45 On War, Tragedy and Tolkien’s journey through it

Tolkien War WWI Russia Ukraine

Blurb: Few realise that The Lord of the Rings author was a frontline soldier in WWI, one who knew tragedy and loss first hand. Given the looming shadow of war today, we journey with a man into his own Mordor, to allow his life, faith and creation to speak to our times.

Excerpt from episode

“…Years later, when asked by his own son Christopher about the effect of the war on him, he writes “I took to ‘escapism’: or really transforming experience into another form and symbol with Morgoth and Orcs and the Eldalië (representing beauty and grace of life and artefact) and so on; and it has stood me in good stead in many hard years since, and I still draw on the conceptions then hammered out.” In other words, Tolkien’s pain and trauma were able to be transfigured and take on a new form, through his writings, especially his writings about war. Transfigured is a deliberate word I use because it is not as he offloaded the horrors of the war in his creative work … like how some artists would choose to capture their experiences in bloody, dark and menacing paintings and books. There is never any hint in LOTR or the hobbit that Tolkien glorified war or bloodshed. On the contrary, he instead says something quite startling about it: “The war made me poignantly aware of the beauty of the world…”