Re: Some questions for a Thesis
- 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
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
The Hobbit: 2 or 3 times
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
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
Hope this is some help and I hope to see you at Mythcon. If
possible, can you summarize what your paper's about?
> >--- In email@example.com, "Daniel B. Karpouzian" <daniel@k...>
> I am just finishing up a thesis on Tolkien, involving differentallegory
> and different meanings that people see and draw from J.R.R.Tolkien's
> writing, and I would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE answers to the followingfew
> questions. And also, a quick answer would also be appreciated! :-)etc.)
> 1. Have you read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and/or The
> If so, which, and how many times?
> 2. Have you seen the movies?
> Did you think they were an accurate representation of the
> 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,
> 7. Are there any particular parts of any of those books that holdSaxon
> 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-
> lit, Icelandic lit, Nordic lit, Celtic lit, Classical lit)writings
> 9. What do you think Tolkien `meant' in his writing?
> 10. What similarities and differences do you see between the
> of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien? Specifically in reference tothemes
> such as good and evil, theyour
> use of magic, and things of that nature.
> Thank you all so much for your help, and you will be cited if I use
> answers. If you would like a copy upon its completion, pls. let mekingdom of
> know! :-)
> I remain,
> -Daniel B. Karpouzian
> Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the
> heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]