TOLKIEN (J.R.R.) Important autograph quotation in four lines from the Crist of Cynewulf
Lot 393
TOLKIEN (J.R.R.) Important autograph quotation in four lines from the Crist of Cynewulf
Sold for £1,075 (US$ 1,755) inc. premium

Lot Details
TOLKIEN (J.R.R.)
Important autograph quotation in four lines from the Crist of Cynewulf, beginning "Eala Earendel engla beorhast/ofer middangeard monnum sended...", written in his calligraphic script on a Merton College lettercard and dated 20 December 1956; on the reverse is an autograph letter signed ("J.R.R.T"), to Deirdre Levinson: "With greetings - do not forget that I should like to see you again. Also it would be kind of you to let me know if there is anything that you would like as a token - gift - from one who has (in every way) so far received more than given...", two pages, 16mo, Merton College, 20 December 1956

Footnotes

  • This quotation - the seed from which Tolkien's Middle Earth grew - was sent as a valediction to Deirdre Levinson. It reveals the depth of Tolkien's regard. In Humphrey Carpenter's account, Tolkien had, as an undergraduate, been studying the West Midlands dialect, when he came across Cynewulf's lines: " 'Eala Earendel engla beorhast/ofer middangeard monnum sended'/'Hail Earendel, brightest of angels/above the middle-earth sent unto men'. Earendel is glossed by the Anglo-Saxon dictionary as 'a shining light, ray', but here it clearly has some special meaning. Tolkien himself interpreted it as referring to John the Baptist, but he believed that 'Earendel' had originally been the name for the star presaging the dawn, that is, Venus. He was strangely moved by its appearance in the Cynewulf lines. 'I felt a curious thrill,' he wrote long afterwards, 'as if something had stirred within me, half wakened from sleep. There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind those words, if I could grasp it, far beyond ancient English'." (J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, 1977, p.64). The name Earendil, with its stellar associations, was to reappear in The Lord of the Rings.
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