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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
geography and Tolkien: how could I refuse?

telain
Rohan

Jul 23 2013, 11:48pm


Views: 130
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geography and Tolkien: how could I refuse? [In reply to] Can't Post

Very interesting essay, and the discussion following it has been delightful to read (puns and all!)

A few questions for you, if you don't mind a (fellow) geographer butting in!

First, in reference to squire's excellent point, no, we can't simply plug in current Earth systems into a Middle-earth scenario and assume that they will work. But I don't think I am the only one who thinks that Tolkien intended Middle-earth to be the precursor to Modern-earth; he did intend to write the great legend of Britain, no? Does that mean that the physics and physical geographical systems were different? No, but it does suggest some continuity at some time. And an even better answer this question is Brethil's response upthread.

Now, to more specifics. I absolutely agree that the drowning of Beleriand would change the climate in (what is now the new) Middle-earth, particularly on the western side. Proximity to ocean water can certainly make the climate wetter, but it does depend quite strongly on latitude (presuming round earth) and prevailing winds. Morocco and Western Sahara have very dry climates, as does the west coast of South America (the Atacama is the driest place on Earth). Even Spain and Portugal have much drier climates than Britain, even though they are only a few degrees south of the south coast of Britain. Again, supposing that Middle-earth is the precursor to Modern-earth, and that Tolkien is writing the legend/history of Britain, then we could assume that the latitude is the same and that some (or all) of the annual precipitation is due to prevailing winds/warm ocean currents. However, given the expanse of Middle-earth (compared to Britain), I am less likely to believe the climate was as wet as you were suggesting (though I would go for the lower end of the range), nor perhaps as far inland as you were suggesting.

As for the forests, your analysis there is very interesting and underscores all the possible ways in which vegetation can be affected. As I tell my students, all these geographical systems are connected -- often in ways we have no idea about or how they work or balance out.

I have recently been reading "Gossip from the Forest" by Sara Maitland. She discusses many, many issues regarding the forests of Britain and northwestern Europe, but also touches on the debate about whether Europe was once a huge unbridled forest from western coasts to points East (as well as the species of trees that might have been native to certain areas). I think the evidence that there were vast stretches of naturally occurring grasslands and heath is quite compelling, but this is a relatively newish hypothesis (newer than Tolkien, if I am not mistaken). Tolkien, I imagine was rather steeped in the idea of a completely forested Britain/Europe and that is why, I think, he has this deforestation tale built into (especially the anthropogenic) story of Middle-earth.

So, the question I bring to this discussion, is, if the Valar were responsible for drowning Beleriand (full of lovely trees -- sorry Brethil!) and the resulting climatic conditions were unfavourable for original tree species reforestation, just how irate was Yavanna at all this!!??

And, I am sorry if I merely missed this point, didn't Elrond mention something about a squirrel being able to go from X to Y without touching the ground? Now where are my books??

Thank you so much, DanielB for writing this essay and bringing together two of my very favourite topics!

Subject User Time
TORn AMATEUR SYMPOSIUM - Day Three: Geography and Literature, Art & Language TORn Amateur Symposium Send a private message to TORn Amateur Symposium Jul 23 2013, 4:31am
    Subthread for "Sudden Climate Change or Anthropogenic Interference?" by DanielLB TORn Amateur Symposium Send a private message to TORn Amateur Symposium Jul 23 2013, 4:35am
        Look out for the edge squire Send a private message to squire Jul 23 2013, 12:08pm
            I agree ... DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 23 2013, 1:04pm
                * Magical factors not included noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 5:18pm
        Maybe Tolkien had a historical example just down the road noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 3:25pm
            Absolutely. DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 23 2013, 4:02pm
            Thanks for linking that dig info Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 4:14pm
                It was a grand day out noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 5:21pm
        I really enjoyed your discussion here Daniel elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Jul 23 2013, 10:20pm
            The 'new' shortsightedness of Mortality? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 10:33pm
            Thanks elaen :-) DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 24 2013, 10:00am
        geography and Tolkien: how could I refuse? telain Send a private message to telain Jul 23 2013, 11:48pm
            Loss of forest (Brethil!) ;-( Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 24 2013, 12:37am
                I'm hoping that Yavanna wouldn't be to stroppy about loosing the forest DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 24 2013, 10:04am
                    All true (and don't make me cluch my forehead about the Valar) Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 24 2013, 4:53pm
                        Yes, Yavanna should just get a life! Er.. elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Jul 24 2013, 9:28pm
                although... telain Send a private message to telain Jul 25 2013, 8:56pm
                    True about Sirion's loss especially Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 25 2013, 10:08pm
            I'm glad you enjoyed it telain :-) DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 24 2013, 9:48am
                thank you for finding that quote! telain Send a private message to telain Jul 26 2013, 4:55pm
        I think the BBC are reading our TAS discussions! DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 24 2013, 10:28am
            Spies of Saruman!!// elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Jul 24 2013, 9:26pm
            Very uncanny! (waving: Hullo BBC!) Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 25 2013, 1:05am
    Subthread for "Falling Into Untended Age: Ithilien as a Post-pastoral Land", by Squire TORn Amateur Symposium Send a private message to TORn Amateur Symposium Jul 23 2013, 4:36am
        From a geographical perceptive... DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 23 2013, 1:37pm
        Ah - the Dryad! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 3:21pm
            somewhere worth fighting to protect and regain noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 3:49pm
        I love this evocative description too, Squire elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Jul 23 2013, 10:09pm
            An immersive passage Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Jul 23 2013, 10:14pm
                Heartily agree with all of this Rembrethil! // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 10:27pm
        Well done, Squire Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Jul 24 2013, 3:28am
            Glad for your thoughts Magpie. And great to see you! // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 24 2013, 4:55am
        something fitting about a late response to a post-pastoral landscape... telain Send a private message to telain Jul 30 2013, 2:38pm
            Telain Teldaquent appears ... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 30 2013, 4:28pm
                "the re-establishment of a Holy Roman Empire with its seat in Rome..." squire Send a private message to squire Jul 30 2013, 5:44pm
                    Charlemagne, son of Arleman, son of Aragan, son of... telain Send a private message to telain Jul 30 2013, 10:40pm
                        Sil cultures Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 31 2013, 12:04am
                            exactly! telain Send a private message to telain Jul 31 2013, 4:36pm
                                Culture as a function of language Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 31 2013, 5:30pm
                    That bit ties in beautifully with your ideas... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 31 2013, 5:40pm
                you have the eyes of a hawk... telain Send a private message to telain Jul 30 2013, 10:23pm
    Flat earth evolution - and those poor trees! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 2:31pm
        Good point about ships only lasting 20 years DanielLB Send a private message to DanielLB Jul 23 2013, 3:09pm
            The Shire vs Numenor Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 4:29pm
                "Bringing up young hobbits took a lot of provender" squire Send a private message to squire Jul 23 2013, 5:14pm
                    Very agreed Squire! // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 5:25pm
                    The problem with "the good old days"… noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 5:36pm
                        So true!!!! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 5:41pm
                    The answer is obvious if unthinkable. Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jul 23 2013, 6:04pm
                    Hobbit society Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 7:23pm
            Or at least the wood. Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jul 23 2013, 8:13pm
        Naval tree production noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 3:28pm
            An Industry! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 7:12pm
                Victory takes years of preparation noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 7:50pm
                    We do pine for puns, and I love this one Furincurunir // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 9:23pm
                        Seemed a bit lumbering to me. / Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jul 23 2013, 9:27pm
                            Knot that yew or I will mind. // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 9:52pm
                                I'll bough to the timber of your post. / Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jul 23 2013, 9:54pm
                                    That's awfully sweetgum of you Darkstone. // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 9:59pm
                                        Merci tree bien pour votre bon knots! / Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jul 24 2013, 1:37pm
                                            As always, your words bee balm to mine ears! // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 24 2013, 3:44pm
                                    If it went against the grain, though,it wood need a little sprucing up to be any good. Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Jul 23 2013, 10:02pm
                                        Nice! You have punning in the palm of your hand! // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 10:04pm
                                Not more puns... elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Jul 23 2013, 9:59pm
                                    Sorry Elaen - we'll teak care of it! // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Jul 23 2013, 10:02pm
                                        But it's all in good fern! / Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jul 24 2013, 3:31pm
                        Oak-a! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 9:35pm
                            They'd need a large supply of fell meat Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Jul 23 2013, 9:47pm
                                Large supply of fell meat… noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jul 23 2013, 10:01pm

 
 
 

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