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The Past | The Previous

The Son and the Father's Work

Here's an interesting article about Christopher Tolkien, talking about his father's work, about the films.

"Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time," Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. "The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."


I have always had a vague interest in Christopher Tolkien, though not, I will admit, much in the father. I never finished Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. I hated them as a child and I don't have much time for them as an adult, but Tolkien's son... now that, truly, is a different matter. His obsession with his father's work, his control, his family ownership of it, is, I think truly fascinating. The article makes mention of money disputes between the family and New Line Cinema, but that's not the real basis of Christopher Tolkien's control, I believe. The dispute is there because it links back to that further question of control, of keeping an element of purity involved.

What is fascinating is Christopher's relationship with that purity. It is clear, from his comments in regards to The Silmarillion, that keeping it is important to him, but yet because there is no J.R.R. Tolkien himself, there can be no true authorial vision. To a degree, the son has become the equivalent of the family who release demos and live shows of musicians once they are dead, adding, always adding, but doing so imperfectly, poorly, and in a fashion that always leaves the question of what the original artist would have thought, had they been alive to see it.

Link.