Saturday, 27 December 2014

Giving quarter...

76 Sandfield Road, Headington, Oxford
12th December 1955

"Surely how often 'quarter' is given is off the point in a book that breathes Mercy from start to finish: in which the central hero is at last divested of all arms, except his will? 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,' are words that occur to me, and of which the scene in the Sammath Naur was meant to be a 'fairy-story' exemplum..."

You won't find this in the published Letters of J.R.R Tolkien. It was a letter to David Masson, at that time librarian at the University of Leeds, who had written a response to a Times Literary Supplement review of The Return of the King. Tolkien remarked that the reviewer ought not to have made such a fuss over giving quarter to the Orcs. You will notice that Tolkien uses the goodly traditional Prayer Book speechcraft of the Oratio Dominica. Having been written in 1955, this letter surely indicates a rejection of the modern version?

Art; Ted Nasmith.

1 comment:

  1. I always found it interesting that Frodo was saved by a bit of misfortune (the loss of a finger). It is interesting that a bit of misfortune often protects from disaster. Perhaps that is so with all misfortune, but I must admit that I cannot always see things that way... but who knows. Concerning the rejection of the modern version of the Oratio Dominica, I can only wonder. However, if the modern version is unfortunate, perhaps it is a misfortune that protects from something even worse. I do not know. It is a matter beyond my wisdom.