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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
JRRT Artist and Illustrator: Chap. 3: #3: The Mountains of the Moon

NZ Strider
Rivendell

Mar 13 2007, 11:27pm


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JRRT Artist and Illustrator: Chap. 3: #3: The Mountains of the Moon Can't Post

When Tolkien’s son Michael lost his little toy dog at the beach, Tolkien composed a story, “Roverandom,” to console Michael for the loss. Tolkien eventually provided five illustrations for “Roverandom.” Here are two: (;any, many thanks to those who’ve helped me with links to Tolkien’s illustrations; I confess freely that I’m technologically inept. Also, I’m just putting the pictures into my post -- if people would prefer that I just gave links, let me know. I’m not quite sure exactly what I am doing...)


First this one:


and then this one:


Both of these are lunar landscapes, for Roverandom in one of his adventures travels to the moon; with them probably belongs another, earlier drawing of a lunar landscape:


(N.b. the Earth on the horizon, with the Americas visible.)


In the earlier drawing the moon is depicted as settled: There are meadows and trees alongside of a river which runs through a valley between two mountain ranges. Although no village appears in the drawing, the trees appear to be purposefully planted (at least to me: disagreement?). In fact, were it not for the Earth on the horizon nothing would mark this as a “moonscape.” At best it would be a fantastic landscape -- of the sort which Hercules Seghers used to paint:



Q.#1: What do you think of Tolkien's first moonscape? Would it be more appropriate to depict the moon “realistically” -- i.e. as grey and barren? Or is it more appropriate in “fantasy” to imagine a strange, yet ultimately habitable surface -- much as Lewis did for, e.g., Venus = Perelandra?

Q.#2: Tolkien often drew such a valley -- Rivendell is perhaps the best known:




Anyone care to speculate on why Tolkien kept experimenting with this type of scene till he found just the right context for it?


Now to the two illustraions for “Roverandom.” In the first we see a wizard gazing through a telescope from behind a parapet of a high tower. Towards him flies Roverandom on a bird’s back.

Q.#3: How many connexions with the rest of Tolkien’s works can you spot? (My go: White Tower ≈ Minas Tirith; wizard has long beard and pointy hat ≈ Gandalf; wizard on tower ≈ Saruman; figure gazing into distance from tower ≈ Denethor; figure carried by bird ≈ Gandalf borne by eagle.)

In the second illustration for “Roverandom” we see a dragon flying round a high mountain and chasing Roverandom and the Moondog. In the lower right, just above the title is a giant spider.

Q,#4: Again, how many connexions to Tolkien’s later works can you spot? (My go: dragon ≈ Smaug; spider ≈ giant spiders of Mirkwood; mountain ≈ Lonely Mountain.)

Q.#5: Did Tolkien, ultimately, have a certain number of striking images in his mind which he spent his artistic life sorting out and placing into the right context?


Tolkien, by the way, used (according to Hammond & Scull) this illustration in a lecture he held for children on New Year’s Day 1938. The lecture was, apparently, a curious mixture of fantasy and scholarship, such as one migh expect from Tolkien: amongst many quaint remarks on dragons came e.g. references to Saxo Grammaticus’ *Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes).* However, Tolkien’s drawings of dragons (and hence his own stories) entered into the lecture also. To me, at least, it’s just one more example of how Tolkien the creative artist and Tolkien the scholar interacted.

Subject User Time
JRRT Artist and Illustrator: Chap. 3: #3: The Mountains of the Moon NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Mar 13 2007, 11:27pm
    About those moonscapes... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 14 2007, 4:43am
        Not sure about the Grimms... NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Mar 14 2007, 8:02am
            It's an entirely different perspective dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Mar 16 2007, 2:13am
        The lunar landscapes drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 14 2007, 11:43am
            you'll find some Daughter of Nienna Send a private message to Daughter of Nienna Mar 14 2007, 6:25pm
        painting of Glaurung Wynnie Send a private message to Wynnie Mar 15 2007, 4:43pm
    Eeek! Technological ineptitude strikes again! NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Mar 14 2007, 7:53am
        Two more connections Morwen Send a private message to Morwen Mar 14 2007, 2:31pm
    Perhaps Tolkien knew his limitations as an artist Curious Send a private message to Curious Mar 14 2007, 2:07pm
        Repetition drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 14 2007, 2:24pm
            The snapshot and the postcard Curious Send a private message to Curious Mar 14 2007, 5:36pm
                Interesting about the effect Daughter of Nienna Send a private message to Daughter of Nienna Mar 14 2007, 6:16pm
                    "Every child is an artist. Curious Send a private message to Curious Mar 14 2007, 6:38pm
                        I like that, thanks / Daughter of Nienna Send a private message to Daughter of Nienna Mar 14 2007, 8:11pm
    I prefer the fantastical Daughter of Nienna Send a private message to Daughter of Nienna Mar 14 2007, 8:10pm
    My vision of the moon is too colored Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Mar 16 2007, 11:37pm

 
 
 

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