Vã oferim un fragment din lucrarea „Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien”, editatã de Humphrey Carpenter, mai exact primele 5 scrisori în ordinea din carte.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

letters-tolkienA selection edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of the fabulous Middle-earth as recorded in his masterpieces The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, was one of the most prolific letter writers of this century. Over the years he wrote to his publishers, his family, his friends (including C.S. Lewis, W.H. Auden and Naomi Mitchison) and to fans of his books. The letters present a fascinating and highly detailed portrait of the man in many of his aspects: as storyteller, scholar, Catholic, parent and observer of the world around him. In addition, the book will entertain anyone who appreciates the art of letter-writing, of which Tolkien was a master.

1. To Edith Bratt

[Tolkien became engaged to Edith Bratt, whom he had met during his adolescence in Birmingham, in January 1913, when he was twenty-one. The following letter was written during his final year as an undergraduate at Oxford, when he was studying English Language & Literature, and at the same time was drilling in the University Officers’ Training Corps as a preparation for joining the army.]

[Not dated; October 1914] Exeter College, Oxford

My Edith darling:

Yes I was rather surprised by your card of Sat. morning and rather sorry because I knew my letter would have to wander after you. You do write splendid letters to me, little one; I am such a pig to you though. It seems age[s] since I wrote. I have had a busy (and very wet!) week end.

Friday was completely uneventful and Sat too though we had a drill all afternoon and got soaked several times and our rifles got all filthy and took ages to clean afterwards.

I spent most of the rest of those days indoors reading: I had an essay, as I told you, but I didn’t get it finished as Shakespeare came up and then (Lieutenant) Thompson [1] (very healthy and well in his new uniform) and prevented me doing work on the Sabbath, as I had proposed to do….. I went to St Aloysius for High Mass – and I rather enjoyed it – it is such ages since I heard one for Fr. F. [2] wouldn’t let me go when I was at the Oratory last week.

I had to pay a duty call to the Rector [3] in the afternoon which was very boring. His wife really is appalling! I got away as soon as possible and fled back in the rain to my books. Then I went and saw Mr Sisam [4] and told him I could not finish my essay till Wed: and stayed and talked with him for some time, then I went and had an interesting talk with that quaint man Earp [5] I have told you of and introduced him (to his great delight) to the ‘Kälevalā’ the Finnish ballads.

Amongst other work I am trying to turn one of the stories – which is really a very great story and most tragic – into a short story somewhat on the lines of Morns’ romances with chunks of poetry in between… [6]

I have got to go to the college library now and get filthy amongst dusty books – and then hang about and see the Bursar…..

R. [7]

2. From a letter to Edith Bratt, 27 November 1914

I did about 4 hrs. [work] 9.20-1 or so in the morning: drilled all afternoon went to a lecture 5-6 and after dinner (with a man called Earp) had to go to a meeting of the Essay Club – an informal kind of last gasp [?]. There was a bad paper but an interesting discussion. It was also composition meeting and I read ‘Earendel’ which was well criticised. [1]

3. From a letter to Edith Bratt, 26 November 1915

[After graduating at Oxford with a First Class in English, Tolkien was commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers. This letter was written from Rugeley Camp in Staffordshire, where he was training. Meanwhile he was working on a poem, ‘Kortirion among the Trees’, suggested by Warwick, where Edith Bratt was living. The poem describes a ‘fading town upon a little hill’, where ‘linger yet the Lonely Companies …. The holy fairies and immortal elves.’ For ‘the T.C.B.S.’ see no. 5.]

The usual kind of morning standing about and freezing and then trotting to get warmer so as to freeze again. We ended up by an hour’s bomb-throwing with dummies. Lunch and a freezing afternoon. All the hot days of summer we doubled about at full speed and perspiration, and now we stand in icy groups in the open being talked at! Tea and another scramble -I fought for a place at the stove and made a piece of toast on the end of a knife: what days! I have written out a pencil copy of ‘Kortirion’. I hope you won’t mind my sending it to the T.C.B.S. 1 want to send them something: I owe them all long letters. I will start on a careful ink copy for little you now and send it tomorrow night, as I don’t think I shall get more than one copy typed (it is so long). No on second thoughts I am sending you the pencil copy (which is very neat) and shall keep the T.C.B.S. waiting till I can make another.

4. From a letter to Edith Bratt, 2 March 1916

This miserable drizzling afternoon I have been reading up old military lecture-notes again:— and getting bored with them after an hour and a half. I have done some touches to my nonsense fairy language – to its improvement. [1]

I often long to work at it and don’t let myself ‘cause though I love it so it does seem such a mad hobby!

5. To G. B. Smith

[While they were at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, in 1911, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith and ChristopherWiseman, formed themselves into an unofficial and semi-secret society which they called ‘the T.C.B.S.’, initials standing for ‘Tea Club and Barrovian Society’, an allusion to their fondness for having tea in the school library, illicitly, and in Barrow’s Stores near the school. Since leaving King Edward’s, the T.C.B.S. had kept in close touch with each other, and in December 1914 had held a ‘Council’ at Wiseman’s London home, following which Tolkien had begun to devote much energy to writing poetry -the result, he believed, of the shared ideals and mutual encouragement of the T.C.B.S. Wiseman was now serving in the Navy, Gilson and Smith were sent out to the Somme, and Tolkien arrived on that battlefield, as Battalion Signalling Officer to the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers, just as the Allied offensive of 1 July was beginning. On that day, Rob Gilson was killed in action, but news of his death did not reach the other members of the T.C.B.S. for some weeks. Geoffrey Smith sent Tolkien a note about it, and later passed him a letter from Christopher Wiseman.]

12 August 1916
11th, Lancashire Fusiliers, B.E.F., France

My dear old Geoffrey,

Thank you indeed for Christopher’s letter. I have thought much of things since – most of them incommunicable thoughts until God brings us together again if it be only for a space.

I don’t agree with Chris – although of course he does not say much. I agree most heartily of course with the part you underlined – but strangely enough not in the least now with the part I marked and commented. I went out into the wood – we are out in camp again from our second bout of trenches still in the same old area as when I saw you -last night and also the night before and sat and thought.

I cannot get away from the conclusion that it is wrong to confound the greatness which Rob has won with the greatness which he himself doubted. He himself will know that I am only being perfectly sincere and I am in no way unfaithful to my love for him – which I only realise now, more and more daily, that he has gone from the four – when I say that I now believe that if the greatness which we three certainly meant (and meant as more than holiness or nobility alone) is really the lot of the TCBS, then the death of any of its members is but a bitter winnowing of those who were not meant to be great – at least directly. God grant that this does not sound arrogant – I feel humbler enough in truth and immeasurably weaker and poorer now. The greatness I meant was that of a great instrument in God’s hands — a mover, a doer, even an achiever of great things, a beginner at the very least of large things.

The greatness which Rob has found is in no way smaller — for the greatness I meant and tremblingly hoped for as ours is valueless unless steeped with the same holiness of courage suffering and sacrifice – but is of a different kind. His greatness is in other words now a personal matter with us – of a kind to make us keep July 1 st as a special day for all the years God may grant to any of us – but only touches the TCBS on that precise side which perhaps – it is possible – was the only one that Rob really felt – ‘Friendship to the Nth power’. What I meant, and thought Chris meant, and am almost sure you meant, was that the TCBS had been granted some spark of fire – certainly as a body if not singly -that was destined to kindle a new light, or, what is the same thing, rekindle an old light in the world; that the TCBS was destined to testify for God and Truth in a more direct way even than by laying down its several lives in this war (which is for all the evil of our own side with large view good against evil).

So far my chief impression is that something has gone crack. I feel just the same to both of you – nearer if anything and very much in need of you -1 am hungry and lonely of course – but I don’t feel a member of a little complete body now. I honestly feel that the TCBS has ended – but I am not at all sure that it is not an unreliable feeling that will vanish – like magic perhaps when wecome together again. Still I feel a mere individual at present – with intense feelings more than ideas but very powerless.

Of course the TCBS may have been all we dreamt – and its work in the end be done by three or two or one survivor and the part of the others be trusted by God to that of the inspiration which we do know we all got and get from one another. To this I now pin my hopes, and pray God that the people chosen to carry on the TCBS may be no fewer than we three. …

I do however dread and grieve about it – apart from my own personal longings – because I cannot abandon yet the hope and ambitions (inchoate and cloudy I know) that first became conscious at the Council of London. That Council was as you know followed in my own case with my finding a voice for all kinds of pent up things and a tremendous opening up of everything for me:— I have always laid that to the credit of the inspiration that even a few hours with the four always brought to all of us.

There you are -I have sat solemnly down and tried to tell you drily just what I think. I have made it sound very cold and distant – and if it is incoherent that is due to its being written at different sittings amongst the noise of a very boring Company mess.

Send it on to Chris if you think it worth while. I do not know what is to be our move next or what is in store. Rumour is as busy as the universal weariness of all this war allows it to be. I wish I could know where you are. I make a guess of course.
I could write a huge letter but I have lots of jobs on. The Bde. Sig. Offr. is after me for a confabulation, and I have two rows 10 have with the QM and a detestable 6.30 parade – 6.30 pm of a sunny Sabbath.

Write to me when you get the ghost of a chance.

John Ronald.



1. [1]. A Shakespeare and L. L. H. Thompson of Exeter College. [2]. Father Francis Morgan (1857—1934) of the Birmingham Oratory, the Catholic priest who became Tolkien’s guardian after the death of his mother in 1904. [3]. L. R. Farnell, Rector (i.e. head) of Exeter College, 1913-28. [4]. Kenneth Sisam (1887-1971), who in 1914 was a research student and assistant to Professor A. S. Napier. He acted as Tolkien’s tutor; see no. 318. [5]. Thomas Wade Earp, then an undergraduate at Exeter College; he later became known as a writer on modern painters. See no. 83 for Tolkien’s reference to him as T. W. Earp, the original twerp’; since Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang records the first use of ‘twerp’ as circa 1910, it is possible that Earp’s name and initials may have given rise to the word. Earp was one of the editors of Oxford Poetry 1915, in which one of Tolkien’s first published poems, ‘Goblin Feet’, was printed. [6]. Tolkien’s reworking of one of the Kalevala stories, ‘The Story of Kullervo’, was never finished, but proved to be the germ of the story of Turin Turambar in The Silmarillion. For Tolkien’s account of this, see no. 163. [7]. Tolkien usually signed his letters to Edith Bran ‘Ronald’ or ‘R.’, though he sometimes used his first Christian name, John.

2. [1]. Tolkien wrote a poem entitled ‘The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star’ in September 1914. The first stanza is quoted in Biography p. 71.

4. [1]. Apparently a reference to an early form of the Elvish language Quenya, first invented by Tolkien probably during undergraduate days. For an example of a stanza written in it, and dated ‘November 1915, March 1916’, see Biography p. 76.