17317Re: [mythsoc] Re: mythology for England
- Dec 1, 2006Jason wrote:
> But how did Carpenters term become theI'm afraid that I have a problem accepting that the placing of a phrase in
> 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 biographys index
> (whether Carpenters or the publishers 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 ....
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
"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
>But _mythology_ in a central sense refers to what Tolkien here"Mythology" will do for both, if understood in context.
>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?
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