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Old 09-09-2004, 03:34 AM   #1
davem
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New Tolkien Letter discovered

Courtesy ofTORN, so I can't claim the discovery rights to the story http://icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk/e...l&siteid=50081

What interests me, though is the comment in the letter:

Quote:
In the letter Tolkien talks about the core of his tale, but adds: "I could not explain how the story grew in anything less than an autobiography."
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Old 09-09-2004, 03:57 AM   #2
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Nice find, davem.

It seems to me that, by this comment, Tolkien is saying that he could only fully explain how LotR developed in his own autobiography, given that it took up such a large part of his life and that his experiences during that time were integral to its development (I suspect that its the latter point that interests you, davem ).

Only Ł1,000 to Ł2,000? Bargain! Although I had understood that most of the letters that have been complied and published were donated. Still, it would be interesting to see it.

Hmm, I must start watching Antiques Roadshow again.
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Old 09-09-2004, 06:54 AM   #3
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I saw that too. I wonder whether it will be published once it is purchased?

(Come on, people. Some things are beyond price.)
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Old 09-09-2004, 08:02 AM   #4
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Boots To market, to market

Indeed, davem, thanks for that link.

Oh, how quotations tantalise, especially when divorced from context! What disheartens me, though, is this:

Quote:
Ms Merryis said: "We have a magical letter about Tolkien's feelings on the plot, that a collector would die for. We're talking at least Ł1,000 possibly Ł2,000."
Not knowing the Antiques Roadshow, I have little idea what kind of subject and interest that show generates, but the buying and selling of authors' letters and signatures is a sorry story in the history of Belles Lettres. I would have thought that, if the letter has been legitimately validated, it would at least be announced if not advertised through more traditional avenues of the book trade.

If anyone is interested in a story of the shady business of collecting authors' letters, check out A. S. Byatt's romance Possession, which might also interest Tolkien readers for its depiction of a Victorian poet interested in fairies (a hot topic for the Victorians) and a "Christianising of Norse myth." With a hero called Roland, it can't miss. Byatt is a child of the sixties' fervour for Tolkien.

I know, I know. getting sidetracked. But all in all, this reminds us that the Letters we have from Carpenter are incomplete and were subject to principles of selection determined by family members. What I want to read is that diary.
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Old 09-09-2004, 11:28 AM   #5
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The Antiques Roadshow is a programme where local members of the public take their treasures to show to experts (usually held in a historic building). They aren't automatically going to sell them. It is not "Flog It" where people are encouraged to sell off thier heirlooms to blow on a trip to Las Vegas.
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Old 09-09-2004, 01:20 PM   #6
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Boots

Quote:
They aren't automatically going to sell them.
Well, they always say that they are giving the value for insurance purposes. But you can often see the owner's face light up (or drop, depending on the amount) when they are told the value ...
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Old 09-09-2004, 03:08 PM   #7
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I was going to mention 'Possession', too, indeed, that was a lovely book...
So this letter will reveal whether or not there could have been a different ending and why...among other things of course...What if it contains a stunning revelation that would make us look at Middle Earth in a different way?
Oh dear, the agony of it... *bites knuckles*
All that we have to do now is dispatch one of us as a representative of the Barrow Downs on a hunt to get that item.
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Old 09-09-2004, 08:22 PM   #8
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There's a diary???
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Old 09-10-2004, 12:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark12_30
There's a diary???
Indeed, he started a diary on New Year's Day, 1919. It was started in english, but he would randomly change languages (invented) throughout. Which makes reading it difficult, apparently. He started writing it right about the middle of the time when he was writing "The Book of Lost Tales" (FoG, especially). It is assumed to include quite some information regarding such writings, he continued it for quite some time, and it was analyzed by Christopher for HoME and by Carpenter in writing his biography.
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Old 09-10-2004, 10:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Well, they always say that they are giving the value for insurance purposes. But you can often see the owner's face light up (or drop, depending on the amount) when they are told the value ...
True but you also see people genuinely torn when they find out that something they have loved for years is so valuable that they can't justify keeping it ... or it will cause family squabbles. I mean it turned out that the item I chose as a memento from my grandmother's house was worth Ł150 pounds and the one my sister chose was worth Ł4000. I wasn't bothered because I still prefer my choice and wouldn't sell it.... but if it had been the other way around..... well my sibling miffed is not a pretty sight

Unfortunately the only letter I from a famous person I have an interest in is from Florence Nightingale, which I would be quite happy to pass to the relevant archive rather than sell because I think it belongs where it can be accessed by all those interested. But it is easy for me to say that, because I am NOT interested. If it were a letter from Tolkien... I have a horrid feeling I might become as possessive as Gollum with the ring. "Mine... my precioussssssssssssss"
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Old 09-11-2004, 09:25 PM   #11
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I am a haunter of e-bay. One of the things that constantly surprises me is how often "new" Tolkien letters turn up there. They are generally advertised by what looks like reputable dealers in rare books. Pictures are usually given of the letters and often you can read/print out the text (which I often do).

Most of the letters are brief replies, but once or twice I have seen something where the professor actually commented on something. I can remember one where he discussed that he had become "tired" of hobbits and didn't intend to write anything more of that type.

How can you tell if these missives are real? I suppose you would have to inquire into their provenance and know something about authenticating signatures. Since all of these letters go for a great deal more than I could afford, I have never inquired further. Yet it does make me wonder: if these examples turn up regularly on e-bay, how much more is in private hands that we know nothing about -- people's attics as well as dealers' inventory.
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Old 09-12-2004, 12:17 AM   #12
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Well, I think the only letters we have in the published collection are ones which Tolkien kept the copies of his replies for, or ones he began but didn't send, so one could assume that he possibly sent many more than we have.

Anyone in the UK who's interested in seeing the letter can watch the Antiques Roadshow tonight, which apparently contains the incident.
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Old 09-12-2004, 11:08 AM   #13
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I would think it quite likely that there are many letter out there given that Tolkien was a child of the letter writing age - yes there was a time when the post was a reliable and swift form of communication! Many people do routinely keep letters and many more would keep one from someone of significance. Of course it doesn't follow that many of these letters would have any great significance but I am sure many people would like such a personal thing as a handwritten letter even if it were querying a gas bill!
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Old 09-12-2004, 12:45 PM   #14
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Not everybody who takes something to Antiques Roadshow is going to sell it. When the show (the US version) came to where I live, my family took a quilt we have that was made for my great grandmother when she was born, but we had no intention of selling it, even if it turned out to be very valuable. We were just curious to see what sort of thing we owned.
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:29 PM   #15
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Well the episode of Antiques Roadshow has just aired. It was a difficult job, but having taped it & looked at it frame by frame, I could make out a good part of the first side of the letter. It was accompanied by a typed slip, which contains an apology for the delay in sending it - from the address it seems he wrote it on July 26th, but didn’t post it till Sept 22nd(!)

On the slip there seems to be a reference to his ‘niggling’ - & he even tells the recipient about his story Leaf by Niggle ‘published in the Dublin Review of Jan 1945.

The letter seems to be the original of the one to Miss J Burn (no 191) of which we only have a draft in the book.

The address is (illegible - to me - word)
Quote:
I don’t know what city(?)! Found in a pile - 22 Sept 1956
July 26th 1956

Dear Miss Burn

Thankyou for your most kind & appreciative letter. I have not been able to answer before as I have been away. I could not explain how the story grew in anyhing less tahn autobiography.

As for Frodo’s failure - it was absolute & complete & inevitable. If you reconsider all that is said about the Ring you will see that it was simply impossible that he should voluntarily surrender or resolve to damage it let alone destroy it at the last.

That his Quest was ‘humanly speaking’ altogether vain & doomed to disaster.. quite apart from the pysical dangers & obstacles...really apparent from the beginning.The good cause was in fact saved by pity & forgiveness...(something) against all (evidence? endurance?) Gandalf foresaw this - see vol 1 pp 68-69
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Old 02-01-2005, 03:42 PM   #16
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Resurecting this thread because of this:
http://www.leski.com.au/news/20041221/tolkien.htm.

This is another Tolkien letter, up for sale at auction.

The most interesting thing in it are the lines (if I read them right) on side two :http://www.leski.com.au/news/20041221/116912a.jpg

Quote:
But I hope the ending will not seem unworthy. I have not myself any doubt that things went just so but that does not say that my attempt to record them has been successful.
Tolkien is speaking of LotR here. I wonder how serious he was.....
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Old 02-02-2005, 02:59 PM   #17
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Doesn't it say in the History of LOTR volumes of HoME that after a certain point Tolkien felt that he was writing down what had happened rather than "controlling" it.... of course this doesn't mean necessarily he seriously regarded it as actual history rather it could be that having got the situation and charaters to a certain stage of development there was an inevitability about how events would unfold...

Thenks for the link Davem
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:44 AM   #18
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Wow very good find!

Very interesting too
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