WH Auden told JRR Tolkien to cut the love story from Lord of the Rings

Illustration for article titled WH Auden told JRR Tolkien to cut the love story from emLord of the Rings/em

Well, not all of the love stories, necessarily — just Aragorn and Arwen, which he described as "perfunctory" and "unnecessary." Do you agree? And what other fictional love stories would you have advised their authors to drop?


In a previously unpublished letter from Tolkien to his publisher Rayner Unwin (currently up for auction, if you have a spare $10K or so lying around), he describes the poet's reaction to reading a draft. Auden approved of what Tolkien described as "the Eowyn-Faramir business," but Arwen and Aragorn were not so lucky. Said Tolkien: "He thinks Aragorn-Arwen unnecessary & perfunctory. I hope the fragment of the 'saga' will cure him. I still find it poignant: an allegory of naked hope. I hope you do."

What do you think? Are there other stories that you think would have been made better by dropping a love story or two from the plot? Tell us about them now.

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Forced and unconvincing.