J.R.R. Tolkien Tells Off the Nazis

The Bully Pulpit

J.R.R. Tolkien

When J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit; or, There and Back Againon September 21st, 1937, it was met with critical acclaim and popular demand.

Naturally, in the ensuing months, publishing houses around Europe contacted Tolkien to inquire about translating the acclaimed popular novel into their respective tongues. The Berlin publisher Rütten & Loening was on the verge of printing its own German-language version of The Hobbit, when they requested written documentation of Tolkien’s Aryan heritage. This request so infuriated Tolkien that he penned a letter to his publisher and friend Stanley Unwin. It read:

I must say the enclosed letter from Rütten & Loening is a bit stiff. Do I suffer this impertinence because of the possession of a German name, or do their lunatic laws require a certificate of arisch (aryan) origin from all persons of all countries?

Personally, I should be inclined to refuse to give any Bestätigung (although it…

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