Tolkien, Lewis, and the Enchanted Letter Headed Tales
In today's fast-paced, digital age, it is a delightful surprise to discover that the art of pen pal writing is experiencing a renaissance. One might wonder how such an analogue practice of putting pen to headed paper, could thrive in an era of instant messaging, video calls, and social media. Yet it seems many individuals are rediscovering the joys of penning letters on fancy writing paper to friends near and far; as they seek more authentic, personal connections amid the cacophony of electronic messaging.
Picture the scenario: a beautiful handwritten letter on personalised stationery drops onto the doormat. It stands out and immediately transports us to a time when communication was an art form. The moment our fingertips graze the envelope and letterhead paper, an intimate connection is forged as we delight in the penmanship that dances across the pages.
Unfolding letter headed paper, we appreciate the subtle elegance of the headed note cards and feel the passion of a thousand words infused into the fibres of the material. Nice writing paper carries an aroma of nostalgia, eliciting a smile that reaches the depths of our souls as we embark on a journey through the written word. Each stroke of the pen, every curve of the letter, serves as a testament to the magic of the epistolary world; inviting us to revel in the simple yet profound pleasure of getting news from a cherished pen pal.
The Guardian recently discussed the sudden, surprising resurgence of the global penfriends phenomena. As people search for more meaningful ways to connect, they turn to the written word, embracing the slow, deliberate nature of letters. This rediscovered art form transcends the ephemeral nature of modern communication, allowing us to immerse ourselves in a world where words are savoured and connections are cherished.
Indeed, it is reminiscent of the golden days of letter writing. For instance, a time when esteemed authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were avid pen pals, their letters brimming with wit and charm. Their written correspondence ,on personalised letterhead, not only unveiled the inner workings of their brilliant minds and their creative processes, but also provided glimpses of the enchanting worlds they created. As Town & Country magazine writes: it is impossible to overstate how much Lewis and Tolkien's friendship impacted the shape of fantasy literature.
The letters between Tolkien and Lewis were repositories of inspiration and encouragement. They pushed each other to create their masterpieces, "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Narnia," respectively, and their correspondence was a testimony to the power of written words in fostering deep, abiding friendships.
One of the most endearing aspects of their letters was their mutual encouragement and constructive criticism. Tolkien's Middle-earth and Lewis's Narnia both benefited from the other's keen eye and thoughtful suggestions. For instance, Tolkien was instrumental in encouraging Lewis to complete "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," the first book in the Narnia series. In turn, Lewis was a staunch supporter of Tolkien's work, often praising the intricate world-building and linguistic mastery found in "The Lord of the Rings."
Their letters also reveal a shared love for mythology and ancient languages, which played a significant role in shaping their respective works. Tolkien, a philologist by profession, delighted in discussing his invented languages, such as Quenya and Sindarin, inspired by Finnish and Welsh, respectively. Similarly, Lewis's fascination with medieval literature and mythology found its way into the Narnia series through the inclusion of characters like the White Witch, who was reminiscent of the Snow Queen from Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales.
The letters exchanged between Tolkien and Lewis were not limited to literary discussions alone. They often delved into matters of faith, philosophy, and the human condition. Both authors were deeply religious, and their Christian beliefs permeated their writings, albeit in different ways. Their letters reveal lively debates on topics such as the nature of evil and the role of divine providence in their fictional worlds.
Furthermore, their written communication provides glimpses into the humorous side of these two literary giants. For example, Tolkien often referred to himself as a hobbit in his letters, expressing his fondness for simple pleasures like gardening, pipe-smoking, and good food. Lewis, on the other hand, showed his playful side by adopting the persona of a faun or other Narnian creatures in some of his correspondence.
One can only imagine the curious characters who populated Tolkien's and Lewis's letters, exchanging pleasantries and discussing the weather in Middle-earth and Narnia. We might envision Gandalf the Grey, taking a break from his wizardly duties, penning a letter to his dear friend Aslan the lion, or Bilbo Baggins appreciating the quiet, written wisdom of Mr Tumnus. They might have exchanged thoughts on the merits of hobbits or the peculiarities of fauns, all the while sipping tea and munching on Turkish delight.
We love how the art of pen pal writing is, without a doubt, making a charming comeback. And, if our modest scribbles on letterhead paper can reach even the literary foothills of the letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, we would be thrilled! They stand as testaments to the power of written correspondence in fostering creativity and friendship. As we seek deeper connections in our digital world, let us take a leaf out of their book and embrace the whimsical world of pen pals, where the magic of Middle-earth and Narnia can come to life, one letter at a time.