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RE: [mythsoc] Some questions for a Thesis

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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