Reading Roverandom /// Introduction

Roverandom is a children’s story by J. R. R. Tolkien, covering the travels and adventures of the dog named Rover, turned into a toy. Belonging to the collection of Tolkien’s shorter pieces of fiction and unrelated to Middle-earth, the story is a delightful read with many traditionally Tolkienian traits.

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Who wants to live forever?

The topic of death is one of the most important pillars that Tolkien’s mythology is supported by. He used different approaches to explore death in his writings, careful to show various aspects of this delicate topic. Escape from death as a notion was one of the most important purposes of fantasy and fairy-tales in Tolkien’s view. He calls it the Great Escape in On Fairy-Stories. “Fairy-stories provide many examples and modes of this—which might be called the genuine escapist, or (I would say) fugitive spirit” (1), Tolkien writes. But this perspective, this need for the Great Escape, is human. What if we walk in Elvish shoes for a while and look at death from their point of view?

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Eala Ēarendel!

Eala Earendel engla beorhtast

Ofer middangeard monnum sended

How very often we can be inspired by a small thing only — small, yet significant in a way that we could never have fathomed. Small things have a way of hiding a vast background behind them which comes alive only under certain circumstances. Looking now at the great world sub-created by J. R. R. Tolkien it can be hard to believe that it was only one world that ignited his imagination and set him on the path of forming it. It was earendel. Read more

On Aulë’s humility.

Being the person who sub-created a vast and detailed literary world, J. R. R. Tolkien felt sympathetic with those who made things, too, whether the results were the creations of their hands or minds. However, as a sub-creator Tolkien was very well aware of the pitfalls of being one, the worst of them — becoming unhealthy attached to one’s work. The Professor clearly shows in his books that remaining humble is one of the key aspects of not falling victim to the work of one’s hands or mind. A perfect example of such an attitude is Aulë. Read more

His sharp tongue or Fëanor’s talent to insult.

Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’s eldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.  Read more

On the songs of power.

Among many powerful notions in the world of Arda few are more potent than music and language. Music is the essential element of Arda, its heart and soul, as the world was created and shaped by the majestic Music of the Ainur. And it was the word of Ilúvatar — Eä! — that brought the created vision to life. Read more

On the wonders of Faërie.

Mortals’ attitude to Faërie and being there defines the nature of their experience in the Otherworld. Arrogance, impudence, importunity or inner evil, though unwitting at times, can lead to various degrees of disaster. What is the best way to approach Faërie then? There is a character in Tolkien’s writings who shows how mortals can visit the world of Elves happily, enjoy the experience and become enlightened by it. It is Smith from Wootton Major. Read more

On the perils of Faërie.

“Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold”.

J. R. R. Tolkien (On Fairy-Stories)

When it comes to Faërie, mortals must exercise great care in dealing with it. While the land of eternal life and plenty presents a desirable destination for many, it is not fit for earthly beings, save for a temporary abode or occasional visits, most likely for a special reason and with a seal of approval from Faërie inhabitants themselves. Read more