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Tolkien: the importance of remembrance and a happy birthday

Happy birthday Professor Tolkien!

HAPPY BIERTHDAY JRR TOLKIEN - On Tolkien’s birthday I like to remember him as the artist he was, but also as the man he was. I want to honour the memory he passed on through his stories that never happened.

What an unfortunate thing that I posted a quote by Tolkien just the other day. Or maybe, what a lucky event, so I now need to commemorate him in a different way.

Last April, as I was searching the net for short biographies of artists from the German Expressionism, I came across a channel on Youtube that offered short biographies. It had an entire series dedicated to artists who took part in WWI. I was looking for Otto Dix, but I discovered this clip about Tolkien too.

I haven’t been involved with WWI long at this point, but it has quickly become a favourite subject of mine, strange as it might seem. I had avoided the two WWs for the longest of time, thinking they weren’t really the subject for me, since I prefer social history. But Weimar forced me to look into WWI and I will always consider it a good turn of events. WWI is quite a forgotten war, and we often don’t realise how much of who we are comes from it. It was such a pivoting time.

Arts were greatly affected by it too. We often don’t realise how many artists took part in WWI and how much that experience shaped their art.
This is true also for Tolkien, whose generation saw not one, but two World Wars. As I read deeper into his different writings, but especially his stories, I can sense that early experience everywhere, even if often it is disguised. And I think that was a very common attitude in people who were in the war. They wanted to forget, but they also needed to remember and – I suppose – to pass on what they lived and felt and suffered, maybe in the hope that it would not happen again.
Tolkien said once that all stories are about death. I think that his stories are mostly about war, and so about death, but also about life.

On Tolkien’s birthday I like to remember him as the artist he was, but also as the man he was. I want to honour the memory he passed on through his stories that never happened.

9 Comments

  • Margot Kinberg
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 13:41

    What a lovely tribute, Sarah! Tolkein was such a brilliant observer, so it’s little wonder that the war experience (and many other experiences, too!) are reflected in his work.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted January 3, 2019 at 20:04

      That’s very true. He had an observant, analytic mind, which is what made him such a great storyteller and fantasist.

  • Steven Malone
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 16:55

    Excellent post. I was introduced to Tolkien when starting college. For the first time I found the real meaning of loyalty, true courage, and the definition of friendship. His books have been at my side ever since.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted January 3, 2019 at 20:06

      I’m always so envious of those who had the opportunity to study Tolkien at school. I mean, didn’t that make you re-evalute what you thought of school? 😉

      • Steven Malone
        Posted January 3, 2019 at 21:58

        School and about everything else in the universe.

  • Roland R Clarke
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 21:03

    Informative and emotional post on my favourite writer, who I discovered while studying early English literature. Tolkien achieved so much with his fertile mind. WW1 was a tragic disaster that claimed so many that would have achieved so much. They should not be forgotten.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted January 5, 2019 at 09:08

      He had an inquisitive mind and a compassionate heart. That’s why his stories still speak to us nearly one hundred years later.

  • J Lenni Dorner
    Posted January 7, 2019 at 03:56

    Excellent post.
    I heard a debate in November about if his name is said “Toll – Kin” or “Toll – Keen” (a thing you pay and a relative / or / a thing you pay and another word for interesting). Any idea?

    Hope you are having a great New Year!
    Sign-ups for the First Annual #AtoZChallenge Book Reviews, Tour, and Blog Hop are open. Check the A to Z blog for details.

    – J, Team Captain of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge
    ~Celebrating our TENTH anniversary in April 2019~

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted January 8, 2019 at 16:38

      Hi Lenni and Happy New Year!!!
      Well, I think the correct pronounciation is “Toll – Kin”, because the name is of German origin.

      I’ve seen the announcement for the #AtoZChallange Book Review. I hope soon I will be able to take part with my own AtoZ-generated book 😉

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