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19713Re: [mythsoc] Elves as Artists

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  • John D Rateliff
    Apr 20, 2008
      Sorry for the delay in responding; I thought this post went to the
      list last Thursday (the 17th), and only discovered today that for
      some reason it seems not to have gone off.

      On Apr 17, 2008, at 4:01 PM, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
      > Thanks, John! Fascinating stuff.
      > I missed your paper at Marquette (probably because I was still working
      > on finishing my own; I missed a lot of papers that way -- alas!), and
      > haven't read the proceedings yet -- just one volume from a mountain of
      > Tolkien criticism that I haven't been able to keep up with for years
      > now.

      Thanks, Carl. I made it to almost all the presentations, only missing
      some for the few that were double-tracked (drat!). Luckily, almost
      all of them made it into the published collection, which has some
      really good essays in it.

      > One comment:
      >> 'Like the angels of the cosmogonical legend, Niggle is an
      >> artist . . . who passes from Making . . . to Sub-creation . . and
      >> whose sub-creation is "taken up into Creation" and made
      >> real.' (Blackwelder festschrift, page 84)
      > It's not clear though just which "cosmogonical legend" Tolkien has in
      > mind here. Is there anything in, say, Augustine or Aquinas that
      > suggests that angels played a role in creation? Or is Tolkien in fact
      > referring to pseudepigraphal, Classical, or Gnostic cosmogony?

      Sorry, my mistake for not making the hierarchies of quotations
      clearer in the snippets I cited. Most of this paragraph, including
      the bit about 'the cosmogonical legend', is me, the "taken up into
      Creation" is Tolkien. My cosmogonical legend to which I refer is the
      Ainulindale. I don't know of any evidence that Tolkien was directly
      inspired by actual gnosticism, which I'm pretty sure he would have
      considered heresy. I also don't know of any of the church fathers who
      suggested the angels played a role in creation, though I'd be very
      interested to learn more about that one way or the other. For Tolkien
      at least, the sort of delegated creation Iluvatar presides over is
      more like a permissible thought-experiment, at least if I'm reading
      his remarks to Hastings correctly: not church doctrine but not
      directly contradicting it either, merely a different way God could
      have chosen to have done things.

      On Apr 17, 2008, at 9:16 PM, Merlin DeTardo wrote:

      >> ---John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
      >> << 'While Tolkien does not elucidate on what he means by these "sub-
      >> creational counterfeits', from the context (a discussion of beings
      >> made by the Dark Lord in counterfeit of the Free Peoples) I suspect
      >> that he is speaking of something along the lines of C. S. Lewis's Un-
      >> man, an idea which Lewis seems to have derived in turn from Dante's
      >> Inferno. Cf. Canto XXXIII, where Dante meets in Hell someone he knows
      >> to be alive in the world above and is told that while the soul is
      >> already damned and in Hell the body, animated by a devil, is still
      >> walking around in the world of the living (Dante Alighieri, The
      >> Divine Comedy 1: Hell, trans. Dorothy L. Sayers [Baltimore: Penguin
      >> Books, 1949], pages 281-281.' >>

      > Tolkien describes something vaguely similar when considering the
      > possibility of Men's bodies in Aman, bereft of their spirits [1], and
      > of wayward "Houseless" Elf spirits in Middle-earth that might attempt
      > to oust Men's souls from their bodies [2].
      > [1] "Aman" from "Myths Transformed" in _Morgoth's Ring_, pp. 428-430.
      > [2] "Of Re-birth and Other Dooms of Those That Go to Mandos"
      > from "Laws and Customs among the Eldar", also in _Morgoth's Ring_,
      > pp. 223-225.

      You're right; those late musings could be relevant to the issue at
      hand, and if I'd remembered them at the time I'd have added them to
      the endnote. I'll have to re-read those sections and think more on
      how it may tie in. Thanks for drawing these passages to my attention.

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