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Friday, 31 January 2020

The Lord Of The Rings

My battered and very old copy I'm reluctant to open.

I was eighteen when I first read The Lord of the Rings and I haven’t read it since. I rarely read books twice, but in this case I was/am scared about somehow tarnishing the memory. It coincided with a time and place, a period of great happiness in my life, and the entire story left behind a sense of something hard to define, a colour in the mind, a glamour of the magical kind.  And I’m afraid a re-reading might wash it away.

I was reminded of this when my wife was given a beautiful Christmas present from our son, 

which in turn prompted her to read the three books. One evening she looked up and remarked on how good-hearted and noble most of the characters were. 
I wondered then whether Tolkien was idealising an aspect of his own culture, one that was fading but nevertheless there. His period was not perfect but as in all things there is both darkness and light.

This particular anecdote from Tolkien’s life illustrates the point, in terms of nobility, generosity and endeavour.

Tolkien received a fan letter from a young girl called Rosalind Ramage who had just read The Hobbit. He may have remembered the name, I don’t know, but he wrote back and included a poem dedicated to her. Rosalind, was in fact the daughter of a former Oxford porter. The porter, James Ramage, then a single man, had volunteered to take on all the Christmas shifts for those porters who had families. Hearing of this act of kindness, Tolkien cycled down to the College with a bottle of wine for the then unknown porter and found him earnestly studying for admission into the University.

James Ramage went on to study English at Balliol between 1951-1954 and was a teacher at the Cathedral School in Wells, Somerset when his daughter wrote the letter.  Jude The Obscure with a happy ending, you might say, and certainly a character you could envisage in Lord of the Rings.


Maria Zannini said...

I think of all the times Greg worked holidays for the other men at his plant so they could be with their families. I think we'd been married more than 15 years before we ever spent a holiday together.

For us, the holiday was whenever we were together. The actual day didn't matter.

PS Happy Brexit Day. You'll have to explain all about that to us when we see you.

Mike Keyton said...

And now you are enjoying a perpetual holiday in that the work you own and enjoy and you are together. Long may it last. Ref Brexit, it's the nearest thing to the English Civil War but without muskets and swords. It has split families, both sides convinced that God's on their side :)