Listen to the Professor speak to the BBC

Listen to the Professor speak to the BBC

Someone has dug up a 1971 BBC radio interview with J.R.R. Tolkien and posted it to YouTube. In addition to the actual interview, it’s also a chance for some fans to hear his voice for the first time.

I’d heard his voice before. When I was a kid, I received for Christmas a record (an actual vinyl disc!) of Tolkien reading excerpts from his works, including the Lay of Beren and Luthien and A Elbereth Githoniel. It was fascinating to hear how to properly pronounce all those names and Elvish words. It was from Caedmon, I recall.

Among the amusing bits in this interview are the Beeb interviewer questioning Tolkien on why he chose the one of that unheroic race of hobbits to be an unlikely Christ-figure. Tolkien responds that he didn’t choose Frodo, but that he was simply continuing on from The Hobbit and it had to be a hobbit who carried the Ring in the Lord of the Rings. What the interviewer seems to overlook is that Christ Himself was an unlikely Christ-figure!

“He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)

It is precisely this point that Tolkien was traveling with in Frodo and hobbits. God’s ways are not those of men, and God often works in ways that man would not. He doesn’t come on a white charger, a worldly army at His back and a worldly crown on His head. Likewise, the Ringbearer doesn’t assault Sauron with an army at his back nor is he a Numerean or one of the Eldar.