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17317Re: [mythsoc] Re: mythology for England

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  • Wayne G. Hammond
    Dec 1, 2006
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      Jason wrote:

      > But how did Carpenter’s term become the
      > Tolkien misquote that it is today? Anders Stenström lays
      > out a convincing reconstruction of how it may have hap-
      > pened, the key point being the misapplication of single
      > quotation marks to the term in the biography’s index
      > (whether Carpenter’s or the publisher’s doing, we do not
      > know). Because the term was shown in quotation marks,
      > like the one other (legitimate) Tolkien quote referenced
      > in the index, it was subsequently accepted by many as a
      > bona fide quotation and not an invention.
      > But while Tolkien may never have put down this exact
      > phrase, we can be relatively certain he would have accepted
      > it, just as we can be sure that the creation of a so-called
      > mythology for England was indeed one of his early goals ....

      I'm afraid that I have a problem accepting that the placing of a phrase in
      quotation marks in an index, indeed buried in an index as a
      sub-sub-sub-reference, could cause readers -- who as a rule don't take much
      notice of indexes except at need -- to take it as Tolkien's own words. I
      would say, rather, that Carpenter's coinage proved so apt that one can't
      help but repeat it.

      In regard to the certainty of "a mythology for England" as one of Tolkien's
      early goals -- "early" being a relative term -- Carpenter in the Biography
      (p. 59 of the first edition) at first cautiously suggests that "perhaps"
      Tolkien was already thinking of it while an Oxford undergraduate, and later
      writes of it more as a matter of fact. The basis of his first comment,
      however, is a paper on the Kalevala that Tolkien read to college societies
      at Oxford, in which he refers to the mythology found in the Finnish poems.
      Carpenter quoted: "'These mythological ballads,' he said, 'are full of that
      very primitive undergrowth that the literature of Europe has on the whole
      been steadily cutting and reducing for many centuries with different and
      earlier completeness among different people.' And he added: 'I would that
      we had more of it left -- something of the same sort that belonged to the
      English.'"

      "The implication", Christina has written, "is that these words come from
      the paper that Tolkien wrote and delivered at Oxford in 1914 and 1915 --
      words which have been frequently quoted in association with the earliest
      poems of his 'Silmarillion' mythology, and as written before he commenced
      The Book of Lost Tales in which the history of the Elves has close ties
      with England. Although a variant of his first sentence ('These mythological
      ballads . . .') is in the paper as first written, the second ['I would that
      we had more . . .']" appears only in a revised version of most of his
      Kalevala lecture which Tolkien made in the early 1920s and delivered
      probably to an audience at Leeds -- "after Tolkien had written and
      abandoned The Book of Lost Tales. He may, then, have thought about creating
      a 'mythology for England' in 1914, but he did not write 'I would that we
      had more of it left -- something of the same sort that belonged to the
      English' until nearly a decade later" (The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and
      Guide, vol. 2, p. 441, based on study of Tolkien's Kalevala papers at the
      Bodleian).

      Beregond wrote:

      >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?

      "Mythology" will do for both, if understood in context.

      Wayne Hammond


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