If W.H. Auden had his way the tale of the enduring love of Arwen and Aragorn may have not made it into The Lord of the Rings. The horror. On March 19th Bonhams will auction an unpublished letter from J.R.R Tolkien to his publisher Rayner Unwin from Sandfield Road, Oxford, 12 May 1955. Rayner is of course famous for persuading his father Stanley to publish The Hobbit after his written report of the manuscript. He was ten years old, and was paid a shilling for his reader reports.
Tolkien’s letter tells Rayner that Auden “thinks Aragorn-Arwen unnecessary & perfunctory. I hope the fragment of the ‘saga’ will cure him. I still find it poignant: an allegory of naked hope. I hope you do…”
Auden apparently approved of Eowyn and Faramir, to Tolkien’s relief. The three-page letter is signed three times with initials (“JRRT”). It also discusses relief that Rayner approves of map for The Return of the King, asks that his son Christopher be given “a suitable fee” for his contribution and Tolkien asks if he could have a copy of the revised edition of the Hobbit “…I have not got – and do not think I have ever had – a copy of the The Hobbit incorporating the revision. Could I have one?…”
You can see full images and further summary of the letter at Bonhams. The letter is expected to fetch £6,000 – 8,000, or $11,000 – 15,000 AU.
I have always loved reading Tolkien’s letters and seeing the process behind the crafting of The Lord of the Rings. But I certainly couldn’t imagine The Return of the King without one of my favourite passages.
the Queen Arwen said: ‘A gift I will give you. For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter. But in my stead you shall go, Ring-bearer, when the time comes, and if you then desire it. If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West, until all your wounds and weariness are healed. But wear this now in memory of Elfstone and Evenstar with whom your life has been woven!’
And she took a white gem like a star that lay upon her breast hanging upon a silver chain, and she set the chain about Frodo’s neck. ‘When the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you,’ she said, ‘this will bring you aid.