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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
An epic for anyone (who likes that kind of thing).

noWizardme
Grey Havens


Sep 21 2013, 11:45am


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An epic for anyone (who likes that kind of thing). [In reply to] Can't Post

An epic for anyone (who likes that kind of thing). As is very amply demonstrated by the very cosmopolitan participation of this site, you certainly don't need to be English, or European, to enjoy it, or understand it! What avoid thing that it didn't end up with a parochial, nationalistic achievement, incomprehensible to most of the geographical world. I can't imagine it would have been anywhere near as good!

"A mythos for England" seems to have been one starting point: but the project was surely international from the outset,being based in Tolkien's love affair with the Welsh and Finnish languages; an epic about some guy from Denmark called Beowulf, and a lot of other influences. They all went into the mixing pot of Tolkien's imagination. And something much more than a mythos for England came back out.


I'd like to make some comments on English nationalism might help explain why I've been rather queasy about the mythos for England thing. And why it doesn't sound at all to me like "a mythos for Britain"
It comes under a horizontal rule because it has become long, and fairly personal, and may not interest everyone.




Some comments on English and British nationalism and patriotism:

So, about 100 years ago, young Mr. Tolkien had this idea about writing a mythos for England. A guy needs a starting point. And Patriotism was different then, I think: judging from conversations with my grandmother and other relations, people were taught that Britian deserved its empire and achievements due to its racial or cultural blessings.(I am not advocating this myself, just observing what I understand to have been the mindset of the time). The need to rally sentiment for World War I doubtless added to this.
An easy sense of national entitlement can't have sat well with the unfolding events of the Twentieth century, in which Britain lost its empire. Some at least of the older generation kept its sense that there was something nebulously special about the British (or about the English: some English are inclined to be lazy about the distinction. To the understandable annoyance of people who are British but it English: they are Scots, say). I remember debating this - whether the English had unique virtuous qualities, not found in, say, Dutch or Danes or Anericans - with my uncle. My case was that the Englsh were unique, sure, but so was every culture, each with its reasons to be satisfied, and each with its reasons to be ashamed. We didn't reach agreement (not least because I suspect my debating style was all teenage-know-it-all for one thing. )

Darker things happened (they do not involve Tolkien, and do not involve my uncle, though they do contribute to the cultural associations of nationalism). For much of my life, if you were seeing pictures involving the flag of St George (Red Cross on white: national flag of England specifically, not Britain) you were seeing one of three things: a sports event (fair enough); an item about football hooliganism; or an item about a neo-nazi rally (neo nazi groups seem to like to call themselves "English… " and then adopt a very particular and pernicious definition of Englishness).

So patriotism or nationalism (especially if English rather than British) is a more troubled thing than elsewhere, I think. It has a lot of associations with a bunch of xenophobic losers - to me, at least.

English Nationalism as a respectable political force (as per my uncle,say, as opposed to xenophobic losers) has no real mainstream traction at present, as far as I am aware. But in 2014 The Scots are to vote on whether to devolve from the United Kingdom. A Yes vote will obviously have to open negotiations between Scotland and the rest of the Union over what to do about the Union's joint assets and liabilities. That could have all kinds of consequences.

Hence my queasiness about mixing literature (or othe cultural productions) with nationalism.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"

Subject User Time
Letter #131: In the Beginning Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 17 2013, 4:37pm
    The fall, free will and redemption Dame Ioreth Send a private message to Dame Ioreth Sep 17 2013, 7:35pm
        The noble can't exist without the simple Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 18 2013, 12:11am
            Do Fall, Mortality and the Machine seem to be related in this work? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 19 2013, 5:49pm
                Perfect summation Furincurunir! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 1:53am
                When machines fall on mortals CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Sep 20 2013, 7:59pm
                    Guilty TV and other Falls Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 10:28pm
                    Machines and mortals noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 21 2013, 12:26pm
                    Missing Mortality? Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Sep 21 2013, 4:51pm
                        Interesting question Rem Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 21 2013, 5:40pm
                        More on mortality, Elves and Men... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 22 2013, 6:24pm
    On religion (and allegory) Terazed Send a private message to Terazed Sep 18 2013, 1:09am
        Fantastic parallels Terazed! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 18 2013, 3:39pm
            great quote which brings me to noumenon vs phenomenon Terazed Send a private message to Terazed Sep 18 2013, 11:40pm
                More excellent points Terazed! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 3:15am
        In support of your Romantic influence Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 6:10pm
            I think you found something important in letter 310, Philosophy and faith Terazed Send a private message to Terazed Sep 21 2013, 1:46am
                More on noumenons Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 21 2013, 5:27pm
                    The Numenons:are those the guys from Numenor? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 21 2013, 6:12pm
                        They are the ones who speak Latin and declined to go... // Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 21 2013, 6:14pm
    Thoughts and Random Ramblings..... Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Sep 18 2013, 9:26pm
        Thoughts back Rembrethil Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 1:49am
    For England? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 19 2013, 5:03pm
        But that was then, and this is now squire Send a private message to squire Sep 19 2013, 6:29pm
            Why the nostalgia? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 19 2013, 9:00pm
            Hmmm. fascinating Squire. I would second NoWiz's query... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 1:55am
                I can't work it out... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 20 2013, 3:57pm
                    Especially starting with 'But once upon a time...' as he does Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 4:22pm
                        A confusion between literature and rugby union? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 20 2013, 5:42pm
                            Or, as satirised by comedians Flanders and Swan? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 20 2013, 5:59pm
                                Hmmm - Britain vs England Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 6:19pm
                                There is nationalism and then there is nationalism Terazed Send a private message to Terazed Sep 21 2013, 5:14am
                                "It's not that they're wicked, or naturally bad... Na Vedui Send a private message to Na Vedui Sep 23 2013, 4:12am
                                    The song nicely lampoons the problem I'm talking about…// noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 23 2013, 5:50pm
        What about as ancient history? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 3:20am
            I can imagine... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 20 2013, 4:26pm
                Beren is fundamentally different from Aragorn, in this context squire Send a private message to squire Sep 21 2013, 2:00am
        England or English? Or Europe? Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Sep 20 2013, 8:44pm
            More points about Europe Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 10:49pm
                Yes Na Vedui Send a private message to Na Vedui Sep 23 2013, 3:11am
                    The Home of the Mythos... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 23 2013, 3:36am
            An epic for anyone (who likes that kind of thing). noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 21 2013, 11:45am
    Arrrrrrr! CaptainMorgan Send a private message to CaptainMorgan Sep 19 2013, 9:13pm
        One point, Captain... Meneldor Send a private message to Meneldor Sep 20 2013, 12:17am
            Love your most *Fitting* Avatar Meneldor !!!!! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 2:34am
            Or... Dame Ioreth Send a private message to Dame Ioreth Sep 20 2013, 3:01pm
        Ye please me mightily with yer celebratory lingo today Cap'n! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 20 2013, 2:24am
    This letter....the bane of Tolkien Studies Bombadil21 Send a private message to Bombadil21 Sep 21 2013, 4:55am
        An interesting debate: are we better or worse off having the Letters? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 21 2013, 12:16pm
            Nah Dame Ioreth Send a private message to Dame Ioreth Sep 21 2013, 2:29pm
            It is a question...Letters or no Letters? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 24 2013, 7:31pm
        Reply to: This letter.... Art vs Allegory Terazed Send a private message to Terazed Sep 21 2013, 4:27pm
        Hopefully that is what we are doing here Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 21 2013, 5:31pm
        But wait, I thought letter #131 was expressly a manifesto? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 22 2013, 10:23am
            On the other hand, if Tolkien had been asked to write a memo "demonstrating that LOTR and the Silmarillion were interdependent and indivisible", what did Waldman think when +this+ turned up ?!// noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 22 2013, 2:01pm
            Good points - it had a purpose...which begs another question about TH... Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 22 2013, 5:21pm
                Author journey, reader journey noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Sep 22 2013, 8:19pm
                    TH perceptions and the need for Sil Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Sep 23 2013, 2:31am

 
 
 

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