Guest post by E.J., INTJ
Introverted Sensing (Si): Tolkien’s mother died when he was eight years old, and his memory of her motivated him throughout his adult life. Since her family had abandoned her after her conversion to Catholicism, and her health had subsequently deteriorated, Tolkien considered her a martyr. Her memory was part of the reason why Tolkien became such a staunch Catholic. He remained haunted by his experiences in World War I, and some aspects of those experiences made their way into his books. Tolkien could have difficulty with change, and he was frustrated when Catholic churches began holding services in English rather than Latin. He strongly opposed Nazism and thought he would have been more motivated to fight in World War II than in World War I (the war he actually fought in) because the Nazi abuse of Germanic mythology, his lifelong interest, infuriated him.
Extraverted Thinking (Te): Tolkien wanted his fantasy world hold together logically: in fact, the world existed in the first place because he considered it the logical outgrowth of the Elvish language he spent years developing. Tolkien had a very critical and perfectionistic approach to his own works, which slowed his writing down, but he was simultaneously frustrated by his failure to complete so many projects. Tolkien could be blunt about his opinions, refusing to mince his words when he disagreed with someone.
Introverted Feeling (Fi): J. R. R. Tolkien was an intensely emotional man, even claiming on one occasion that he had “feelings more than ideas.” He possessed a strong, internally-based moral drive, and morality is a major theme in his writing. He was a staunch Catholic for all his adult life, despite the fact that Catholics were a religious minority within his circle of friends and in England as a whole. Although equivocating on some Catholic beliefs might have given him a more comfortable relationship with other people, he held to the beliefs that he considered authentically right. Tolkien was conservative but largely apolitical.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne): Tolkien was known for jumping from one burst of inspiration to the next and, as a result, had difficulty completing projects. Of his full-length fantasy works that are available today, only two (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) were completed in his lifetime. In the case of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien completed the work largely because C. S. Lewis loved it and regularly urged Tolkien to keep writing. Tolkien’s son, Christopher, has spent a large portion of his life organizing, editing, and publishing the various partially completed works that Tolkien left lying around.
Editor’s note (Arvid Walton): Tolkien is canonically argued as either an INFP or INFJ. In the next week or so, I’m going to write a sub post for this one explaining why he’s an ISTJ rather than INFx. Most of my reasoning is based off of my understanding of Medieval literary traditions.
In the meantime, just be patient.