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10531RE: [mythsoc] Some questions for a Thesis

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  • Croft, Janet B
    Dec 3, 2003
      Below are a few responses for you. If you go to my webpage you will see
      some of my publications in Tolkien studies listed.

      Janet Brennan Croft

      Head of Access Services

      University of Oklahoma

      Bizzell Library NW104

      Norman OK 73019


      fax 405-325-7618


      http://libraries.ou.edu/ <http://libraries.ou.edu/>



      Hubris is stealing fire from the gods. Chutzpah is offering to sell it back.


      From: Daniel B. Karpouzian [mailto:daniel@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 6:25 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [mythsoc] Some questions for a Thesis

      I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving different allegory
      and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R. Tolkien's
      writing, and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE answers to the following few
      questions. And also, a quick answer would also be appreciated! :-)

      1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
      If so, which, and how many times?

      Read The Hobbit and LotR at least 25 times the whole way through.
      Silmarillion - probably only 3 times the whole way through. With all of
      these I dip in from time to time. I've also read Tolkien's other works
      varying numbers of times.

      2. Have you seen the movies? Yes
      Did you think they were an accurate representation of the
      books? No; poor screenwriting, but good scenery and costumes. Some casting
      and makeup was off. But the script changed too many things, including the
      characters, which is the most important thing.

      3. Which is your favorite and why? Favorite book or movie? This is
      somewhat unclear. LotR is my favorite Tolkien long work, and I count it as
      one unit because that's how Tolkien wrote it. I like Farmer Giles of Ham
      best among the short works, simply because it is a wonderful combination of
      earthy and intellectual fun. Favorite movie? I guess I dislike The
      Fellowship the least. I don't really like either of them, and don't
      anticipate liking RotK, considering what scenes Peter Jackson has dropped.

      4. Do you see any specific allegories that Tolkien may have written
      into his writing?

      As you know, Tolkien disliked allegory - or said he did. There is a very
      specific allegorical passage in his essay Beowulf and the Critics. His
      short story Leaf by Niggle is probably his most allegorical. Smith of
      Wootten Major is also allegorical, but more in a more obscure and personal
      way; in many ways Smith represents Tolkien, but the precise meaning of his
      adventures and what they relate to in Tolkien's personal life is hard to
      tease out. As far as LotR, of course many people thought the Ring was an
      allegory for the Bomb. But that is too specific. It's more an allegory of
      the corrupting effects of power in general - and since it's general, it's
      more of a symbol than an allegory.

      5. Do you see any meaning Tolkien was attempting to portray?

      Many meanings. LotR is a multiple-layered work. But the problem of power
      seems central to me, at least in my most recent readings.

      6. Do you have a religious or spiritual orientation? (ie. Atheist,
      Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Satanist, etc.)


      7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that hold
      significant meaning for you? If so, why?

      "It's all good", as the saying goes. I suppose in my recent readings the
      Scouring of the Shire has become more meaningful, with its explorations of
      post-traumatic stress syndrome, the shortcomings and strengths of pacifism,
      and the responsibilities of maturity.

      8. What background information, if any at all, do you see Tolkien
      drawing from, and if so, what specifically do you see? (ie. Anglo-Saxon
      lit, Icelandic lit, Nordic lit, Celtic lit, Classical lit)

      All of the above, and then some. He was very widely read.

      9. What do you think Tolkien 'meant' in his writing?

      This seems to repeat question 5 above.

      10. What similarities and differences do you see between the writings
      of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in reference to themes
      such as good and evil, the
      use of magic, and things of that nature.

      I think it's too early to really do a serious comparison of the two; I'd
      wait till she finishes the series. But I will say at this point the
      good-vs-evil theme is similar. But their approach to magic is very
      different. For Rowling, it's simply a tool, with no good or evil
      connotations per se; it depends on how it is used. For Tolkien magic is
      more problematic and subtle; he sees a difference between magic and
      enchantment, and likens magic more to technology. And his approach to magic
      is tied in with his thoughts on creativity, and on possessing or letting go
      that which one creates.

      Thank you all so much for your help, and you will be cited if I use your
      answers. If you would like a copy upon its completion, pls. let me
      know! :-)

      I'd be interested in seeing your completed thesis.

      I remain,
      -Daniel B. Karpouzian
      Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of
      heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

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