Human stories are practically always about one thing, really, aren't they? Death. The inevitability of death. . .. . . (quoting an obituary) 'There is no such thing as a natural death. Nothing that ever happens to man is natural, since his presence calls the whole world into question. All men must die, but for every man his death is an accident, and even if he knows it he would sense to it an unjustifiable violation.' Well, you may agree with the words or not, but those are the key spring of The Lord Of The Rings
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower 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.
He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either: he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day's madness here in a poisoned world. We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.
Aw, fudge,' floated down to me, as a couple of golden eyes peered over a third-floor window ledge. 'You're a freaking dhampir. Why are you reading Tolkien?'I shrugged, then had to dodge the potted geranium he threw at me. 'After five hundred years, you've read just about everything. Besides, he had hella world-building skills.
I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
Tolkien, who created this marvellous vehicle, doesn't go anywhere in it. He just sits where he is. What I mean by that is that he always seems to be looking backwards, to a greater and more golden past; and what's more he doesn't allow girls or women any important part in the story at all. Life is bigger and more interesting than The Lord of the Rings thinks it is.
The cry that 'fantasy is escapist' compared to the novel is only an echo of the older cry that novels are 'escapist' compared with biography, and to both cries one should make the same answer: that freedom to invent outweighs loyalty to mere happenstance, the accidents of history; and good readers should know how to filter a general applicability from a particular story.
But, said Lewis, myths are lies, even though lies breathed through silver.No, said Tolkien, they are not....just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.You mean, asked Lewis, that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, he said, I begin to understand.
He did not go much further, but sat down on the cold floor and gave himself up to complete miserableness, for a long while. He thought of himself frying bacon and eggs in his own kitchen at home - for he could feel inside that it was high time for some meal or other; but that only made him miserabler.
Gandalf never had this kind of problem. He had exactly this problem, actually, standing in front of the hidden Dwarf door to Moria. Remember when . . . I sighed. Sometimes my inner monologue annoys even me. Edro, edro, I muttered. Open. I rubbed at the bridge of my nose and ventured, Mellon. Nothing happened. The wards stayed. I guessed the Corpsetaker had never read Tolkien. Tasteless bitch.
Under the Mountain dark and tallThe King has come unto his hall!His foe is dead,the Worm of Dread,And ever so his foes shall fall.The sword is sharp, the spear is long,The arrow swift, the Gate is strong;The heart is bold that looks on gold;The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong.The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,While hammers fells like ringing bellsIn places deep, where dark things sleep,In hollow halls beneath the fells.-from The Hobbit (Dwarves Battle Song)
As a lord was heldfor the strength of his body and stoutness of heart.Much lore he learned, and loved wisdombut fortune followed him in few desires;oft wrong and awry what he wrought turned;what he loved he lost, what he longed for he won not;and full friendship he found not easily,nor was lightly loved for his looks were sad.He was gloom-hearted, and glad seldomfor the sundering sorrow that filled his youth...(On Turin Turambar - The Children of Hurin)
Goodbye, master, my dear! Forgive your Sam. He'll come back to this spot when the job's done - if he manages it. And then he'll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good bye!
But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow in the waters that was soon lost in the West. There he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-Earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart.