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Tolkien - "I have never been a lover of books for children.."

geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 2 2012, 10:42am

Post #1 of 14 (499 views)
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Tolkien - "I have never been a lover of books for children.." Can't Post

"...and have seldom read any since my childhood."

This short passage is from one of three letters coming up for sale next month in an auction in Germany. Here's a link to the catalogue -

http://www.stargardt.de/download/file/698/I_Literatur.pdf

The letters are lot no.274. In another of the letters he writes: "I do not myself favour any illustrations of _The Lord of the Rings_... "

Interesting, no?

Smile


DanielLB
Immortal


Jun 2 2012, 11:59am

Post #2 of 14 (272 views)
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Yes, definitely interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder sort of price it is expected to fetch?

I love Tolkien's letters so nice to se a real one for sale!


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 2 2012, 2:30pm

Post #3 of 14 (275 views)
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"...though, of course, the better the illustrator [In reply to] Can't Post

the less would be my objections. However, I think the question whether illustrations would be either an improvement of the book or likely to increase its sale in Germany would be one for the publisher himself to decide ... A set or series of designs by Möser' (der dt. Linolschneider Fritz M.) 'to moments or figures in the story, or expressive of emotions aroused by it, would be of very great interest, but that is quite another matter ..."

Do you know who this Möser is, whom Tolkien refers to? Did he ever make any LotR illustrations?


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

"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




Magpie
Immortal


Jun 2 2012, 2:39pm

Post #4 of 14 (276 views)
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not that I'm qualified to answer [In reply to] Can't Post

but I enjoy a bit of a puzzle for diversion.

googling the name Möser didn't help much.

So I googled (not knowing what it meant) : der dt. Linolschneider Fritz M

That turned up a hit on Fritz Möser at Wikipedia

Apparently linolschneider is to do with linotype

http://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_M%C3%B6ser

https://www.google.com/...p;q=Fritz+M%C3%B6ser

Interesting illustrations.

https://www.google.com/...iw=2133&bih=1067

If he is saying that he would be interested in Möser designing for his stories, I have to say... this is about as far away from Maxfield Parrish (referencing another recent thread here) as one can get.


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(This post was edited by Magpie on Jun 2 2012, 2:42pm)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 2 2012, 6:03pm

Post #5 of 14 (256 views)
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I think those illustrations are wonderful - [In reply to] Can't Post

and, if anything, they put me in mind of something I'd heard or read ages ago; apparently Tolkien had some pictures by Reynolds Stone on his wall. Take a look here:


Sorry about the length of the link.

Crazy

(Fixed - Ataahua)



(This post was edited by Ataahua on Jun 3 2012, 12:48am)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 2 2012, 6:08pm

Post #6 of 14 (241 views)
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And you're right [In reply to] Can't Post

- I was thinking about that Maxfield Parrish thread, too. Dear old Bomby seemed fairly insistent that JRR _could_ have seen Parrish's childrens' illustrations c. 1909; but T. would have been 17 then, so IMO it's unlikely that Parrish's works would or could be an influence on JRR.
.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 2 2012, 6:12pm

Post #7 of 14 (240 views)
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The Moser designs [In reply to] Can't Post

remind me somewhat of those by HM Queen Margrethe of Denmark used in the Folio Society LotR, as chapter headings.

I think Moser's works would be admirably suited for this sort of thing.


Magpie
Immortal


Jun 2 2012, 6:16pm

Post #8 of 14 (239 views)
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well, both do work in black and white [In reply to] Can't Post

but the abstract vs realism aspect makes them quite different. :-)

Möser is also more prone to solid blacks where Stone uses hashing to create form and shadow.

But it's interesting that Tolkien made note of each.

As I have said, I see some small similarities between Wanda Gag's work and some of Tolkien's illustrations. I don't have any reason to think Tolkien knew of or was influenced by her at all ... if anything, I think they share eras and exposure to similar styles of art during the time. But Wanda's illustrations are also mostly black and white. Perhaps all they share is a medium... pen and ink! But there's something else, I glimpse. A style of perspective and curving lines I can't quite put my finger on.

Not sure what to make of Möser and Stone and Gag... not much except amusement of similarities.

(I'm quite fond of Gag's work and own quite a few books by here... some of which I bought at her childhood home which is now a museum/historical site.)


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Magpie
Immortal


Jun 2 2012, 6:44pm

Post #9 of 14 (239 views)
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I was put in mind of something I wrote awhile back. [In reply to] Can't Post

Throughout my conversations with people over various subjects, I've found two styles of discussion (not to say there are only two...).

One is rooted in provable fact and doesn't give put much value to thoughts that aren't provable or don't fit some quantifiable (in their mind) level of true or accuracy.

The other style is much more comfortable chasing rabbits and rainbows of ideas - somethings finding dead-ends or serendipitous connections but not so concerned with the concept of provable truth.

Those two styles can find it hard to communicate. :-) I actually find I use each style in turn depending on the intent and goal of the discussion.

I have been 'corrected' many times in my soundtrack work and I kind of refuse to back down on a lot of it even going so far as to say I reserve my right to disagree with the composer. GASP.
:-)

But I've covered this in a series of small 'essays' on my site, which can be found by following links on this page: http://www.amagpiesnest.com/...x_shiny_thoughts.htm

But the one, in particular, that seemed pertinent to the Parrish discussion, was this one: "the composers’ intentions are the key to understanding their work" : sometimes

The last bit of music heard for the ROTK movie (not including the fan club credits), made many people think of Wagner. And then Shore confirmed that he composed that bit as an open nod to Wager but didn't, at the time, say which piece of Wagner's he was alluding to. Lots of LOTR score fans are fans of Wagner and a huge discussion ensued about which piece it was. Finally, a confirmation came about which piece it was and still, people disagreed with this announcement! A statement made by Doug, ...
The only Wagner allusion in Shore’s LOTR scores is the Götterdämmerung near the very end of ROTK. Many have asked, “But isn’t that really a nod to material more prominent in Die Walküre or perhaps Das Rheingold?” The answer is simple… Shore, being versed in Wagner, but again not a Wagner scholar, recalled this material from Götterdämmerung when he chose to reference it. That was his intent, so thus it is listed. It’s the same reason that Stravinsky’s Greeting Prelude is not listed as Variations on a Theme by Patty and Mildred Hill. It is the composers’ intentions that are the key to understanding their work in such instances.
... struck a chord with me. Not in terms of that particular discussion but in terms of all the times someone wanted to 'prove' something I had said was wrong by using a quote from this or that person or source.

I wrote (in part)
A consideration or discussion of a piece of art serves many purposes. Only one is to understand 'the work'. If a group of people sit down to view an unfamiliar work and then discuss what they think of it, all sorts of interesting things can come to light that really have little to do with the artist or even the work. That group might discover more about themselves as individuals, group dynamics, roles each play within the group, cultural paradigms, etc.

The goal is multifold, imo. First, to seek to be educated about as much as one can, from as valid a source as one can. Second, to allow for thoughts other than the 'official line' to exist and be discussed. Third, to understand the difference between the two approaches when forming an opinion, stating a point, or debating an issue. That goes for both 'sides'... that is: people who gravitate towards one approach strongly. If you're all fact based... lighten up sometimes. If you're all personal opinion based... educate yourself. Learn to listen as much as you like to talk. Understand where the other party is coming from and allow for differences in approach.


Now, I wasn't thinking that the Parrish discussion got strident or anything. It was more that I sense Bomby feeling like I do a lot of the time: as if I've made this connection and it seems significant to me and I don't want to give it up as unimportant because it isn't provable.

But I've come to realize that, in those moments, the purpose of my thoughts and any ensuing discussion isn't about the 'art' anymore. If I respond personally to a piece of art or music and I make a connection to Tolkien that seems significant to me... it's isn't really about Tolkien. It's about me. It's maybe about how that piece of art makes me feel like Tolkien makes me feel. Or about how that music seems just like the music I think the Elves might make. Or about how that handsome, tall young man looks just like I imagine Tolkien's elves look (that would be the man who came to be my husband!). Maybe... just maybe... that piece of art makes me think of Tolkien because Tolkien was thinking of it when he wrote something! But if not, it doesn't lessen or devalue my own personal reaction - as long as I can own it as a personal reaction.

It's like the people who insist that Sam and Frodo are gay because it is obvious to them. They see the world in a way that colors how they read Tolkien. They can hold tight to that vision if it suits or pleases them and they can discuss how Sam and Frodo could be considered gay from some cultural or historic perspective. But they can't claim Tolkien wrote them as gay. Those are two different discussions. Each has its place but each must be clear in its intent and goal.


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dormouse
Half-elven


Jun 3 2012, 8:18am

Post #10 of 14 (205 views)
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Yes - I thought at once of Queen Magarethe's illustrations [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien does seem to have liked very strong black and white illustration - perhaps because it conveys a mood but isn't too specific about details.

Someone was wondering about 'Linolschnieder'. It's an artist who works in what we would call 'lino cutting' - you cut the design into a block of soft (ish) lino - remembering not to put your free hand that holds the block in the way of the cutting tool - you only ever do that once! Then ink is rolled onto the lino and a print taken and the cut-away design shows up white against the inked areas. It gives you precisely that bold contrasted effect.

The comment about JRRT not being in favour of illustration for Lord of the Rings is interesting, but I suspect it has more to do with his instinct to protect his work from illustrations that he didn't like and the sense that the whole thing is too vast, complex and personal to be suitable for illustration. After all, he then goes on to identify an illustrator he would like to secure for the books, so it's not really as simple as it sounds at first.


(This post was edited by dormouse on Jun 3 2012, 8:25am)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 3 2012, 9:47am

Post #11 of 14 (195 views)
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I'm grateful [In reply to] Can't Post

to you and Dernwyn for picking up on the rest of the quote - I find that if i give a quote in its entirety folk are not so quick to follow it up; doing so seems to shut down discussion, as if folk feel that 'Tolkien said this, so it can't be argued with'. That's why I've learned to leave quotes open; to encourage others to come along and pop in the 'other' side of the issue. Thanks, both.

Of course there's more to it, as you say - as with many aspects of Tolkien studies. Tolkien could be pedantic (pedantry was part of his job as a philologist, I suppose) - but there are always subtelties. I find the thing to do is to take 'pronouncements' like this in context, taking into consideration the person Tolkien is writing to, for example, as well as what he's writing about.
.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jun 3 2012, 10:42am

Post #12 of 14 (202 views)
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Magpie - I haven't gone away.. [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile

..I've been thinking about your post, and where my line of thinking fits in (if it does) with what you're saying about two lines of approach to Tolkien's works. First of all; I agree with you in that we all have personal reactions to a work of art, and we all relate one piece of art to another, in our own minds. Some time ago I would have Elton John's 'Funeral for a friend' going through my head, while picturing Frodo's flight to the ford. or Theoden's last charge. This must seem very odd to most people, but I enjoyed putting the music to the 'pictures'.

I guess this is in part what JRR was talking about in the Foreword to the 2nd ed. of LotR, ref. 'applicability' - (putting aside for the moment his point about allegory; that's not what we're talking about here). People will see pictures of M-e in their head, and hear music, and make associations with other artists' works. Nae problemo.

What I'm saying is that there's a tendency for folk to think that, because they've been moved by a particular piece of art, then another person - in this case Tolkien - might have been, too. In his Parrish thread, Bomby said he thought T. may have seen Parrish's works, and at least implied he thought that T. may have loved them as much as Bomby; and that it may be possible for these works to be incorporated into Tolkien's works in some way. I'm not saying, 'Prove it!' - that is impossible, unless and until some previously unknown evidence turns up. But Bomby asked us for our thoughts on the matter, and what I, and others, did was to opine that not only is there no suggestion that T. knew of, or cared for, Parrish's works (AFAIK), there's also some evidence to show that his tastes were more Euro-centric (to be precise, English) than American.

For his own part, Tolkien seems to have been almost comically puzzled by the reaction of his fans in the US - in the TV documentary I've pointed to in various threads, he said America seems to be more easily 'kindled' than places in Europe, citing the case of Dickens - folk used to stand on the dockside in the USA waiting for the latest instalment of Dickens' books, he said; almost ignoring the other goods.

Which is not to say that Tolkien was anti-American, or anything of the kind. He certainly seems to have been up to date on the American scene, at least as far as his own speciality goes. In his review of S. Moore's 'Historical Outlines of English Phonology and Morphology (M.E. and Modern E.) (AnnArbour, 1925), Tolkien notes Moore's regret that in the US, courses on Middle English had become 'mere translation courses.' Tolkien writes:

"...Many who have felt this will find this book of use - if they can get students to use it. This will be more possible in America than in England, for the description of modern English sounds and the transcriptions are quite useless for 'British' students. It is impossible to teach them American (though it might be good for them) as a preliminary to Old and Middle English. .."
('Philology: General Works', in 'The Year's Work in English Studies, Vol.VI, 1925)

Sorry - seem to have strayed from the original topic. But if nothing else, this quote shows (IMO) the value of acknowledging other folks' point of view. I hope.

Smile


(This post was edited by geordie on Jun 3 2012, 10:43am)


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 3 2012, 12:08pm

Post #13 of 14 (191 views)
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"It is impossible [In reply to] Can't Post

to teach them American (though it might be good for them) as a preliminary to Old and Middle English. .."

I recall reading this a few years back, and getting a chuckle out of it! It brought to mind what Henry Higgins says in My Fair Lady, regarding the teaching of English: "In America, they haven't spoken it in years!"!


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

"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




Magpie
Immortal


Jun 3 2012, 12:41pm

Post #14 of 14 (222 views)
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I agree with you [In reply to] Can't Post

In the case of the Parrish discussion, I wasn't reminded of what I wrote because I thought the 'prove it' side was too strong. The stuff I wrote previously and quoted now was written because I've had a lot of people tell me to 'prove it' when proving it wasn't the point of the discussion. So my thoughts came out strongly on that side.

But what I was trying to say - the point I wanted to make - was that sometimes we don't have to prove it because we're exploring our own psyche. And sometimes, if we state what we're saying in a particular way - we do have to prove it.

So, if we want to claim Tolkien intended something, we have to be ready to provide and/or accept proof of that. I does matter what Tolkien did and knew and said. If we want to say, "I respond this way" and claim it as ours... we are off the hook, so to speak, in terms of proof.

So I don't think you were untoward in bringing in facts. I think, and I say this gently, that Bomby was feeling something and wanting to make it fact. If I were in that position, I would probably just claim it as a personal feeling and either say 'I don't care what Tolkien thought... he may not have liked this at all but this makes me think of him' or 'I was hoping there was a connection but finding none, I am content to make the connection in a personal sense'.

I tend to ramble and I think I buried my point in too many words. But, for me, your comments on Parrish were enough to fend me off thinking Tolkien was influenced by Parrish and I think you expressed them well - stating what you knew, what your sense was, etc. I always value people who are clear about their sources and the strength of veracity of their info, etc.


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