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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Letter #131: In the Beginning
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Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 22 2013, 6:24pm

Post #51 of 58 (133 views)
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More on mortality, Elves and Men... [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a heads up (buried here in the thread, LOL!) that since I am home (sick) today and tomorrow I will post the next set of discussion points today. They deal very much with your ideas about races and mortality Rem, so I wanted to respond to your points to let you (and everyone else) know.

Looking forward to it!

Smile

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 22 2013, 8:19pm

Post #52 of 58 (128 views)
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Author journey, reader journey [In reply to] Can't Post

Among other things going on here, Tolkien is confusing his own journey to write this stuff with what readers need to understand it. He needed to have written drafts of the Sil to do LOTR, but all that work can be "workings" from the readers point of view. (The reader doesn't need to know it all).

When he wrote "In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit" did he know that his children's story writing was falling into orbit around his elvish interests? Dunno. Certainly in retrospect that does seem to be what happened, with LOTR bringing the two fully together.

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!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 23 2013, 2:31am

Post #53 of 58 (123 views)
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TH perceptions and the need for Sil [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Among other things going on here, Tolkien is confusing his own journey to write this stuff with what readers need to understand it. He needed to have written drafts of the Sil to do LOTR, but all that work can be "workings" from the readers point of view. (The reader doesn't need to know it all). So his attachment to the works colored his perceptions of what others needed perhaps?
When he wrote "In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit" did he know that his children's story writing was falling into orbit around his elvish interests? Dunno. Certainly in retrospect that does seem to be what happened, with LOTR bringing the two fully together.From his various descriptions, no. He describes writing the sentence while being swamped with grading papers, and not doing anything with it for many years except for developing Thror's map. He credits 'The Marvellous Land of Snergs' (which he read to the children) with some subconscious inspiration for Hobbits. I wonder if the whole work subconsciously tied on to the larger universe from the genesis, even if a function of the internal consistency we have previously discussed? I asked that question about the changes in tone in TH that he describes because for my part I'm not quite sure if I see that.


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Na Vedui
Rohan


Sep 23 2013, 3:11am

Post #54 of 58 (118 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

"So a larger scope than England perhaps? Yet with a chunk of the tale's heart, Hobbiton and the House of Elrond, being near Oxford on the mind-map; and Beleriand, the home of Beren and Luthien, interred Atlantean-style, to the west."

That sounds about right, except that perhaps Numenor should be Atlantis. There are analogies for Beleriand nearer home around the coast of Britain - the lost land of Lyonesse off Cornwall/Scilly Isles; the drowned forest in Cardigan Bay with its legend of Cantre'r Gwaelod, and so on.

Somewhere in his Letters (I think), Tolkien compared the way of life in the Shire to that in an English village around the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee (though I'd say a bit less technologically advanced), and it does feel like that - like Thomas Hardy's rustics in "Under the Greenwood Tree". And the Rohirrim are partly (if not purely) Anglo-Saxon. So taking the chronicles of Middle Earth as a whole, there is a core of Englishness there, but it does go much wider than that:

I'm intrigued by the fact that the Shire has four Farthings and the British Isles four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, though I don't know of any reference that would prove Tolkien consciously intended this parallel. Middle Earth has echoes of the wider Scandinavian/Germanic world, and the Finnish Kalevala, and the Celtic legends, of the Classical cultures and the Roman Empire, and the recurrent European historical theme of facing invasions from the East, so it is definitely an epic for Europe and for anyone with connections to that part of the world.

It also has themes which resonate with our common humanity, no matter who we are or where we were born, as evidenced by its popularity around the world.

So whatever Tolkien set out to do, or thought he was doing while he was doing it, or concluded in the end that he had done, I think he did the lot - an epic for England, for the Isles, for Europe, and for everyone anywhere who can find a place for it in their heart.


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 23 2013, 3:36am

Post #55 of 58 (115 views)
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The Home of the Mythos... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
"So a larger scope than England perhaps? Yet with a chunk of the tale's heart, Hobbiton and the House of Elrond, being near Oxford on the mind-map; and Beleriand, the home of Beren and Luthien, interred Atlantean-style, to the west." (Brethil)

That sounds about right, except that perhaps Numenor should be Atlantis. There are analogies for Beleriand nearer home around the coast of Britain - the lost land of Lyonesse off Cornwall/Scilly Isles; the drowned forest in Cardigan Bay with its legend of Cantre'r Gwaelod, and so on. Completely right Na Vedui about Numenor being the focus of his Atlantean 'obsession' (so he termed it); (I was being a bit fanciful with it as an adjective there!) I like the real-world parallels you suggest here suggesting the lost worlds just to the east of the mainland, all an excellent suggestion for Beleriand.

Somewhere in his Letters (I think), Tolkien compared the way of life in the Shire to that in an English village around the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee (though I'd say a bit less technologically advanced), and it does feel like that - like Thomas Hardy's rustics in "Under the Greenwood Tree". And the Rohirrim are partly (if not purely) Anglo-Saxon. So taking the chronicles of Middle Earth as a whole, there is a core of Englishness there, but it does go much wider than that: Quite correct again Na Vedui! He mentions the similarity of the shire to Jubilee-era Warwickshire in #178 and in #181. I think his attachment to this idealized place was very strong; as evidenced by LOTR becoming Hobbito-centric versus anthropocentric, and Samwise being a primary hero (as he is described a few times by JRRT).

I'm intrigued by the fact that the Shire has four Farthings and the British Isles four nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, though I don't know of any reference that would prove Tolkien consciously intended this parallel. Interesting parallel here! And a certain amount of similarities between the Hobbit subcultures in he Farthings corresponding to slightly different peoples, under one banner as in the UK, even if not directly culturally derived ? Middle Earth has echoes of the wider Scandinavian/Germanic world, and the Finnish Kalevala, and the Celtic legends, of the Classical cultures and the Roman Empire, and the recurrent European historical theme of facing invasions from the East, so it is definitely an epic for Europe and for anyone with connections to that part of the world. Absolutely so; actually I have a related question coming up in a week or so about the Unknown East and some of its symbolic meanings... (little trailer there...) also he does refute the purely 'Nordic epic' which some critics saw in LOTR by describing how in the Sil the far North was the home of Morgoth. So while acknowledging influence (which are clear) the 'ownership' of it appears to be more of a complementary mix than a Norse-derived saga.

****It also has themes which resonate with our common humanity, no matter who we are or where we were born, as evidenced by its popularity around the world.

So whatever Tolkien set out to do, or thought he was doing while he was doing it, or concluded in the end that he had done, I think he did the lot - an epic for England, for the Isles, for Europe, and for everyone anywhere who can find a place for it in their heart.****
I love these sentiments! Well said! AngelicAngelicAngelic


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Na Vedui
Rohan


Sep 23 2013, 4:12am

Post #56 of 58 (109 views)
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"It's not that they're wicked, or naturally bad... [In reply to] Can't Post

... It's knowing they're foreign that makes them so mad!" Sly


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 23 2013, 5:50pm

Post #57 of 58 (93 views)
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The song nicely lampoons the problem I'm talking about…// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 24 2013, 7:31pm

Post #58 of 58 (105 views)
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It is a question...Letters or no Letters? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
An interesting debate: are we better or worse off having the Letters? (NoWiz) The insights into the authors life and thoughts can be very interesting. But, by giving (or appearing to give) an official position on things they could stifle something important: the reader finding "applicability" in the work; of deciding for yourself what it might mean (or at least, mean to you).




I suppose its very personal.

For my part, I read all the Letters almost straight through (another weekend binge) after I read LOTR the first time. At *that* time in my life, LOTR was still too new, and the only thing that really satisfied my curiosity about the characters and the story at that time was to simply reread LOTR again.

For me, it is now - two decades later - when the stories have 'taken hold', that I find the most benefit from reading JRRT's insights. The sketched bits can sometimes be filled in - and though there is certainly (as Bombadil points out) the need and desire to translate them personally, I also like to go not too far afield in trying to understand what was trying to be said by the author (and also actively comparing it to what I perceive).

So I'm voting for liking having them...but I think the right time and right place might differ on the person. And certainly there will be people who would rather not 'peer behind the set pieces'; and there is nothing wrong with that at all!

I have used the term 'affectionate scrutiny' for how we endless armchair the works...but that affection is what I feel for JRRT himself, and part of why I like reading his own words, even when on other topics.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!







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