Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

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Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

Post by Eldorion on Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:57 am

John Garth wrote:A century ago today, Russian forces were beginning the 133-day siege of Przemyśl and the German army took Péronne. Meanwhile, in a Nottinghamshire farmhouse, a young man wrote a poem about a mariner who sails off the earth into the sky. The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star deserves its day in the spotlight alongside war commemorations. It was the founding moment of Middle-earth.

Neither elves nor hobbits were yet in JRR Tolkien’s mind. But the star mariner is remembered in The Lord of the Rings, as Eärendil, forefather of kings, whose light in a phial wards off Mordor’s darkness. In the vast backstory of The Silmarillion, he carries the last Silmaril, a jewel preserving unsullied Edenic light, seeking aid against the primal Dark Lord.

None of this is in Tolkien’s poem from 24 September 1914. As an invented origin myth for the evening star, it is all energy and enigma:

John Garth (author of Tolkien and the Great War) offers a fascinating re-evaluation of the earliest origins of Middle-earth today, coinciding with the centenary of what he pinpoints as the moment of conception (as well as the Tolkien Society's annual conference, Oxonmoot 2014).  Garth writes in The Guardian and offers further insight on his personal blog.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/24/jrr-tolkien-poem-genesis-middle-earth

http://johngarth.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/middle-earth-turns-100/

The Tolkien Society has also uploaded highlights from Garth's talk at the conference recently.



I confess that this is an area beyond the scope of my personal studies of Tolkien's life and the external history of his work, so I look forward to digging deeper when Tolkien Studies 11 comes out. study
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Re: Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:08 pm

cheers great stuff

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Re: Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

Post by Radaghast on Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:24 pm

Saw this mentioned on another board. Here's the first stanza of the poem J.R.R. Tolkien wrote 100 years ago yesterday:

Eärendel sprang up from the Ocean’s cup
In the gloom of the mid-world’s rim;
From the door of Night as a ray of light
Leapt over the twilight brim,
And launching his bark like a silver spark
From the golden-fading sand;
Down the sunlit breath of Day’s fiery Death
He sped from Westerland.

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Re: Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:39 pm

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Re: Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

Post by Elthir on Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:08 pm

Hey, who's this loremaster come to out master me... anyway I knew everything he said, plus one other thing he didn't say.

By the way what are the contents for the latest Tolkien Studies volume? And if you (any-you) are interested in the part on the Kalevala [talked about in the above impertinent video -- being impertinent with respect to out-loremastering me considering my elected (if bribed) position here at the moment]...

... check out TS volume 7 -- Tolkien's Kullervo tale, in which I have to say, JRRT does somewhat oddly, but interestingly and ultimately perhaps not that oddly given what we think we know about Tolkien the man, change some of the true Finnish names for his own invented ones -- or at least adds his own, if not truly changing the originals.

Heh, I like the answer to why in the vid: Tolkien just couldn't help himself!
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Re: Middle-earth turns 100: John Garth

Post by Eldorion on Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:35 am

I find this really interesting because it challenges some of my assumptions about the earliest legendarium works. Most histories of Tolkien's work (those that know there was something before "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit", anyway) begin with the early drafts of The Book of Lost Tales written in 1916. The only thing from before then that is mentioned tends to be a throwaway line about Quenya already being in development. So I find it really interesting to learn that there were already story elements that would be influential in the legendarium being put into place in 1914 and 1915. Garth also makes an interesting point that this suggests Tolkien's famous statement that the mythology was entirely secondary to his project of inventing languages was probably not entirely true.
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