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24341Re: [mythsoc] The Fall of Arthur

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  • Mike Foster
    May 25, 2013
      John Rateliff is (as usual) right.  This work will be honored as one of Tolkien’s finest; it begs to be read aloud, loud aloud. 
      In some of the best passages, one hears JRRT reading “The Ride of the Rohirrim” in George Sayer’s recordings.
      Because of the death of a longtime (since 1961) friend, visits of commiseration, writings eulogics, hosting visitors &c., I am only as far as canto 5.  I’m eschewing all the notes and commentary so far.
      Moreover, Far Westfarthing smial is reading Charles Williams’ The Place of the Lion for our May 31 meeting.  I’m up to Ch. 5.
      I read Tolkien, then I read Williams.
      Tolkien is better.
      Sent: Friday, May 24, 2013 9:06 AM
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] The Fall of Arthur

      Yesterday thanks to a train ride to and from Cardiff to meet my Postgraduate Research supervior (Dr. Dimitra Fimi) on the progress of my Tolkien thesis I had the chance to do a complete first read of The Fall of Arthur as I travelled through 'the walls of Wales.'

      Like you John I was completly blown away by Tolkien's plans (sadly not completed) to link the poem to his mythology and the Lost Literature of Faerie.  The idea of linking Arthur (and Lancelot!) to Earende/Wingelotl and going into the West is quite interesting (love how Tolkien completely dismisses the Glastonbery element). I kept thinking of the hermit they visit before going to the west as Cirdan the Shipwright at the Grey Havens!  Also the occurance of the name Avallone in the mythology as an alternative name for Tol-Eressea around the time Tolkien was working on Fall of Arthur is quite interesting and needs more investigation (I also wonder if and how this might link to the older names Arvalin (a later name for Habbanan) as in 'the wide plains of Arvalin (Lost Tales 1, p.70) also listed in the Qenya Lexicon and if this was also an Arthurian inspired early idea - more grist for the thesis!

      The actual poem is brilliant and I find it interesting that Tolkien focuses so much on the character of Mordred (who has always been a very shadowy character - except  in the musical Camelot where he gets to sing 'The Seven Deadly Virtues.  Tolkien's Mordred seems to have a lot of the dark lord about him - he watches from towers and he goes to the East to lead an army against Arthur.  On my second read I will pay more attention to this.

      A book that was worth the wait and the commentary Christopher gives linking the poem to both the Arthurian tradition and the the ermeging mythology is invaluable.

      Second read to come this weekend!

      Best, Andy


      On May 24, 2013, at 07:39 AM, John Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:


      So, anybody else read THE FALL OF ARTHUR yet?

      Biggest surprise for me was the revelation that in it Tolkien linked up the Arthurian story to his legendarium.

      That, and his giving us in Guinevere what I think is his most negative portrayal of a female character.

      Not to mention that now we'll have to qualify statements about his depiction of the Angles and Saxons in his work by taking into account their treatment here -- at one point he has King Arthur playing pretty much the role the Romans play in Wm Morris's HOUSE OF THE WOLFINGS, wh. I wdn't have expected.

      Plus, of course, the fact that just judged as poetry there are some memorable lines (the best of which, describing Guinevere, was quoted long ago by Carpenter: "fair as fay-woman and fell-minded, in the world walking for the woe of men").

      I think this one's going to take a while for people to absorb, but once they do that it'll be judged a major work. Guess we'll see. I know I'm already looking forward to leisurely re-reading it, more slowly this time.

      --John R.

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