The Tree of Tales. Tolkien and the polyphony of creation


Organizers and Partners
Meeting Foundation for Friendship among Peoples, University of St Andrews, JH Newman Association (Turin), University of Oxford, King Edward’s School

Giuseppe Pezzini (University of St Andrews / University of Oxford), Emmanuele Riu (University of Genoa / Turin)

Editorial Board
Oronzo Cilli, Guglielmo Spirito, Roger Sylvester

Art Director
Paolo Morandi (Collarino and Morandi)

Project Manager
Matteo Bruschi

Scientific Committee
Tom Shippey, Stuart Lee (Oxford), Leonie Caldecott (Oxford), Oronzo Cilli (Barletta), Michael Devaux, Trevor Hart (St Andrews), José Manuel Ferrández Bru, Thomas Honegger (Jena), Jose Maria Miranda (Santiago), Andrea Monda (Osservatore Romano), Łukasz Neubauer (Koszalin), Timothy Radcliffe (Oxford), Martin Simonson, Rowan Williams (Cambridge), Alison Milbank (Nottingham), Giuseppe Pezzini (St Andrews), Guglielmo Spirito (Assisi), Brendan Wolfe (St Andrews), Judith Wolfe (St Andrews), Giovanni Costabile (Milan)

With the collaboration of
over 60 volunteers from 4 countries (UK, Italy, Spain, US)

(…) He saw the King’s tree rising high, tower upon tower, towards the sky, and its brilliance was like the sun at noon; and it had together leaves, flowers and fruits in innumerable quantities, all dissimilar from each other.

If every artist in some way expresses his or her creative self in particular forms, few writers like JRR Tolkien have had the courage to take this position to its extremes: the very form of his literary work, often unfairly defined as ‘fantasy’, is proof of a total appreciation that Tolkien gives to his own aesthetic, linguistic and literary preferences.

This is reflected, within his stories, in the centrality given to the characters and to individual events, including the apparently humbler ones, each called to affirm a single and unrepeatable particular voice, according to an exaltation of the self that is difficult to find even in the more extreme individualistic ideologies. At the same time, the self of each character is led to experience a unity with his traveling companions that assists and comforts personal collaboration in the progression of the Great Design.

This awareness of being a part, which is found both at the beginning and at the end of every human journey, in a never resolved tension between the affirmation of oneself and the humility of belonging, gives the artist and every human being in general, the courage to undertake and continue the adventure of the self. At the heart of Tolkien’s work is the dramatic discovery that every man is called to collaborate, with his own particular desires and thoughts, in a greater design, to contribute with his own self to the great polyphony of creation, and thus to their own story in the great, unique ‘Tree of Tales’. In the powerful Tolkienian vision the Creation of God is in fact imagined as a great Tree made of infinite leaves all different, as a polyphony of innumerable voices, each called to contribute, in its particularity, to a single great Music.

The exhibition will be presented in virtual form with advanced technology and will allow you to experience an exciting immersive journey.

Furthermore, the Meeting, from 20 to 25 August, will present original objects related to Tolkien’s life belonging to the Oronzo Cilli Collection, and will host an International Conference on the figure and work of Tolkien thanks to the participation (in presence and online) of the members of the Scientific Committee.


20 Agosto 2021 - 25 Agosto 2021




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