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50 Years After the Father’s Farewell
This September marks the fiftieth anniversary of J. R. R. Tolkien’s voyage to the Blessed Realm. Husband, father, scholar, author, artist—a myriad of titles could not do justice to the man behind the mythology of Middle-earth. However, there is another paternal title some have endeared to the professor: “Father of Fantasy”. Years before the publication of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien delivered an Andrew Lang Lecture at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He considered his subject, fairy-stories, “one of the highest forms of literature”. The collected manuscripts of his lecture from March 8, 1938, would later appear as the expanded essay, “On Fairy-stories”, which Tolkien believed to be “quite an important work, at least for anyone who thinks me worth considering at all”. But what do readers consider most important in his essay? Many who read the essay reduce it to Tolkien’s work in philology and ignore the genius of his philosophy. Tolkien knew fairy-stories could enchant, delight, and express truth. He was also keenly aware of their noblest ability: conveying Truth.