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Re: New Beowulf

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  • Ted Sherman
    Just to keep this on topic (for those who are unaware), Tolkien was Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (and wasn t he also later Rawlinson Professor
    Message 1 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
      Just to keep this on topic (for those who are unaware), Tolkien was
      Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (and wasn't he also later
      Rawlinson Professor when at Merton?).

      "David S. Bratman" wrote:
      >
      > From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
      >
      > When I wrote that there is nothing else like Beowulf in OE literature, I
      > didn't mean just that there were no other versions of the story of the
      > man Beowulf. There are some great short poems in OE, but I know of no
      > other works of creative art in that language remotely comparable to it in
      > combination of length and quality. If you do, I would like to know of them.
      >
      The so-called Caedmonian poems--Genesis (A and B), Exodus, Daniel,
      Azarias; the Cynewulf poems--Elene, the Fates of the Apostles, Andreas,
      etc.--as well as Judith (the other poetic piece in Cotton Vitellius
      A.xv, the Beowulf manuscript): these are all "remotely comparable" in
      length and quality. The key word, obviously, is "remotely." Then there's
      some of the fragmentary pieces: Battle of Maldon (simply glorious) and
      the Finnsbug Fragment.

      > > Well, England did have its own cycle: the Arthurian cycle. (I know that
      > > some/much of the Arthurian material comes from France.)
      >
      > For Tolkien, the Arthurian cycle didn't count. He said it was
      > imperfectly naturalized, by which he meant not so much that a great deal
      > of what we think of as Arthurian comes from Chretien and other French
      > romancers, but that the whole retains a Celtic air: it isn't English, and
      > he wanted something English.
      >
      Yes, I knew Tolkien didn't count the Arthurian cycle because of its
      non-native elements as well as its "Celtic air." The problem, however,
      is with the whole notion of how to define "English." The English
      are/were an amalgam of native British (read Celtic), Roman soldier
      immigrants, Germanic invaders, Norse and French invaders, etc. The
      Celtic air is in the atmosphere of England, just as the Germanic air and
      French air are.

      > > The Brut by Layamon could easily be viewed as England's
      > > Odyssey or Aeneid, especially the latter (since it kind of takes up
      > > where the Aeneid stops).
      >
      > A good point, though the Brut is of course not Old English but Middle
      > English. It's not the only English work that is in a sense a sequel to
      > the Aeneid (which certainly seems to have had more of a hold on the
      > British imagination than it does on mine): Geoffrey of Monmouth's History
      > (in Latin, unfortunately for the sake of OE literature) also ties in to
      > the Aeneid, and doesn't "Gawain and the Green Knight" start off with some
      > references to the Odyssey/Aeneid period? (I don't have a copy here to
      > check.)
      >
      Good point, David, about the Brut being in ME, but keep in mind that
      there isn't a clear break between Old and Middle English. And much
      material now in OE was originally written in Latin: Bede's History,
      Nennius, Gildas, etc.

      > > > (As for why the English are so bereft, that permits of a three-word
      > > > oversimpliciation for an answer: the Norman Conquest.)
      > > >
      > > Actually, the Norman Conquest is only partially responsible; the main
      > > culprits, really, are the Vikings and Henry VIII.
      >
      > As I said, an oversimplification. While the Vikings and H8 did the
      > destruction, they and others like them destroyed many more ancient
      > manuscripts, in many languages in many times and places, than they ever
      > let survive. What's the fault of the Norman Conquest is that there
      > weren't _more (and later) copies_, a few of which might have survived.
      > (The Vikings didn't help much there either.)
      >
      Again, I don't know (and I could easily be wrong) that the Norman
      Conquest is the cause for there not being more and later copies of much
      OE material. The Normans didn't necessarily lay waste to the monasteries
      and scriptoria in their conquest of England; they did, however, replace
      English abbots and bishops with French ones.

      What the Norman Conquest really did was the screw up the language and
      spelling of English; but that's another topic.

      Ted

      --
      Dr. Theodore James Sherman
      Department of English, Box X041
      College of Liberal Arts
      Middle Tennessee State University
      Murfreesboro, TN 37130
      615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
      tsherman@...
      tedsherman@...
    • David S. Bratman
      ... Rawlinson _and_ Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, 1925-45, after which he was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature (also at
      Message 2 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
        On Tue, 29 Feb 2000, Ted Sherman wrote:

        > Just to keep this on topic (for those who are unaware), Tolkien was
        > Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (and wasn't he also later
        > Rawlinson Professor when at Merton?).

        Rawlinson _and_ Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, 1925-45,
        after which he was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature
        (also at Oxford, but attached specifically to Merton College); in the
        latter job he worked mostly on Middle English literature.

        > > When I wrote that there is nothing else like Beowulf in OE literature, I
        > > didn't mean just that there were no other versions of the story of the
        > > man Beowulf. There are some great short poems in OE, but I know of no
        > > other works of creative art in that language remotely comparable to it in
        > > combination of length and quality. If you do, I would like to know of them.
        > >
        > The so-called Caedmonian poems--Genesis (A and B), Exodus, Daniel,
        > Azarias; the Cynewulf poems--Elene, the Fates of the Apostles, Andreas,
        > etc.--as well as Judith (the other poetic piece in Cotton Vitellius
        > A.xv, the Beowulf manuscript): these are all "remotely comparable" in
        > length and quality. The key word, obviously, is "remotely." Then there's
        > some of the fragmentary pieces: Battle of Maldon (simply glorious) and
        > the Finnsbug Fragment.

        I know the last two, and they're very short (though good), and I thought
        Cynewulf's poems were short too. Exodus (which I also know slightly,
        because Tolkien wrote about it) is much longer, but it's a retelling of
        the Bible story, so perhaps it doesn't count. (OTOH, who's to say that
        Beowulf isn't a retelling of something lost? It probably is, come to that.)

        > Yes, I knew Tolkien didn't count the Arthurian cycle because of its
        > non-native elements as well as its "Celtic air." The problem, however,
        > is with the whole notion of how to define "English." The English
        > are/were an amalgam of native British (read Celtic), Roman soldier
        > immigrants, Germanic invaders, Norse and French invaders, etc. The
        > Celtic air is in the atmosphere of England, just as the Germanic air and
        > French air are.

        Dorothy Sayers liked to make that point: that the English were not only a
        mongrel nation, they were uniquely proud of it. That's not how Tolkien
        viewed things, though. He felt there was a pure Anglo-Saxon strain which
        he wished to isolate. As Americans, with our melting pot, we're used to
        things being naturalized as soon as they step off the boat. Many
        Europeans view things differently (one reason for the xenophobic politics
        that look so strange to us). "How many years does it take to make a
        steward a king, if the king return not?" "Few years, maybe, in other
        lands. In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."

        > Good point, David, about the Brut being in ME, but keep in mind that
        > there isn't a clear break between Old and Middle English. And much
        > material now in OE was originally written in Latin: Bede's History,
        > Nennius, Gildas, etc.

        A fairly clear break, I think, as far as creative literature is concerned,
        there being a long gap without much except the Ancrene Wisse, which I
        believe is clearly ME, though certainly early ME. As for the Latin
        stuff, precisely because it's in Latin it's not OE literature in the
        language sense, except insofar as the translations are literature.
        (Which they are: after all, King Alfred translated Boethius, who wasn't
        English by nationality let alone language, and that's considered a
        masterpiece of OE literature.)

        > Again, I don't know (and I could easily be wrong) that the Norman
        > Conquest is the cause for there not being more and later copies of much
        > OE material. The Normans didn't necessarily lay waste to the monasteries
        > and scriptoria in their conquest of England; they did, however, replace
        > English abbots and bishops with French ones.

        I didn't mean that the Normans destroyed things, but by taking over and
        putting the cultured use of the English language on ice for a couple
        hundred years, they severely reduced the impetus to make more copies.
        Considering how very few manuscript copies were made of anything
        pre-Gutenberg, in any country, and how very fewer of them survived the
        vicissitudes of the centuries, any marginal difference can be vitally
        important.

        David Bratman
        -not responsible for the following advertisement-
      • WendellWag@aol.com
        In a message dated 2/29/00 12:34:09 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... England. To be more precise, there are Whitbread awards for best novel, best first novel,
        Message 3 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
          In a message dated 2/29/00 12:34:09 PM Eastern Standard Time,
          tedsherman@... writes:

          > The Whitbread is for, if I remember correctly, best book of the year in
          England.

          To be more precise, there are Whitbread awards for best novel, best first
          novel, best biography, best book of poetry, and best children's book. Each
          of them is worth 2000 pounds, except for children's book, which is worth
          10,000 pounds. There is also an overall award chosen from the winners, which
          is the book of the year, and this wins 21,000 pounds in addition.

          Whitbread, which sponsors the award, is one of the biggest breweries in
          England.

          See

          http://www.whitbread-bookawards.co.uk/

          for more information.

          Wendell Wagner
        • Ted Sherman
          ... The Battle of Maldon is approximately 350 lines, whereas the Finnsburg fragment is only about 35-40. Why wouldn t a retelling of a Bible story count?
          Message 4 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
            "David S. Bratman" wrote:
            >

            > > some of the fragmentary pieces: Battle of Maldon (simply glorious) and
            > > the Finnsbug Fragment.
            >
            > I know the last two, and they're very short (though good), and I thought
            > Cynewulf's poems were short too. Exodus (which I also know slightly,
            > because Tolkien wrote about it) is much longer, but it's a retelling of
            > the Bible story, so perhaps it doesn't count. (OTOH, who's to say that
            > Beowulf isn't a retelling of something lost? It probably is, come to that.)

            The Battle of Maldon is approximately 350 lines, whereas the Finnsburg
            fragment is only about 35-40. Why wouldn't a retelling of a Bible story
            count? Genesis B contains material based on Genesis, but it also
            contains material that John Milton likely used in Paradise Lost. It's as
            literary as one can get. Refashioning earlier texts was common
            throughout the Anglo-Saxon period--and later.

            >
            > > Yes, I knew Tolkien didn't count the Arthurian cycle because of its
            > > non-native elements as well as its "Celtic air." The problem, however,
            > > is with the whole notion of how to define "English." The English
            > > are/were an amalgam of native British (read Celtic), Roman soldier
            > > immigrants, Germanic invaders, Norse and French invaders, etc. The
            > > Celtic air is in the atmosphere of England, just as the Germanic air and
            > > French air are.
            >
            > Dorothy Sayers liked to make that point: that the English were not only a
            > mongrel nation, they were uniquely proud of it. That's not how Tolkien
            > viewed things, though. He felt there was a pure Anglo-Saxon strain which
            > he wished to isolate. As Americans, with our melting pot, we're used to
            > things being naturalized as soon as they step off the boat. Many
            > Europeans view things differently (one reason for the xenophobic politics
            > that look so strange to us). "How many years does it take to make a
            > steward a king, if the king return not?" "Few years, maybe, in other
            > lands. In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."
            >
            Frankly, I don't see the point of the latter quotations. JRRT might have
            wished to isolate a "pure Anglo-Saxon strain" but he needn't have tried.
            There wasn't one. Just when the "English" did begin to develop into
            their own people and own country, they would be disturbed from Outside.
            Those disturbances came from the Vikings, the Normans, and later the
            Flemish, Italians, Dutch, etc., from the late Middle Ages on. King
            Alfred was probably the closest one could come to a "pure Anglo-Saxon"
            but his entire life--almost--was spent confronting the Danes.

            > > Good point, David, about the Brut being in ME, but keep in mind that
            > > there isn't a clear break between Old and Middle English. And much
            > > material now in OE was originally written in Latin: Bede's History,
            > > Nennius, Gildas, etc.
            >
            > A fairly clear break, I think, as far as creative literature is concerned,
            > there being a long gap without much except the Ancrene Wisse, which I
            > believe is clearly ME, though certainly early ME. As for the Latin
            > stuff, precisely because it's in Latin it's not OE literature in the
            > language sense, except insofar as the translations are literature.
            > (Which they are: after all, King Alfred translated Boethius, who wasn't
            > English by nationality let alone language, and that's considered a
            > masterpiece of OE literature.)
            >
            No, not really. There is much early creative material, it's just not
            very popular today, nor is it studied or read much because of its
            didactic and hagiographic elements. There are early ballads and lyrics,
            and a few of the romances (Havelock the Dane comes to mind) are rather
            early. Alfred's Boethius is considered a masterpiece of OE literature
            precisely because Alfred rendered it into English. Just as Bede's
            History is a masterpiece. There are also the riddles, chronicles,
            saints' lives and numerous other works that were translated into OE that
            are masterpieces of OE prose and/or poetry.

            BTW, when I mentioned the break between OE and ME, I was referring more
            to the language. Parts of the island probably retained OE well into the
            late 12th century, if not the early 13th. The earliest datable document
            in ME is the entry for the year 1135 in the Peterborough Chronicle of
            the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

            > > Again, I don't know (and I could easily be wrong) that the Norman
            > > Conquest is the cause for there not being more and later copies of much
            > > OE material. The Normans didn't necessarily lay waste to the monasteries
            > > and scriptoria in their conquest of England; they did, however, replace
            > > English abbots and bishops with French ones.
            >
            > I didn't mean that the Normans destroyed things, but by taking over and
            > putting the cultured use of the English language on ice for a couple
            > hundred years, they severely reduced the impetus to make more copies.
            > Considering how very few manuscript copies were made of anything
            > pre-Gutenberg, in any country, and how very fewer of them survived the
            > vicissitudes of the centuries, any marginal difference can be vitally
            > important.
            >
            But copies were being made in the ME period; just look at one of the
            volumes in the Index of Middle English Verse to see how many works were
            copied. There are numerous copies of Monmouth's History, and they were
            all copied in the ME period. There are redactions and redactions of
            numerous works, making the lives of us textual editors interesting.
            Again, while numerous manuscripts and tales/poetry undoubtedly were
            destroyed during the centuries, it is quite amazing, really, that we
            have the number of manuscripts that do survive from the OE and ME
            periods.

            Ted
            --
            Dr. Theodore James Sherman
            Department of English, Box X041
            College of Liberal Arts
            Middle Tennessee State University
            Murfreesboro, TN 37130
            615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
            tsherman@...
            tedsherman@...
          • WendellWag@aol.com
            In a message dated 2/28/00 6:43:17 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... Huh?
            Message 5 of 27 , Mar 1, 2000
              In a message dated 2/28/00 6:43:17 PM Eastern Standard Time,
              ERATRIANO@... writes:

              > And some antlered lord tales. Why is this figure so elusive?

              Huh?
            • David S. Bratman
              ... I expect because it s not fully naturalized, as Tolkien said of the Arthurian material. Whether it s a re-telling doesn t count. You d have to ask
              Message 6 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                On Tue, 29 Feb 2000, Ted Sherman wrote:

                > Why wouldn't a retelling of a Bible story
                > count? Genesis B contains material based on Genesis, but it also
                > contains material that John Milton likely used in Paradise Lost. It's as
                > literary as one can get. Refashioning earlier texts was common
                > throughout the Anglo-Saxon period--and later.

                I expect because it's not fully naturalized, as Tolkien said of the
                Arthurian material. Whether it's a re-telling doesn't count. You'd have
                to ask Tolkien, really; he, not I, was the one who originally said there
                was no real Anglo-Saxon mythology, and surely these major OE texts didn't
                just slip his mind.

                > > He felt there was a pure Anglo-Saxon strain which
                > > he wished to isolate. As Americans, with our melting pot, we're used to
                > > things being naturalized as soon as they step off the boat. Many
                > > Europeans view things differently (one reason for the xenophobic politics
                > > that look so strange to us). "How many years does it take to make a
                > > steward a king, if the king return not?" "Few years, maybe, in other
                > > lands. In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."
                > >
                > Frankly, I don't see the point of the latter quotations. JRRT might have
                > wished to isolate a "pure Anglo-Saxon strain" but he needn't have tried.
                > There wasn't one. Just when the "English" did begin to develop into
                > their own people and own country, they would be disturbed from Outside.
                > Those disturbances came from the Vikings, the Normans, and later the
                > Flemish, Italians, Dutch, etc., from the late Middle Ages on. King
                > Alfred was probably the closest one could come to a "pure Anglo-Saxon"
                > but his entire life--almost--was spent confronting the Danes.

                The point of the quotation is that, by analogy, mere residence in a
                country doesn't make one part of an ethnic group. What you say shows
                that there was no time when the Anglo-Saxons had Britain quietly all to
                themselves. This is reflected in LOTR when Frodo bristles at the notion
                of the Nazgul wandering around in his own Shire. "But it is not your own
                Shire," says Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others
                will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all
                about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it
                out."

                So you can't write about hobbits without including their relationship
                with other peoples, and indeed Tolkien doesn't. But that doesn't make
                hobbits any less of an individual, separable people with their own
                traditions and their own customs. And the same is true of the
                Anglo-Saxons. However much time they spent interacting with French and
                Germans, and however many Celts and Vikings were also occupying Britain,
                the Anglo-Saxons were their own people with their own ethnic identity (as
                we'd say today), and the heart of England, the land Tolkien loved, was
                their own country, even though it hadn't always been, and even though
                others might also claim it as their own. (It's not incompatible.)

                > > A fairly clear break, I think, as far as creative literature is concerned,
                > > there being a long gap without much except the Ancrene Wisse, which I
                > > believe is clearly ME, though certainly early ME. As for the Latin
                > > stuff, precisely because it's in Latin it's not OE literature in the
                > > language sense, except insofar as the translations are literature.
                > > (Which they are: after all, King Alfred translated Boethius, who wasn't
                > > English by nationality let alone language, and that's considered a
                > > masterpiece of OE literature.)
                > >
                > No, not really. There is much early creative material, it's just not
                > very popular today, nor is it studied or read much because of its
                > didactic and hagiographic elements. There are early ballads and lyrics,
                > and a few of the romances (Havelock the Dane comes to mind) are rather
                > early. Alfred's Boethius is considered a masterpiece of OE literature
                > precisely because Alfred rendered it into English. Just as Bede's
                > History is a masterpiece. There are also the riddles, chronicles,
                > saints' lives and numerous other works that were translated into OE that
                > are masterpieces of OE prose and/or poetry.

                But they're not major works of the _native OE creative imagination_ the
                way that Beowulf is (even if what we have is a retelling). That's the
                difference. I wouldn't allow my love for the Silmarillion, or the
                History of Middle-earth, or Farmer Giles of Ham, to blind me to the fact
                that LOTR is Tolkien's single outstanding masterpiece; nor does this
                other stuff take away from Beowulf's unique status.

                > BTW, when I mentioned the break between OE and ME, I was referring more
                > to the language. Parts of the island probably retained OE well into the
                > late 12th century, if not the early 13th. The earliest datable document
                > in ME is the entry for the year 1135 in the Peterborough Chronicle of
                > the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

                No language break is is perfectly sharp, either chronologically or
                geographically, but those between OE and ME, and ME and Modern English,
                are sharper than most. In any case the OE/ME evolution was long over
                before the 14th century which was the time of all the major ME literary
                masterpieces. (Yes, I know there was plenty of other literature. I'm
                talking about outstanding masterpieces.)

                > But copies were being made in the ME period; just look at one of the
                > volumes in the Index of Middle English Verse to see how many works were
                > copied. There are numerous copies of Monmouth's History, and they were
                > all copied in the ME period. There are redactions and redactions of
                > numerous works, making the lives of us textual editors interesting.
                > Again, while numerous manuscripts and tales/poetry undoubtedly were
                > destroyed during the centuries, it is quite amazing, really, that we
                > have the number of manuscripts that do survive from the OE and ME
                > periods.

                The glass is half-full! No, the glass is half-empty!

                It would be a lot fuller if the OE literary, linguistic and ecclesiastical
                traditions hadn't been so severely disrupted by the Normans. We can be
                delighted with what we have, and still note there could have been a lot
                more. In particular, as Tolkien noted, there are many OE legendary
                figures (Wayland the Smith comes to mind) of whom we know nothing but
                their names and a few scraps, but of whom mighty epics were perhaps once
                told. No way to be sure.

                If there's any distinctively native English mythology that Tolkien
                ignored when he made his complaint, it's Robin Hood. But not only is
                Robin Hood ME and not OE (thus irrelevant to Lisa's original comment),
                but the literature consisted of ballads and other short works, didn't
                receive any full-scale treatments until the 19C, and unless you count
                Howard Pyle still lacks IMHO a good one.

                David Bratman
                - not responsible for the following advertisement -
              • WendellWag@aol.com
                In a message dated 3/3/00 6:18:11 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... So Tolkien wasn t really English, but German like his ancestors (or some of them anyway)?
                Message 7 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                  In a message dated 3/3/00 6:18:11 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                  dbratman@... writes:

                  > The point of the quotation is that, by analogy, mere residence in a
                  > country doesn't make one part of an ethnic group.

                  So Tolkien wasn't really English, but German like his ancestors (or some of
                  them anyway)?
                • David S. Bratman
                  ... Man, I m getting it from both sides this week, aren t I? If by his German ancestors, you mean the ones who _weren t_ Anglo-Saxons, and who were responsible
                  Message 8 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                    On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

                    > > The point of the quotation is that, by analogy, mere residence in a
                    > > country doesn't make one part of an ethnic group.
                    >
                    > So Tolkien wasn't really English, but German like his ancestors (or some of
                    > them anyway)?

                    Man, I'm getting it from both sides this week, aren't I?

                    If by his German ancestors, you mean the ones who _weren't_ Anglo-Saxons,
                    and who were responsible for the name Tolkien, please refer to Letter 95
                    ("For barring the Tolkien (which must long ago have become a pretty thin
                    strand) you [CT] are a Mercian or Hwiccian on both sides"), Letter 44
                    ("Though a Tolkien by name, I am a Suffield by tastes, talents, and
                    upbringing"), and Letter 165 ("I am neither `foolhardy' not German,
                    whatever SOME [emphasis added] remote ancestors may have been. They
                    migrated to England more than 200 years ago, and became quickly intensely
                    English ... I am in fact far more of a Suffield"). In other words, the
                    German side was a tiny strand in his ancestry, which would never have
                    been noticed had it not been the line that provided his surname. In any
                    case they did naturalize, and it was thus more than mere residence.

                    If by his German ancestors you mean the fact that the Anglo-Saxons
                    originally came from Germany, that's reductionist. The point of my
                    quotation about Gondor and the 10,000 years was that it takes time to
                    naturalize, a long time. But England isn't Gondor, either, and 1500
                    years is surely long enough.

                    David Bratman
                    - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                    In a message dated 3/3/00 7:20:01 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... I m sorry if that came out sounding nasty. I didn t mean it as an attack on you. An attack on
                    Message 9 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                      In a message dated 3/3/00 7:20:01 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                      dbratman@... writes:

                      > Man, I'm getting it from both sides this week, aren't I?

                      I'm sorry if that came out sounding nasty. I didn't mean it as an attack on
                      you. An attack on Tolkien, possibly, but not on you.

                      I was referring to Tolkien's German ancestors, who were 1/64 of his ancestry
                      (or was it 1/32 or 1/128?). There are Americans who make a big deal of what
                      country their ancestors immigrated from, even if they immigrated over 200
                      years ago. There's something a bit odd about an Englishman making a big deal
                      about his ethnic identity. It's not as odd as an American making a big deal
                      about his ethnic identity, but it's odd nevertheless.

                      Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                      letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                      the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                      who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                      the book would be utter heresy.

                      Wendell Wagner
                    • Ted Sherman
                      David, I also was not attacking you, or JRRT; this is just an instance where I think he was wrong (thankfully, there are very few times where I disagree with
                      Message 10 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                        David,

                        I also was not attacking you, or JRRT; this is just an instance where I
                        think he was wrong (thankfully, there are very few times where I
                        disagree with him).

                        Ted

                        WendellWag@... wrote:
                        >
                        > From: WendellWag@...
                        >
                        > In a message dated 3/3/00 7:20:01 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                        > dbratman@... writes:
                        >
                        > > Man, I'm getting it from both sides this week, aren't I?
                        >
                        > I'm sorry if that came out sounding nasty. I didn't mean it as an attack on
                        > you. An attack on Tolkien, possibly, but not on you.
                        >
                        > I was referring to Tolkien's German ancestors, who were 1/64 of his ancestry
                        > (or was it 1/32 or 1/128?). There are Americans who make a big deal of what
                        > country their ancestors immigrated from, even if they immigrated over 200
                        > years ago. There's something a bit odd about an Englishman making a big deal
                        > about his ethnic identity. It's not as odd as an American making a big deal
                        > about his ethnic identity, but it's odd nevertheless.
                        >
                        > Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                        > letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                        > the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                        > who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                        > the book would be utter heresy.
                        >
                        > Wendell Wagner
                        >
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                        --
                        Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                        Department of English, Box X041
                        College of Liberal Arts
                        Middle Tennessee State University
                        Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                        615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
                        tsherman@...
                        tedsherman@...
                      • David S. Bratman
                        ... Americans tend not, however, to make a big deal out of ancestors who were only 1/64th of their ancestry, unless it s something rare and special. I know
                        Message 11 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                          On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

                          > I was referring to Tolkien's German ancestors, who were 1/64 of his ancestry
                          > (or was it 1/32 or 1/128?). There are Americans who make a big deal of what
                          > country their ancestors immigrated from, even if they immigrated over 200
                          > years ago. There's something a bit odd about an Englishman making a big deal
                          > about his ethnic identity. It's not as odd as an American making a big deal
                          > about his ethnic identity, but it's odd nevertheless.

                          Americans tend not, however, to make a big deal out of ancestors who were
                          only 1/64th of their ancestry, unless it's something rare and special. I
                          know people who are 1/64th Amerind, and proud of it.

                          Tolkien didn't make a big deal out of his ancestry: these are three
                          letters over an entire lifetime! But to the extent that he did, it was
                          1) to correct the misapprehension, from his name, that he was German; 2)
                          because he loved his homeland and felt a special connection with it.
                          There's nothing wrong with that: here in California, people whose
                          ancestors have been here for a whole hundred years feel a special sense
                          of connectedness which they hold over those of us who've only been here
                          for 30 or 40 years; and we, in turn, who can remember Silicon Valley
                          before it was called that, and when it was full of orchards, have
                          something over the dot-com weenies.

                          > Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                          > letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                          > the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                          > who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                          > the book would be utter heresy.

                          I agree with them!

                          David Bratman
                          - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                        • Berni Phillips
                          ... Hmmph. Surely they would agree to let Americans voice the orcs! Berni David Bratman is not responsible for the following message: (Just kidding, dear!)
                          Message 12 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                            ----------
                            >From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>

                            >On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

                            >> Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                            >> letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                            >> the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                            >> who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                            >> the book would be utter heresy.
                            >
                            >I agree with them!

                            Hmmph. Surely they would agree to let Americans voice the orcs!

                            Berni
                            David Bratman is not responsible for the following message:
                            (Just kidding, dear!)
                          • David S. Bratman
                            ... What, I _am_ responsible for the following message? DB
                            Message 13 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                              On Fri, 3 Mar 2000, Berni Phillips wrote:

                              > David Bratman is not responsible for the following message:
                              > (Just kidding, dear!)

                              What, I _am_ responsible for the following message? <g>

                              DB
                            • Ted Sherman
                              ... David, Your comment about the orchards brought back a flood of memories of the Santa Clara Valley when it still have more orchards than concrete. I can
                              Message 14 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                                "David S. Bratman" wrote:
                                >
                                >and we, in turn, who can remember Silicon Valley
                                > before it was called that, and when it was full of orchards, have
                                > something over the dot-com weenies.
                                >
                                David,

                                Your comment about the orchards brought back a flood of memories of the
                                Santa Clara Valley when it still have more orchards than concrete. I can
                                remember looking down over the valley from Skyline or the Saratoga Gap
                                and seeing blossoms--plum and apricot--from the Santa Cruz foothills to
                                the Mt. Hamilton range.

                                Thanks for the jolt to my memory!

                                Ted
                                --
                                Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                                Department of English, Box X041
                                College of Liberal Arts
                                Middle Tennessee State University
                                Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                                615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
                                tsherman@...
                                tedsherman@...
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