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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien at UVM
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Istar Indigo
Bree

Jun 19 2017, 1:04pm

Post #1 of 60 (3281 views)
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Tolkien at UVM Can't Post

Greetings all,

I'm encouraging my students once again to post questions to this discussion board. I've instructed them as to the etiquette of the TORN board.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 19 2017, 1:11pm

Post #2 of 60 (3155 views)
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University of Vermont? [In reply to] Can't Post

UVM is the University of Vermont, correct? In what city is the campus located?

Looking forward to their queries.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 19 2017, 1:12pm)


Istar Indigo
Bree

Jun 19 2017, 4:34pm

Post #3 of 60 (3141 views)
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UVM [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, it's the University of Vermont located in Burlington!

-Indigo


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 19 2017, 9:45pm

Post #4 of 60 (3125 views)
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Welcome! [In reply to] Can't Post

I always look forward to your students' posts.


jacksullivan@uvm
Registered User

Jun 20 2017, 2:05am

Post #5 of 60 (3120 views)
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Tolkien Childhood [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder, how did Tolkien's childhood shape his intrigue into the incredible world of faeries, orcs, and hobbits?


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 20 2017, 7:14am

Post #6 of 60 (3091 views)
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I thought you were going abroad. [In reply to] Can't Post

At least, that's what someone told me when I didn't see you at Kalamazoo this year. Nice to "see" you here!

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
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How to find old Reading Room discussions.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 20 2017, 7:20am

Post #7 of 60 (3100 views)
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Have you read "Tolkien and the Boy Who Didn't Believe in Fairies"? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I wonder, how did Tolkien's childhood shape his intrigue into the incredible world of faeries, orcs, and hobbits?


You can do so here. I highly recommend that award-winning essay.

Of course, that encounter happened shortly after his childhood ended, but the contrast between Tolkien and the boy in question may tell you something about the budding author's tastes and expectations. Why don't you let us know what you think about that?

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Istar Indigo
Bree

Jun 20 2017, 11:00am

Post #8 of 60 (3078 views)
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I'm back! [In reply to] Can't Post

I co-taught a course may 24-June 11th in London. Back now and ready to do Tolkien!


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 20 2017, 9:43pm

Post #9 of 60 (3046 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

I told the researchers that I used (before 1900) to be read to from an 'old collection' —tattered and without cover or title-page – of which all I can now remember was that (I think) it was by Bulwer Lytton, and contained one story I was then very fond of called 'Puss Cat Mew'.
-Letter #319, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Actually Puss Cat Mew was written by E. H. Knatchbull-Hugessen, and was included in his collection Stories for My Children (1869).

Oddly enough, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote a Canterbury Tales-like travelogue collection of fay tales, The Pilgrims of the Rhine (1834) which also contains a fairy story about a cat, The Wooing of Master Fox.

******************************************

Once Radagast dreamt he was a moth, a moth flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Radagast. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Radagast. But he didn't know if he was Radagast who had dreamt he was a moth, or a moth dreaming he was Radagast. Between Radagast and a moth there must be some distinction! But really, there isn't, because he's actually Aiwendil dreaming he's both Radagast *and* a moth!
-From Radagasti: The Moth Dream


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jun 20 2017, 9:56pm)


squire
Half-elven


Jun 20 2017, 10:23pm

Post #10 of 60 (3041 views)
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Very cool essay [In reply to] Can't Post

I hadn't seen it before. Of course one has to agree with Garth that Tolkien did find fairies (and from them, later on, orcs and hobbits) in a part of his childhood imagination. But when I read jack's question, I would have said we should take Tolkien at his word that ultimately he was more interested in what languages the fairies spoke, and what stories they told themselves, than he was in how large they were and whether they really danced around inside the blossoms of flowers. After all, an entire generation of Edwardians was raised on 'fairy tales' in the Victorian tradition; only Tolkien invented the mature and primeval "Elves" that have lived on in a new age of fantasy races that resemble otherworldly "aliens" (paging H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc.) more than they do the twittery folk of his early (and bad) poems and stories.

There's another thing I took away from the story that Garth and Flieger unearthed. It is somewhat contrary to Tolkien's claim to have stood corrected by the precociously rude little brother of his friend:
[Tolkien:] "I said like a fool: ‘Who lives in that flower?’ Sheer insincerity on my part. ‘No one,’ replied the child. ‘There are Stamens and a Pistil in there.’"
How does this compare with a similar passage in the accompaniment to "On Fairy-stories", the allegorical story "Leaf by Niggle"? The fatuous socialist-realist councillor, Tompkins, in dissecting the late Niggle's apparently useless life, comments:
"Always fiddling with leaves and flowers. I asked him why, once. He said he thought they were pretty! Can you believe it? He said pretty! 'What, digestive and genital organs of plants?' I said to him; and he had nothing to answer. Silly footler."
Of course, the two points are not directly opposed: young Gilson refused to see fairies where they can't be; Tompkins refused to see beauty itself in Nature. But 'On Fairy-stories' and 'Leaf by Niggle' together suggest that a willing belief in fairies (imagined from an adult perspective, to be sure) is or should be respected as coming from the same impulse that drives all other forms of Art, as a vehicle for escape and recovery through abstract imagination of beauty. I wonder if the Gilson anecdote was dropped from the final version of "On Fairy-stories" because it contradicts Tolkien's larger point, as expressed satirically in "Leaf by Niggle", a little too harshly?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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AddisonS_UVM
Registered User

Jun 21 2017, 12:45am

Post #11 of 60 (3030 views)
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Week 1 Discussion Question for Addison 6/20/17 [In reply to] Can't Post

Thinking about Bilbo's adventure out of the Shire, how much of Bilbo's rebelliousness was from nature and how much from his life experience, and would other hobbits have gone with Gandalf given the same opportunity?


(This post was edited by AddisonS_UVM on Jun 21 2017, 12:46am)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 21 2017, 1:36am

Post #12 of 60 (3016 views)
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That makes sense. [In reply to] Can't Post

You make it more clear than I did when I first commented on the same point (or when I reused that idea in "The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies 2010".)

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 21 2017, 7:42am

Post #13 of 60 (3002 views)
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Concerning hobbits... [In reply to] Can't Post

As others have said, Tolkien's childhood interests seem to have been in the tiny Victorian "faeries" that quickly disappeared from his work once he started developing his imaginary world. For years after that he worked on the myths and legends of the Elves, and the great Men who came after them, but none of this was published until he stumbled on the idea of hobbits. They gave him the way in to making a story set in the high-fantasy world of Middle-earth but with a small and humble protagonist that the reader could empathize with. He only thought of hobbits as an adult ("In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" came to him in a flash of inspiration, he said, while he was in the middle of the mind-numbing work of grading high-school exam papers!), but the character of the hobbits and their way of life came from the most idyllic memories of his childhood, when between the ages of 4 and 8 he lived with his younger brother and widowed mother in a small village called Sarehole near Birmingham. The country people with their limited horizons were a major inspiration for the hobbits of the Shire.

The mill at Sarehole in particular appealed to the boys, and they were constantly being chased away from it by the millers (probably for their own safety, but the kids didn't see it that way - it seems to have been a scary adventure for them and I wonder if some of that found its way into Frodo's story of being chased off by Farmer Maggot when he was a boy). The mill found its way into The Hobbit, and then into The Lord of the Rings along with its cynical, profiteering miller Ted Sandyman, and it's now restored and open to visitors thanks to its connection to JRRT.

(Edited to add something that's just occurred to me - knowing how Tolkien's mind worked with placenames and language, I wonder if the very name Sarehole influenced his imagination in creating his hole-dwelling hobbits!)

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 Jun 21 2017, 7:46am)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 21 2017, 8:21am

Post #14 of 60 (3004 views)
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Yes, very cool essay! Thanks NEB! [In reply to] Can't Post

But I have to take issue, squire, with your claim that Tolkien "invented" the mature Elves. He took them to places they'd never been before, certainly, but they didn't come from nowhere. The Celtic fairy folk are very like Tolkien's Elves, for example, and there are also "mature" Elves in Nordic mythology. In On Fairy-stories, Tolkien says how fairies "dwindled" to the tiny creatures of Victoriana as the myths themselves became shabby and fit only for children. But I don't think he'd claim to have invented the more-than-life-sized Fair Folk, just rediscovered them.

Also, I'm seeing a bit more subtlety in the extract from Leaf by Niggle than you're giving it credit for. In your quote, Niggle says the leaves and flowers are "pretty". He doesn't say "beautiful". It's not quite the same thing! Prettiness sounds twee and potentially insincere - and insincerity is what Tolkien accuses himself of in his conversation with the scientifically-minded little boy. Perhaps Niggle is guilty of not fully expressing the true depth of his thinking to Thompkins, just as Tolkien was with the little boy. And he's called out for it by both of them. You can't challenge the emotion-free materialist/utilitarian view of nature if you're afraid to express the emotional response to it that, for you, makes all the difference.

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



squire
Half-elven


Jun 21 2017, 12:08pm

Post #15 of 60 (2993 views)
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Very good point, FFH. Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

On the Elves issue, I had meant "invented" in the context of modern fantasy or mythological literature, but I wasn't very clear.

And although I'm not sure we can parse "pretty" from "beautiful" to such a fine conclusion, it's certainly worth considering that Tolkien was playing that game. I'd be as prepared to suggest that Niggle had said beautiful, and Tompkins had heard pretty - although that of course goes against a literal reading of the text!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 21 2017, 10:05pm

Post #16 of 60 (2973 views)
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Was there any other hobbit Gandalf could have chosen? [In reply to] Can't Post

Or was Bilbo Gandalf's only hope?

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


squire
Half-elven


Jun 21 2017, 11:02pm

Post #17 of 60 (2976 views)
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Is Bilbo really "rebellious"? [In reply to] Can't Post

I suggest that's taking his characteristic personality too far. I don't think the text of The Hobbit supports anything beyond, as you put it, "adventuring".

The story seems to support the idea that Bilbo is quite evenly (as in 50-50, Mom vs. Dad) split in his nature between a comfortable stay-at-home inclination and a "Tookish" bent to seek out excitement abroad. His "life experience" seems to have been entirely drawn from his father's (Baggins) side, although Tolkien hedges this in later writings (see "The Quest of Erebor" in Unfinished Tales for the author's rampant revision of what happened in The Hobbit). There, contrary to The Hobbit's simpler proposition, we are told that Gandalf years earlier had seen a young and open-minded Bilbo, who dismayingly had become more stilted and conventional as he grew older.

The Hobbit does suggest that other hobbits, also from the Took clan, had gone on previous such journeys. We might wonder if Gandalf chose Bilbo because he was only part Took. What virtue or power did Bilbo's Baggins side bring to the quest? Why might Gandalf have wanted Bilbo, and not a (so-called) "pure" Took among the Shire-folk?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 21 2017, 11:58pm

Post #18 of 60 (2962 views)
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Adventurous Hobbits [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Was there any other hobbit Gandalf could have chosen? Or was Bilbo Gandalf's only hope?


Oh, maybe Gandalf could have found someone in Buckland or among the Tooks. However, Gandalf had already been acquainted with Bilbo as a young hobbit when the wizard had been friends with Bilbo's mother Belladonna Took and probably also with her two remarkable sisters. It is no surprise that Bilbo was his first choice.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 22 2017, 9:37am

Post #19 of 60 (2946 views)
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...and if he is rebellious, how does that come out? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with squire!

We could also think about:
How does Bilbo being tricked into a meeting with Thorin &Co. come across as a piece of storytelling - is it told 'straight' or is it a comedy, in which a very square Bilbo is confronted unexpectedly with outlandish folk?
If it's a comedy, and Bilbo is (at least superficially) a very conventional homebody, how convincingly does Tolkien move on from having Bilbo as the butt of the joke to finding some reason why Bilbo might actually sign up? (I notice that Bilbo does decide to set of as a volunteer, c.f. some other fantasy stories where the reluctant ordinary person who will become a hero is somehow forced into action.)
While Hobbit is a story for children (JRR's own children initially), can an adult reader see some signs of Bilbo having a 'mid life crisis' in which a suppressed side of the self suddenly rejects the life a person has made and demands a chance to do something different?

Lastly, I suppose one ought to think about questions of free will and destiny. Whether Tolkien knew it or not when he was writing Hobbit, he would later come to have Gandalf say that


Quote
"Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought."

LOTR, FOTR Ch 2


This leads to questions like:
Could another hobbit have been 'meant' to find the Ring? Was Gandalf recognising that Bilbo already 'chosen' for this role?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 22 2017, 9:51am

Post #20 of 60 (2946 views)
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I wouldn't mind some guidance on what kind of responses from the Room would be most helpful... [In reply to] Can't Post

For example -

Should we answer the questions exactly like any other query? That would include providing opinions, perhaps backed by quotations or other evidence. And, probably, getting into a debate between multiple possible readings.

Or, is it more helpful to supply suggestions for the students to research and points to think about, rather than provide answers?

Or, something else?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


jacksullivan@uvm
Registered User

Jun 23 2017, 12:03am

Post #21 of 60 (2930 views)
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Black Riders and Dementors [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder if the Dementors in Harry Potter were inspired by the Black Riders in LOTR? Just some food for thought.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 23 2017, 12:16am

Post #22 of 60 (2925 views)
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I haven't read Harry Potter. [In reply to] Can't Post

In what ways do you see Rowling's ghostly villains as being like or unlike Tolkien's?

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 23 2017, 12:25am

Post #23 of 60 (2927 views)
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A bit of everything. [In reply to] Can't Post

Years ago, when Prof. Vaccaro first sent his classes here without warning us what was going on, the Reading Room regulars were very suspicious about the forums being flooded with what seemed to be attempts by students to get us to do their homework for them. But once we figured out where the students were coming from (those first few times, there were no indications) and got in touch with him, he explained that he wanted to use TORN as a way to help students appreciate how dedicated fans could be a valuable resource--and also fun to interact with. Also, now they mostly post in just one thread rather than in the dozens that flooded the forums in those early years and drove other conversations off the first page.

So answer as you like. If a question strongly piques your interest, go to town and respond with a full essay. Otherwise, generally try to be helpful and offer up whatever thoughts come to mind. Debates are certainly welcome.

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


jacksullivan@uvm
Registered User

Jun 23 2017, 1:12am

Post #24 of 60 (2915 views)
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Awesome [In reply to] Can't Post

Just read it, now it all makes sense! Cool paper


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Jun 23 2017, 8:48pm

Post #25 of 60 (2901 views)
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I would say yes... most certainly [In reply to] Can't Post

It was my immediate thought when I read Harry Potter. Rowlings did a good job of taking all the bits and pieces she borrowed (as all authors do simply because the bits are in their head and will influence whatever they write no matter how much they protest that they don't) and turning them into something cohesive and fairly unique. But the Dementors (especially in their initial appearances) are very much Black Rider copies.

Terry Brooks and his Shannara Chronicles is another and much more blatant ripoff (or copy or imitation) of Tolkien ... the first novel in his series was sooooo Tolkien I couldn't even read it. His later efforts took the Tolkienish elements and created something new from them.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)



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