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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
"Dwarves are not heroes": antisemitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's writing.

squire
Valinor


Feb 20 2013, 4:11pm


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"Dwarves are not heroes": antisemitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's writing. Can't Post

I stumbled on a link to this fine 2010 article from Mythlore, now posted on FreeLibrary. In it, Rebecca Brackmann argues that 1) Tolkien's elaboration of his mythology's "Dwarves" in The Hobbit contain many more traces of the conventional antisemitism of the time than most critics seem to have noticed; and 2) Tolkien himself realized this, possibly spurred by news of the Holocaust during the second world war, and spent considerable energy revising the fundamental characterization of the Dwarves in both The Lord of the Rings and in his later emendations to The Silmarillion and The Hobbit in the post-war years.

Brackmann's final point is that Tolkien could not let go of the deeper racialism that underlies his entire mythology, merely by revising the Dwarves to be more admirable than laughable or contemptible. It is a mistake to associate antisemitism only with hostile prejudice. She asserts that antisemitism exists when one believes that Jews are a distinct race with unchangeable characteristics, whether one admires them or loathes them. That, more than the specifics of language or gold-lust or cowardly behavior, is what ties Tolkien's Dwarves, created as a special race separate from the Children of Iluvatar, to contemporary European thinking about Jews in Tolkien's era.

The article is long but pretty well written and argued -- see what you think, if this subject interests you.



squire online:
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Subject User Time
"Dwarves are not heroes": antisemitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's writing. squire Send a private message to squire Feb 20 2013, 4:11pm
    It is an interesting read... elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Feb 20 2013, 5:56pm
        Cherrypicking, and Dwarves as a diaspora people arithmancer Send a private message to arithmancer Feb 20 2013, 11:31pm
    Fascinating. Thank You. demnation Send a private message to demnation Feb 20 2013, 7:04pm
        Flimsy to me CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 20 2013, 10:00pm
            A risky line to take SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Feb 21 2013, 5:20am
                Love that line CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 21 2013, 6:43pm
    People Should Know what IdrilofGondolin Send a private message to IdrilofGondolin Feb 21 2013, 1:59am
        Informative article and post also--thanks.// CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 21 2013, 2:13am
        The author's thesis is not that Tolkien was a Jew-hater. arithmancer Send a private message to arithmancer Feb 21 2013, 2:44am
            I think her final paragraph doesn't let him off the hook CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 21 2013, 4:21am
                Not sure what you mean... arithmancer Send a private message to arithmancer Feb 21 2013, 5:29am
        Now that's a blog I never expected to see cited here! sador Send a private message to sador Feb 21 2013, 11:58am
        Thank for this! Beren0nehanded Send a private message to Beren0nehanded Feb 22 2013, 2:33pm
    Fascinating - thank you! sador Send a private message to sador Feb 21 2013, 11:51am
    I read that when it first came out Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Feb 21 2013, 2:48pm

 
 
 

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