Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Pope Likes Tolkien

So, here's something that's been kicking around the internet for some time, it turns out, but only came to my notice last Friday. We were picking up some carryout for dinner, neither of us being in the mood to cook at the end of a long week, when I noted that the restaurant's muted tv had a brief segment called something like 'Five Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Pope". What the other four were I have no idea, but the fifth was that he's a Tolkien fan.  This was on King 5 news around 4.40 on Friday afternoon, Sept. 11th, but looking now I can find no trace of it on their website (which instead links to a piece about seven things, of which this isn't one). All I managed to jot down was that they said something like "a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien . . . apparently uses the characters as examples of . . . "

It turns out, though, that the man who is now the pope said this back in his Archbishop days, in 2008, and that it's been known online since at least 2013. Here's a quick precis that includes a link to pope's original piece, in Spanish (with thanks to Janice for the link)

My junior high and high school Spanish is too rusty, and was never robust enough to handle material like this. Luckily, the latter part of the post under the next link below is helpful in establishing the context (e.g., saying that it mentions Borges too), and the first comment thereunder includes a rough translation of the relevant passage by Troels Forchhammer

In general, the impression I get is that Bergoglio (as he was then) is not so much singing Tolkien's praises as using his work as an example of a point he wants to make. Which shows respect for Tolkien's work, but is not quite the same thing as being 'a Tolkien fan'. I'd still love to see a good translation of the whole piece -- after all, it'd be interesting to see what he had to say about Borges, another great fantasist, as well.

I have to say that I'm not usually one to play the game of 'what would Tolkien say', because I object on principle to putting words in someone's mouth. But in this case, I don't think there's much doubt that he would have been pleased and no doubt moved that an archbishop of his church, someone who later rose to the post of pope, praised his work.


today's quote: "I'm still called an admiral, though I gave up the sea long ago" (Evita)

current reading: unfocused.

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