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Some questions for a Thesis

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  • Daniel B. Karpouzian
    I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving different allegory and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing, and I
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 2, 2003
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      I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving different allegory
      and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R. Tolkien’s
      writing, and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE answers to the following few
      questions. And also, a quick answer would also be appreciated! :-)
      1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
      Silmarillion?
      If so, which, and how many times?
      2. Have you seen the movies?
      Did you think they were an accurate representation of the
      books?
      3. Which is your favorite and why?
      4. Do you see any specific allegories that Tolkien may have written
      into his writing?
      5. Do you see any meaning Tolkien was attempting to portray?
      6. Do you have a religious or spiritual orientation? (ie. Atheist,
      Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Satanist, etc.)
      7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that hold
      significant meaning for you? If so, why?
      8. What background information, if any at all, do you see Tolkien
      drawing from, and if so, what specifically do you see? (ie. Anglo-Saxon
      lit, Icelandic lit, Nordic lit, Celtic lit, Classical lit)
      9. What do you think Tolkien ‘meant’ in his writing?
      10. What similarities and differences do you see between the writings
      of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in reference to themes
      such as good and evil, the
      use of magic, and things of that nature.

      Thank you all so much for your help, and you will be cited if I use your
      answers. If you would like a copy upon its completion, pls. let me
      know! :-)


      I remain,
      -Daniel B. Karpouzian
      ----------
      Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of
      heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • JP Massar
      Sheesh. Some people want others to do their homework for them. But an entire thesis? (Or multiple theses, considering these questions) ... I am just
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 2, 2003
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        Sheesh. Some people want others to do their homework for them.

        But an entire thesis? (Or multiple theses, considering these
        questions)

        >>> daniel@... 12/03/03 01:24PM >>>
        I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving different
        allegory
        and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R.
        Tolkien's
        writing, and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE answers to the following
        few
        questions. And also, a quick answer would also be appreciated! :-)
        1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
        Silmarillion?
        If so, which, and how many times?
        2. Have you seen the movies?
        Did you think they were an accurate representation of the
        books?
        3. Which is your favorite and why?
        4. Do you see any specific allegories that Tolkien may have written
        into his writing?
        5. Do you see any meaning Tolkien was attempting to portray?
        6. Do you have a religious or spiritual orientation? (ie. Atheist,
        Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Satanist,
        etc.)
        7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that hold
        significant meaning for you? If so, why?
        8. What background information, if any at all, do you see Tolkien
        drawing from, and if so, what specifically do you see? (ie.
        Anglo-Saxon
        lit, Icelandic lit, Nordic lit, Celtic lit, Classical lit)
        9. What do you think Tolkien 'meant' in his writing?
        10. What similarities and differences do you see between the
        writings
        of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in reference to
        themes
        such as good and evil, the
        use of magic, and things of that nature.

        Thank you all so much for your help, and you will be cited if I use
        your
        answers. If you would like a copy upon its completion, pls. let me
        know! :-)


        I remain,
        -Daniel B. Karpouzian
        ----------
        Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom
        of
        heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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      • Daniel B. Karpouzian
        Actually, it is finding out what others views on the Lord of the rings are. I would hardly ask someone to do my homework for me. Now, if I were to ask for
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 2, 2003
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          Actually, it is finding out what others' views on the Lord of the rings
          are. I would hardly ask someone to 'do my homework' for me.
          Now, if I were to ask for a plot summary of LotR or something similar,
          that would be an instance where someone is wanting you to do their
          homework. Check your facts. I have the "critic's" views, now I want
          the "John Q. Public" and the "informed readers'" view.

          I remain,

          -Daniel B. Karpouzian

          ----------
          Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of
          heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.


          -----Original Message-----
          From: JP Massar [mailto:jp.massar@...]

          Sheesh. Some people want others to do their homework for them.

          But an entire thesis? (Or multiple theses, considering these
          questions)
        • WendellWag@aol.com
          In a message dated 12/3/2003 9:39:16 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... It s not clear what you wanted in your post. Are you just trying to do a survey of what
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 3, 2003
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            In a message dated 12/3/2003 9:39:16 AM Eastern Standard Time,
            daniel@... writes:

            > I would hardly ask someone to 'do my homework' for me.
            >

            It's not clear what you wanted in your post. Are you just trying to do a
            survey of what Tolkien fans think about the issues you mention in your questions?
            That's a reasonable thing to ask, although if you're going to report the
            results of this survey in your thesis, you should mention that this isn't a
            scientific survey of a representative sample of Tolkien fans. (In particular, the
            people on this list are considerably more well-read on Tolkien than the
            average person who calls themself a fan.) It sounded like you were asking for ideas
            to use in your thesis, which is asking for someone to do your homework.

            Wendell Wagner


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Croft, Janet B
            It seemed pretty clear to me that his thesis was almost complete and he was looking for a few comments from general readers to beef up some of his conclusions.
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 3, 2003
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              It seemed pretty clear to me that his thesis was almost complete and he was
              looking for a few comments from general readers to beef up some of his
              conclusions. (Maybe he'd been directed to do so by his thesis advisor?)
              Didn't sound too unreasonable to me - I often poll library discussions lists
              at some point in a paper I'm writing to see what other people are thinking
              and if I'm on the right track or not, or to support my conclusions with
              evidence from what I clearly label "an informal poll of such-and-such a
              list". I may or may not use their comments but credit them if I do. But
              that said, Mr. Karpouzian should know, as Wendell points out, that this list
              does skew more scholarly and the responses he gets here will differ from
              those on more general fan lists.



              Janet Brennan Croft

              -----------------------------------------------------------------

              Hubris is stealing fire from the gods. Chutzpah is offering to sell it back.



              _____

              From: WendellWag@... [mailto:WendellWag@...]
              Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 9:03 AM
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Some questions for a Thesis



              In a message dated 12/3/2003 9:39:16 AM Eastern Standard Time,
              daniel@... writes:

              > I would hardly ask someone to 'do my homework' for me.
              >

              It's not clear what you wanted in your post. Are you just trying to do a
              survey of what Tolkien fans think about the issues you mention in your
              questions?
              That's a reasonable thing to ask, although if you're going to report the
              results of this survey in your thesis, you should mention that this isn't a
              scientific survey of a representative sample of Tolkien fans. (In
              particular, the
              people on this list are considerably more well-read on Tolkien than the
              average person who calls themself a fan.) It sounded like you were asking
              for ideas
              to use in your thesis, which is asking for someone to do your homework.

              Wendell Wagner


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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            • Croft, Janet B
              Below are a few responses for you. If you go to my webpage you will see some of my publications in Tolkien studies listed. Janet Brennan Croft Head of Access
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 3, 2003
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                Below are a few responses for you. If you go to my webpage you will see
                some of my publications in Tolkien studies listed.



                Janet Brennan Croft

                Head of Access Services

                University of Oklahoma

                Bizzell Library NW104

                Norman OK 73019

                405-325-1918

                fax 405-325-7618

                jbcroft@...

                http://libraries.ou.edu/ <http://libraries.ou.edu/>

                http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/C/Janet.B.Croft-1/
                <http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/C/Janet.B.Croft-1/>

                -----------------------------------------------------------------

                Hubris is stealing fire from the gods. Chutzpah is offering to sell it back.



                _____

                From: Daniel B. Karpouzian [mailto:daniel@...]
                Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 6:25 PM
                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [mythsoc] Some questions for a Thesis



                I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving different allegory
                and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R. Tolkien's
                writing, and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE answers to the following few
                questions. And also, a quick answer would also be appreciated! :-)




                1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
                Silmarillion?
                If so, which, and how many times?



                Read The Hobbit and LotR at least 25 times the whole way through.
                Silmarillion - probably only 3 times the whole way through. With all of
                these I dip in from time to time. I've also read Tolkien's other works
                varying numbers of times.


                2. Have you seen the movies? Yes
                Did you think they were an accurate representation of the
                books? No; poor screenwriting, but good scenery and costumes. Some casting
                and makeup was off. But the script changed too many things, including the
                characters, which is the most important thing.


                3. Which is your favorite and why? Favorite book or movie? This is
                somewhat unclear. LotR is my favorite Tolkien long work, and I count it as
                one unit because that's how Tolkien wrote it. I like Farmer Giles of Ham
                best among the short works, simply because it is a wonderful combination of
                earthy and intellectual fun. Favorite movie? I guess I dislike The
                Fellowship the least. I don't really like either of them, and don't
                anticipate liking RotK, considering what scenes Peter Jackson has dropped.


                4. Do you see any specific allegories that Tolkien may have written
                into his writing?



                As you know, Tolkien disliked allegory - or said he did. There is a very
                specific allegorical passage in his essay Beowulf and the Critics. His
                short story Leaf by Niggle is probably his most allegorical. Smith of
                Wootten Major is also allegorical, but more in a more obscure and personal
                way; in many ways Smith represents Tolkien, but the precise meaning of his
                adventures and what they relate to in Tolkien's personal life is hard to
                tease out. As far as LotR, of course many people thought the Ring was an
                allegory for the Bomb. But that is too specific. It's more an allegory of
                the corrupting effects of power in general - and since it's general, it's
                more of a symbol than an allegory.


                5. Do you see any meaning Tolkien was attempting to portray?



                Many meanings. LotR is a multiple-layered work. But the problem of power
                seems central to me, at least in my most recent readings.


                6. Do you have a religious or spiritual orientation? (ie. Atheist,
                Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Satanist, etc.)



                Agnostic.


                7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that hold
                significant meaning for you? If so, why?



                "It's all good", as the saying goes. I suppose in my recent readings the
                Scouring of the Shire has become more meaningful, with its explorations of
                post-traumatic stress syndrome, the shortcomings and strengths of pacifism,
                and the responsibilities of maturity.


                8. What background information, if any at all, do you see Tolkien
                drawing from, and if so, what specifically do you see? (ie. Anglo-Saxon
                lit, Icelandic lit, Nordic lit, Celtic lit, Classical lit)



                All of the above, and then some. He was very widely read.


                9. What do you think Tolkien 'meant' in his writing?



                This seems to repeat question 5 above.


                10. What similarities and differences do you see between the writings
                of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in reference to themes
                such as good and evil, the
                use of magic, and things of that nature.



                I think it's too early to really do a serious comparison of the two; I'd
                wait till she finishes the series. But I will say at this point the
                good-vs-evil theme is similar. But their approach to magic is very
                different. For Rowling, it's simply a tool, with no good or evil
                connotations per se; it depends on how it is used. For Tolkien magic is
                more problematic and subtle; he sees a difference between magic and
                enchantment, and likens magic more to technology. And his approach to magic
                is tied in with his thoughts on creativity, and on possessing or letting go
                that which one creates.



                Thank you all so much for your help, and you will be cited if I use your
                answers. If you would like a copy upon its completion, pls. let me
                know! :-)



                I'd be interested in seeing your completed thesis.




                I remain,
                -Daniel B. Karpouzian
                ----------
                Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of
                heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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              • Elizabeth R. Milner
                Sorry if people have been a bit snappish toward you on the list serve. Since Tolkien didn t like simplistic allegorical interpretations of his writings, it s
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 9, 2003
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                  Sorry if people have been a bit snappish toward you on the list serve.
                  Since Tolkien didn't like simplistic allegorical interpretations of
                  his writings, it's not surprising that your attempt to discover
                  allegory in LOTR has raised some hackles. It also would have been
                  good if you'd provided an off-line email address. This eats up a lot
                  of message space and people will get tired of seeing the same
                  questionnaire over and over again.

                  Where are you studying? Will we get to see your results? You really
                  should come to Mythcon and do in-depth interviews.

                  Here are my answers to your questions.

                  1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
                  Silmarillion?

                  LOTR: Innumerable times since the pirate (ACE) edition came out
                  (I was 8 or 9 at the time). I read an ACE and a Ballentine paperback
                  to shreds.
                  The Hobbit: 2 or 3 times
                  Silmarillion: twice
                  History of Middle Earth: once, some volumes more than once.

                  2. Have you seen the movies?

                  I've seen Peter Jackson's FOTR and TT

                  Did you think they were an accurate representation of the books?

                  FOTR-yes, most of the changes seemed valid to me from a script
                  writing point of view. (It gives me the shivers to think of how they
                  would have handled Tom Bombadil--Robin Williams, no doubt, in a
                  performance so sticky sweet it would rot the teeth right out of your
                  head!)
                  TT-felt writers had made huge departure from the book and had dumbed
                  it down. Also, I loved the book because the Hobbits learn to take
                  control of their destinies and don't depend on generals with great
                  abs and big swords to save them. In the movie it's just the opposite.
                  3. Which is your favorite and why?
                  Of the Peter Jackson Movies, The Fellowship. Of the Books, The Two
                  Towers because it doesn't have the tedious first chapters of the
                  Fellowship,because it's the middle, so I don't have to worry about
                  finishing too soon, because I enjoyed Pippin's outsmarting the orcs
                  and bonding with Treebeard, and especially because of the "Dead
                  Marshes" scene. My father was a military historian and our house was
                  full of battle photos.
                  When I read the Dead Marshes chapter, my hair stood on end. This was
                  not only because the description of the marshes by moonlight was so
                  eerie and beautifully written, but because I felt I recognized the
                  place Tolkien was describing without being able to remember why it
                  all seemed so familiar.

                  4. Do you see any specific allegories that Tolkien may have written
                  into his writing?

                  Tolkien was a fairly subtle writer who didn't drive his lessons
                  home with a hammer, so attempts to relate specific scenes to specific
                  allegories will, I think, prove unprofitable.

                  There are allegorical elements, certainly. In the Two Towers there are
                  several instances where one of the sundered fellowship will look
                  up at the moon or observe a change in the weather and then
                  despairingly wonder about another member of the sundered fellowship
                  who, at that very moment and only a few miles a way is also observing
                  the same change in the moon or the weather and thinking despairingly
                  of the probable fate of his absent friend. And both will despair,
                  not knowing the change they've just observed heralds one of
                  Tolkien's "eucatastrophes." While the characters only see ruin, the
                  reader is given a gods-eye view and --yes!--The cavalry is just
                  around the corner!

                  5) This, I suppose is an allegory for the role divine providence
                  plays in human affairs. It also makes for a cracking good yarn!

                  6. Do you have a religious or spiritual orientation?
                  Jew raised in a Catholic neighborhood.

                  7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that hold
                  significant meaning for you? If so, why?

                  Tolkien depicts the ennoblement of the hobbits. For me, the story of
                  a person learning to be "more than the sum of his parts" is very
                  moving. Frodo has to discover his integrity and find the courage to
                  pursue a heartbreaking and impossible quest without the usual
                  trappings of the romance hero -- he is as small and helpless and
                  insignificant as you can get. Also, Frodo is an overeducated nerd
                  who proves himself worthy outside of academe by saving the world.
                  Now that's a fantasy that resonates with me!

                  8. What background information, if any at all, do you see
                  Tolkien drawing from, and if so, what specifically do you see?

                  My God! What didn't he draw from! Philology, Folklore, Myth,
                  Catholicism,Paganism, you name it! Like all good writers he was a
                  sponge and absorbed everything. Tom Shippey and Verlyn Flieger are
                  good sources for his influences.

                  9. What do you think Tolkien `meant' in his writing?

                  What does any good writer "mean." Your never going to get Tolkien
                  down to one message. For that you should call Western Union!
                  (Neanderthal movie joke). Tolkien was creating a world, a universe,
                  that one can inhabit, not a freaking telegram!

                  Tolkien's writing was often a play of ideas, a thought experiment.
                  He couldn't live forever, but through the elves he got a taste
                  of what it might be like. In part Tolkien was creating an alternate
                  world where he could test what our world really means.

                  10. What similarities and differences do you see between the
                  writings of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in
                  reference to themes such as good and evil, the use of magic, and
                  things of that nature.

                  I'm going to be no help to you on this one. Rowling's writing bores
                  me to tears. It has no depth, no texture, it's about cardboard
                  cutouts.

                  Hope this is some help and I hope to see you at Mythcon. If
                  possible, can you summarize what your paper's about?
                  > >
                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Daniel B. Karpouzian" <daniel@k...>
                  wrote:
                  > I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving different
                  allegory
                  > and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R.
                  Tolkien's
                  > writing, and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE answers to the following
                  few
                  > questions. And also, a quick answer would also be appreciated! :-)
                  > 1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
                  > Silmarillion?
                  > If so, which, and how many times?
                  > 2. Have you seen the movies?
                  > Did you think they were an accurate representation of the
                  > books?
                  > 3. Which is your favorite and why?
                  > 4. Do you see any specific allegories that Tolkien may have written
                  > into his writing?
                  > 5. Do you see any meaning Tolkien was attempting to portray?
                  > 6. Do you have a religious or spiritual orientation? (ie. Atheist,
                  > Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Satanist,
                  etc.)
                  > 7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that hold
                  > significant meaning for you? If so, why?
                  > 8. What background information, if any at all, do you see Tolkien
                  > drawing from, and if so, what specifically do you see? (ie. Anglo-
                  Saxon
                  > lit, Icelandic lit, Nordic lit, Celtic lit, Classical lit)
                  > 9. What do you think Tolkien `meant' in his writing?
                  > 10. What similarities and differences do you see between the
                  writings
                  > of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in reference to
                  themes
                  > such as good and evil, the
                  > use of magic, and things of that nature.
                  >
                  > Thank you all so much for your help, and you will be cited if I use
                  your
                  > answers. If you would like a copy upon its completion, pls. let me
                  > know! :-)
                  >
                  >
                  > I remain,
                  > -Daniel B. Karpouzian
                  > ----------
                  > Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the
                  kingdom of
                  > heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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