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7286Re: Broader world

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  • David F. Porteous
    Jan 1, 2003
      > I always felt that the writers who call Tolkien a racist and
      > closed-minded--like Brin in his Slate article--were being just a bit glib,
      > taking bits and pieces and creating a "case" against Tolkien. But in the
      > case of his distaste for the big world, I think Tolkien might enjoy these
      > adventures, but it doesn't seem to bring his characters joy or
      > In the end, if I have it right, Frodo is disturbed by his adventures, and
      > they have "ruined" his simple life in the Shire. And going off into the
      > with the pure non-industrial elves doesn't sound like someone who thinks
      > progress is so wonderful.
      > Sparkdog

      One of the documentaries on the special extended edition of the Fellowship
      of the Ring DVD (the one that comes with the Argonath bookends) seems to
      answer this point. Tolkien was a pessimist by nature, so it said -- I have
      heard no other discussion on the subject. The anti-industrial feelings seem
      to stem from him returning as an adult to a house he had lived in; the house
      had been on a lush green hill but was later hemmed in by the development of
      an industrial town. That's only paraphrasing though, the documentary is
      worth the watch.

      Personally I think, like many men of his generation who lived through the
      first world war, Tolkien acquired a revulsion for the death machines of
      modern warfare and this became the distrust for technology apparent in LotR.

      > Well, the part about the Industrial Revolution helps me understand your
      > putting Tolkien in that category 8-) . But IMHO, he doesn't show the
      > parochial Shire society as being idyllic, but rather as suffering some
      > consequences because of its (unsuccessful) efforts to cut itself off from
      > the rest of Middle-earth. So I don't think it comes across as a model,
      > especially since the heroes of the story go out and get involved in the
      > broader world.
      > --Trudy

      The sad little story of the shire may just be a reflection of what I mention
      above. Tolkien goes away and comes home to find it changed. As Tolkien
      hated allegory it's possible that all he meant by it was that it was just a
      sad little story :'( Looking to film -- only for a moment -- Jackson most
      definitely does have an idyllic Shire and quite deliberately so, he
      obviously intends to labour the point of industrialisation being evil and
      because he is a New Zealander that's understandable. The ecological
      environment has long been a hot topic in New Zeeland and Jackson will
      probably use the film as a mouthpiece for his views on the subject -- I'm
      not complaining as I don't feel any director could be expected to do
      otherwise with what will eventually be something of the order of 10 to 12
      hours of film.

      <<If Frodo's simple life in the Shire was ruined, it was not mere
      adventuring that did it. My own take is that Frodo can never find peace
      again because, at the crucial moment of trial, he flunked: he succumbed to
      the Ring, and in a sense when the Ring was destroyed, a shadow of the fate
      which overtook Sauron also claimed Frodo. A part of him was destroyed. --

      I'm not sure I don't agree with that. If fate in whatever form played a
      part then Frodo did exactly what he was supposed to and Gollum did the
      rest -- as soon as Gollum is spoken of we know that Gandalf feels he has
      some part to play. Also when the ring is destroyed we know that Bilbo is
      restored and he had the ring for considerably longer than Frodo. Why Frodo
      cannot settle in the shire is, I feel, determined by whether you believe the
      Bagginses were different from normal Hobbits to begin with or were changed
      by the ring while they carried it. As Bilbo went on an adventure before the
      ring ever became part of his life I'm inclined to believe the former. Sam,
      Merry and Pippin would all have lived happily in the Shire all their lives
      had the ring never existed, but would Frodo? As the ward of Bilbo surely
      the wanderlust would have rubbed off and he would have had his own adventure
      eventually. Once these wanderers are exposed to the wide world they can't
      really be at peace with the simple Shire again. Just IMHO, of course.

      -- David
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