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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Gandalf, as explained by Bismarck?

noWizardme
Valinor


Nov 6 2017, 10:27pm

Post #1 of 10 (1443 views)
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Gandalf, as explained by Bismarck? Can't Post

 

Quote

A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment.
As quoted in Bismarck: The Man and the Statesman (1955) by Alan John Percivale Taylor

Bismarck as quoted here: https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck


That sounds like Gandalf to me - trying to sense what’s ‘meant’ to happen, and fitting in.

~~~~~~
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


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Nov 7 2017, 5:49pm

Post #2 of 10 (1383 views)
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Well there's a subject heading I never expected to see. ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

It sounds like, 'Waiting for the circumstances to ripen before I take advantage of them'.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


squire
Half-elven


Nov 7 2017, 7:47pm

Post #3 of 10 (1378 views)
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Bismarck, as explained by Gandalf? [In reply to] Can't Post

‘I could only watch and wait. I might perhaps have consulted Bismarck the Chancellor, but something always held me back.’
‘Who is he?’ asked Frodo. I have never heard of him before.’
‘Maybe not,’ answered Gandalf. ‘Hobbits are, or were, no concern of his. Yet he is great among the Statesmen. He is the Kaiser's first minister and the head of the Bundesrat of the Empire. His knowledge is deep, but his pride has grown with it, and he takes ill any meddling. The lore of the Crowned Heads of Europe, great and small, is his province. He had long studied his craft, seeking the lost key to Unification; but when the succession to the Spanish throne was debated in the Council, all that he would reveal to us of his strategy told against my fears of war. So my doubt slept - but uneasily. Still I watched and I waited. Until I knew at last that something dark and deadly was at work: a plot to provoke a "defensive" war against Napoleon III, that would unify Germans, Catholic and protestant, northern and southern, under the Prussian king, and raise up a Second Reich.’

Wow, this is ripe stuff. The entire chapter "The Shadow of the Past" could be adapted to play this game.



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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noWizardme
Valinor


Nov 7 2017, 8:02pm

Post #4 of 10 (1359 views)
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Love it :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
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


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Nov 7 2017, 9:41pm

Post #5 of 10 (1353 views)
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*two thumbs up* / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


FarFromHome
Valinor


Nov 8 2017, 9:12pm

Post #6 of 10 (1331 views)
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Impressive! [In reply to] Can't Post

I wish my knowledge of 19th century Realpolitik was good enough to fully appreciate it!

It's interesting that you've turned Bismarck into Saruman, instead of Gandalf as noWiz originally suggested. Yet Bismarck's modus operandi, as expressed in noWiz's quote, does seem to echo Gandalf's own wisdom, of steering events rather than trying to master them. Saruman makes the mistake of trying to force events to his will (I suppose the Ring could be seen as a metaphor for exactly this error of leadership), and is noticeably less successful in his machinations than Bismarck was in his. So is Bismarck more like Gandalf or Saruman? Or is the distinction mostly an effect of myth/fantasy separating aspects of leadership that would always be messily mixed together in any real-world leader?

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



noWizardme
Valinor


Nov 9 2017, 10:21am

Post #7 of 10 (1314 views)
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Perhaps the difference lies in why you "grasp the hem of His garment" [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Saruman feels that a nice strip torn off that garment would suit him very well as a costume. And I recall that Tolkien discussed that as a theme in his writing - people trying to get more of what they wanted more speedily, and so running against how things are 'meant to be' in Middle-earth

Gandalf - well, I find it difficult to know when he's trying to manipulate events according to his own designs ('grasp the hem' in order to direct the attention of the Powers) and when he's understood what is 'meant' to happen and is acting as a sort of civil servant rather than as a statesman - trying to get policy executed competently, but not making it. But I think Gandalf might agree that he 'cannot create anything himself' whereas Saruman (at least by the time we see him) might think he can do just that.

In real life, I agree it is most likely more messy. And of course in real life it's contentious as to whether there is any pre-plannned destiny, or things that are 'meant to happen' etc.

~~~~~~
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


Eruonen
Valinor


Nov 10 2017, 12:22am

Post #8 of 10 (1278 views)
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Some more German wisdom for Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

"Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead."

Carl von Clausewitz

All action takes place, so to speak, in a kind of twilight, which like a fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are.

Carl von Clausewitz

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/carlvoncla138189.html


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Nov 10 2017, 12:24am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Nov 10 2017, 12:51pm

Post #9 of 10 (1263 views)
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Gandalf as follower vs leader/shaper of events [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd say that Gandalf's fans within LOTR, like Aragorn and Elrond, give him credit for shaping events in the long struggle against Sauron, and that's why Galadriel wanted him to head the White Council.

But there is his curious lack of urgency about acting on that suspicious Ring of Power in the Shire, and then the argument could be made he was so slow in acting because he was trying to decipher Eru's plan in putting it there, and what he (as civil servant) should do about it. And even then, he somewhat absurdly left the ultimate decision up to Frodo, as if a naive hobbit would know what to do in ME's big sweep of history.

Still, that seems more exception than the rule. Gandalf was quite outspoken in both Rohan and Gondor about how he thought the wars against Saruman and Sauron should be carried out, and he put himself at the head of the action plenty of times: rounding up Erkenbrand's men and the Ents to save Helm's Deep, walking the walls of Minas Tirith to maintain the defense, and of course opposing the Witch-king's entry into the city all on his own--that shows a lot of inner initiative and not someone "taking orders from above."


noWizardme
Valinor


Nov 10 2017, 4:41pm

Post #10 of 10 (1248 views)
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You are right - I was over-doing Gandalf's passivity [In reply to] Can't Post

It's probably truer to say that sometimes he seems to me to have figured something out (e.g. Sauron will attack Minas Tirith, I'd better go there), and sometimes he seems to work by intuition (I feel that the junior hobbits should come along with the Fellowship, though I can't give specific analytical reasons).

~~~~~~
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

 
 

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