The first part of the exhibition concentrates on Tolkien’s life, and on the development of his ‘idiosyncratic’ love for beauty and literature. Specifically, it will reconstruct the foundation of his faith and his belief in ‘sub-creation’, focusing on the views expressed in his critical essays and letters. Tolkien had, indeed, a strong ‘commitment to creation’ (in the words of Rowan Williams), which involves two complementary views: first, the valorisation of the particular, of the idiosyncrasies, tastes, and circumstances of an individual life, including one’s imagination and fantasy; secondly, the conviction that every life, truth, and beauty produced by man ultimately comes from God, and that man is only a mirror, refracting the divine light given to him. For this reason, any ‘private vice’ has in fact a ‘universal’ dimension, as a gift given by God for the good of whole world, and the continuation of His history of creation. Indeed, as he stated in his letters, Tolkien considered himself as an imperfect, but as a ‘chosen instrument’ in God’s hands, ‘destined to kindle a new light, or, what is the same thing, rekindle an old light in the world’. Tolkien lived this elective attitude towards art (‘sub-creation’) right down to the more concrete details of his work: this is why he spoke of his writing as an ‘unexpected discovery’ or as ‘labour pain’, aimed to reveal ‘what was already there’; and why he considered literary creation as a ‘mystery’, involving an interplay between the freedom of both the author and of God.