129 years ago today, in Bloemfontein Africa, a very special person came into the world: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. Forty-five years later, in 1937, his book The Hobbit, was published which he had written for his children. Together with its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, it launched generations of readers on adventures through the invented world of Middle-earth; adventure that would impact many of us for the rest of our lives.
One of the greatest ways Tolkien has impacted many of our lives is through the friendships we’ve made from having read Tolkien’s books and/or watched Peter Jackson’s movies of the same. Tolkien himself made lifelong friendships as a result of his writing endeavors, sharing many a pint critiquing yet-unfinished works at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford with friends C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and others. Today, countless discussion forums, websites, and clubs carry on the tradition of those discussions, sharing ideas about Tolkien and his writings with like-minded fans and, yes, dear friends.
Today, TORn celebrates life of J.R.R. Tolkien and the inspiration and friendships he has given us. To express our thanks, we’re continuing our theme of the day of Tolkien quotes, this time with quotes having to do with friendship from The Lord of the Rings:
“I name you Elf-friend, and may the stars shine upon the end of your road”
– Gildor to Frodo (The Fellowship of the Ring: Three is Company)
“You can trust us to stick to you, through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”
– Merry to Frodo (The Fellowship of the Ring:A Conspiracy Unmasked)
“Though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador and Hurin, and Turin, and Beren himself were assembled together your seat should be among them.”
– Elrond to Frodo (The Fellowship of the Ring:The Council of Elrond)
“You will meet many foes, some open, and some disguised; and you may find friends along your way when you least look for it.”
– Elrond to the Fellowship (The Fellowship of the Ring:The Ring Goes South)
“Twice blessed is help unlooked for, and never was a meeting of friends so joyful.
– Eomer to Aragorn (The Return of the King:The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)
“I wish we could have a Stone that we could see all our friends in and that we could speak to them from far away.”
Here at TheOneRing.net, we thought we would open the New Year with some words of hope, inspiration, and wisdom from the Professor himself.
What follows is a little survey of TORn staffers, and some denizens from the Barliman’s chatroom, to find out which Tolkien quotes were favorites. At the end of the article, you will be asked to submit your own favorite words of Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes – The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and more.
So much of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is spent walking, riding ponies, in a boat or raft, or on a barrel; so there is a healthy number of quotes regarding travel, but these next two are more than that. They signal curiosity, wanderlust, optimism, and a sense of adventure – something Hobbits are not supposed to be interested in, but aren’t we all glad that a few of them are?
Tookish says he finds a perhaps not obvious optimism – one that faces adversity and the unknown with a steady resolve – here in Bilbo’s Walking Song:
“The Road goes ever on and on, Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.”
This writer is a Travel Advisor, and these two quotes have always epitomized what I best love about travel: the wonder of experiencing the unknown. This is exemplified in Frodo’s version of the same walking song, but heard at the end of the tale when the hobbits accompany Bilbo to the Grey Havens:
“Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate And though I oft have passed them by A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon and East of the Sun.”
Tolkien Quotes on Whimsy
Tolkien throws in a lot of whimsy in The Hobbit, and even in The Lord of the Rings, especially in the earlier parts of the story – almost as if he were trying to balance out some of the much more serious drama later in the book.
Asa Swain has always liked this little quote about Gandalf, even though it is not very profound – no matter how true the sentiment is:
“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Kristin Thompson, our resident Tolkien Scholar, likes the ever-popular ending to Bilbo Baggins’ birthday speech:
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
Tolkien Quotes on Wisdom
Dwyna says that she realizes that this isn’t a commonly referenced quote, but it speaks to her of how a person can become a hero by playing even a small part in a much larger story. What is started by one person isn’t always ended by the same … we are connected in a bigger tale.
Said by Gandalf during the Council of Elrond:
“But you know well enough now that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.”
And Kristin gives us another great Gandalf quote from later in the story; one that exemplifies not just wisdom, but a sense of responsibility:
“Unless the king should come again?” said Gandalf. “Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”
Mary Wessel Walker (Ent_Maiden from Barliman’s) suggested this discussion between Eomer and Aragorn, which she loves because it’s ‘words to live by’ that can be a helpful reminder in day-to-day life. She also says this was a very enjoyable passage in the book, because this is their first meeting and they get so deep so fast.
“Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’
‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
Rob Welch gives us a real gem from Faramir, in discussion with Sam and Frodo once they reach the Ranger stronghold. Here is what Rob has to say: “It is from The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 5 ‘The Window on the West’, spoken by Faramir. I love the line because … as a former police officer, and one who would serve again if I had to, I like the distinction Faramir draws between the necessity of the sword, and the love of it. I can use weapons, but I don’t love them … they are a tool to protect those I care about … whether those are personal, the people I was once sworn to serve, or just my fellow human beings and God’s children that might need me. It may be not a concept that is universally accepted, but I firmly believe that, just as Faramir noted in the passage, there are those who would devour in the world, and we need strong men and women who stand against that … and do for the right love.”
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom”
TORn staffer Elessar has this quote in his email signature:
“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”
Tolkien Quotes on Inspiration
Aaron LaSalle draws this quote directly from Tolkien’s letters:
“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”
Calisuri really likes Thorin’s quote at the end of The Hobbit, when he finally understands the value of a quiet life:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Caitlin O’Riordan says this Haldir quote has kept her going this year:
“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
Tolkien Quotes on Resolve
There seems to be a deeper theme to some of Tolkien’s words; not just hope or inspiration, but also a resolve to keep going, to stay committed to the mission and to each other.
Saystine’s favorite quote comes from Gimli, shortly before they depart from Rivendell. She has always liked it because she says, “Life is not always easy. There are struggles and hardships, but it takes commitment and faith that a better place lies beyond to get you through them all.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
Ashlee chose Sam’s speech in The Two Towers:
“Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. `And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo; adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into? ‘ `I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”
Suzanne, Ashlee and Calisuri all mentioned this next quote; and it is probably something our readers have been anticipating:
“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.”
Tolkien Quotes on Hope
Both Anne and Earl chose an important scene from near the end of the story. Anne says it is her favorite and has sustained her throughout this difficult year. Earl acknowledges that this year has been so incredibly difficult for so many, and his choice had to be about ‘light and high beauty’:
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”
Earl then follows up this scene with a song from Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol:
“Though here at journey’s end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun and Stars for ever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.”
Greendragon gives us a short little quote that encapsulates the Hope that Tolkien infused his stories with:
‘… despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’
Thorongil asks “How does one choose from so many great quotes? Not an easy task, we all love so many.”
He goes on to say, “Like Elessar, my favorite quote is Aragorn’s poem, ‘All that is gold does not glitter…’ Another is a quote from Legolas (that is fairly relatable to how many of us feel now) when he is chasing the Uruk Hai with Aragorn and Gimli”:
” …do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede is often found at the rising of the sun.”
And here is a final challenge to our readers from Thorongil:
“I can’t find them now, but there are a few times in the book that the change in wind is mentioned, and hope is renewed in most cases. My memory is really fuzzy here so please help … I think Legolas says it, Gandalf perhaps in Minas Tirith, or at the Black Gates when Frodo is about to cast the One Ring into Mt Doom, Aragorn arriving at Minas Tirith with the help of the South wind … When things are going bad in my real life it seems they continue to get worse until I feel a change in luck. To myself I always say I look forward to the dawning of a new day and hoping “the wind has changed” in my favor. I took that from Tolkien.”
So, find this post on our Facebook Page and see if you can list the quotes about the Wind being associated with a change in luck or in mood; we may even take a few and add them to this post for future readers. Most of the quotes listed here come from The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, but feel free to draw from other sources, including Tolkien’s Letters.
Feel free to join TORn staffers and readers at one of our two Zoom Tolkien Toasts later on today. See our Tolkien Birthday Toast post for zoom times and links.
May the Professor’s words be a light to you in dark places!
As we prepare to hang up our stockings on Christmas Eve, hoping for a visit from a certain gentleman dressed in red, let’s take a closer look at a wonderful, festive book for Tolkien fans of all ages.
Released in time for the 2020 holiday season, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has followed the path of its British cousin Harper Collins in publishing a striking new edition of the Letters from Father Christmas. Hitting the American market in late October, this oversized hardback beauty boasts 208 pages of colorful Christmas chronicles first designed to enchant Tolkien’s growing family with seasonal tales from the North Pole. This is the first three-digit milestone for the Tolkien corpus: as a “Centenary Edition”, the publication date marks the 100th anniversary of the first letter from Father Christmas reaching three-year old John Frances Reuel Tolkien in December 1920. These letters would continue over the next 23 years, welcoming Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla into the society of Father Christmas, the Great (Polar) Bear and his two sidekick nephews, Paksu and Valkotukka, and an elvish secretary, as they cope with everything from goblins to general clumsiness.
This latest (and more affordable) edition, like the slipcase “Deluxe Edition” published in 2019 by Harper Collins, contains transcriptions and facsimile pictures of the entire collection of “F.C.” letters, along with their assorted envelopes and stamps so characteristic of Tolkien’s meticulous attention to detail. It also includes an introduction from the book’s editor and Tolkien’s daughter-in-law, Baillie Tolkien, who married Christopher in 1967. Also included is a personal note from the Professor himself, reproduced for the first time.
Tolkien likely began these letters as a whimsical family flourish, designed to make Christmastime a bit more magical for his children. But as with most of his projects, the tale grew in the telling. The letters began with a simple note of less than 100 words to his firstborn, accompanied by an iconic Father Christmas “self-portrait” and picture of his house.
Over the years, these evolved into occasional notes to each of his children, much lengthier epistles, occasional poetry, a more extensive cast of recurring characters, and assorted annual calamities to be overcome: from a plumbing disaster, to a broken North Pole, to reindeer on the loose, to an unexpected visit from the Man in the Moon. Occasionally, there is even a faint early echo from Middle-earth, with the appearance of elven aid “Ilbereth”, a single vowel away from his more famous star-kindling forebear; extensive new languages and calligraphy for multiple races, and a great (polar) bear fighting off goblin hordes in ways that would make Beorn proud.
The art of The Father Christmas Letters proves to be the most engaging element of the books, including meticulous hand drawn stamps and envelope decorations, spidery handwriting in Tolkien’s favorite black and red mix (nearly illegible in some cases), and above all the host of water color illustrations that surely captivated the imagination and speculation of Ronald and Edith’s young family, even as they continue to do for us (especially for any who have had a chance to see some of the originals under glass at recent exhibitions in Oxford, New York, or Paris).
This combination of text and illustration is a likely contributor to the Letters’ complicated publishing history. They first appeared three years after Tolkien’s death with a greatly abridged 1976 edition that focuses on pictures (not always reproduced in their complete form), partial texts, and only token reproductions of the original and elaborate written and decorated letters.
Even in this premier edition, there are hints from Baillee Tolkien that we were only getting a sampling of a richer treasure. Further editions followed, largely keeping to a similarly abridged approach.
It was not until 1993 that Tolkien scholars began to appreciate the full extent and complexity of what was still missing from the Father Christmas saga; and inquiring minds wanted to know more.
The first response was a delightful new edition published by Houghton Mifflin in 1995, introducing a novel approach: ten letters enclosed in actual envelopes, sprinkled with recaps and illustration highlights. While still not exhaustive, this latest installment began to recreate some of the delight of actually receiving and opening these annual updates. The book also included three previously unpublished pictures.
Finally, in 1999, we received a new “revised and enlarged” version, with the complete set of more than 30 letters and all of Tolkien’s pictures, some with a lesser quality color reproduction. For the truly deep-pocketed, there was also an opportunity to add to their Easton Press library of well-bound leather books. These were particularly fine editions for those who love distractingly enlarged details as page decorations.
Now that the complete set of letters was finally available to the public, we could enter the era of anniversary editions. The first on the scene came after five more years, in 2004, with fewer pages and illustrations, but at least fewer marginal distractions. The 2009 edition – or 10th anniversary of the complete set – proved that the 1999 version was only mostly complete, adding several omitted pages from letters in 1937 and 1941. An updated version of the same edition in 2012 provided 39 new images covering all but a few pages of the actual letters, and much improved reproductions.
For the truly dedicated enthusiast, the upgraded Collector’s Edition of the Bodleian’s exhibit catalogue, Tolkien, Maker of Middle-earth, includes a facsimile version of the Christmas 1936 letter and its accompanying explanatory picture.
Tolkien’s family tradition ended on a bittersweet note in a 1943 letter (“a grim year”) to a 14-year-old Priscilla. Father Christmas muses, “After this I shall have to say ‘goodbye’, more or less: I mean, I shall not forget you. We always keep the old numbers of our old friends, and their letters; and later we hope to come back when they are grown up and have houses of their own and children.” The 2020 Centenary Edition ofThe Father Christmas Letters offers just that kind of opportunity: to reminisce, to return, to find great hope and cheer in small things, and to consider how we might pass this joy to future generations. Merry Christmas!
Editor Note: Throughout the month, and as part of our Tolkien Advent Calendar celebration, we are featuring news and resources for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, his worlds and works. Today’s official advent calendar is below!
The Amazon production of its Middle-Earth stories has been ongoing, but now we are in a time when the arrival of information from them concerning this production is accelerating.
The One Ring staff has been fans of J.R.R. Tolkien for quite some time, and it has always seen its core mission to be defined by its tagline: “By and For the Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien.” This site tries to do many things in support of this mission: support and celebrate fandom and fan activities – from costuming, to open invite events, to the line parties during the films, to group re-reads of Tolkien’s works, to so much more. However, this site has been humbly privileged to not only be supported by fans of Tolkien, but to be given access to many people involved in the production of adaptations of Tolkien’s work. The One Ring takes this gift of access seriously, and wants to do what’s best by the fans to make the most of this access, and to represent the best interests of the fans to these productions, so that the best possible adaptations of Tolkien’s work are made.
A few things have become clear to the staff of The One Ring (TORn) over the twenty years of its existence – time spent discussing and dissecting 6 major films, a handful of stage productions, multiple audio recordings, collectible figurines, and so much more. TORn has learned that what matters most is this:
“The more an adaptation sticks to the spirit and the motivation behind Tolkien’s work, the more successful it becomes, in both the short and long term, in both critical reception, and financial return.”
Over the years, TORn has learned an important lesson: if we, as fans, wish to have any influence over adaptations, we need to follow two important rules: first, we try to avoid quibbling over tiny details, and second, we gladly support the assignment of production staff, both in front of and behind the camera.
So, in terms of offering any constructive critique (pro or con), The One Ring will focus on trying to influence the productions to stay fidelitous to Tolkien’s spirit. For example, those who adapt Tolkien’s work would do well to read his letter #246 in “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien” to understand some of Tolkien’s subtle thoughts concerning the concept of ‘both intent and actions have consequences.’
As it concerns details of scripting and plot, TORn recognizes that adaptations will need to modify the story in various ways. While everyone will have their opinions on each and every detail, TORn realizes that changes need to be made, and the director and production company need to have freedom in telling the story. Without some degree of freedom, the best people will simply be uninterested in adapting a work. Therefore, while TORn will report on non-spoiling plot details that it becomes aware of, TORn commentary will be focused on, as stated above, encouraging production companies to stay true to the core spirit of Tolkien’s work. This is why, a few months ago, TORn pushed hard against even the possibility of gratuitous sexuality in adaptations.
As it concerns casting and the assignment of production staff, what TORn has seen, time and again, is that there is incredible initial fan reaction for or against newly named cast members, but that all the support or angst over an acting choice disappears once the adaptation is released. To quote a far better author than I, all of that angst is ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ Therefore, at this point, TORn almost universally celebrates the announcement of new cast and production staff, and wants to use whatever influence it has with them to encourage them to create performances that are fidelitous to the spirit of Tolkien’s work.
For some examples of this ‘unfounded sound and fury’ go back twenty years and consider how people were asking “Who is Ian McKellen? Can he play a convincing Gandalf?” “Who is Viggo Mortensen?” Can he carry 3 films as the action hero lead?” “Why is Elijah Wood – and isn’t he too young to play Frodo?” “Do we really want Rudy as Samwise Gamgee?” “Who is Miranda Otto? Can she play a convincing Eowyn?” My goodness; what time has taught us!
Again, one point is crucial so it bears repeating: TORn celebrates – universally – when staff is added to a production – both cast and crew. TORn does this because it has found that celebrating and supporting them encourages them in ways large and small to put in their best work – and to take more seriously comments TORn may make on choices that impact the core spirit of Tolkien’s work (as the staff of TORn best understands it.) TORn does this because it wants the best possible adaptations of Tolkien’s work to be released, so it focuses on what is most important.
Again, TORn has found that almost every debate about cast choice dies down once an adaptation is released, and then, it’s all about the strength of the performance of that cast, as individuals and as an ensemble. This is not just seen in casting of Tolkien-based productions, as shown in the examples above, but in every production, everywhere. For example, there was quite a bit of debate concerning the diversity of the original cast of ‘Hamilton’ – until it was released to pretty much universal acclaim.
Why does TORn focus on fidelity to the spirit of Tolkien? Why does it work to not get sidelined by other issues? To paraphrase a line from the Jackson adaptation of The Lord of the Rings…
“There was some good in the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien that motivated him to create his imaginary world in just the way he did. And it’s worth fighting for.”
Editor Note: Join TheOneRing.net as we focus on the recent cast member announcements for Amazon TV’s The Lord of the Rings inspired TV series. Throughout the month, and as part of our Tolkien Advent Calendar celebration, we will posting articles and cast profiles, as well as some other fun, all relating that to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Back in 2017 I shared my collection with all of you fellow Ringers. Over the course of the last three years I have had many of you asking, “how’s my collection?” or “will you show an update of how things are looking?” So I decided that I would start this summer off with a video that shows how my collection is going. I hope you all enjoy a look at where my collection is right now, and I appreciate the time you take to watch it.
It has come to light on the Tolkien Collector’s Guide that Harper Collins and Houghton Mifflin have plans to publish a new book titled The Nature of Middle-earth in 2021 containing previously unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The book has been edited by Tolkien expert Carl F. Hostetter who heads the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship. The materials on which the book is based were sent to Hostetter in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien, before his passing, for potential publication.
The details were first released in a catalogue for the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2019. The description, excerpted from the catalogue (page 64), follows.
The first ever publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s final writings on Middle-earth, covering a wide-range of subjects, and the perfect next read for those who have enjoyed Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle-earth series and are hungry for more.
The Nature of Middle-earth will comprise numerous late (c. 1959-73) and previously unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien on the “nature” of Middle-earth, in both chief senses of that word: both metaphysical and natural/historical.
For Tolkien fans, readers, and scholars interested in learning more about Tolkien’s own views on Middle-earth. It will appeal in particular to those readers who enjoyed Unfinished Tales, and some of the later volumes of the History of Middle-earth. Indeed, many of the texts to be included are closely associated with materials published in those places, and were sent to Hostetter, specifically, in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien for potential publication.
Much as Unfinished Tales forms an unofficial thirteenth volume of the History of Middle-earth, this new book will sit very nicely alongside as an unofficial 14th volume. Of particular note, given the impending Amazon series, are several texts detailing the lands, flora, and fauna of Númenor, and the lives of Númenóreans.
Harper Collins Publishers, Frankfurt BookFair 2019, Fiction Translation Rights