he didn’t have a spider phobia and the experience had nothing to do with the man-eating giant spiders in The Hobbit, the even more giant and even more man-eating spider in Lord of the Rings, or the unholy eldritch spider from outside creation that plunged the world into darkness and made literal Satan scream like a little kid in the Silmarillion. Very few people believe him.

Given LotR’s influence in the fantasy genre, there is a high probability that tarantula is the progenitor of even more fictional spiders than Ungoliant was.

wow fuck that one tarantula