Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Ep. 66—Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020—John Garth

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 12, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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This is a tribute to Christopher Tolkien, who passed away on Jan. 16, 2020. Without Christopher’s decades of dedicated scholarship, most notably his editing and publication of The Silmarillion, our knowledge of J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional world and very real genius would be considerably disadvantaged. Tolkien scholar John Garth, author of the acclaimed biography Tolkien and the Great War, joins the show to discuss a father-son collaboration unique in literary history.


[5:36] How Christopher Tolkien helped John in working on his book

[13:40] The significance of the chronology of the composition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works

[16:31] J.R.R. Tolkien’s lifelong work on The Silmarillion and the editorial problems posed by the different drafts left at his death

[23:37] Christopher’s childhood involvement with his father’s writing

[29:19] The input Christopher had on the chapters of The Lord of the Rings written during WWII

[34:40] Christopher’s return from the war and his involvement with The Inklings

[37:01] The initial response to The Silmarillion; impetus to edit History of Middle-Earth series

[43:17] J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’s forays into science fiction

[47:47] What we learn from Tolkien’s early drafts presented in The History of Middle-Earth

[55:15] Christopher’s academic career, separate from his father’s writing

[58:00] The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin

[1:00:19] John and Thomas’s favorite posthumous publication from Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

[1:03:10] Tolkien’s exploration of his own creativity and flaws through his characters

[1:06:01] Two recommendations for informed Tolkien fans looking to go deeper


John Garth’s obituary of Christopher Tolkien

John Garth

John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War

John Garth, Tolkien at Exeter College

If you haven’t read it yet, The Silmarillion

John’s recommendations for “advanced” Tolkien study:

The Monsters and the Critics and other Essays

The Fall of Gondolin

Online Great Books discount link

Interview with OGB founder Scott Hambrick

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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