Tolkien’s Letter to German publisher, 1938

From Letters of Note: J.R.R. Tolkien’s response to a German publishing company’s request for proof of his Aryan descent. This was written in 1938, during talks of translating his new book, The Hobbit.

I’ll just post a blip of it, go to Letters of Note for the rest (it’s a great site).

Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. 

I’m currently reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and have had a hard time handling the racism that passed not just as Nazi policy, but as a cultural philosophy preceding Hitler’s rabid nationalism. It’s an important book to get through. I’ll do it… others had to actually live it. Tolkien, at least to a small extent, registered his dissent. 


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