Former Archbishop of Canterbury on Tolkien as a warning against fascism

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It’s a shame that the real life Tolkien supported Franco’s fascists winning the Spanish Civil war.


Well, Tolkien was a very obsessed English Catholic, and much of the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War was against the power of the Church as progressive movements generally are. And there were a few actual killing of priests and nuns, although not as many as per Franco’s propaganda.


Gormenghast is a better allegory for the times, and more fun to read. /Trololol :grinning:


I like both, but Gormenghast both needs more recognition and Steerpike clearly is supposed to be a combination of Hitler and Stalin, so yes, a better allegory.

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Jon Rhys Meyers plays a fantastic autocrat. He’s excellent as Henry VIII in Tudors, playing up Henry’s tyrannical streak.

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In Middle Earth the fascist trolling is literal.

Crazy religious and a small ‘c’ conservative, patriarchal (name me one male author of the time who wasn’t), a luddite (or eco-champion depending on viewpoint) but never a fascist.

" I must say that the enclosed letter from Rutten & Loening is a bit stiff. Do I suffer this impertinence because of the possession of a German name, or do their lunatic laws require a certificate of arisch origin from all persons of all countries? … Personally I should be inclined to refuse to give any Bestätigung (although it happens that I can), and let a German translation go hang. In any case I should object strongly to any such declaration appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine. "

Letter 29 — Tolkien’s German publishers had asked whether he was of Aryan origin

" Thank you for your letter… I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch . I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware noone [sic] of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. "

Letter 30 (Tolkien’s unsent response to his German publishers; a more neutral version was ultimately sent)

" There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don’t know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done. "

― J.R.R. Tolkien — September 23, 1944

" I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think White. "

― From a Valedictory Address to the University of Oxford in 1959

" As for what you say or hint of ‘local’ conditions: I knew of them. I don’t think they have much changed (even for the worse). I used to hear them discussed by my mother; and have ever since taken a special interest in that part of the world. The treatment of colour nearly always horrifies anyone going out from Britain; not only in South Africa. Unfort[unately, not many retain that generous sentiment for long. "

Letter 61 — Written to Christopher Tolkien who was stationed in South Africa during World War II

" Anyway, I have in this War a burning private grudge—which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler (for the odd thing about demonic inspiration and impetus is that it in no way enhances the purely intellectual stature: it chiefly affects the mere will). Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. "

Letter 45


For what it’s worth, I see a lot of what Tolkien would have called “orc-mindedness” in today’s fascists.

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