In response to:
Does Frodo Live? from the December 14, 1972 issue
To the Editors:
As a long-time admirer of J. R. R. Tolkien, I delighted in Janet Adam Smith’s good Edinburgh-style review of him and his works and his explicators and his enthusiasts in your December 14th number. Good causes have buttons too. Tolkien lives.
A point she might have made, secondary, is Tolkien’s linguistic brilliance. All those languages work, from high-Elvish down to plain Hobbit.
But she diminishes The Shire. What would all those high worlds of battle and magic be worth if they didn’t come back down to Hobbit-like us, with our rather furry feet, and our taste for home, food, repose, our laziness? The point is duple. To save the shire for the Hobbits, even Gandalf the Wizard, and Aragorn the high prince, would put their powers and dominions (first, their lives!) in danger. But it was a Hobbit, that most unglamorous creature, so much resembling us (Bilbo in The Hobbit, Frodo in the larger work), who by obstinate unheroic courage and a large measure of luck, saved not only The Shire, but the sum of things.
I agree with Ms. Smith, that to sharpen the sense of words in the News-speak days is a good endeavour. But there is another moral underneath: Redemption will come from small (furry) people, who are willing to be tried beyond their apparent strength. (They have to leave their comforts behind, and go on long journeys.) Redemption is THE point.
New Haven, Connecticut
February 22, 1973