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The Somme and Tolkien

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  • Jack
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5133000.stm Tolkien had just graduated from Oxford with a first class degree in literature when he saw his first active
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 4, 2006
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5133000.stm

       

      Tolkien had just graduated from Oxford with a first class degree in literature when he saw his first active service at the Somme . From July 1916 until he was invalided out with trench fever at the end of October, he experienced the full relentless ghastliness of day after day of trench life under fire - the discomfort, the cold, the mud, the lice, the fear, the unspeakable horrors witnessed.

      Regards
      Jack

       

    • Ellen L Lienhard
      Thanks, Jack, for that link. Interesting reading, and I do agree that the Dead Marshes is the place in LOTR that one sees the most clear reference to JRRT s
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 13, 2006
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        Thanks, Jack, for that link.  Interesting reading, and I do agree that the Dead Marshes is the place in LOTR that one sees the most clear reference to JRRT's WWI experiences.
         
        I have been sad at the lack of any discussion in this group lately; perhaps we can start a thread regarding these experiences and where their influence is revealed in his work.  Aside from the Dead Marshes, which is often cited, I find in the character of Sam, as others have also pointed out, a clear reference to the enlisted men JRRT encountered.  I was very disappointed when Sean Astin's work was not recognized by the Academy Awards.  Do you recall if BAFTA gave him any notice?
         
        Regards,
        Ellen


        Jack <jack@...> wrote:
        Tolkien had just graduated from Oxford with a first class degree in literature when he saw his first active service at the Somme . From July 1916 until he was invalided out with trench fever at the end of October, he experienced the full relentless ghastliness of day after day of trench life under fire - the discomfort, the cold, the mud, the lice, the fear, the unspeakable horrors witnessed.
        Regards
        Jack


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      • Wilson, Bruce
        JRRT s unit was a local militia recruited from the Greater Birmingham area. In his unit were college students, bank clerks, shop assistants, factory workers,
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 13, 2006
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          JRRT's unit was a local militia recruited from the Greater Birmingham area. In his unit were college students, bank clerks, shop assistants, factory workers, schoolteachers, farmhands--ordinary young men who found themselves doing extraordinary things--some great things, some horrible things, but things that they never thought they were capable of. They all found out that they were a lot braver, and a lot cleverer, than they thought they were. Then, after the war, they returned home, not unchanged, but most took up the threads of their lives again.

          We see this theme over and over in JRRTs works. It is in the Hobbit, it is in LOTR, and it is in FARMER GILES.

          This last is an underappreciated work. On first reading it seems innocuous, but when you look into it more closely it is really quite subversive. In the sort of story that it purports to be, one expects that the King and his noble knights will take care of the dragon that is ravaging the land. However, the King is a blowhard and the knights are worse than useless. The only person who is able to deal with the dragon is a fat redheaded farmer who can't abide tresspassers.
          -----Original Message-----
          From: TolkienDiscussions@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TolkienDiscussions@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Ellen L Lienhard
          Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:00 AM
          To: TolkienDiscussions@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [TolkienDiscussions] The Somme and Tolkien



          I have been sad at the lack of any discussion in this group lately; perhaps we can start a thread regarding these experiences and where their influence is revealed in his work. Aside from the Dead Marshes, which is often cited, I find in the character of Sam, as others have also pointed out, a clear reference to the enlisted men JRRT encountered. I was very disappointed when Sean Astin's work was not recognized by the Academy Awards. Do you recall if BAFTA gave him any notice?

          Regards,
          Ellen
        • Paul Westermeyer
          ... I really like Sean Astin, I enjoyed Rudy quite a bit, and from the interviews I ve seen He s a great guy, a family guy. And Sam is perhaps my favorite
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 15, 2006
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            >revealed in his work. Aside from the Dead Marshes, which is often cited, I find in the character of Sam, as others have also pointed out, a clear reference to the enlisted men JRRT encountered. I was very disappointed when Sean Astin's work was not recognized by the Academy Awards. Do you recall if BAFTA gave him any notice?

            I really like Sean Astin, I enjoyed Rudy quite a bit, and from the interviews I've seen He's a great guy, a family guy.

            And Sam is perhaps my favorite character in any of Tolkien's works.

            But I can't say I was happy with Sam's portrayal by Sean in the movies. He was too weepy, he lacked that stoic, common sense 'let's get on with it' attitude I admired so much in Sam in the books. I mean, of the Hobbits during the march from Bree, I think Frodo and Sam were the two that Aragorn respected. Frodo for the Ring, and because Gandalf trusted him, but Sam simply because he recognized a competent, get things done type.

            I think Sean Astin's Sam was a bit too heavily influenced by the earlier cartoons which made Sam a figure of fun.


            --
            "One does not read The Silmarillion; one either abandons it in bored disgust, or else one lives in it."
            Peter Kreeft, 'Afterword: The Wonder of the Silmarillion',
            Shadows of Imagination (1979)
            westermeyer@...
          • Pippin
            ... He was too weepy, he lacked that stoic, common sense let s get on with it attitude I admired so much in Sam in the books. Sean Astin was the star of the
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 15, 2006
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              > And Sam is perhaps my favorite character in any of Tolkien's works.
              >
              > But I can't say I was happy with Sam's portrayal by Sean in the movies.
              He was too weepy, he lacked that stoic, common sense 'let's get on with it'
              attitude I admired so much in Sam in the books.

              Sean Astin was the star of the third Peter Jackson movie. It seems to me
              that the crying scenes in the movie, across the board, were new scenes, not
              in the book. (I haven't done a scene-for-scene comparison.) However, I
              thought the emotional scenes generally added depth to the character,
              showing how huge the struggle was, both the physical struggle of the
              journey and the turning of Frodo by the ring. Movie Sam was strong enough
              to show his emotions and not waste energy trying to hide his feelings. And
              happily ever after, for Rosie Cotton. :-)

              Pippin

              "But you've left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted.
              'I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn't they put in more of his
              talk, dad? That's what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn't have
              got far without Sam, would he, dad?' "
              The Two Towers: The Stairs of Cirith Ungol
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