The Corner

Lor On Dirty Work

“Mr. Derbyshire—Well, I can give you an authentic, albiet fictional, quote

along the same lines. In the ‘Fellowship of the Ring book’, Aragorn

(Stryder) speaks of his somewhat unsavory work as a ‘ranger’ thus:

’”Stryder” I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes who

would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not

guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are

free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep

them so.’ And just so you don’t get in trouble for quoting something that

doesn’t exist, it’s on page 261 of the latest Haughton Mifflin hardcover

edition. I know you’re not much of a Rings fan, but I just thought I’d pass

it on.”

Who said I’m not much of a Rings fan? I was (to borrow a trope from Barbara

Mandrell) a Rings fan when being a Rings fan wasn’t cool. Long, long

before, actually. In my sci-fi phase (early 1960s) I belonged to the

Science Fiction Book Club in England, and they offered LOR as an optional

selection through Readers’ Union, an affiliate club. At that time, LOR was

still in its “sleeper” phase, and the publisher was desperate to sell it. I

got it, read it, and thought it charming, though I can’t recall being either

shaken or stirred by it. Later in the 1960s the hippies took up Tolkien and

LOR enjoyed its first burst of real popularity, stoned-out flower children

staggering around muttering “More like a dream than a waking dream…” (It

was this phase that6 inspired the hilarious parody “Bored of the Rings”.)

Now, 40 years on, I guess I’m just jaded. I do like the movies, though.

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