The Edith Bratt quote: Tolkien’s words on his late wife

Background

The tale of Beren and Lúthien is part of the mythology set out in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, the final version of which is found in The Silmarillion. The quote below is taken from J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter. Bratt was Professor Tolkien’s wife’s maiden name.

The quote

“Of all his legends, the tale of Beren and Lúthien was the one most loved by Tolkein, not least because at one level he identified the character of Lúthien with his own wife. After Edith’s death… he wrote to his son Christopher, explaining why he wished to include the name ‘Lúthien’ on her tombstone:

‘She was (and knew she was) my Lúthien. I will say no more now. But I should like ere long to have a long talk with you. For if as seems probably I shall never write any ordered biography – it is against my nature, which expresses itself about things deepest felt in tales and myths – someone close in heart to me should know something about things that records do not record: the dreadful sufferings of our childhoods, from which we rescued one another, but could not wholly heal wounds that later often proved disabling; the sufferings that we endured after our love began – all of which (over and above personal weaknesses) might help to make pardonable, or understandable, the lapses and darknesses which at times marred our lives – and to explain how these never touched our depths nor dimmed the memories of our youthful love. For ever (especially when alone) we still met in the woodland glade and went hand in hand many times to escape the shadow of imminent death, before our last parting.’”

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