Two Tolkiens, One Better World | The American Conservative

Having already lost his mother and his father at a young age, Tolkien also lost two of his three closest friends during the war. Prior to that war, he and his three friends had dedicated themselves to sanctifying the world through poetry and literature. We had, Tolkien believed, “been granted some spark of fire—certainly as a body if not singly—that was destined to kindle a new light, or, what is the same thing, rekindle an old light in the world.” Given the depth of feeling Tolkien possessed toward his friends and the burdens of the Great War, there is no reason to underplay his words. By 1916, he had already begun his Elvish languages as well as his first stories for those languages, in addition to writing much poetic verse. “The greatness [of the four friends] I meant was that of a great instrument in God’s hands,” Tolkien wrote in 1916, as “a mover, a doer, even an achiever of great things, a beginner at the very least of large things.”
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