Mar 03, 2010, 06:11AM

Why there is no Jewish Narnia

"To no other field of modern literature have Jews contributed so little."

Although it might seem unlikely that anyone would wonder whether the author of The Lord of the Rings was Jewish, the Nazis took no chances. When the publishing firm of Ruetten & Loening was negotiating with J. R. R. Tolkien over a German translation of The Hobbit in 1938, they demanded that Tolkien provide written assurance that he was an Aryan. Tolkien chastised the publishers for “impertinent and irrelevant inquiries,” and—ever the professor of philology— lectured them on the proper meaning of the term: “As far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects.” As to being Jewish, Tolkien regretted that “I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.”

  • Great find, thanks. Michael Chabon should get a nod for Summerland, a nice blend of baseball and American folktales. And speaking of Chabon, one could argue that '30s and '40s superhero comic creators were simply drawing a Jewish version of fantasy—and were Tolkien's contemporaries, no less.

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