The legendary writer was born 130 years ago


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where his English father was a bank manager. He lost his father at the age of four, then moved back to England with his mother and brother near Birmingham. The family switched from the Baptist religion to Catholicism in 1900, which became a defining point in his life, and his belief in faith and adherence to the Catholic Church also determined his literary work. He attended a Catholic school, and after he was completely orphaned at the age of twelve, his mother’s confessor took care of his teaching.

Already in high school, he showed an excellent sense of language, a passion for languages, and was interested in medieval languages ​​such as Old English and Middle English, Gothic, and even Welsh and Finnish. He was particularly touched by the Finnish national epic, The Language and World of the Kalevala, which inspired his first prose work in 1915, The Story of Kullervo. The tragic story was first published in English in 2010 and in Hungarian in December 2016.

From 1911 he studied classical philology, and from 1913 comparative philology and English literature at the University of Oxford. Already in these years he was involved in the development of artificial languages, creating a total of fifteen artificial languages ​​during his lifetime, including the Lord of the Rings Quenya and Sindarin, and he was fluent in dozens of truly existing languages.

In March 1916, he married his adolescent love, Edith Mary Bratt, with whom they had four children. During the First World War, in the middle of 1916, he was commanded on the French front, took part in the battle of the Somme, and the sight of the senseless death and suffering of millions had a decisive effect on his outlook on life. He was wounded in the fall of the year and began writing his tales on his sickbed, inventing stories for the languages ​​he created. Thus was born The Silmaril, the antithesis and mythological background of the Lord of the Rings, which was issued only years after his death in the care of his son, Christopher.

After the war, he worked on the Oxford Dictionary, the official guide to the English language, and from 1920 taught at the University of Leeds. From 1925 he taught Old English at the University of Oxford, from which he retired as a professor of English language and literature in 1959. During his Oxford years, his creative work was inspired by the Inklings creative literary circle, which he founded with his friends (literary historian, theologian, writer, and writer Charles Williams).

He first told his stories to his children, such as Bilbo Zsákos, the shy hobbit, and then wrote them down from the 1930s. Hobbit was first published in print in 1937, and was translated into Hungarian by Tibor Szobotka in 1975. To Tolkien’s greatest surprise, his book was read by many and demanded a sequel. This is how the Lord of the Rings trilogy was born, after many attempts, evasions, which were considered inappropriate by the writer or publisher. He worked on the three volumes for seventeen years, in 1954 the Alliance of the Ring and The Two Towers appeared, and in 1955 the concluding part, The King, returned. Due to the high risk, the publisher stipulated that it would pay royalties only after the break-even point had been reached – after which the writer’s account was significantly increased, as according to a 2003 BBC poll (true at the time of the film trilogy). the most popular novel of all time. The trilogy first appeared in 2021 with Tolkien’s drawings and paintings.

Tolkien created a new world, meticulously elaborating the geography, language, literature, history, mythology, and even the living world of Middle-earth. Although the trilogy offered itself for filming, it was not made a cartoon until 1978 due to legal and technical difficulties. In the new millennium, however, Peter Jackson of New Zealand has already overcome all difficulties: the trilogy he has staged has not only swept over with overwhelming success at the box office, a total of 17 Oscars. changed his nomination to a prize. Jackson also adapted the hobbit for the film, the three-part series was shown between 2012-2014, but his success fell short of The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien retired in 1959, moving to Bournemouth by the sea out of fan interest. In 1972 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the British Empire and inaugurated as an honorary doctor of the University of Oxford. He became seriously ill a year later, dying on September 2, 1973, from an infection caused by a stomach ulcer. He was buried in Oxford with his wife in a grave, the word Luthien was engraved on the tombstone after his wife’s name, and Beren after his, as a reference to one of the most beautiful love stories in Middle-earth. His grave is regularly flooded with fans, who founded a company in 1969, and in 2002 the Hungarian Tolkien Society was formed.

He entrusted the directing of Tolkien’s literary legacy to Christopher’s son, who published several of his father’s works in the world of Middle-earth based on 70 boxes of previously unpublished manuscripts. In 2018, a large-scale Tolkien exhibition opened at the Bodley Library of the University of Oxford, featuring the writer’s never-before-exhibited objects. About his life in 2019, the Finnish Dome Karukoski directed a biographical film entitled Tolkien, and the Amazon streaming service provider is already shooting the antecedent series of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Source: Vezess by www.vezess.hu.

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