The Golden Key , a bit of pub talk with a wild Tolkien suggestion
0n the theme of brief fantasy, I am going
to make what might be the sort of assertion
one makes in pub conversation, has everyone a
pinta harp in hand?, and let it be we are
in Sophia's pub...
But that George Macdonald said best and
most fully what he had to say on the human
condition( and all the other worlds too) in
The Golden Key.
0f course if one really wanted pub argument
one could say
"Tolkien expresses most fully what he has
to say on the human condition in Leaf
by Niggle and in the Myth of the Tower
in The Monsters and the Critics"...
<this of course COULD be asserted
inasmuch as LOTR is represented within
both items isnt it?>
but I will not be so bold as that. NOR
would I of course freely give up LOTR.
Could John be quintessentially represented
by one story?
I think not, though the end of Ugly Bird
'"Lady I never loved witchcraft
Never dealt in privy wile
But evermore held the high way
0f love and honor free from guile.."
'And though I couldnt bring myself to look
back to the place I was leaving forever,I knew
that Winnie watched me and that she
listened,listened, till she had to
strain here ears to catch the last
faintest end of my song...'
+Seraphim Joseph Sigrist
- At 12:27 PM 4/24/2002 , ssigrist wrote:
>0f course if one really wanted pub argumentIndeed, that would be a bold statement. There isn't anything like a
>one could say
>"Tolkien expresses most fully what he has
>to say on the human condition in Leaf
>by Niggle and in the Myth of the Tower
>in The Monsters and the Critics"...
><this of course COULD be asserted
>inasmuch as LOTR is represented within
>both items isnt it?>
> but I will not be so bold as that. NOR
>would I of course freely give up LOTR.
definitive answer to this, so it's all the more an interesting question for
What your suggestions seem to me to offer is Tolkien's most concise
statements of why he wrote, as a literary artist. For his quintessential
statement of what he was writing _about_ (which I see as closer to what you
mean by "the human condition"), I would - not without a touch of regret at
missing the end of "Leaf" - turn to "Smith of Wootton Major." Over the
years I'm more and more convinced this story perfectly encapsules what
Tolkien was really trying to say in terms of literary theme, and also that
in short form it embodies Tolkien's notion of what a fairy story should be.
(As "Leaf" does not - it's not a fairy story, but a story _about_ fairy
stories. "Smith" is both.)