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Hope and Tolkien’s Activism. A Tribute on His Brithday

Happy Birthday, Prof Tolkien!
Today it’s JRR Tolkien’s 129th birthday. What a beautiful age!

I’ve been on a journey with Tolkien for three years now. I’ve read pages from his work almost every day, but never like this year it gave comfort. 

Tolkien’s work is deeply about Hope, and still, it is seldom consolatory. He tells us about Hope as a powerful feeling, but it is so only if we act upon it. ‘Hoping’ isn’t a passive experience in Tolkien’s stories. People hope, therefore they act. 
Tolkien’s activism is one of the themes I love the most about his stories. Doesn’t matter what happens to you, doesn’t matter what kind of odds are against you, doesn’t matter how dire the situation – doesn’t matter how powerless you feel, the possibility of acting is always available, by choosing. Our choices are our actions, and by choosing and acting, we live our life. 

"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 for ever beyond its reach." JRR Tolkien
"In the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach." #JRRTolkien Share on X

By mere chance, I was reading The Return of the King last March, when we went through our lockdown here in Italy. The chapter of the Siege of Gondor touched me surprisingly deep. Never before had I felt that sense of entrapment, the suffocating sensation of immobility. The characters were enclosed in the city, with the prospect of war and enemies gathering in front of their gates. There was nowhere to run. Stay and stand was one of the many possible choices, and that was the one the story encouraged to take. 
I thought then, that while I was going through my lockdown, Tolkien probably remembered his experience in the trenches. He too was trapped, then, he too had the choice to despair or to stand. 

That simple experience of reading the chapter that he wrote, in such different circumstances, and still so similar, has bonded me to him and his work more than ever. And somehow it inspired me. 
Tolkien always encourages us to act. Things may change, so acting is important. Besides, if we act, we will probably cause a change. There is no action without Hope. But Hope dies if action doesn’t follow. 
And we don’t have to be heroes to action upon Hope. The smallest choice makes us warriors. 

Tolkien reminded me that. It made a small but important difference for me.

Happy Birthday, Prof. Tolkien! 3rd anuary 2021, Tolkien 129th birthday.


  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted January 3, 2021 at 15:03

    Tolkein was an extraordinary writer. He created a completely different reality, and even more than one language! Some memorable characters, too. I’m glad you’ve been spending time with his work.

    • Post Author
      Posted January 3, 2021 at 15:40

      In the last few years, and especially in the last one, Tolkien has truly be an inspiration for me. I’ve alwasy been a fan, since I was a teeneger, but I feel that his work has given me so much more in this last few years.

  • Lillian
    Posted January 6, 2021 at 03:23

    What a lovely tribute to a truly stellar writer. I’m so glad to know you’re hanging on, holding on to hope. Happy New Year!

    • Post Author
      Posted January 6, 2021 at 19:41

      Hi Lillian. Happy New Year to you too. How lovely to see you here!
      One thing I really need to know is reconnecting with all my blogging friends. 2020 was crazy in so many ways, but we need to take control again! ;-)

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