The power of III

Summum ius summa iniuria--More law, less justice

19 February 2011

CS Lewis' Review of "The Fellowship of the Ring" by JRR Tolkien

Actually, I came across this quote while reading Breitbart, an article in Big Hollywood section called: "Sanity and Sanctity: The ennobling fantasies of JRR Tolkien Part I"

CS Lewis is the author of The seven volume Chronicles of Narnia (emphasis added in quote below):

"[The Fellowship of the Ring] is like lightning from a clear sky. . . To say that in it heroic romance, gorgeous, eloquent, and unashamed, has suddenly returned at a period almost pathological in its anti-romanticism, is inadequate. . . Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart. . . .
It is sane and vigilant invention, revealing at point after point the integration of the author’s mind. . . Anguish is, for me, almost the prevailing note. But not, as in the literature most typical of our age, the anguish of abnormal or contorted souls; rather that anguish of those who were happy before a certain darkness came up and will be happy if they live to see it gone. . . . But with the anguish comes also a strange exaltation. . . when we have finished, we return to our own life not relaxed but fortified….
Even now I have left out almost everything — the silvan leafiness, the passions, the high virtues, the remote horizons. Even if I had space I could hardly convey them. And after all the most obvious appeal of the book is perhaps also its deepest: “there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark, but great valour, and great deeds that were not wholly vain.” Not wholly vain — it is the cool middle point between illusion and disillusionment."

Hurin, wearing the Dragon helm of Dor-Lomin

I posted this here for a few reasons:
1. I love Tolkien and CS Lewis, and find their works "ennobling", inspiring, and spiritually uplifting.
2. I celebrate individual works of great achievment:  Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Silmarillion constitute one man's "lifeblood" -- the sum total of a massive synthesis of imagination and scholarship sustained and created over (literally) 60 years of effort.  His books: The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, the Return of the King, and The Silmarillion are the most impressive work of fiction of which I am aware (includes Frank Herbert's Dune; I'm sure you can think of others).  
He succeeded in what he consciously set out to do: 
“set myself a task, the arrogance of which I fully recognized and trembled at: being precisely to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own.”
He started writing the original tales or notes for tales in the trenches of France during the First World War, and the Silmarillion was published in 1977, four years after his death.
Tolkien in 1916

3.  There have been setbacks and ups and downs in the patriot blogosphere of late.  
One very big up is the excellent job that David Codrea and Mike Vanderbeogh have done on the Project Gunwalker scandal.  
On the other hand, some posts lately have spoken of burnout or frustration at our apparent lack of numbers, or the apparent futility of our efforts.
What Tolkien described in his works about the end of the Third Age of Middle-Earth applies to our era as well:
“there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark, but great valour, and great deeds that were not wholly vain.”
Somehow, I feel that the efforts of the patriot blogosphere are like what Lewis said of the quests and efforts of the heroes of the Tolkien story: 
"Not wholly vain -- it is the cool middle point between illusion and disillusionment."

The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion are not for everyone.  Conventional reading of a book of that size page by page is daunting.
The best way to both get through the books and to understand and visualize the story is to listen to the unabridged audiobook.  I cannot recommend the book or the unabridged audio version highly enough.

1 comment:

  1. I thought that this was a very entertaining book. I found myself wanting to reach the next page. However, the book is very grim and is full of surprises that leave you distraught. The book is written so well that you can feel the sadness that is happening and it adds greatly to the effect it has on you. Also, there is a lot of action in the book. Time and time again Turin is faced with a new enemy. When this happened I became eager to find out how the battle turns out because in the book you never know when it can take a turn for the worse. At times I found the book hard to read because of the numerous names and places that were so unfamiliar. If you get confused to the extent that you can no longer understand the story anymore, there are pages in the back of the book where you can find answers. I think this is a great read and extremely interesting. I would recommend this to people without hesitation.