A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:19 pm

I think it is deliberate. After all Tolkien imbues most hobbits with a lot of personality, even more minor ones like Ted Sandyman, the Gaffer and Farmer Maggot.
So I see Frodo's personality, and how its displayed as being quite deliberate.

You can see why the everyday hobbit of Hobbiton thought Frodo was a bit 'queer'- thoughtful, reserved, isolated. Not outgoing enough, not as engaging as all the other hobbits. Reads to much, listens to too many old fireside tales. Not interested in everyone else's business and the community gossip. Doesn't quite fit.

And at the end when they come back he not only slips out of public life, but the public are quick to not notice he has.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:24 pm

Somewhere Tolkien himself said that Frodo was deliberately boring, for some reason like he had to the symbol of sacrifice or whatnot. So Tolkien wouldn't be at all bothered that people find him boring.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by malickfan on Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:25 pm

Once again I agree, I'm not slating Tolkien here I just don't find the character very appealing.

It's like my stance on Thorin-in the film he is arguably braver, nicer, wiser with a more interesting personality but I simply don't like him for no real reason.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:33 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:

None of which of course is actually in the films.  Mad

thats patently and totally untrue.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:05 pm

No its not-

'the way he grows from passivity (he really doesn't want to start when it comes down to it) to his growing confidence in the Barrow'

He isnt reluctant to leave in the film. Gandalf tells them they have to go and they go. He doesnt overcome any fears in the barrow in the film because there are no barrows in the film.

'to his over confidence and fall from grace at Bree,'

He doesnt get overconfident in the film because he doesnt try to distract the crowd and get drawn into singing a song and then gets a bit full of himself. He falls over (again) in the film instead.

'his defiance of the Riders at Weathertop and the Ford,'

He doesn't defy anyone at Weathertop, unsurprisingly he just falls over instead. At the Ford he is nothing more than Arwen's hand-baggage (and of course falls of his horse).

'and his journey onto taking the entire burden on to himself alone'

Something I dont think the film handles well, they should have left in the conversation where the others try to guess his decision allowing Sam to piece it together and that he is going to go alone because he will not put another in danger for himself.

'to his his growing passivity in the face of increased violence towards him,'

In the book he refuses to carry Sting any longer or any other weapon and declares he does not believe it will be his part to ever strike another blow again. This isnt in the film. Nor is the Scouring section where he urges no killing.

'and his final succumbing to the Ring and personal retribution that results from it.'

He does succumb to the Ring in the film, but then he rejects it at the last and so does not suffer from the recriminations he does in the book. He gets no jewel from Arwen to ease his pain because he has no need of it.

None of the most important parts of Frodo's character arc are present in the films (and when youve already sliced a huge part off regarding his relationship with Sam and their relevant social standing to each other and its evolution there is nothing left).

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by chris63 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:17 pm

Tolkien's earliest mythology of Middle-earth, 1915–1916

http://www.johngarth.co.uk/php/tolkiens_earliest_mythology_of_middle-earth.php

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:18 pm

The pre-BoLT version of the mythos is fascinating to me.  It gets very little attention but I've been trying to learn more about it recently (when I'm in the mood for lore stuff, anyway).  Thanks for posting this, Chris. Smile

Edit: the bit about Germany was particularly interesting. Damn.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by chris63 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:32 pm


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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by chris63 on Thu May 21, 2015 6:03 am


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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Thu May 21, 2015 1:04 pm

I had forgotten that Durin's tomb was in Moria. It's a shame Tolkien never took us to visit it.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Thu May 21, 2015 1:34 pm

Maybe we coulda met Durin too...

"... the reappearance, at long intervals of the person of one of the Dwarf-fathers, in the lines of their kings - e.g. especially Durin - is not when examined probably one of rebirth, but the preservation of the body of a former King Durin (say) to which at intervals his spirit would return."

JRRT, late note on Reincarnation, The Peoples of Middle-Earth
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Thu May 21, 2015 1:55 pm

Shocked

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Fri May 22, 2015 6:22 am

You're really missing out if you skip The History of Middle-earth.  It can be difficult going at times, but is massively rewarding.  Morgoth's Ring in particular is fascinating (if also the densest read).  It includes two particularly important chapters: the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth", a philosophical dialogue that was in part Tolkien's attempt to reconcile The Silmarillion mythology with Christianity, and "Myths Transformed", which was his more fleshed out attempt to reconcile it with modern science.  So you get to read about humanity's earliest interactions with Morgoth represented original sin, hear Finrod Felagund predict the birth of Jesus Christ in so many words, and then here about the legends of the creation of the sun and the moon (and by implication the Trees and Earendil) are actually just human myths and that educated Elves knew that things were more like what our science describes.  It needs to be stressed that none of this stuff is "canon" because there is no canon for The Silmarillion.  They were all just ideas Tolkien toyed with, some of which he rejected (he was particularly uncomfortable about the mythology becoming too much "a parody of Christianity"), and others that he might have incorporated into full scale rewrites of the First Age material had he ever gotten that far so late in his life.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Forest Shepherd on Fri May 22, 2015 9:21 am

Sounds very interesting indeed! I remember looking for them at my local library and having no luck. Perhaps I shall try again sometime soon.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Fri May 22, 2015 2:02 pm

... about the legends of the creation of the sun and the moon (and by implication the Trees and Earendil) are actually just human myths and that educated Elves knew that things were more like what our science describes.

This is an interesting topic Eldo, for me anyway. Do you think Earendil as a star is meant to be "untrue" according to Elvish wisdom?

In a larger sense the mythology will raise the ultimate question of "truth" with respect to certain things, but I think the two notions that notably bothered Tolkien with respect to primary world modern thinking (science) were: the original shape of the world, and the origin of Sun and Moon. These things were too huge to be ignored by the Elves who lived in Aman and had contact with the Valar; they must have known better.

So Mannish ideas are blended with Elvish tales. In other words, Men knew about light-giving trees (Elvish), and these become part of the origin of the two major lights of heaven (Mannish). Earendil as a star is the real mind bender: Earendil, so influential a spark (as a star) to the whole thing unfolding, was this to be imagined as a mannish addition? As with other things, if the tale of Earendil is part of a mixed mythology (goes hand in hand with his blood too) then his story is arguably not wholly mannish in any case, so the question is, how much of Earendil's tale is Elvish?

Galadriel refers to the star with this name for example... does she believe Earendil the man still rides the Heavens in his ship, a Silmaril on his brow?

Perhaps it's that I prefer to think she does. We as readers want to believe it too, I would say (or guess), as Tolkien knows. It's interesting here to note Lewis' distinction (from Narnia), that a star is distinct from what a star is -- in the sense of, a star is not what it is made of from a scientific perspective.

I guess the question remains: when the mythology moved from Elvish-as-told-to-Elfwine in Eressea, and faithfully recorded in Old English by him -- to a mix of Elvish and Mannish myth passing through Numenor and on to Middle-earth, what parts were to remain purely Elvish, and by implication, if more Elvish then arguably "more true" than its Mannish variation, if one exists (and if the Elvish tale is that of the Western Elves anyway, who had contact with beings of greater knowledge, or contact with Elves who had had contact with the Valar).

For example The Awakening of the Quendi (AQ) is an Elvish text, not a mixed tradition, and in it the Sun exists already when the Elves awaken. I take this nugget to be more true than the mannish tale of a world in twilight before Men awaken.

Even though "AQ" is really intended as a fairy tale for Elf-children, mingled with counting lore, this matter slips in, almost unnoticed. In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien does refer to twilight or Twilight, but I've seen some fairly convincing argument that these author-published references need not mean what they appear to mean, given the suggestion in the constructed Silmarillion.

That, it seems to me, is the perfect way to slip in an Elvish truth, as a "background detail" to an Elvish fairy tale. And with the shape of the world, in my opinion we have The Drowning of Anadune casting a very different light on the Akallabeth -- which, if the latter is mixed, arguably only seems to say the Earth was once flat and made round, for that is not what the Elvish folk of the West taught in...

... confusingly enough... the mannish version The Drowning of Anadune! Here the (arguably) "better truth" about the shape of the world is revealed in a text that is purposely confused about other matters!

So what was I saying? Oh yes Earendil Very Happy

In a sense I think we have confirmation that the Two Trees were real to Elvish minds. Myths Transformed has them, if under the Dome of Varda. What about Earendil the star? Tolkien never got there, and perhaps he never meant to.

I think Myths Transformed was abandoned in a sense, because a revised more Elvish version was really not needed once the Silmarillion became a mixed tradition (you don't need the specific changes of an Elvish tradition once the general idea is put in place that the Silmarillion is not wholly Elvish), but the underlying version contains not only lit trees, but a new "magic" idea (that is, not a scientific idea) in the Dome of Varda.

And if Varda can make her dome, and make both star-imagines and real stars... what can the Valar do, according to Elvish minds, with Earendil when he arrives with a Silmaril?

Or something?
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Fri May 22, 2015 3:28 pm

Well I tried to cover my ass with that "by implication", but you raise some very valid points.

First of all, I don't feel comfortable saying what Earendil was "meant" to be in general -- only what he was meant to be at various stages in Tolkien's life.  If my memory serves, than for most of the time when he was working on the legendarium, the obviously non-scientific parts of the legendarium were meant to be really true.  In the absence of a finished version of The Silmarillion, I don't think we can say if Tolkien meant for the ideas from "Myths Transformed" to become the new official story.

As you point out, the Two Trees still exist in the "Myths Transformed" version in the context of the Dome of Varda, but I don't think that necessarily proves anything about Earendil since he (or at least, something recognizable as Venus) is visible from Middle-earth ages later.  If Tolkien were to have followed through on "Myths Transformed", which I know is a big if, I don't see how he could have used the more or less scientific cosmology he outlined but still have one of the planets actually be a dude in a ship.

That doesn't mean that Earendil never actually existed, just that the version from earlier drafts of The Silmarillion would have been a mish-mash of Elven legends and older Mannish myths.  Perhaps Earendil during the War of Wrath looked like Venus, with the Silmaril on his brow, and the association began there.

You raise a very good point about Galadriel, but -- while I recognize I may be overstepping the bounds of literary interpretation here -- I wouldn't take what she says at face value.  Clearly she should know the true nature of the cosmos, if we take Tolkien's comment in MT I that the wisest of the Eldar, especially those who had known the Valar, must have known about the true (scientific) nature of the world/solar system.  But Galadriel is not speaking to other Eldarin loremasters, and I think it's possible for the name Earendil to have become associated with Venus even without his physically wandering the heavens.

But does that make it impossible to explain the Phial of Galadriel?  I admit I don't known, and trying to explain this would take me farther into the realm of fanfic than I'm comfortable going in this context (if I haven't gone there already).
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Fri May 22, 2015 5:34 pm

Well I tried to cover my ass with that "by implication", but you raise some very valid points.

And in my opinion you did cover your... self Wink there...

... I was only fishing for an opinion or interpretation, from you, but from anyone really, although I know you have read HME and have noted the external variations and changes.

Even put in the if-scenario of (possibly) continuing with Myths Transformed, I guess we disagree a bit about Earendil then. In other words, I think Earendil as a man-become-a-star can still exist within the framework of the more scientific approach of the various texts and notes stamped with Myths Transformed.

In any case I agree that the Two Trees still existing, and the "magic" Dome of Varda, and anything else arguably magical or due to godlike powers... well, I agree that none of these things prove anything about Earendil, but obviously I raise them to suggest the opinion that the new Elvish version need not be wholly scientific, and this might extend to Earendil as a star.

And Galadriel can certainly be speaking as we might speaks of Mars... not the Roman god of war but the planet.

Or Venus!

Anyway my interpretation might be colored (grey? no, no, that's something else) by me simply wanting to hold on to the romantic idea, and it holds (for me) better if it's at least true from an Elvish perspective.

Also, while it is no doubt true that we don't know what a finished Silmarillion from Tolkien would contain, I am a firm believer, at least, that the myths transformed notes only got so far because they were abandoned... again not perhaps in theory (if a more Elvish version was ever "needed"), but in practice, meaning that no version of these notes was ever to become the "final" text, or even a final text to be read as a variant to another version (another tradition).

Details from the MT notes, maybe, might find their way in. But for me this explains why Tolkien, in his later years consistently (I would argue) refers to the Silmarillion as a largely Mannish affair. It also explains -- although granted, very easily more than one scenario explains the following -- the very unfinished and "draft appearance" of the Myths Transformed section itself...

... again plenty of things could explain that, but (and not that you said otherwise in any event) coupled with the late Silmarillion characterizations, a more scientific version is very arguably no longer necessary. Christopher Tolkien even points out that the "answer" was essentially staring Tolkien in the face, from his own hand...

... and I believe Tolkien soon realized this.

I have to admit that to so firmly believe that Tolkien "ratified" The Drowning of Anadune as a full text to be read along with the Akallabeth (as I do), seems to be in discord with my belief that the idea of a "mannish or mixed tradition" saved the older Silmarillion from needing a rewrite, or (like the Fall of Numenor) needing an alternate version.

I think that was a matter of measure however. Tolkien doesn't need two complete Silmarillions. Well he doesn't "need" two tales of Numenor either, but that is a shorter work, and it makes sense to have a more fully Mannish version of that. And for Quenta Silmarillion, other related and Elvish texts can dip into the "Elvish truths".

In other words you do the shorter fall of Numenor in two complete versions, from variant traditions, but for Quenta Silmarillion you do the largely Mannish version and salt and pepper the Elvish perspective in with related, more Elvish texts.

All in my opinion!

And thanks for yours!
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun May 24, 2015 7:18 pm

There has always been an odd ambiguity in the books about science v magic.
Tolkien implies, without actually coming out and saying it, that Fell Beats are left over from the time of dinosaurs.
Whereas Dragons he puts firmly within his mythos.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Sat May 30, 2015 3:27 pm

I would argue that Tolkien would see the entire Universe transformed from mythological to scientific with time.  This is mainly because I find his imagery of the straight road and the sea being bent as too beautiful to be abandoned as representing 'truth'.

Changing the world from flat to spherical (yet still allowing the straight road to Valinor) implies the mythical and the physical universes can exist side by side, with only the scientific being still accessible to mortals.  As contact with the Elves fell away with time, mortal access to this mythical world also slipped away.  It's somewhat equivalent to Tolkien's concept of Faerie as the Perilous Realm that mortals can occasionally enter, yet should not try too hard to comprehend "...lest the keys be lost, and the gates shut."

But the change is not confined to earth. In physical terms, you won't get an elliptical lunar orbit around a flat earth. The entire universe has to change when the earth changes, and so we go from a flat earth universe where magic is possible and Venus can be a dude in a flying boat, to a world where Venus keeps the same celestial path as seen from the earth, but is now a planet orbiting the sun. Only the Elves and those around them retained contact with with older universe, and they carried it with them across the Straight Road when they left.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by chris63 on Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:05 am

A Wilderness of Dragons

Essay Proposal: The Tower in the Mirror
In A Question of Time (Kent State, 1997), Verlyn Flieger has analyzed with great percpetiveness both the nature of Frodo's dreams and the puzzling position in time of Lothlórien. In her account, Galadriel's mirror, at the heart of Lothlórien, becomes a dream-like instrument for seeing times past and future as well as present. Our essay sets out to complement and deepen Flieger's analysis by inquiring into Emyn Beraid (the Tower Hills) and the nature of the objects kept, at different times, in (or near) the Elf-towers there: the palantír of Elendil (the Seeing-stone by which Elendil could look West over the sundering-sea) and the Red Book, which recorded the events of the war of the Ring and the return of the king. We explore the (subtly different) ways by which each of these three objects - mirror, stone, and book - provide a meeting point of past and future in the present, of dream and waking life, and of Faërie and our Middle-earth.

Joint authors in alphabetical order (as of July 29): Jeremiah Burns, Simon J. Cook, Thomas P. Hillman,Richard Rohlin, Oliver Stegen.

Our essay will be submitted to the collection of essays in honour of Verlyn Flieger edited by John D. Rateliff.

This essay will be a collaborative work. As such we will distinguish between authors and contributors. The latter comprise all who make (useful) interjections at one point or another. Thus anyone who has contributed to a Wiki page is automatically identified as a contributor (this identification possibly extends also to anyone who makes useful comments on the blog posts, although this will be decided on a case by case basis). All contributors (who are not also authors) will be credited in the footnotes of the essay.

Authoring entails commitment. Authoring does not necessarily mean writing. To author an essay involves research, drafting, critical engagement, dialogue (internal or external) and revision. The actual crafting of the final prose essay is therefore but one part of a much larger process. What constitutes authorship in this project is consistent engagement in one form or another - a manifestation of a commitment to see the project through from beginning to end.

The above proposal will be submitted to John D. Rateliff on or shortly after the first of August, together with a list of joint authors. While this list will set nothing in stone, and some people may both drop in and drop out of the project after August 1, it should at least approximate the final authorial roll call. Therefore, if you wish to be a joint author of this essay, and are ready to commit to seeing it through to the final draft some time before March 2016, please either email Simon J. Cook or add your name to the list of authors above before the end of July.

http://uoou.github.io/AWildernessOfDragons/essay.html

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by TranshumanAngel on Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:47 pm

Weird article here:

http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/the-appeal-of-isis-isnt-so-far-from-that-of-tolkien/

which I also wrote a response to:

https://aussierebel.wordpress.com/

I'd be very interested to see what you guys think of the AEON article. Bizarre. Really bizarre methinks.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:15 pm

The article never claimed to be about Tolkien, rather about an aspect of Tolkien's work that mirrors the appeal of ISIS. I find it to be a very valid analysis: the dream of the sleeping kingship awakened has a powerful hold on people.

Nitpicking the author's various statements about Tolkien doesn't invalidate the basic point. ONE of the many reasons people are drawn to Tolkien happens to be used by ISIS. Both are using this basic human longing for the rightful leader to appear and exercise strength.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:38 pm

I mean, the article isn't about Tolkien at all.  Tolkien isn't even the most commonly cited literary parallel, so I can only conclude that putting his name in the title is just clickbait.  "The appeal of ISIS mirrors that of this obscure 19th century poem" ain't gonna attract as much attention.

As for the actual point, it's for the most part well-argued, but it completely ignores decades of scholarship on the causes of terrorism in favor of forcing the historical literary parallels.  I think it's fairly widely accepted that the stark, even simplistic worldview is part of the appeal of political radicals to disaffected or alienated people, and it's not a huge jump to say that this appeals to something basic about human nature.  But it doesn't take any profound insight to notice that a lot of people are more comfortable seeing the world in black and white, even if the majority don't go from that to violence.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:43 pm

on that basis you could say the same thing about Hitler and Tolkien. But I don't think its got much to do with a once and future king, more like individual ego going on the rampage.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by TranshumanAngel on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:29 am

re notpicking points in the essay - Im not sure why I shouldn't do that. Like you I did more or less agree with his point - simple ideological ideas like the returning King who transcend politics is very appealing to the human psyche. I had a problem with some of his statements about Tolkien fans, that's more or less all.

The article isn't about tolkien either, Nope, nevertheless i thought it was worth posting as it not only makes for interesting readings but makes novel (if demeaning) use of an aspect of Tolkien's fiction. It might not be stated blatantly, but there is an...implication that to read such fantasies is ever so slightly dangerous. I'm not sure, maybe I'm reading that in, but it seems to me that the author isn't particularly fond of any such story beats, and he seems to think that even fictional versions could corrupt the mind.
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