Of Elvish and Mordor

If it had been left to him, he would have written all his books in Elvish. "The invention of language is the foundation," he says. "The stories were made rather to provide a world for the language rather than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows. But, of course, such a work as 'The Lord of the Rings' has been edited and only as much language has been left in as I thought would be stomached by the readers. I now find that many would have liked much more." In America, especially, Tolkien words are creeping into everyday usage; for example, mathom, meaning an article one saves but doesn't use. A senior girl at the Bronx High School of Science says: "I wrote my notes in Elvish. Even now, I doodle in Elvish. It's my means of expression."

What does Tolkien think of that? Does he like Americans? "I don't like anyone very much in that sense. I'm against generalisations." One persists. Does he like Americans? " Art moves them and they don't know what they've been moved by and they get quite drunk on it," Tolkien says. "Many young Americans are involved in the stories in a way that I am not.

"But they do use this sometimes as a means against some abomination. There was one campus, I forget which, where the council of the university pulled down a very pleasant little grove of trees to make way for what they called a 'Culture Center' out of some sort of concrete blocks. The students were outraged. They wrote ‘Mordor Lives' on it."
Interview with J.R.R. Tolkien by Philip Norman
January 15, 1967
(final excerpt)

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