David Bentley Hart, First Things

The only thing I know that J.R.R. Tolkien and Salvador Dalí had in common—or rather, I suppose I should say, the only significant or unexpected thing, since they obviously had all sorts of other things in common: they were male, bipedal, human, rough contemporaries, celebrities, and so on—was that each man on at least one occasion said he was drawn simultaneously towards anarchism and monarchism.

In the case of Dalí it was probably a meaningless remark, since almost everything he ever said was; whenever he got past the point of “Please pass the butter” or “That will cost you a great deal of money,” he generally gave up any pretense of trying to communicate with other people.

But Tolkien was, in his choleric way, giving voice to his deepest convictions regarding the ideal form of human society—albeit fleeting voice. The text of his sole anarcho-monarchist manifesto, such as it is, comes from a letter he wrote to his son Christopher in 1943 (forgive me for quoting at such length):


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