Tolkien’s Answer Summarized

There is a famous story about what happened when Professor Tolkien was approached about the possibility of a German version of The Hobbit in 1938. Of course, this was when the criminal Nazi government was in charge of the nation, so before the German publisher would undertake a printing they, of course, had to inquire whether he was sufficiently diverse racially pure.

Professor Tolkien found the whole notion disgusting and drafted two possible replies, both of which conveyed his intention to ‘let the German edition go hang’ if it meant playing along with this nonsense. Part of the unused (and more acid) letter ran as follows:

“I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.”

The full letter and an account of the story can be found here. Or it could be summarized as follows:

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