I vividly remember one day, aged 14, climbing like a pilgrim the worn wooden steps to Tolkien’s room in Merton college, Oxford in the company of his grandson, who was a school friend. I was clutching my battered paperback copy of The Lord of the Rings, much reread. And there was the great man in his beautiful room, crowded bookshelves up to the ceiling, a vision of lawns beyond. He sucked his pipe and chatted benignly. I was encountering the most important writer in the world, as it then seemed, though I was struck by the mismatch of this tweedy English grandfather and his lofty Wagnerian creation. He was telling me of the physical pleasure of writing. “Did I enjoy the sensation of using a really good ink pen?” I could see why he might be asking this when he signed my copy of his magnum opus: runic is the only word for the style of the inscription. Seeing Professor Tolkien in situ suddenly made it obvious how bookish an endeavour it was, this business of creating of an alternative world.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
"Copiousness is the desired effect"
The vortex of the spring semester has engulfed me. (That, and Facebook leaching off minor life commentary.) A lot of tabs to close and light reading to log, only perhaps not just now. Instead, a delightful piece by John Mullan about George R. R. Martin and fantasy fiction more generally. Here's his description of the pilgrimage he paid to Tolkien as a teenager: