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21653Re: [mythsoc] Re: Are Hobbits white?

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  • John Rateliff
    Dec 9, 2010
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      On Dec 8, 2010, at 5:43 PM, lynnmaudlin wrote:
      > So there are Elves, primarily 'good' in LOTR;

      Actually, it's fairer to say that the Elves in THE HOBBIT are mostly good; those in LotR are ALL good.

      > To break it down further and say, "within the humans, the good ones are 'light' and the bad ones are 'dark' and that is a political statement" is imho simplistic.

      How about reversing it? the light ones are good (mostly--don't forget the Dunlendings) and the bad ones are dark (mostly -- cf. Ghan-buri-Ghan). But, having deliberately established that in broad strokes, Tolkien takes pains to provide many exceptions: he's more subtle than folks give him credit for (a point Marjorie Burns makes over and over in her book).

      > It's rather like looking back at the aggressive violent spread of Islam up into Europe in the first millennium and characterizing it as a race war. In fact, arguably it wasn't even a religious war (like Northern Ireland: while being cast as Catholic versus Protestant, it wasn't a religious battle but a political one; the religious labels were simply the identifiers used) but rather one of imperialism and encroachment by people who happened to be Muslims against people who happened to be Christian.

      That ethnicities and politics played a part doesn't mean that religion didn't play a part as well. I think most of those who fought on one side or the other in the Troubles in Northern Ireland wd be startled to be told that religion was irrelevant to that disaster. And it's hard to say that the Crusades targeted people "who happened to be Muslims".


      On Dec 7, 2010, at 1:29 PM, David Bratman wrote:
      > Tolkien says that Harfoots "were browner of skin" than other hobbits. How brown? English Caucasian working-out-in-the-sun-all-day brown,


      > or maybe Pakistani brown?


      > What of Le Guin's Ged, whom the author envisaged as resembling a Native American, but whom illustrators and film-makers tend to reproduce as white?

      I wish Le Guin had made this clearer in the original book, and then re-inforced it in the later ones. As it is, it's v. easy to miss that she means more than darkish Caucasian -- as evidenced by the fact that most of her readers DO miss it. She had a similar problem in THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS where she wrote scenes in which she pictured one character as female but, since she throughout describes that character as "he", readers take her at her word and picture him as male. I think sometimes her internal visualization is so strong that she forgets to convey it all to the reader.

      Ironically, the D&D rulebooks are ahead of the curve here, having years ago changed the descriptions of Halflings to state that they come in all the colors that humans do. Not that this has prevented anybody from playing them as twee little Englishmen.

      --John R.
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