It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish.
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
Human stories are practically always about one thing, really, aren't they? Death. The inevitability of death. . . . . . (quoting an obituary) 'There is no such thing as a natural death. Nothing that ever happens to man is natural, since his presence calls the whole world into question. All men must die, but for every man his death is an accident, and even if he knows it he would sense to it an unjustifiable violation.' Well, you may agree with the words or not, but those are the key spring of The Lord Of The Rings
Glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago', comments the narrator; and his comment shows that the ancient smith was not glad, did not know, was condemned to defeat and death and oblivion in the barrows. Still, even after thousands of years hope should not be lost; nor relied on.
I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
Tolkien, who created this marvellous vehicle, doesn't go anywhere in it. He just sits where he is. What I mean by that is that he always seems to be looking backwards, to a greater and more golden past; and what's more he doesn't allow girls or women any important part in the story at all. Life is bigger and more interesting than The Lord of the Rings thinks it is.
Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.
The thing about Tolkien, about The Lord of the Rings, is that it's perfect. It's this whole world, this whole process of immersion, this journey. It's not, I'm pretty sure, actually true, but that makes it more amazing, that someone could make it all up. Reading it changes everything.
Books ought to have good endings.How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?
I am reading The Lord of the Rings. I suddenly wanted to. I almost know it by heart, but I can still sink right into it. I know no other book that is so much like going on a journey. When I put it down to this, I feel as if I am also waiting with Pippin for the echoes of that stone down the well.
Tolkien is as good as Dickens at sketching a scene.