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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Some speculation about Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur

News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Mar 23 2013, 5:20am

Post #1 of 16 (384 views)
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Some speculation about Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur Can't Post

Fall of Arthur Book Cover as you're probably aware, Harper Collins is publishing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur in May 2013.

Edited by the Professor’s son, Christopher, the publication also includes "three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work that his father applied to bring it to a finished form, and the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and his greatest creation, Middle-earth."

But while we all wait, I thought people might enjoy this interesting speculation about what The Fall of Arthur might hold for us that I stumbled across over on Tolkien Library.

THE EXISTENCE of The Fall of Arthur has been known since the publication of Humphrey Carpenter's biography of JRR Tolkien. Carpenter devoted a paragraph to the work, and uniquely, he actually quoted from it – five-and-a-half lines of alliterative verse. Given the level of interest in The Silmarillion when Carpenter was writing, and the total concentration on the canonical 'Middle-earth' works in the published Letters, to have that much information about anything else in the biography surely indicates that it was of importance to JRR Tolkien himself. It's well worth quoting here what Carpenter had to say about The Fall of Arthur:

'Another major poem from this period has alliteration but no rhyme. This is 'The Fall of Arthur', Tolkien's only imaginative incursion into the Arthurian cycle, whose legends had pleased him since childhood, but which he found 'too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive'.

Arthurian stories were also unsatisfactory to him as myth in that they explicitly contained the Christian religion. In his own Arthurian poem he did not touch on the Grail but began an individual rendering of the Morte d'Arthur, in which the king and Gawain go to war in 'Saxon lands' but are summoned home by news of Mordred's treachery.

The poem was never finished, but it was read and approved by E.V. Gordon, and by R.W. Chambers, Professor of English at London University, who considered it to be 'great stuff - really heroic, quite apart from its value as showing how the Beowulf metre can be used in modern English'. It is also interesting in that it is one of the few pieces of writing in which Tolkien deals explicitly with sexual passion, describing Mordred's unsated lust for Guinever (which is how Tolkien chooses to spell her name):

His bed was barren; there black phantoms
of desire unsated and savage fury
in his brain had brooded till bleak morning


But Tolkien's Guinever is not the tragic heroine beloved by most Arthurian writers; instead she is described as

lady ruthless
fair as fay-woman and fell-minded
in the world walking for the woe of men.


[Read More]


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 24 2013, 8:32pm

Post #2 of 16 (241 views)
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We had a nice little thread about this recently [In reply to] Can't Post

[see here]

Anyway, this is a great prelude. I'm sure the book itself will generate all manner of essays and papers -- how could it not, being a text that falls at the crossroads of Aurthur and Tolkien Studies?

In anticipation of Tolkien's poem, I've been plowing through the Oxford Classics Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript lately. I agree with Tolkien that the stories are sometimes repetitive, especially the many descriptions of battle. However, I find this makes the parts where something unique happens, or where an original idea is expressed, all the more sweet and gratifying.

The other point we seem to agree on is regarding the Grail Quest. That part of the tale is, er, well, not that interesting to me; being a Christian and an avid reader of the Bible, that's saying something I think. I've been bogged down in the [Quest of the Sangreal for some days now. Of course there are some bright spots, for instance where symbolism shines through. But imho, a fair amount of the theology is sketchy, tending to heretical -- for example where Malory traces a line between Lancelot (and in turn Galahad) and King Solomon, it seems either to belittle the Holy Scriptures or attempt to aggrandize the mythology in a way that is troubling to me. Overall the theology in evidence in Malory is more agreeable when it's woven into the fabric of the tales rather than being their subject.

All this to say, I agree with Tolkien's decision to leave the Grail stuff out of his poem entirely. Incidentally, this is where Tennyson's Idylls, and Lancelyn Green's ...Arthur and his Knights... are improvements over Malory... both contain the Grail Quest but somehow make it more palatable (to me, anyway).

A final note: According to the article (perhaps not surprisingly) Tolkien gives Sir Gawain prominence in his tale. He's one of the more intriguing characters in earlier versions of Arthur, but hardly a central figure. Lancelyn Green (an associate of Tolkien's) elevated Gawain as well, which is cool because next to Tristan he is my favourite knight.

Thanks for the post NFB. I can hardly wait to get my hands on The Fall of Arthur.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Mar 24 2013, 8:38pm)


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 24 2013, 8:57pm

Post #3 of 16 (230 views)
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An ignorant question [In reply to] Can't Post

Just curious about the Grail Quest, which I know more from popular fiction than reading anything in the original. I like the idea in principle that something was left behind from Jesus, even though I have trouble believing that anyone at the time said, "Let's save this cup from the last time he drank from it." It seems they'd focus on other things first; the Shroud of Turin seems a more probable keepsake.

But then the Grail is supposed to have magical powers. This is where it seems to me that people in the Middle Ages mixed folk magic with religion, which they often did in many areas, and then it seems less a Christian tale and more about "getting the magic artifact" which is like the Golden Fleece and numerous other quest goals.

So, that's the preamble to my question for you: are the theological variations the reason why you and Tolkien weren't too keen on the Grail Quest? Or is it a literary thing where it's poorly written and constructed?


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 24 2013, 10:55pm

Post #4 of 16 (249 views)
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Can't speak for Tolkien -- [In reply to] Can't Post

Not too long ago I asked why he abandoned his version of the Arthur legend (here).

For my part, your preamble covers it quite well, even better than I could have put into words myself. I'm not bothered overmuch by the literary quality of Malory's Quest of the Sangreal. In fact it seems to me comparatively well written against the rest of the tales (though I'm working from a simplified version).

But yes, and perhaps it is a strange thing, but something seems off about the tale. If it were simply a fantastical tale of magic, I would find it more agreeable.

However, it seems to me that Malory was attempting to present a legitimate Christian theology, albeit infused with the ideals of Chivalry; because it confuses some issues in the process, to me it plays more as a false doctrine than a work of fiction/fantasy... therefore it is somewhat unappealing to me. Even if it were presented as a tale of mysticism (certainly the Merlin bits in the other romances could be described as such) it would not offend my sensibilities as much. But then, I've never been one for relics and so on, though I do find iconography and illuminations fascinating.

As I said, I can't speak for Tolkien... but given what is known of his faith, and what he did with his own mythology, our perspectives on the question might share some features.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Mar 24 2013, 10:59pm)


Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


Mar 25 2013, 6:22am

Post #5 of 16 (235 views)
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The Grail Quest probably feels off... [In reply to] Can't Post

...due to its origins. It's a mishmash of Christian theology/folklore and Celtic mythology (like so many things in the Arthur story). If I recall, it started out as simply a dish or bowl in the early stories by Chretien de Troyes, influenced by the life-restoring cauldrons of Celtic myth. The idea of it being the cup from the Last Supper was a later invention.

Not being Christian myself, I tend to enjoy the story simply as a quest tale for a magic relic. But I can see how it could feel heretical or offensive to a believer. Bit of a hard sell as Christian theology when it has possibly pagan origins and a story that's been pieced together by various authors over time.

In any case, Grail or no Grail, I'm very excited to read The Fall of Arthur. Tolkien doing Arthurian legend -- two of my geek obsessions combined!


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 25 2013, 5:24pm

Post #6 of 16 (224 views)
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As I said, it's a strange thing [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been a while since I read Chretien de Troyes (aka Christian of Troyes)... I remember enjoying it immensely, including his Perceval. Of course his Lancelot left the greatest impression on me.

FWIW I polished off Malory's Sangrail last night... not bad overall, previous remarks notwithstanding. Now all that stands between me and The Death of Arthur -- which seems to form the basis of Tolkien's poem -- are Lancelot and Guinevere.Wink


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 26 2013, 7:12pm

Post #7 of 16 (184 views)
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I am curious as to why he left off as well, and where [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for referencing the old discussion, as I skimmed it at the time but was very much in the AUJ swing of things. Mind you, as a warning I mention that I am 20 or so years out from reading Le Morte and probably ten or so from anything else Arthurian....! I don't want to re-invent the wheel, but with the publishing date approaching I am more excited about getting into the work (and the discussions to follow!) In particular I really like two of these points made in January:
Eruonen: Just a thought, but if we are to imagine the intersection of 5th century Britain with any lingering remnant of earlier age beings in Britain, I think we would have to consider any lingering elves as substantially reduced in both power, numbers and physical form having missed the chance to take the Lost Road. They would have become the "wee folk" of folktales and myth.

Real-world interpretation of the Dimishment of Grace.....! That is a wonderful and appealing notion.

Sir Dennis: If I follow the reasoning behind the Arthur legends picking up where the Sil leaves off, it is to trace English-ness to a source previously unknown; that is not Roman, Welsh, Pict, Franc, Gaul, Saxon and so on. I can see how Tolkien, as he matured, might have abandoned the project as his intentions might have been misconstrued as promoting racial purity.


Or is it the impossibility of creating legendarium that does not have roots in this mixed bag of cultural influence perhaps? Maybe its ultimate goal of "purely English mythos" was ultimately simply too narrow and limiting for his vision in the long run (or if by travelling back and distilling, some religious issues got in the way. I say more below.) I am curious to see whether in the notes by CT we will get any insight into JRRT's reasons for not finishing, if he ever intended to return to it or if in the end he lost sight. I am interested to see as well once it is published exactly where it DOES stop, because.....
....I also am curious if the religious aspect of the ending might have presented a philosphical problem for Tolkien, with his strongly Christian sensibilities. We have Aragorn (arguably both as Tolkien's ME ego and as LOTR adaptation of Arthur), who goes on to his eternal reward in unidirectional fashion, elegantly accepting death at the right time and leaving the Circles, never to return during the First Song, a very Christian-model eternal reward. Whereas classical Arthur, the once and future ideology of the 'return of the King' (quite contextually different than JRRT used it!) might have prompted him to not be happy with the open ended idea, a much older and more pagan concept he seems to have assigned to the Dwarves (ie: rebirth of the Seven Fathers) and to the concept of necromancy as it deals with the rehousing of unsettled fea(r).

Another point I find interesting, and I think I can relate it to the seemingly irreconcilable notion that JRRT denied allegory: a quote I found from the Notion Club Papers: "... if one could go back, one would find not myth dissolving into history, but rather the reverse: real history becoming more mythical, more shapely, simple discernibly significant, even seen at close quarters. More poetical, and less prosaic, if you like." - JRRT

I think this speaks to his desire to try to reconcile the cultural legacies through the poem and to convey his ideas of the histories from Sil to Arthur to today ('close quarters') as a backwards continuum. So perhaps his long denial of allegory is true, in a sense: rejecting modern allegory (which has always been the idea he strenously dismissed) and its current interpretations, for a sort of reverse-engineered allegory derived from the chronologically distant basis of legend and language, and instead applying IT'S meaning to today.

As far as the missing Grail story, which I understand is not addressed, I must say I disagree with the interpretation of many published scholars in that the Ring = the Grail. I can't see JRRT equating the tainted Ring with the Cup of Christ. Instead I would think that his approximate parallel would be the sanctified Silmarils. (Hope I am not way off base here. Do I need tinfoil pants?) So in the context of not including it as you point out, Sir Dennis, is it a conflict of spirit in touching on the Cup and its implications, or did JRRT feel that he had such an established connection with the Cycle within SIL that he did not care to expand upon it again?

In short (too late!) looking very forward to the work!



Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 27 2013, 12:20am

Post #8 of 16 (176 views)
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The Ring as the Grail? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow. That either takes highly sophisticated reasoning or lots of creativity to make that connection. It's puzzling that any scholar would. Superficial comparisons are good enough: the Ring came from a Devil-type, the Grail was associated with a God-type. The Ring was never good, and good never came from it (and disappearing to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses doesn't count). The Grail was supposed to be rescued/recovered; the Ring was supposed to be destroyed. I'm not disputing what you said at all, Brethil, just perplexed that any scholar could say this with a straight face. But I think a lot of scholars just plain don't understand Tolkien, and postmodernists are at liberty to interpret things as they see fit.

Otherwise, even as a kid I thought Aragorn was like King Arthur (I loved Arthur stories). Instead of pulling the Sword from the Stone, he pulls the one from the Shards. And of course he's destined to regain the throne that is owed to him, and he does, and you never really doubt as a reader that he will, even if you don't know how (whereas I wasn't sure on 1st read if Frodo would really succeed or not, though I think most adult readers assume he will).

Though I'll add that I thought Tolkien sufficiently embellished Aragorn as a character that I didn't think he was just an Arthur clone dropped into the story. I've seen that in other novels.


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 27 2013, 1:09am

Post #9 of 16 (161 views)
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I agree completely on that Grail (mis)interpretation [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Wow. That either takes highly sophisticated reasoning or lots of creativity to make that connection. It's puzzling that any scholar would. Superficial comparisons are good enough: the Ring came from a Devil-type, the Grail was associated with a God-type. The Ring was never good, and good never came from it (and disappearing to avoid the Sackville-Bagginses doesn't count). The Grail was supposed to be rescued/recovered; the Ring was supposed to be destroyed. I'm not disputing what you said at all, Brethil, just perplexed that any scholar could say this with a straight face. But I think a lot of scholars just plain don't understand Tolkien, and postmodernists are at liberty to interpret things as they see fit.

Otherwise, even as a kid I thought Aragorn was like King Arthur (I loved Arthur stories). Instead of pulling the Sword from the Stone, he pulls the one from the Shards. And of course he's destined to regain the throne that is owed to him, and he does, and you never really doubt as a reader that he will, even if you don't know how (whereas I wasn't sure on 1st read if Frodo would really succeed or not, though I think most adult readers assume he will).

Though I'll add that I thought Tolkien sufficiently embellished Aragorn as a character that I didn't think he was just an Arthur clone dropped into the story. I've seen that in other novels.






Indeed when I first read the LOTR trilogy, I followed it with works about the correlations between LOTR and Arthurian legends - as I had recently read a lot of that material as well. Initially I accepted that particular analogy (and I still accept many of the connections and inspirations) but it sat poorly with me soon after. I feel like anyone (and I have read that syllogism as recently as the 2000s) who makes the comparison may understand their Arthur, but not entirely get their Tolkien. The golden beauty of the Ring, and perhaps its rather 'hip' and as you say postmodernist addiction model perhaps lends itself to this inappropriate idea.

(As a side note, when I read it as a 20 year old I really feared Frodo would fail! Stayed up all night to finish ROTK I was so worried!)

(How do you feel about the Silmarils in the Grail role?)

I see some parallels between Arthur and Aragorn, but in a distant and 'traditional' way, in that LOTR would be the precourser to the other legends. For example, like you said, the sacred swords - that they have in common, as well as the purity to wield them. Their dual childhood experiences with Elves (granted Elves of different relative grace) . Their ability to unite their people in time of need. "The crownless again shall be King...." as they both come from hidden bloodlines, shielded from enemies, and rise from obscurity when the need is near. So that I can accept, but of course Aragorn is such a complex hero (thankfully no direct Morgan LeFay in there) I definitely would say he is in no way a drop-in or even a derivative character - as you see we have seen it in plenty (!) in other fantasy. But that speaks both to the appeal of the original legends PLUS Tolkien's humanizing much of it in modern yet still beautiful and dignified language.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 27 2013, 2:04am

Post #10 of 16 (161 views)
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Oops, I missed a couple spots [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for reminding me.

Yes, I can see a Grail/Silmaril connection. You make infinitely more sense than those scholars when you say that. Both were sacred objects, both needed to be recovered, and the recovery of each was an epic quest. There was the difference that the Oath of Feanor to recover the Silimarils was evil and led to more evil by good people, but differences don't negate the comparison, which I think is a good one. And doesn't it say a lot about the comparison that the most successful effort at recovery of the Silmarils was by a couple of individuals, inspired by the purest of intentions, much like knights acting on their own, vs. the big armies that repeatedly failed?

Also, I greatly appreciate your point about Tolkien reverse-engineering allegory from the past to the present. I honestly struggle with his announcement that his works are about "applicability" but not "allegory." Well, he can say anything he wants, and can say he's not an Englishman if he wants, but I don't have to believe it, do I? I do find his works allegorical. If they are projecting the past onto the present, so be it. I just can't deny the connections that jump out at me.

Elizabeth made the great point in a past discussion that allegory to Tolkien was
a direct mapping of one story to another, as CS Lewis mapped the Christ story to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Applicability to Tolkien was more about indirect comparisons. He certainly made those. And some people call that allegory; not worth quibbling about the nuances, at least to me, because he was making connections of some kind. But it's a unique viewpoint that you've put forth, as far as I know, that he was more interested in pushing a past framework onto the present than the reverse.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 27 2013, 2:16am

Post #11 of 16 (177 views)
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Arthur and Aragorn and swords [In reply to] Can't Post

CuriousG said:

Quote
Otherwise, even as a kid I thought Aragorn was like King Arthur (I loved Arthur stories). Instead of pulling the Sword from the Stone, he pulls the one from the Shards. And of course he's destined to regain the throne that is owed to him, and he does, and you never really doubt as a reader that he will, even if you don't know how.


It is true that drawing the sword from the stone proved Arthur's right to the throne, just as Aragorn's ability to wield Narsil/Andril proved his. But Arthur's sword Excalibur, the one most associated with him, was given to him by the Lady of the Lake, an elf-type character (at least I've always perceived her as such, probably due to Tolkien's influence). So Narsil/Andril, essentially one sword, embody Arthur's two swords.

There was another "sword in the stone." It was achieved by Galahad near the beginning of the Grail Quest proving he was "The Best Knight of the World." (Kind of spoilerific, moreso than Aragorn and his sword.) Malory goes on some about how this striped Lancelot (and presumably Arthur) of the title... in this sense Lancelot is like Boromir, who, iirc, hoped to wield Narsil at some point.

There was another sword that either proved or bestowed worth, and that is the Sword of Balin... now that I think of it, supposedly it is the same sword that Sir Galahad later pulls from the stone; but according to Merlin, it was intended only for the most virtuous knight which is why it cursed Balin. (In the movie I suppose Boromir got off lightly from touching Narsil.)

Regarding an association between the One Ring and the Sangrail, off the top of my head I seems a stretch. There is that Arthur believed the Grail Quest would destroy the fellowship of his Round Table -- he blamed Gawain for stirring the others to the quest -- and it did bring many good knights to ruin, thereby depleting Arthur's court. The Ring was responsible for the breaking of the Fellowship, and Boromir's death, sorta... will have to think on this more, but my sense is there's no cheese at the end of this maze.Wink

ETA: having just read CuriousG's latest post, I feel the weight of not having read the Sil... looks like you two might be onto something.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Mar 27 2013, 2:25am)


CuriousG
Valinor


Mar 27 2013, 2:47am

Post #12 of 16 (151 views)
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Oh, how can we coerce you for your own good? [In reply to] Can't Post

You've probably been told before, SirDennis, that you'd like The Silmarillion, so I'll just say it again. The unfolding of Tolkien's theology in that book is fascinating to follow. It's about epic events and tragedy on their own, but there's a lot of religious thought put into it also, more so than in LOTR.

If I faulted it for anything, it would be for being gloomier than LOTR. I feel beat up by the end of it, but after recuperating, I'll read it again.


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 27 2013, 3:16am

Post #13 of 16 (163 views)
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The pure quest - exactly [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for reminding me.

Yes, I can see a Grail/Silmaril connection. You make infinitely more sense than those scholars when you say that. Both were sacred objects, both needed to be recovered, and the recovery of each was an epic quest. There was the difference that the Oath of Feanor to recover the Silimarils was evil and led to more evil by good people, but differences don't negate the comparison, which I think is a good one. And doesn't it say a lot about the comparison that the most successful effort at recovery of the Silmarils was by a couple of individuals, inspired by the purest of intentions, much like knights acting on their own, vs. the big armies that repeatedly failed? (clapping with delight at this sentence CG!)

Also, I greatly appreciate your point about Tolkien reverse-engineering allegory from the past to the present. I honestly struggle with his announcement that his works are about "applicability" but not "allegory." Well, he can say anything he wants, and can say he's not an Englishman if he wants, but I don't have to believe it, do I? I do find his works allegorical. If they are projecting the past onto the present, so be it. I just can't deny the connections that jump out at me.

Elizabeth made the great point in a past discussion that allegory to Tolkien was
a direct mapping of one story to another, as CS Lewis mapped the Christ story to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Applicability to Tolkien was more about indirect comparisons. He certainly made those. And some people call that allegory; not worth quibbling about the nuances, at least to me, because he was making connections of some kind. But it's a unique viewpoint that you've put forth, as far as I know, that he was more interested in pushing a past framework onto the present than the reverse.



That idea about the pureness of the intentions - how much purer could they be in Tolkien's world, than for true love? And that they were recovered by Beren and Luthien tells how close the story was to Tolkien's heart! And their unique reward as well - life after death, uniquely bound together - completely summing up both the Christian and the romantic experiences of Tolkien's beliefs. Gives me chills, how lovely it is!
(I think of it when I see JRR and Edith's tombstones with those names on them...!)

Thank you, I am glad you like the allegorical point. I think that perhaps JRRT did look at it as Elizabeth said, more as 'mapping' and therefore saw the removed past as the map for today, rather than in the traditional direction. Is it a BIT of a quibble - yes, it is! But I think since his supreme focus was to create the timeless legendarium, history happened to help out by thematically repeating itself - which it has a bad habit of doing on occasion!!!!

Again I cannot say how much that point about Beren and Luthien pleases me! Angelic I will think more on this Silmaril and Grail issue. We may have to start discussing it all by itself soon...it is a weighty topic.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.

(This post was edited by Brethil on Mar 27 2013, 3:17am)


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 27 2013, 3:26am

Post #14 of 16 (146 views)
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***sprinkling trail of M and M's, Sir Dennis...*** [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


Quote

The Ring was responsible for the breaking of the Fellowship, and Boromir's death, sorta... will have to think on this more, but my sense is there's no cheese at the end of this maze.

ETA: having just read CuriousG's latest post, I feel the weight of not having read the Sil... looks like you two might be onto something.




....to lead you to a glade where a copy of Sil is ruffling in the breeze... Wink

Indeed the maze at the end of that particular warren of Ring as Grail probably has a smelly old shoe at the end - no cheese. I always shake my head at the idea, but many authors who I find making otherwise good cases will plump out that same theory. Theorists reading too many other theorists works, like a game of telephone maybe?

Indeed as you point out the sacredness of the Sword as literary metaphor for virtue and legitimacy is a subconscious medieval tradition that I think we still feel. In its past, a highly expensive, class limited and often beautiful item...I adore them myself!

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.

(This post was edited by Brethil on Mar 27 2013, 3:27am)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 27 2013, 12:05pm

Post #15 of 16 (159 views)
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Allegory and quibbles... [In reply to] Can't Post



In Reply To
I honestly struggle with his announcement that his works are about "applicability" but not "allegory." Well, he can say anything he wants, and can say he's not an Englishman if he wants, but I don't have to believe it, do I? I do find his works allegorical. If they are projecting the past onto the present, so be it. I just can't deny the connections that jump out at me.

Elizabeth made the great point in a past discussion that allegory to Tolkien was a direct mapping of one story to another, as CS Lewis mapped the Christ story to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Applicability to Tolkien was more about indirect comparisons. He certainly made those. And some people call that allegory; not worth quibbling about the nuances, at least to me,


I have to agree that Tolkien's dislike of "allegory" isn't as hard and fast as people often say. There's a well-known BBC radio interview, in fact, where he says he dislikes allegory "wherever I smell it", and yet in another part of the interview uses the word himself, saying that Bilbo's experiences are an "allegory for the human race". I'm in a bit of a hurry today, so I hope you won't mind if I link to an earlier post where I go into a bit more detail.

But basically, I think it shows that even Tolkien himself used the word "allegory" to refer to different things, and that some kinds of "allegory" are perfectly fine, while the kind of "hard-wired" allegory you get in something like the Narnia books or Pilgrim's Progress is really what he dislikes.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Mar 27 2013, 12:05pm)


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Apr 21 2013, 5:21am

Post #16 of 16 (130 views)
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Just dropping this here for posterity [In reply to] Can't Post

The Fall of Arthur's publication date is May 23, 2013, which is during Whitsuntide, the week following Whitsun (aka White Sunday or Pentecost). This is significant I think, because many of the quests the Knights of the Round Table undertook were given to them at the Feast of Pentecost, and were often begun and carried out during Whitsuntide. The Grail Quest in particular was taken on Pentecost, and by Gawain's vow -- which was a model for the rest of the knights -- was to be achieved or abandoned by Whitsuntide the following year.

As well, though it is not clear that it was during Whitsuntide specifically, the story of The Death of Arthur begins in May. However, I believe it was during Whitsuntide because the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere ends shortly after Lancelot healed Sir Urry around the Feast of Pentecost, with Malory mentioning that Sir Lancelot never went on horse for a twelvemonth beginning around that time (FWIW, because of an unrelated event that happened during that week). My sense is that a year passes between the end of Lancelot and Guinevere and the beginning of The Death of Arthur.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Apr 21 2013, 5:28am)

 
 

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