Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

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TolkienJRR
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Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by TolkienJRR »

“If you really want to know what middle earth is based on, it’s my wonder and delight in the earth as is, particularity the natural earth.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

I am 99.9% sure I read it in his letters. Does anyone know which one?
“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
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Voronwë the Faithful
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I don't believe that there is any such quote in the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. And Tolkien would certainly have written "Middle-earth" not "middle earth".
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
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TolkienJRR
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by TolkienJRR »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote:I don't believe that there is any such quote in the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. And Tolkien would certainly have written "Middle-earth" not "middle earth".
Yes, that was my own copy mistake I had taken down long ago. I might have copied it from Carpenters' bio. But perhaps not.
“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
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Voronwë the Faithful
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

In any event, I don't believe that there is any such quote in Letters. The closest I can think of (which is not actually from a letter but from notes that Tolkien wrote for himself on Auden's review of The Return of the King included in the book as "Letter" 183) is the following:
I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century and still in use) of midden-erd > middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikoumenē, the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by the enchantment of distance in time.
But that is not all that similar to your quote.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
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TolkienJRR
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by TolkienJRR »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote:In any event, I don't believe that there is any such quote in Letters. The closest I can think of (which is not actually from a letter but from notes that Tolkien wrote for himself on Auden's review of The Return of the King included in the book as "Letter" 183) is the following:
I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century and still in use) of midden-erd > middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikoumenē, the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by the enchantment of distance in time.
But that is not all that similar to your quote.
No it is not. Thanks for having a look. I might have to try digging in again.
“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by scirocco »

TolkienJRR wrote:I am 99.9% sure I read it in his letters. Does anyone know which one?
It's definitely not in Letters (not even in the extended version of Letter 131 to Milton Waldman that was only recently published in Hammond and Scull's "LOTR Reader's Companion".)

As someone has already replied to you in another forum, it first seems to have surfaced in a NY Times obituary (linked below). However looking at the other "quotes" supposedly attributed to Tolkien in that obituary I would not trust it (the obituary) as far as I could throw it. (Read the bit about Hans Christian Anderson which casts what Tolkien actually said into modern, hip wording. This was 1973, remember, surprising they didn't go as far as having JRRT saying "I knew he was always getting at me, man"). :)

Maybe it was something said in an interview - certainly the language is more informal than anything Tolkien would have written, even in a letter.

And yet, even though the quote sounds rather like a cobbled-together pastiche of what someone might have thought Tolkien might have said, there is just enough in there to be credible. The "wonder and delight" phrase is genuine Tolkien. JRRT uses it when describing the framework of the "Tale of Arda" (the overall big picture Legendarium we might say.) (Described in Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion).

And this information would not have been available to the obituary author at the time of writing. To be fair, Tolkien does use "wonder and delight" in LOTR in other contexts a couple of times, so it could have been borrowed from there, if it was borrowed at all.

https://movies2.nytimes.com/books/01/02 ... -obit.html
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by N.E. Brigand »

It appears, based on a review in the Washington Post, that John Garth cites this quote in his recent book, The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. I don't have that book, but Garth is always very good with his sourcing and may provide more information.
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

John cites the quote on page 12. It is from the interview that Henry Resnick did with Tolkien on March 21966, though it was printed in Niekas 18 in Spring of 1967, and can be read here.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
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TolkienJRR
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by TolkienJRR »

Thanks for all the help guys.
“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
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Re: Looking for Source on a Tolkien Quote

Post by narya »

Thanks for digging up that delightful interview, so we can hear the Professor in his own voice, so to speak. He sounded a little irked about the whole thing.

"T. I don't mind it, as long as it doesn't become obsessive. It doesn't obsess me." :rofl:
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus
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