“Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien died 43 years ago today, on Sept. 2, 1973. He was a devout Catholic, as his grandson Simon Tolkien recalls:
I vividly remember going to church with him in Bournemouth. He was a devout Roman Catholic and it was soon after the Church had changed the liturgy from Latin to English. My grandfather obviously didn’t agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right.
I can’t fault him for that, since I’ve been know to — quietly — pray all the ordinary prayers of the Mass in Latin if everyone else is doing them in English. J.R.R., I feel your pain.
Anyway, he has millions of fans all around the world, but it’s hard to imagine that too many of them are more dedicated and knowledgeable than CBS’ “The Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert, also a Catholic.
In this clip posted on Aug. 4, he gets a “Lord of the Rings” question from the audience:
This is nothing new. From Dec. 2015:
And, back in 2013, when Colbert was still host of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, in which he holds a Tolkien geek-off with actor James Franco:
And, by the way, Stephen Colbert — or any of you other big fans out there — according to a story posted yesterday at the Birmingham (U.K.) Mail — get that checkbook ready, because:
Rare first editions of two J. R .R. Tolkien novels are to be put up for auction in September.
The Hobbit, the first novel written by the celebrated children’s author who lived in Birmingham, is in excellent condition and is estimated to fetch £1,000-£1,500, Chiswick Auctions said.
Its sequel, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, is also up for grabs.
In good condition, the volume is estimated to fetch £2,000-£3,000.
And, in this Aug. 26 story from The Federalist.com, Tolkien is credited with his impact on music:
What would post-1965 rock have been like if the authorized second edition of “The Lord of the Rings” had never been released in paperback? Sure, there’s the obvious stuff that would otherwise have been unlikely, if not impossible, like “Ramble On”—what, I wonder, does Gollum want with the “girl so fair”? Has she got the Ring?—and “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Battle of Evermore” and so on.
Black Sabbath had a Tolkien phase, and so did Rush. Call me crazy, but I’ve always caught faint whiffs of Bilbo’s walking song and Gandalf’s journey on horseback with Pippin in The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” (“And the rooooooad goes on forever”). Tom Bombadil and Galadriel are all over the place in the Grateful Dead.
British author and Catholic convert Joseph Pearce has also delved deeply into the Catholic roots of Tolkien. Click here for an interview, or, if you have more time, get some tea and Lembas bread, and settle in for this lecture on the subject:
May the Force Be With You (oops, sorry, wrong fictional universe) …
Image: Courtesy CBS