The political views of an author don’t matter very much. You pick up a book to be entertained, and the plain fact is that the ability to write something worth reading is pretty evenly distributed across the political spectrum. Nonetheless we like to think that authors we admire hold roughly the same views that we do. Sadly for the many fans of J.R.R.Tolkien his views are not ones that many people currently hold. But before we get into that lets have a look at the character of Tolkien as it emerges from these letters.
My three favourite twentieth century English authors are Orwell, Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. It isn’t a perfectly equal trinity though. I think Orwell and Tolkien are writers of huge genius who will be read for centuries to come. Lewis I like a lot and enjoy reading, but he isn’t really in the same category. He can certainly write well and has lots of interesting ideas, but I think he is very much of his time and will get steadily less relevant as the world changes. He also got a lot of his ideas from the other two. This doesn’t diminish how much fun you get from reading him. But originality always commands more respect than derivation, no matter how skilfully done.