Monday, February 15, 2016

Thought for the Day

"I think (Tolkien) is a crypto-fascist" says Moorcock, laughing. 

"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 from J.R.R. Tolkien to Christopher, June 1941

"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 none 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. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride."
Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to his German publisher, July, 1938

Note: In deference to Mr Moorcock, it was arguably naughty of the crypto-communist New Statesman to take a remark he made lightheartedly out of context and use it as the headline for an interview. 

Note: Did C.S Lewis really commute from Cambridge to London to attend fan meets in a pub between 1956 and 1963 (the years he was married to a very sick wife, and dividing time between his home in Oxford and his chair in Cambridge)? I ask merely for information.

1 comment:

Sam Dodsworth said...

Strictly, the article just says London fandom gave him "easy access" to established writers, which doesn't have to mean they were all hanging out at the pub together. Superficially, it sounds more likely that he could have met Lewis in Oxford if he was travelling up there to visit Tolkien.

Other than that, yeah. Moorcock's dislike of Tolkien is perfectly understandable but he's just not using the right words. What he's describing is more crypto-feudalism, of a kind that I associate with Catholicism.

(And Tolkien's pastoral romanticism and treatment of race makes him popular with fascists, of course. But sharing a common intellectual ancestry isn't endorsement.)