Christopher Tolkien Has Entered the Halls of Mandos
January 16, 2020 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Christopher Tolkien has died at 95. He was famous for the work he did to maintain the legacy of his father's creation, Middle Earth, including collecting, editing and releasing many unpublished works which J.R.R. Tolkien left at his death.
posted by Alensin (61 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Lynsey at 12:29 PM on January 16


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posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:30 PM on January 16



posted by Quackles at 12:30 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by Alensin at 12:32 PM on January 16


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posted by cirhosis at 12:32 PM on January 16


The Frodo to his father's Bilbo. RIP.
posted by davelog at 12:38 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by lalochezia at 12:49 PM on January 16


Gone into the west for his well deserved rest.

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posted by cupcakeninja at 12:49 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by sunset in snow country at 12:50 PM on January 16


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posted by gauche at 12:52 PM on January 16


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posted by Carillon at 1:02 PM on January 16


Wow 95. Wasn't aware of that. Looking at the calendar though, I guess...

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posted by Windopaene at 1:04 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
“What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?”
“I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey;
I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North. I saw him then no more.
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor.”
“O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.

From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sand hills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
“What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.”
“Ask not of me where he doth dwell – so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!”
“O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea”s mouth.”

From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls;
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
“What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring me today?
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away.”
“Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry, there many foes he fought.
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.”
“O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Raurors, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.”
posted by ob1quixote at 1:08 PM on January 16 [21 favorites]


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posted by Gelatin at 1:09 PM on January 16


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He was also a scholar and a man of letters in his own right, publishing a translation from the Icelandic of The Saga of King Hedrek the Wise (which its publisher has made freely available online as a PDF) with commentary.
posted by Kattullus at 1:09 PM on January 16 [14 favorites]


From the article:
“[J.R.R.] Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time,” and that “the commercialisation has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing”.
posted by mecran01 at 1:10 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


Still round the corner there may wait
a new road, or a secret gate;
and though I oft have passed them by
the day will come at last when I
shall take the secret paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

posted by Quackles at 1:15 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


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posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:16 PM on January 16


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posted by Fizz at 1:17 PM on January 16


“[J.R.R.] Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time,” and that “the commercialisation has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing”.

Or, as I was coming in to say, this will probably unlock all kinds of great merchandising and media tie ins! Can't wait to play Gandalf in the next smash brothers. And whose to say that Tolkien wouldn't have wanted his own cinematic universe, with two highly derivative and completely forgettable films per year until the great death of the universe?
posted by kaibutsu at 1:25 PM on January 16 [10 favorites]


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posted by Splunge at 1:29 PM on January 16


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posted by inire at 1:39 PM on January 16


kaibutsu, you horrify me. Of course, I fear that the plansfor such are already under way, what with the HObbit film trilogy and AMazon and all.
posted by Alensin at 1:45 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by valkane at 1:45 PM on January 16


I have sometimes felt the iron grip Christopher worked to keep on his father's legacy was a bit too iron; but I'm also very fearful that without him, all things Tolkien will get completely dumbed down to nothing. (I thought the LOTR movies were fantastic and still love them - the Hobbit ones were a mistake - and this new Amazon series I'm dreading completely.)

Namárië, Mr. Tolkien.

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posted by dnash at 1:50 PM on January 16 [16 favorites]


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posted by kram175 at 2:16 PM on January 16


For those of you who worried about commercialization, it's already happening. There's a reason why Chris bowed out of the Tolkien Trust/Estate/whatever it's called around the same time the Amazon series was approved.

As for Christopher Tolkien himself, he was actually more well known to me as a writer and a person than his father ever was. We all know Tolkien through his Middle-earth with Elves and Men and Dwarves and the creatures of Evil, but Chris as an editor over the years spoke directly to his audience as he analyzed and pieced together his father's work. I read a lot of The History of Middle-earth more for his detective work and commentary than for the actual drafts of the Sil or LotR.

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posted by Fukiyama at 2:20 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


welp I guess Fëanor will get the HBO treatment now
posted by um at 2:49 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


And whose to say that Tolkien wouldn't have wanted his own cinematic universe, with two highly derivative and completely forgettable films per year until the great death of the universe?

If we had copyright expire after 7 years like people around here keep proposing, then we could have had LOTR movies and video games decades ago, and the Tolkien Estate wouldn't have gotten a cent. Imagine a LOTR done by the producers of "Porkies"...

Funny how extended copyright is horrible and terrible until it's something we WANT to keep pure and untouched.
posted by happyroach at 2:51 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Funny how extended copyright is horrible and terrible until it's something we WANT to keep pure and untouched.

What a dumb thing to say! One can find this sort of exploitation of a property to be distasteful without still wanting intellectual property in general to be locked down for longer than the term of a human's natural lifespan.
posted by invitapriore at 3:21 PM on January 16 [14 favorites]


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posted by Canageek at 3:54 PM on January 16


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posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 3:55 PM on January 16


The road goes ever on.

May he go on to the house of his father, in whose mighty presence he need not be ashamed.

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posted by RolandOfEld at 4:28 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


"There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by men that come after, and elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the Sea."

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posted by Chrysostom at 4:30 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:32 PM on January 16


He loved his father's world. He got to see, openly manifested, his father's love for his mother in the tale of Beren and Lúthien. Are not all stories, mythic and otherwise, about love's path? So a

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for a man who witnessed the arc of the heart's arrow and gathered it's journey into a book or two.
posted by jadepearl at 4:33 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


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posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:32 PM on January 16


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posted by gudrun at 5:54 PM on January 16


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posted by Coaticass at 5:58 PM on January 16


As another famous (though not quite as profound) author has said, no matter what is derived from the books, nothing changes the originals. No matter what Amazon does, or what Jackson did, or how awful (or not) you find the Funko figures...the Hobbit, LOTR, the Silmarillion, Farmer Giles, etc. etc. are still there, unsullied.

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posted by lhauser at 6:55 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


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posted by jquinby at 7:33 PM on January 16


He had come so far.

Pursued across the steppes of the mushroom kingdom, beyond the lonesome chocolate island. And now, delved so deep into the heart of Bowser's kingdom, he considered the path he had taken. Had he chosen this road? No, indeed, it was simply thrust upon him. By some unknowable fate, he, a lowly plumber, had become an Adventurer, the type of shameful person that whole histories and fanfics would be written of. Regardless of how these next 337 seconds went. Yes, fate had made him an Adventurer, but he alone had taken the steps, jumped the jumps, eaten the mushrooms, consumed the stars of invicibility, when he could.

Well, not exactly alone.

The Elves had shown him hospitality, and provided the Warp Whistles, which bypassed whole arms of hell. Avoided wasting undue effort on those castles where Other Princesses were kept. And the Giant Eagles had ferried him over that Stygian Sixth World, full of toothy bullets.

He had paused perhaps a bit too long in reflection. The rotating arm of fireballs had come a bit too far for safety; he'd have to wait another pass. Though the seconds ticked down, even he could be patient. Well, until the music sped up.

Eventually the arm fell again, and he leaped across the pit of lava, sweat nearly blinding him. He jumped between other fireballs, flying at him from some unknown source, until he came to the foot of an ancient bridge. He knelt in a tiny cavity and looked at the fearsome challenge that lay ahead.

The bridge itself was ancient, a strange Dwarven construction of stone and some kind of retractable metal. Fireballs spewed in all directions. And in the center of the bridge a fearsome, lizardlike beast. It hopped back and forth, causing the whole bridge, seemingly the whole earth, to shake. And suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall...

He leapt forth, almost certainly to his death. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. Fireballs flew forth, and despite his best attempts, he was singed, and laid low by one. He felt himself shrinking to a fraction of his former courage. He retreated, again, to the crevasse.

And then his friend, who was, as he had said, never late, never early, appeared at the foot of the bridge. He slammed his staff against the ground, distracting that fearsome, burning creature. The hateful heat of its gaze fell upon the old wizard, and it gathered itself up to strike. Mario's courage welled up at the sight of him, beard swinging in pure antifascist rage. And he ran forward full tilt, dove beneath the hopping Balrog, rolling across the bridge towards the waiting princess.

The bridge began to shudder. The creature turned towards Mario, hopping full tilt, the earth no longer shuddering but shaking. The old wizard placed himself betwixt the monster and the end of the bridge, brought his hands together. "YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS."

The bridge shuddered, metallic clanking as those ancient dwarven mechanisms activated.

With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. And Gandalf hovered for just a moment, feet swinging as though jumping, and fell into that darkness as well.

Mario wept, called for his missing friend. But the princess was waiting.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:41 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


(in other words, as a person perfectly happy to not read the next five dune sequels, i am, in fact, completely on team Public Domain, despite my earlier mortifying jokes.)
posted by kaibutsu at 7:42 PM on January 16


✒️
posted by clavdivs at 8:19 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


perfectly happy to not read the next five dune sequels


I think it's easy to miss the value of scarcity these days...

Not everyone loved (JRR) Tolkien's work, but those who did came to the end of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, prodigious as they were, and wanted more. Some probably felt it more like an ache, a hunger for more. They were enamored with the world he created and wanted to spend more time there. They wanted to feel it more deeply and forwards and backwards in time.

Christopher was a complex set of intentions, I'm sure. But he understood this hunger in a way that was sophisticated enough so that he satiated this hunger without creating the Hobbit movie.

@Kaibutsu I'm with you re the obtuse nature of current IP practice, but I think the legacy of JRR under Christopher was a good thing.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:48 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I nominate Christopher Tolkien for posthumous induction into the Footnote Hall of Fame - - he was one of the all time great writers of this looked down upon literary device.
posted by fairmettle at 11:03 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


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posted by valdesm at 11:54 PM on January 16


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posted by Cranberry at 12:59 AM on January 17


I play Lord of the Rings Online.

It was often rumored that Christopher Tolkien didn't think much of the game, despite the licensing; that he would rather the game had never existed. Yet last night, the players of the game he never wanted gathered at the Party Tree to remember Christopher Tolkien, and herald his journey to the Undying Lands. We spoke of the friendship and love we'd found in the game, and our love for the game world itself, its careful and loving depiction of Tolkien's creations; we played music and set off fireworks, and sounded our trumpets in tribute. For while Christopher Tolkien might never have wanted the game to exist, still he made it possible - and because of that, we who play it are immeasurably richer for the experience.

The road goes ever on and on, and we walk it together... and remember those who blazed the trail for us to follow.
posted by WaywardPlane at 2:57 AM on January 17 [8 favorites]


That Guardian article is disappointingly thin, and using an out-of-focus photo as the lead image is just plain bizarre.

Anyway, the Tolkien Gateway has a better bio of the man, and the "Adulthood" section points out what Katallus mentioned above: he was a success in his own right before taking over his deceased father's work.
posted by mediareport at 5:22 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Also, there's a slightly more nuanced quote about his opinion of movie adaptations from around the time of the first Jackson film, when reports of a rift between Christopher and his son hit the mainstream press:

”My own position is that ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ is peculiarly unsuitable to transformation into visual dramatic form...On the other hand, I recognize that this is a debatable and complex question of art, and the suggestions that have been made that I ‘disapprove’ of the films, whatever their cinematic quality, even to the extent of thinking ill of those with whom I may differ, are wholly without foundation."
posted by mediareport at 5:36 AM on January 17


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posted by filtergik at 5:53 AM on January 17


mediareport: reports of a rift between Christopher and his son

Christopher and Simon Tolkien reconciled eventually, but for a few years they didn't speak.
posted by Kattullus at 6:01 AM on January 17


nitpick:

His spirit has fled, not to the Halls of Mandos, but rather beyond the Circles of Arda, to the farthest reaches of the halls of Ea, there to seek the Doom and Gift reserved by Iluvatar for his latest born.

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posted by what does it eat, light? at 8:04 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


nitpick nitpick: Ah, but before a human spirit does that, it will visit the Halls of Mandos for a time, or else Beren would not have been able to tarry there for Luthien's sake.

(this nitpick made out of love and honor for his detailed work on books I love very much)
posted by tavella at 8:46 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


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posted by radwolf76 at 11:37 AM on January 17


Christopher and Simon Tolkien reconciled eventually, but for a few years they didn't speak.

Yeah, that EW article quotes Peter Jackson saying the father/son estrangement predated his first meeting with Simon, so his movie wasn't to blame for any rift.
posted by mediareport at 12:00 PM on January 17


In case folks want the larger context for Christopher's "Tolkien has become a monster" quote, here's an English translation of the December 2012 interview he did with Le Monde just before the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He almost never gave interviews, so it's kind of a treat and has lots of fascinating detail for Tolkien lovers.
posted by mediareport at 12:33 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]


Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:37 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by Ignorantsavage at 9:37 PM on January 17



posted by rhiannonstone at 12:33 PM on January 19


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