JournalArchivesForumMapsResearchSuppliesLodgingAbout Us



Editorial | Press Releases | Book Reviews | Fragments
Artifacts: The Exodus Revelation I
The Journey: Ireland I | Giants of Ireland | The Lord of the Rings Cipher I
Register for our Hall of Records Newsletter
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Advertising? Press Releases? Contact us!



Letters from Father Christmas

J.R.R. Tolkien

Full Title: Letters from Father Christmas
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Type: Fantasy/Christmas
Edition: Revised Edition, 2004
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
Reviewed by: Doug Elwell
Rating:

etters from Father Christmas is a wonderful compilation of the letters of J.R.R. Tolkien to his four children — John Francis Reuel, Michael Hilary Reuel, Christopher Reuel and Priscilla Anne Reuel — that he wrote to them over a period of 23 years, from 1920 to 1943. This excellent revised edition includes a great deal more previously unpublished material, so it comes highly recommended over the previous edition, though the previous edition was not without its charms. Tolkien not only hand-lettered and illustrated all of these endearing letters, but also the marvelous envelopes "Santa" sent them in, even creating customized "North Pole" 2 (or "2 kisses") stamps for them. Apparently the previous edition of this volume, though it did not contain nearly as much material, had the unique advantage of being formatted in such a way that copies of Tolkien's original letters were actually folded up inside reproductions of the original envelopes, which some have actually used to give to their children each Christmas in order to reproduce for them the wonderful experiences the Tolkien children enjoyed.

The stories start off fairly simply, with Santa writing cute but fairly pedestrian letters to Tolkien's first children, with such collateral characters such as elves being only alluded to in the background. As the letters progressed year after year, however, Tolkien began to move from simple "Merry Christmas" letters from an overworked Father Christmas to increasingly elaborate fantasies involving elves, goblins, gnomes, and a sort of "trickster" character called "The North Polar Bear". Far from being dangerous, however, North Polar Bear was more of a prankster and a ne'er-do-well, whose clumsiness and love of bright lights and shiny things (particularly fireworks) led to various levels of destruction, from scattering piles of packages to literally breaking the pole on the North Pole so that it came crashing down on Santa's house! Soon North Polar Bear (NPB) began to write his own comments in the margins of Santa's letters in his crude lettering, (which he excuses as being due to his large paw), and in time (1929) confides to the children that his real name is actually "Karhu" and that he was going to write in "Arktik" language, from then on, which appears in form like Nordic runes. Clearly it was around this time that Tolkien began to invent the languages that would feature so prominently in his works, thus his letters were not only presents to his children, but also the first fruits of a brilliant creative mind beginning to blossom.

Over the next few years Tolkien's letters began to become even more elaborate, with the introduction of "goblins" — small, dark creatures in appearance much like the imp-like representations of demons typical of the medieval period — that live in caves and exist only to make mischief. Their chief enemies, of course, were the gnomes (prototypical dwarves), which Father Christmas once recruited in an attempt to find North Polar Bear, who had become lost in some deep caves beneath the North Pole while searching for his friend, "Cave Bear". In this story, one can easily see the antecedents of many of the fundamental concepts that would later show up in The Hobbit, which featured a somewhat mischievous man named Born who could shape shift into a bear, and who also had a particular hatred of goblins (prototypical orcs). Santa's elves also began to become much more elaborated upon and, though still cutesy by comparison with the elvish peoples of Tolkien's Middle Earth, one can clearly see in them the first glimmers of what would later become the elves of the Middle Earth mythos. This was particularly true of Santa's elf secretary whose name, "Ilbereth", would later become an alternate name for the star-queen Varda, one of the greater deities of Middle Earth, and the favorite of the elves.

All together, though the letters are of course childish in comparison with Tolkien's major writings, they are still very enjoyable to read, both from the perspective of a Tolkien scholar, and from the perspective of someone simply looking for some imaginative musings about alternative takes upon Santa Claus and Christmas. Tolkien's letters have the added benefit of being classically English in character and charming to anyone with a heart for Christmas. A wonderful read for anyone who has a heart for such things, Letters from Father Christmas should definitely be part of any Tolkien fan's repertoire, especially around Christmas.








Books



Letters from Father Christmas
J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating:
Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien's children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or painting. The letters were from Father Christmas. They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas's house into the dining room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by Tolkien's inventiveness in this classic holiday treat. (From the book description)
Click here to buy this book.










Editorial | Press Releases | Book Reviews | Fragments
Artifacts: The Exodus Revelation I
The Journey: Ireland I | Giants of Ireland | The Lord of the Rings Cipher I
Register for our Hall of Records Newsletter
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Advertising? Press Releases? Contact us!



 
   
 
 
 




Mysterious World