November 04, 2006

"THE LORD OF THE RINGS is of course a fundamentally Catholic Work."

I learned of this article at The Curt Jester’s blog.

Tolkien and St. Thomas on Beauty
by Dr. Michael Waldstein
... Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion, which unfolds some of the stories that stand behind The Lord of the Rings, speaks about this. …

... “Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love. Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars.” …

... For a Catholic, which Tolkien certainly was, the echo of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Elbereth is absolutely clear. A Jesuit friend of Tolkien, Fr. Robert Murray, pointed out this similarity. Tolkien wrote in response, “I know exactly what you mean … by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded.”

… The great paradigm of beauty, who imprints the form of her beauty on Middle-earth as a whole and on its entire history, is Elbereth Gilthoniel. Tolkien’s own understanding and perception of beauty, of its majesty and simplicity, is founded on his Marian devotion which is reflected in the devotion of the Elves to Elbereth. Here we have a key to reading The Lord of the Rings.

… It is a curious fact that explicit religion plays almost no role in The Lord of the Rings. The name Ilúvatar or any equivalent name of the creator God is not mentioned even once in the whole book. There are a number of songs that might be called religious, especially those addressed to Elbereth. … In the letter in which he explains that his perception of beauty, both in majesty and simplicity is founded on the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tolkien speaks about this strange absence of explicit religious content from The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.” … Religion in The Lord of the Rings is not something added to things from the outside, but it lies in the very depths of beings and events. The Lord of the Rings does not preach a sermon, nor is it a book of theology. It is a piece of fiction the purpose of which is to be beautiful, thus to give joy and delight. In the depth of this beauty one discovers a religious dimension which has a deep kinship with the Catholic faith. Elbereth is not the Virgin Mary, but her beauty is drawn with the sensibility of Marian piety.

Those are excerpts. Go read the complete article.
Click HERE for it.


Anonymous said...

C.S Lewis on "Lord of the Rings"
"Here are beauties which pierce like swords and burn like cold iron"

11:04 AM  

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