A Mythology for England

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A Mythology for England

Post by Eldorion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:58 am

"Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings to be a mythology for England."

I've been reading and posting on a few of my other Tolkien forum haunts, neither of which I'm particularly active on any more, and I've come across two variations of this statement just today.  I felt compelled to respond to both, though that probably wasn't a great idea due to my writing being pretty muddled today and not wanting to offend people by going off on them.  But I've seen this so many times on forums and blogs/static websites where people should really know better.  A few quick Google searches will turn up innumerable further examples.  I honestly think the pervasiveness of this misconception does a serious disservice to furthering people's understanding of Tolkien's writing in general and of The Lord of the Rings specifically.

And don't even get me started on people who say it was "a mythology for Britain". Razz

#firstworldproblems #ranting #sorrynotsorry
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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:29 pm

Well in fairness you can see why its pervasive-

Letter 131

'There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish...but nothing English....Of course there was the Arthurian world...associated with the soil of Britain but not with English.....once upon a time...I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend....which I could dedicate simply to England; my country.'

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by halfwise on Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:36 pm

Other than the hobbits being clearly English, there is no real relationship between Tolkien's legendarium and England. And the hobbits were inserted as an afterthought.

So the question is, was that statement he made meant to refer to what he had created, or something he thought would be nice to create but never got around to? If the first, it's really hard to see how he'd connect it to his homeland.

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:48 pm

Well he does use the phrase 'once upon a time' implying both that it is something in the past he no longer aspires to, and to it being an innocent childlike aim.

That particular section of letter ends on-

'The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd.'

This not only backs up the original impression- it is not what he is trying to do now, which is a more modest, more adult realistic approach, and its also the source of that other annoying myth that Tolkien wanted people to add to his work and write more stuff for it.

People arguing for either proposition always leave out the once upon a time and absurd bits.

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by malickfan on Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:56 pm

The Lord of the Rings isn't really an 'English' book to me, some of it's characters are, but it's sources and symbolism are a hodgepodge of Catholicism, European Mythology and High Fantasy.

I think Tolkien may have been inspired to dedicate the book to England and the legends and culture he had grown up with, but really I just think of LOTR as an excuse for him to exercise his private hobby of world building, and to get some money of course.

The BOLT on the other hand clearly does show that at one point it was Tolkien's intention to make a 'Mythology for England'

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by halfwise on Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:10 pm

I haven't read BoLT, is it the framing device of the manuscript that makes it clearly intended for England?

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Tinuviel on Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:57 pm

I think it can be said thought that Tolkien did make a mythology. Maybe at first, "once upon a time" it was for England, but it grew into something independent of anything real. So instead he incorporates bits of England into Middle Earth, so it has a distinctive English feel sometimes. But the mythology bit is kind of absurd. What he wrote in terms of the Simarillion is too huge to cover just one culture. It's a world he wrote, not a country.

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Elthir on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:00 pm

halfwise wrote:I haven't read BoLT, is it the framing device of the manuscript that makes it clearly intended for England?

To merely scratch the surface, this is but a brief description of the 'Eriol conception' [itself different from the Elfwine conception(s)] that framed The Book of Lost Tales [the framework as Christopher Tolkien thinks it was meant to be, anyway]...

... notable spoiler alert!

*
*
*

The Eriol story

Eriol's original name was Ottor. He settles on the Island of Heligoland in the North Sea, weds, has two sons named Hengest and Horsa. His wife dies.

Ottor sets out to find Tol Eressea, did so, is made young again (by drinking limpe), weds again and has a son named Heorrenda. Eriol adopts the name Angol and learns the tradition of the Elves or 'fairies' on Tol Eressea. Heorrenda afterwards turns a song of the fairies into the language of his people (Old English) -- thus such things could be rendered again into Modern English by anyone who knows Old English (like JRRT for one).

It is even said that Heorrenda complied the Golden Book from Eriol's writings -- though in other versions it was complied by someone unnamed, or Eriol himself concluded and sealed the book. The Golden Book contained those writings Eriol made in his sojourn in Tol Eressea.

Now in this conception Tol Eressea ultimately becomes England.

Places

Angol -- ancient home of the English (not England itself) from which Ottor (Eriol) first came.

Tol Eressea -- dragged over Sea, becomes England (Osse tried to drag it back, and broke off what was to become Ireland)

Places in Eressea or England

Kortirion -- Warwick (associated with Hengest in the tale)
Taruithon -- Oxford (associated with Horsa in the tale)
Tavrobel -- Great Haywood (associated with Heorrenda in the tale)

Events (as reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien from various evidence)

Eldar and rescued Noldoli depart from the 'Great Lands' and come to Tol Eressea; they build towns (Kortirion for example). Ottor comes, the Elves name him Eriol or Angol. Eriol becomes greatly instructed in the history of Gods, Elves and Men, goes to Tavrobel, writes down what he has learned, drinks limpe, weds, has a half-elven son Heorrenda.

The Lost Elves of the Great Lands rise against the servants of Melko. The 'Faring Forth' occurs, Tol Eressea is dragged over sea to the geographical position of England (Ireland also made).

Battle of Ros, defeated Elves retreat to Tol Eressea. Evil men follow with Orcs and other hostile beings. Battle of Heath of Sky Roof. Elves fade and become invisible to the eyes of almost all Men.

The Sons of Eriol conquer the Isle and it becomes 'England' -- they are not hostile to Elves, and from them the English have the true tradition of the Elves.

Kortirion becomes known as Warwick. According to one version Heorrenda completes the Golden Book. And according to one idea Eriol himself was to 'hasten the Faring Forth', and because of his disobedience 'all was cursed' and the Elves faded before the noise and evil of war.

Note that Hengest, Horsa, Heorrenda are Anglo-Saxon mythic/historic figures from Primary World sources. Tolkien is connecting misty English 'history' or figures with his invented legends, and explaining how the specifically English -- the Germanic settlers of England, not the Celtic peoples or Romans -- have come upon the true stories of the Elves, while the Welsh and Irish have 'garbled' versions by comparison.

Also of note is that Eriol told the fairies of Woden, Thunor, Tiw (Old English names for Odin and etc.) and the Elves identified them with Manweg, Tulkas, and a third (illegible) name.

Tolkien actually began putting some of his invented history into Old English too (published in The History of Middle-Earth).
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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by halfwise on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:13 pm

Wow. Long and very complete answer to my question. There's no doubt he was constructing a mythology for England. drunken 

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:27 pm

The operative word there being 'was'.
The question is, is LotR's still a part of this early ambition to create such a mythology, or had it moved away from that premise by that time?

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Elthir on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:49 pm

Sorry, above read 'compiled' for complied. Or 'compilmed' if you like, although this possibly makes even less sense than complied.

Anyway I once sent a request [and money] to somewhere [in Angol-land I think] for a copy of an essay from the Proceedings of the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference -- thus material presented at the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference. I wanted...

Carl F. Hostetter and Arden R. Smith: "A Mythology for England"

... and so I got...


Anders Stenström: "A Mythology? For England?"


... and when the folks who sent me this realized their mistake [after I told them they made one] they were very nice about it and I got both for the price of one. Concerning the second [the one with the question marks], John Rateliff once wrote:

'One important additional point not made in the excerpt is that Anders doesn't just trace the history of the term; he rejects the idea that Tolkien ever set out to create a mythology for England or that the legendarium can be called a 'mythology'. He admits that the stories have mythological elements but claims this is backdrop, distinct from the legends or stories themselves. Unfortunately for his argument, Tolkien himself describes the whole legendarium as his "mythology" in his Denys Gueroult interview, which Anders does not cite.'

And then one day Anders said this about that...

'This does not quite hit it. I will try to make myself clearer in the following. The word _mythology_ is capable of a range of meanings, and the legendarium *can* be called a mythology; at times Tolkien (I think) uses the word in that way. I forgot the interview, but even so I did cite places that show this. According to what I wrote, there are 54 instances in _Letters_ of his using "mythology" in relation to his own works, and in 17 of those instances, the sense seems to be 'invention; nexus of imaginary tales, epic corpus; construction', and thus applicable to the legendarium as a whole or any part of it. I quote his calling the tale of Beren and Lúthien "the kernel of the mythology", and the placing of Mordor a "narrative and geographical necessity, within my 'mythology'".

Here is a crucial point for me. The words in the Waldman letter, "a more or less connected body of legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story", seem to me a good description of what he actually created, and thus a good surmise about what he intended to create; and the word _legendarium_ wraps it up very well. But _mythology_ in a central sense refers to what Tolkien here calls "the large and cosmogonic" (and in 27 of the 54 instances in _Letters_ he seems to be using the term with that reference). Tolkien's mythology, in this sense, is an essential and highly interesting element of his legendarium. If we use _mythology_ about the legendarium, what word do we use about the mythology?

... and then years later Elthir found that he had misplaced both papers in any case  Rolling Eyes 

Elthir [that's me] still has both... but by Eru, where... where!
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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:01 pm

I dont think he was trying to construct literal mythology for England, but maybe an imaginative mythology for England,which he has succeeded in doing.
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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Eldorion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:03 pm

Petty cuts to the heart of the matter with the Letter 131 quote.  Unfortunately, this letter is probably the most commonly misinterpreted thing Tolkien ever wrote.  It gets dredged up not just for the mythology idea but to justify fanfiction, film adaptations, etc.  The problem is that it rarely seems to be read closely or in full.  Here's the relevant passage:

But an equally basic passion of mine [to languages] ab initio was for myth (not allegory!) and for fairy-story, and above all for heroic legend on the bring of fairy-tale and history, of which there is far too little in the world (accessible to me) for my appetite.  I was an undergraduate before thought and experience revealed to me that these were not divergent interests -- opposite poles of science and romance -- but integrally related.  I am not 'learned' in the matters of myth and fairy-story, however, for in such things (as far as known to me) I have always been seeking material, things of a certain tone and air, and not simple knowledge.  Also -- and here I hope I shall not sound absurd -- I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands.  There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly effected me); but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff.  Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with the English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing.  For one thing its 'faerie' is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive.  For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.

For reasons which I will not elaborate, that seems to me fatal.  Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary 'real' world.  (I am speaking, of course, of our present situation, not of ancient pagan, pre-Christian days.  And I will not repeat what I tried to say in my essay, which you read.)

Do not laugh!  But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story -- the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths -- which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country.  It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, redolent of our 'air' (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe, not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East), and, while possessing (if I could achieve it) the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic (though it is rarely found in genuine ancient Celtic things), it should be 'high', purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry.  I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched.  The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.  Absurd.

I commend you if you actually read through that entire thing.  I hope the added context will show that the "mythology for England" idea is not accurate, so let's explore it a little deeper.  First of all, it is very clear that Tolkien identifies as English and nothing else.  He does not find Celtic or "British" myths to be fulfilling, nor is he trying to emulate Celticism as is often claimed.  While he was influenced by the Welsh language, Tolkien stated in his famous essay English and Welsh that he was "a 'Saxon'".  Thus, the Romano-British legends of the Matter of Britain (most famously King Arthur) were not enough.  It was the Anglo-Saxons, who had displaced the Celts and then themselves been overrun by the Normans before their mythology could fully flower, whom Tolkien pined for.

Another, and probably more important, point that needs to be noted is that Tolkien himself never used the phrase "mythology for England".  That wording belongs to Humphrey Carpenter, who wrote the first authorized biography of Tolkien in 1977.  Carpenter interpreted Tolkien's words as a desire to create an English mythology, but others argue that Tolkien merely wanted to create a mythology that he could dedicate to England, which would to some extent fulfill the yearning for stories of an English style and setting that was left by the lack of a native mythology.  I think a case can be made for either interpretation, though I personally lean towards the latter.  The reference to "other hands" seems to me not so much an approval of fanfiction as a hope that his mythology would be adopted by other Englishmen and become even more closely intertwined with the English people.

The third point, which has already been alluded to in this thread, is that Tolkien abandoned this idea, and in fact he abandoned it quite early on.  The mythology project began (probably) in 1914 or 1916, and it grew to become The Book of Lost Tales.  The writings we know of from this period were almost all published in the first two volumes of The History of Middle-earth.  Stories like "The Tale of Tinvuiel", "Turambar and the Foaloke", and "The Fall of Gondolin" are clearly precursors to stories found in The Silmarillion, which leads many to describe BOLT as a sort of first draft of the Silm.  However, this ignores some very significant differences between the works, most notably the framing device of Eriol (also known as Ælfwine), an Anglo-Saxon sailor who comes to Tol Eressea and hears the tales of the First Age.  In the BOLT, Tol Eressea is not an island just off the coast of Valinor that can only be accessed by the Straight Road, but is mystically associated with England (and may actually be the island of Great Britain, depending on which text you look at).

The idea, at least as Christopher Tolkien interprets it in this chapter (called "The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales") is that after the defeat of Melko [Morgoth], Osse [seen in the published Silm. as a Maia] drags the island of Tol Eressea back across the Ocean to the northwest coast of Middle-earth.  Part of the island breaks off and becomes Ireland, while the rest is Great Britain.  The Elves living on Tol Eressea go into hiding from evil men and orcs, and eventually become invisible to most mortals.  However, Eriol meets them, learns of their history, and eventually conquers the island with his sons.  Eriol was the progenitor of the English people, who had an affinity with the Elves.  As the elder Tolkien puts it in one fragment:

Thus it is that through Eriol and his sons the Engle (i.e. the English) have the true tradition of the fairies, of whom the Iras and the Wealas (the Irish and the Welsh) tell garbled things.

In this version of the BOLT, there are numerous references to the actual geography of England, and the Elvish capital of Kortirion is identified as Warwick (in the West Midlands).  Other versions of the framing device have Eriol as a native of England and Tol Eressea as a separate island, though one that (might have) been at attempt by the Elves to re-create England away from the world of men.  In any event, there seems to be a conscious attempt running throughout the BOLT to give England and the English a special, unique connection to Elves and fairies.  In this way it can be seen as very much a mythology of the distant English past, or at the very least an attempt at rehabilitating an older English culture that Tolkien felt had been lost after the Norman invasion.

If all this sounds really bizarre and not at all like Tolkien's legendarium, it's because it was largely stripped out in the 1920s and '30s.  After abandoning The Book of Lost Tales in c. 1920, Tolkien spent several years (on and off) working on some very long epic poems about Turin and Luthien that were posthumously published as The Lays of Beleriand.  It was during or shortly after this period that Tolkien returned to the wider mythology.  In what Christopher calls "The Earliest 'Silmarillion'" and is also titled "Sketch of the Mythology", Tolkien lays out the history of his mythology from the earliest conflicts between Morgoth and the Valar to the War of Wrath and Earendil.  There is no framing story, except for a short paragraph at the end stating that much of the material came from Eriol, who had sailed to Tol Eressea and heard the stories there.  This is starting point of The Silmarillion as most people know it, and while it's history from then on is horrendously complex (including a lengthy excursion into the semi-related mystical time travel story known as The Lost Road, which introduced the concept of Numenor and eventually collapsed back into the main mythology), and the connections with England persist.  Tolkien was still playing around with the Eriol idea in the late 1960s.  However, most of the elements that made BOLT an "English mythology" were not resurrected, and the whole mythos stood more and more on its own.  While writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien came up with a new framing device for The Silmarillion; namely, that it was included in the Red Book of Westmarch as Bilbo's "Translations from the Elvish".  However, this did not stop Tolkien from continuing to consider the Eriol idea, as noted above.

Anyway, to try to get back to the original topic (lol), I find it rather silly that people point to Letter 131 as evidence that Tolkien intended the later Silmarillion to be an English mythology.  By 1951, he had already given up on the idea of creating a specifically English mythology and was working on his stories and languages more for their own sake.  Furthermore, in writing The Lord of the Rings, he was primarily crafting a sequel to The Hobbit (at his publisher's request).  While the work ultimately grew to utterly eclipse The Hobbit in scope and ambition, and contained a multitude of connections to The Silmarillion and related ideas from The Lost Road, it was still one step removed (by the Hobbits) from the mythology proper, which had long since ceased to be "English" in the sense that Tolkien had originally envisioned.


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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Eldorion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:04 pm

Believe it or not that was a simul with both of Elthir's posts and all the other ones since then. I guess I should have refreshed the page while thumbing through my copies of THoME. Razz
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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:17 pm

Sterling work Eldo and Elthir- a Lore Master tour de force from you both  Nod 

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Elthir on Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:25 pm

To add: the Earliest Silmarillion/Sketch was intended as a brief account to help explain the background to the epic poems [for R. W. Reynolds]. It was composed 'extremely rapidly' and according to Christopher Tolkien quite possibly and even probably written without consultation of the earlier prose tales.

'Thus while Eriol -- not Elfwine, see II. 300 -- is mentioned at the end, and his coming to Kortirion in Tol Eressea, there is no trace of the Cottage of Lost Play: the entire narrative framework of The Lost Tales has disappeared. But this does not by any means demonstrate that my father had actually rejected it at this time.'

CJRT, commentary, The Earliest Silmarillion

Here too a geographical connection was maintained: after the conquest of Morgoth the Elves set sail from Luthien/Leithien, explained as Britain or England, thus: 'The peculiar relation of the Elves to England keeps a foothold, as it were, in the actual articulation of the narrative;...'

Christopher Tolkien repeats himself somewhat with respect to the Qenta Noldorinwa that followed [described as a brief history of the Noldoli or Gnomes, drawn from the Book of Lost Tales], it is purposely brief, lacks the Cottage, but contains Eriol, and England as a surviving land from broken Beleriand is strongly suggested [according to CJRT]. And: 'At least, we may think, some venue in which The Lost Tales were told to Eriol in Kortirion still existed*'

Even the Silmarillion of the mid to later 1930s contains the Elfwine 'framework' [in general], and even a reference to a land of Leithien surviving from Beleriand:

'In those days there was a great building of ships upon the shores of the Western Sea, and especially upon the great Isles which, in the disruption of the northern world, were fashioned of ancient Beleriand. (...) 'and some lingered many an age in the West and North, and especially in the western Isles and in the land of Leithian.'

Leithian had been England, but was it still? In a map of the 1930s Tolkien has both a Tavrobel in Eressea, and a Tavrobel in Brethil:

'But there is no indication at all why Tavrobel should still be used in this way. It may be thought that my father did not wish finally to abandon this old and deep association of his youth; and it is tempting therefore to see his bestowal at this time of the name Tavrobel in this way and in this place as an echo of Great Haywood,...'

In any case I wonder. We do seem to have lost a lot of the framework here, but is it due to brevity and a focus on rewriting the legends themselves, instead of a focus on the background of Eriol/Elfwine and his possible English connections?

Could it be due to the confusing and fluid nature of that background even during The Book of Lost Tales phase? In other words, did Tolkien put this much aside because it was too confused 'at the moment', and so time and again he set himself to working on the legends [which Eriol was to learn] themselves...

... or was it all merely simplified? Eriol/Elfwine was still going to be 'English' or at least translate the tales into Old English, but possibly he was being reduced to a recorder, if other connections had been put aside.

Another factor is the timing: if a 'Second Age' was going to be included this would seemingly add time between the events of the very Ancient Days and the time of Eriol's coming to Tol Eressea [and later again, Tolkien adds a Third Age, further removing the tales of the Noldoli into the past].

That said, with Tolkien one would think to see something, even brief notes, if there were still plenty of English connections to be made [assuming such notes would have survived like other texts, I guess]; I mean if there were things beyond what we find briefly mentioned in the 1930s Silmarillion texts. Of course, there were other Primary World connections in The Lost Road, and this might have given rise to a new framework in the later Notion Club Papers.

Eldorion wrtote: 'This is starting point of The Silmarillion as most people know it, and while it's history from then on is horrendously complex (including a lengthy excursion into the semi-related mystical time travel story known as The Lost Road, which introduced the concept of Numenor and eventually collapsed back into the main mythology), and the connections with England persist. Tolkien was still playing around with the Eriol idea in the late 1960s.

Do you mean the late 1950s Eldo?

However, most of the elements that made BOLT an "English mythology" were not resurrected, and the whole mythos stood more and more on its own.  While writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien came up with a new framing device for The Silmarillion; namely, that it was included in the Red Book of Westmarch as Bilbo's "Translations from the Elvish".

Just to note it here, Verlyn Flieger has suggested [or seemingly argued] that as late as 1945 [during the writing of The Lord of the Rings] Tolkien was working on a new framework that might have given his legendarium a further infusion of 'Englishness'. It would take some time to properly outline The Notion Club Papers for those who haven't read it, but connected to this tale of time-travel/passing-down-of-memory is the following note from JRRT, slightly edited by me below for brevity:

Treowine [Jeremy] sees the straight Road and the world plunging down.
Elfwine's [Loudham's] vessel seems to be taking the straight road and falls [sic] in a swoon of fear and exhaustion.

Elfwine gets view of the Book of Stories; and writes down what he can remember.
Later fleeting visions.
Beleriand tale.
Sojourn in Numenor before and during the fall (...) Elendil had a book which he has written.
His descendants gets glimpses of it.
Elfwine has one.

With respect to this and other things, Flieger later comments:

'Tolkien's proposal to do the Atlantis story and abandon the Eriol-saga would bring the Eriol-Elfwine figure into the present not just by 'extending' him into the future but by starting him off there. The reader would encounter the 'faerie' myth by way of a more novelistically conceived work of science fiction which would in turn affect the ethos and spirit of the legendarium contained within both. It would have made the 'Englishness' a genetic -- even psychic -- as well as historic and geographic element in the story.'

Verlyn Flieger, The Artifice, Interrupted Music

Of course sadly, but once again, another interesting start was abandoned with The Notion Club Papers -- although obviously not sadly but very happily, The Lord of the Rings was finished! Huzzah!

As Eldorion notes, a new framework appears in the 1950s The Lord of the Rings, which was futher established in the second edition revisions, and in notes to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Still, one might think that a mariner from England might still have a role, for how did JRR Tolkien 'easily' translate/transcribe these languages and writing systems for modern readers?

Did surviving Hobbits help [see the original Foreword to The Lord of the Rings and a curious comment about the maps]? In any case there seems to be no suggestion that Bilbo's translations went through the mind and hand of an English mariner, the tales later cast into Old English to help a certain man from Oxford with translation. Especially if that 'translator' [Tolkien] employed Old English for certain names in his book, like he did, one might think the detail notable.

Or was Tolkien helped by a genetic memory of certain languages and scripts, passed down to him through time  Wink


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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Radaghast on Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:31 pm

Eldorion wrote:"Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings to be a mythology for England."

I've been reading and posting on a few of my other Tolkien forum haunts, neither of which I'm particularly active on any more, and I've come across two variations of this statement just today.  I felt compelled to respond to both, though that probably wasn't a great idea due to my writing being pretty muddled today and not wanting to offend people by going off on them.  But I've seen this so many times on forums and blogs/static websites where people should really know better.  A few quick Google searches will turn up innumerable further examples.  I honestly think the pervasiveness of this misconception does a serious disservice to furthering people's understanding of Tolkien's writing in general and of The Lord of the Rings specifically.

And don't even get me started on people who say it was "a mythology for Britain". Razz

#firstworldproblems #ranting #sorrynotsorry
Why is it a misconception?


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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by halfwise on Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:24 pm

The misconception seems to be the assumption that the Silmarillion and LotR was part of this "Mythology for England" when in fact the Book of Lost Tales that actually would fit this bill was never published during Tolkien's lifetime, and he had long since ceased work on it even before starting LotR.

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Re: A Mythology for England

Post by Kenelm on Wed May 07, 2014 8:50 am

In any mythology, such the Greek, we have earlier versions and later versions, and can trace the evolution and development of stories and ideas. The Silmarillion evolved from BoLT, and BoLT was a mythology for the English. Like Greek mythology, it includes cosmic and worldwide events, and deals with the creation of the earth and mankind. And like the Greek, it has inspired the whole world, and not just the land of its origin. But it remains very much rooted to the soil of England.

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