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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Main:
"J.R.R. Tolkien and the Boy Who Didn't Believe in Fairies".

N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 22 2010, 12:50am

Post #1 of 15 (1072 views)
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"J.R.R. Tolkien and the Boy Who Didn't Believe in Fairies". Can't Post

I finally purchased volume 6 of Tolkien Studies from the West Virginia U P site today (though I'd long since read most of the contents via ProjectMuse, which is carried by the local library), after noticing Michael Drout mention on his blog that volume 7 is nearly ready to print, and should appear by July. The contents for volume 7 haven't been officially announced yet, so far as I know, but poking around the internet turns up three items that will reportedly appear there. The article mentioned in my subject line is by John Garth, whose website describes it as a "biographical article about a manuscript item from Tolkien on Fairy-stories, with previously unseen photographs". The other two pieces I found listed are "Fantasy, Escape, Recovery, and Consolation in Sir Orfeo: The Medieval Foundation of Tolkienian Fantasy" by Thomas Honegger, and "Elladan and Elrohir: The Dioscuri in The Lord of the Rings" by Sherryln Branchaw. (The Dioscuri are the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux.)

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SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 22 2010, 2:33am

Post #2 of 15 (816 views)
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An aside [In reply to] Can't Post

Your mention of Sir Orfeo prompted me to do a search. It appears that Tolkien's translation (?) of that work has not been discussed in the RR in more than a cursory way... just saying.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 22 2010, 2:48am

Post #3 of 15 (851 views)
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Nor have [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or Pearl been given much attention there. Feel free to post on those subjects, or on any other of Tolkien's books! And for those who don't know: in addition to those translations, that were published at last in 1975, Tolkien also had a hand in Middle English editions of all three works: he famously produced an edition of Sir Gawain with E.V. Gordon in 1925, assisted with the edition of Pearl completed by Gordon's widow, Ida, in 1953, and created an edition of Sir Orfeo for cadets in about 1944.

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dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 23 2010, 9:15pm

Post #4 of 15 (755 views)
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I assume [In reply to] Can't Post

that the "Boy" in the article title is Garth himself?

Do you know how old Garth would have been, when On Fairy-stories was originially published? The title implies a life-altering experience.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
sample

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


May 24 2010, 3:22pm

Post #5 of 15 (763 views)
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Garth wasn't born when OFS was first published in 1947. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 24 2010, 3:47pm

Post #6 of 15 (838 views)
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In the '60s, when it became "popular"? [In reply to] Can't Post

What I'm curious about, is whether Garth was of the "fairies are for girls" mindset until he read Tolkien.

But we may not know that answer until the essay is published.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
sample

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Sep 7 2010, 2:46am

Post #7 of 15 (741 views)
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Much earlier! [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien Studies 7 is now available for purchase, and I've read Garth's piece. He's responding to a paragraph in the drafts for "On Fairy-stories", which was published in Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson's edition of 2008. Here is the paragraph:


Quote
I once received a salutary lesson. I was walking in a garden with a small child. I was only nineteen or twenty myself. By some aberration of shyness, groping for a topic like a man in heavy boots in a strange drawing room, as we passed a tall poppy half-opened, I said like a fool, 'Who lives in that flower?' Sheer insincerity on my part. 'No one', replied the child. 'There are Stamens and a Pistil in there'. He would have liked to tell me more about it, but my obvious and quite unnecessary surprise had shown too plainly that I was stupid so he did not bother and walked away.



Garth shows that this actually happened, identifies the child (even including some photographs), and dates the encounter to c. 1913-15.

I had completely overlooked this paragraph when reading Tolkien on Fairy-stories, but now it strikes me as related to a passage from "Leaf by Niggle":


Quote
'Of course, painting has uses', said Tompkins. 'But you couldn't make use of his painting. There is plenty of scope for bold young men not afraid of new ideas and new methods. None for this old-fashioned stuff. Private day-dreaming. He could not have designed a telling poster to save his life. Always fiddling with leaves and flowers. I asked him why, once. He said he thought they were pretty! Can you believe it? He said pretty! "What, digestive and genital organs of plants?" I said to him; and he had nothing to answer. Silly footler.'


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VoronwŽ_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 7 2010, 3:22am

Post #8 of 15 (728 views)
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It's a great piece! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's actually the only thing I've read so far in TS 7. Like you, I completely overlooked this paragraph when reading Tolkien on Fairy-stories, but it's really interesting.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


squire
Half-elven


Sep 7 2010, 3:23am

Post #9 of 15 (743 views)
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What was the lesson? [In reply to] Can't Post

The passage about the child is quite remarkable, and obviously connects to the Niggle section with Tompkins. Yet who would have guessed that the Niggle character originated in a precocious boy? Tompkins is plainly a crude cariacature of an adult modernist and a socialist, of a kind not too uncommon in mid-century England. Romantic Tories like Orwell and Lewis and even my old reliable Nevil Shute paint similar and contemptuous word-cartoons of Labour politicos. Tolkien loathes Tompkins' world-view, but there is absolutely no indication that the man's inability to think about aesthetics dates back to his childhood!

The lesson is Tolkien mocking his own assumption that children retain a romantic imagination until it is beaten out of them. The real descendant of this anecdote is his remark around 1960 that he regretted writing The Hobbit down to a child audience.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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VoronwŽ_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 7 2010, 3:26am

Post #10 of 15 (806 views)
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I had the same thought [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The lesson is Tolkien mocking his own assumption that children retain a romantic imagination until it is beaten out of them. The real descendant of this anecdote is his remark around 1960 that he regretted writing The Hobbit down to a child audience.



'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 7 2010, 5:07pm

Post #11 of 15 (718 views)
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So it wasn't Garth at all! [In reply to] Can't Post

But rather, a reference to the boy in that passage in "On Fairy-stories".

An interesting lesson for Tolkien! I can see where it could influence the character in "Leaf by Niggle", but it would have to be a "hindsight" for his remarks regarding "The Hobbit", since he had the influence of his own children in-between that boy and his later "regret".


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Oct 18 2010, 3:12am

Post #12 of 15 (873 views)
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Are Elladan and Elrohir based on Castor and Pollux/Polydeuces? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've just read "Elladan and Elrohir: The Dioscuri in The Lord of the Rings" by Sherrylyn Branchaw, who has convinced me that Tolkien had the Gemini twins in mind at some points during the creation of Elrond's sons: there's a passage given in the LOTR drafts (in The Peoples of Middle-earth) that very closely approximates a description of the Dioscuri in a work by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and some other similarities strike home as well. One area I would have liked Branchaw to consider further, given her analysis of the meaning of the brothers' names, is how their family in three generations has twins whose names start with "El" -- Elurťd and ElurŪn, Elrond and Elros, and Elladan and Elrohir-- and Tolkien temporarily used the names Elbereth and Elboron for both the first and third of these pairings.

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dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 18 2010, 3:21am

Post #13 of 15 (715 views)
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A curious idea. [In reply to] Can't Post

Does she say what the characteristics of Castor and Pollux were, that might have influenced Tolken?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915




N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Oct 18 2010, 3:58am

Post #14 of 15 (718 views)
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Most striking is [In reply to] Can't Post

...a passage on the founding of Rohan in HoMe XII in which two mysterious horsemen ride with Eorl's company pursuing orcs in the fields of Gondor before vanishing -- but "in Rivendell it was recorded that these were the sons of Elrond". Branchaw notes that Dionysius of Halicarnassus describes the battle of Lake Regillus as featuring two mysterious men on horseback who vanish after the battle, but it is later "concluded ... that the apparations had been those of Castor and Pollux". (The elipsis is in Branchaw.) There are several other similarities.

I've noticed more than a few typos and minor errors in this issue of Tolkien Studies. This passage from The Peoples of Middle-earth, for instance, is said in Branchaw's article to appear on p. 73, when it is actually found on p. 273.

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dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 19 2010, 2:36am

Post #15 of 15 (820 views)
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Re-inventing mythology [In reply to] Can't Post

"Mysterious horsemen" does seem like a concept that would appeal to Tolkien. I have not yet read HoME XII, I've really got to!

It just occurred to me: is it ever mentioned anywhere, that Elladan and Elrohir are twins?

And it does seem odd that typos would appear in a publication dedicated to a philologist; one would expect the proofreading to be impeccable. Page numbers, though, that sounds more like a mis-typing of the writer's own notes.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915



 
 

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