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Ecosystems of Middle Earth: JRR Tolkien

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  • Walt Sheasby
    Frodo Lives! Tolkien_Ecology-subscribe@yahoogroups.com J. R. R. Tolkien: Saving the Ecosystems of Middle Earth by Walt Contreras Sheasby In J.R.R. Tolkien s
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 9, 2004
      Frodo Lives! Tolkien_Ecology-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      J. R. R. Tolkien:
      Saving the Ecosystems of Middle Earth

      by Walt Contreras Sheasby

      In J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy (1955-56), the ring is at
      the center of an epochal ecological struggle over the fate of Middle Earth.
      Received as fantasy, in its own way this tale nevertheless encapsulates
      nearly a century of geological, biological and botanical lore that followed
      Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859). In particular, Tolkien's work
      reflected the emergence of a critical ecology that used the life sciences
      as a shield to defend life on earth and to protect every ecosystem.

      Tolkien's knowledge of nature was in part derived from the Victorian
      and Edwardian scientists who revolutionized what had earlier been
      Natural History. The generation of scientists who wrote in the decades
      before World War I reached a level of radicalism that later seemed
      truly extraordinary.

      The combination of Ecology and Socialism that had been at the
      core of the famous novel News from Nowhere (1891) by William Morris,
      had scarcely any reflection in the industrial competition of East and
      West in the cold war days when Tolkien published Lord of the Rings.

      The 1955 Election Manifesto of the British Labour Party declared:
      *In order to strengthen our Welfare State still further and at the same
      time to play our part in assisting the under-developed areas of the
      world, our own production must rise every year. Only a government
      prepared to plan the nation's resources can do this. ... Atomic energy
      and other new inventions can bring dramatic increases in productivity
      and therefore in wealth and leisure.* (1) In this mainstream 1950s
      *modernism* there was no room for someone of Tolkien's ecological
      mind.

      In early 1956 Tolkien wrote to the editor of the New Republic magazine:
      *I am not a socialist in any sense - being averse to planning (as must be
      plain) most of all because the planners, when they acquire power become
      so bad - but I wouid not say that we had to suffer the malice of Sharkey
      [Saruman] and his Ruffians here. Though the spirit of Isengard, if
      not of Mordor, is of course always cropping up. The present design of
      destroying Oxford in order to accomodate motor-cars is a case. But our
      chief adversary is a member of a Tory Government. But you could apply
      it anywhere in these days.* (2)

      William Morris had disparaged the State Socialism that opposed the
      working class democracy of the First International and the Paris Commune.
      At the height of the Cold War few made such distinctions between what has
      been called The Two Souls of Socialism. (3) Despite interpretations that
      try to transform Tolkien into an Edmund Burke type of reactionary, it seems
      clear that Tolkien would have welcomed the workshops of News from Nowhere
      in preference to the mills bossed by Sharkey.

      Tolkien's style of fantasy and his landscapes were clearly indebted to
      Morris. In Oct. 1914 he told his future wife of his plan for *a short story
      somewhat on the lines of Morris' romances,* and in Dec. 1960, towards the
      end of his career, he said some of the bleak landscapes in Lord of the Rings
      *owe more to William Morris and his Huns and Romans, as in The House of
      the Wolfings or The Roots of the Mountains.* (4)

      It also seems that the ideas of Sir Arthur George Tansley (1871-1955), who
      popularized the term Ecology, had a substantial influence on Tolkien (1892-1973),
      who was his junior by 21 years.


      J.R.R. Tolkien and Sir Arthur George Tansley

      In 1925 Tolkien was appointed Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of
      Anglo Saxon at Oxford University, becoming Merton Professor of English
      Language and Literature in 1945. He retired in 1959 and in 1968 the
      Tolkiens moved to Bournemouth on the southern coast of England.
      After his wife's death, Tolkien returned to Merton College at Oxford as
      resident honorary fellow in March 1972 and died there in September
      1973 at the age of 81.

      While at Oxford, he got to know Tansley. In 1927 Arthur George
      Tansley was appointed Sherardian Professor of Botany at Oxford, from
      which he retired with the title of Professor Emeritus in 1937. Tolkien
      participated in a standing seminar with the senior founder of the British
      Ecological Society, who was knighted in 1950 while serving as the first
      chairman of the Nature Conservancy from 1949-1953. (5) Tansley died
      in 1955 at the age of 84.

      Tansley took a prominent part in the development of plant ecology in
      Britain. In 1901 he founded the New Phytologist, an influential botanical
      journal which he continued to edit for thirty years. Tansley was also
      instrumental in founding the British Ecological Society in 1913, and
      edited its Journal of Ecology for many years.

      He published Practical Plant Ecology in 1923. Tansley was the
      founder of the concept of the Ecosystem in 1935, defined as *a distinct
      unit of interacting organisms and their surrounding environment* in his
      book Introduction to Plant Ecology (6). In 1939 he published The British
      Isles and Their Vegetation.

      It is no coincidence that there are 64 species of wild plants in The
      Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings as well as several invented varieties.
      In an allusion to such tomes as Tansley's, Tolkien wrote: *One writes
      such a story not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, not
      by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in the
      dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind....* (7)

      In a June 1955 letter Tolkien said, *There are of course certain
      things and themes that move me specially.... I am (obviously)
      much in love with plants and above all trees, and always have
      been; and I find human maltreatment of them as hard to bear as s
      ome find ill-treatment of animals.* (8)

      In a BBC interview Tolkien spoke of his love of trees. Trees occur
      often in his stories - The Old Forest, Fangorn and Lothlorien. In a letter
      to the Daily Telegraph of July 4, 1972 he wrote: *In all my work I take
      the part of trees as against all their enemies. Lothlorien is beautiful
      because there the trees were loved. As to the England of the 1970s,
      *The savage sound of the electric saw is never silent wherever trees
      are still found growng.* (9)

      It has been pointed out that the flora of Middle Earth is largely that of
      the English Midlands. From 1896-1900 the family of the young Tolkien
      found lodgings in Sarehole, at that time a village in Warwickshire. *And
      there are a few basic facts, which however drily expressed, are really
      significant. For instance I was born in 1892 and lived for my early years
      in 'the Shire' in a pre-mechanical age.* (10)

      *Four years,* Tolkien said in his old age, *but the longest-seeming
      and most formative part of my life.* (11) Tolkien is quoted as saying: *To
      find oneself, just at the time when one's imagination is opening out, in
      a quiet Warwickshire village, engenders a particular love of a central
      middle England countryside.* (12) The handyman mill in Sarehole, which
      still exists, makes its appearance in the Shire Hobbiton.

      Clyde S. Kilby says, *No book published in recent times creates
      a more poignant feeling for the essential quality of many outdoor
      experiences of flowing streams and the feel and taste of water, of
      light in dark places, of the coming of dawn.* (13) As Patrick Curry
      says, *What is most striking about Tolkien's Middle-earth is the
      profound presence of the natural world: geography and geology,
      ecologies, flora and fauna, the seasons, weather, the sky, stars and
      moon. The experience of these phenomena as comprising a living
      and meaningful cosmos saturates his entire story.* (14)

      Tolkien once confessed, *I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary
      time, but kept my feet on my own mother-earth for place. ... The theatre of
      my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical
      period is imaginary.* (15) There may be no contradiction when Martha
      Stevenson Olson says, *But in another sense, the book is nothing except
      an allegory for the passing away of England - all England, in every age.*
      (16)

      What gives Tolkien's readers *The experience of these phenomena as
      comprising a living and meaningful cosmos ...* (17) may reflect Tansley's
      influence. The concept of Ecosystem developed from Tansley's
      interest in the plant ecological community, but with the community as an
      analog of a physical system. Natural systems involved *constant
      interchange* among their living and nonliving parts. The German
      theorists called this Stoffswechsel, translated in English as Metabolism.

      Tansley's early work was in the tradition of Social Imperialism. A
      Fabian style socialist, he seems to have fit well within the doctrine of
      Social Imperialism, applying Ecology in his early work, or perhaps an
      Anti-Ecology, to the care and feeding of the Empire's colonies.In his
      1927 inaugural lecture, he proposed that the ecologists should focus their
      attention on the colonies because of the enormous job opportunities there.
      According to Tansley, *It was urgent for the department to develop imperial
      ecology: most economic support would come from the colonies, and most
      future posts in agriculture, forestry physiology, mycology, ecology, and
      pastoral science would emerge in the colonial administration .... The most
      common task for such ecological entrepreneurs throughout the empire
      was to transform forests to farmland, deserts to grassland, thus
      creating environments fit for various colonial interest groups....*

      In Tansley's view, Ecology was an ideal science for such activity
      because its main concern was precisely transformation or succession
      of landscapes. Tansley also envisioned an academic network that
      included forestry, agriculture, and zoology under the wings of ecology.
      (18)

      The last fifteen years of Tansley's life were spent promoting nature
      conservation in Britain, and although Tolkien was not notorious as an
      ecological activist, there is little doubt that he supported Tansley in these
      efforts.

      Tansley had been a student of Sir Edwin Ray Lankester, FRS, the
      English translator of Ernst Haeckel (who had coined the term Ecology).
      Through his father, Edwin Lankester, M.D., this Lankester had been a
      friend since boyhood of Charles Darwin and Thomas H. Huxley and
      became very close to Karl Marx by the 1880s. Through a combination of
      these influences, Lankester put together a radical ecology that was passed
      on to his students, including Tansley, who identified with a Fabian-style
      socialism.

      Lankester was also a friend and admirer of the Marxian theorist,
      environmentalist, craftsman, and writer of medieval fantasy, William
      Morris, whose influence on Tolkien was very profound. That debt is often
      acknowledged, but never placed in the context of Tolkien's ecology.
      Indeed, the radical roots of scientific ecology (or scientific fantasy) are
      seldom revealed when cultural icons are inducted into the Halls of Fame
      of the conservative establishment.

      But the word still seems to be slow in getting out even in this new era
      of animal and plant extinctions, planetary degredation, and ecological
      catastrophes. As John Amodeo says:
      *Since the trilogy's initial publication in 1954, many have analyzed,
      debated, and deconstructed Tolkien on the topics of linguistics, history,
      anthropology, sociology, mythology, and war, but rare is the discussion
      on Tolkien's environmental commentary, though all the signs are there.
      Although Tolkien, who died in 1973, vehemently discouraged using his
      books as an allegory for real events, he favored use of them in ways that
      are applicable to readers' own thoughts and experiences. Looking
      beneath the fun, the action, and the mysticism of Tolkien's fantastic
      creation, landscape architects need only observe the ways in which the
      forces of good and evil treat Mother Earth to discover that Tolkien wove a
      conservationist morality tale within its pages (evident in the films as well)
      that resonates strongly in the society in which we practice.* (19)

      There is a strong certainty that the ecologists of today could not
      celebrate the contribution of Tolkien and Tansley without their direct
      predecessors, William Morris and E. Ray Lankester, who turn the
      history of ideas to the more vexing Victorianism of Marx and Darwin.

      In future articles Amodeo's question, What can we learn about land
      stewardship from The Lord of the Rings? will be taken up in detailed
      reference to the story and film.

      Join the Fellowship: Tolkien_Ecology-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      Footnotes:

      1. Election Manifesto of the British Labour Party, 1955.
      http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/lab55.htm

      2. Humphrey Carpenter, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, New York:
      Houghton Mifflin Co., 200, p. 235.

      3. Hal Draper, The Two Souls of Socialism, included in Socialism From
      Below by Hal Draper, essays selected, E. Haberkern, Ed., Humanities
      Press, 1992. www.sirendesign.net/solidarity/socialism.htm


      4. Humphrey Carpenter, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 200, pp. 7, 303.


      5. John Bellamy Foster, Re: Tolkein as environmentalist? 18 December
      2002 22:49 UTC, www.csf.colorado.edu/envtecsoc/2002/msg00692.html

      6. Arthur George Tansley, Introduction to Plant Ecology, London: George
      Allen and Unwin, 1935.

      7. Humphrey Carpenter, JRR Tolkien: A Biography, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000, p. 131. [George Allen and Unwin, London, 1977].


      8. Humphrey Carpenter, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 220. Letter to the
      Houghton Mifflin Co., June 1955. Quotes:
      http://www.tolkienonline.com/quotes/index.cfm?id=45&startnum=181.

      9. Patrick Curry, Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien, Myth and

      Modernity, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997, p. 65.

      10. Humphrey Carpenter, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 288.

      11. BBC, Tolkien and Warwickshire.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/coventry/features/local-history/jrr-tolkien-s-warwickshire.shtml

      12. Clyde S. Kilby, *Meaning in The Lord of the Rings.* Shadows of
      Imagination: The Fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles
      Williams. Ed. Mark R. Hillegas. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ.Press,
      1979, p. 282.

      13. Patrick Curry, Defending Middle-Earth, in Laurence Coupe, Ed.,
      The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism, London:
      Routledge, 2000. Adapted by the author from Defending Middle-Earth:
      Tolkien, Myth and Modernity, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997 p. 61.

      14. Patrick Curry, Defending Middle-Earth, p. 59.

      15. Clyde S. Kilby, *Meaning in The Lord of the Rings,* p. 282.

      16. Martha Stevenson Olson, *In Frodo's Footsteps,* New York Times,
      Jan 25, 2004. pg. 5.6

      17. Patrick Curry, Defending Middle-Earth, p. 282.

      18. Peder Anker, Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the
      British Empire, 1895-1945, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
      pp. 79-80.

      19. John Amodeo, ASLA, *Hobbit Sense: What can we learn about land
      stewardship from The Lord of the Rings?* Landscape Architecture, May
      2003. http://www.asla.org/lamag/lam03/may/ecology.html
      Cited by Michael Perelman, *Re: JRR Tolkien: Ecosystems of Middle
      Earth, Marxmail, 30 Mar 2004.

      ***********************************************************************************


































      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Bratman
      ... Interesting paper. Emphasizes some good points about Tolkien s ecological awareness. It d be better with a section discussing this aspect of Tolkien as a
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 9, 2004
        At 07:16 PM 4/9/2004 -0700, Walt Contreras Sheasby wrote:

        >J. R. R. Tolkien:
        >Saving the Ecosystems of Middle Earth

        Interesting paper. Emphasizes some good points about Tolkien's ecological
        awareness. It'd be better with a section discussing this aspect of Tolkien
        as a source of his appeal to the hippie/counterculture movement of the
        1960s. Too many writers dismiss their love for Tolkien as inherently
        risible, but it's nothing of the sort.

        There still remained profound differences between them, of course. The
        main problem with this paper is that, chronology apart, you could use the
        same arguments to prove that Tolkien _was_ a hippie. No evidence is
        offered that Tolkien shared Morris's politico-social views, or that he got
        his ecological awareness from Tansley. You need to delve into more detail
        here.


        > The 1955 Election Manifesto of the British Labour Party declared:
        >... In this mainstream 1950s
        >*modernism* there was no room for someone of Tolkien's ecological
        >mind.

        And the manifesto of the Conservative Party (which actually won the
        election) says something similar. To demonstrate that this was the
        mainstream view, you should quote both. But this raises bigger questions.
        In the 1950s, atomic power was not viewed as the opposite of ecological
        awareness as it became later. It was still thought of as the clean
        alternative to coal, the burning of which was responsible for the London
        smogs which in the 1950s were at their worst. Tolkien claimed no
        etymological connection between smog and Smaug (Letters p. 31 offers his
        story), but you could suggest one. That would put Tolkien very much on the
        anti-coal side.


        >Despite interpretations that
        >try to transform Tolkien into an Edmund Burke type of reactionary, it seems
        >clear that Tolkien would have welcomed the workshops of News from Nowhere
        >in preference to the mills bossed by Sharkey.

        This statement needs evidence. Tolkien might have disparaged both.

        > Tolkien's style of fantasy and his landscapes were clearly indebted to
        >Morris.

        Absolutely, but this evinces no attachment to Morris's socialist ideals.
        C.S. Lewis's style in "Out of the Silent Planet" was clearly indebted to
        H.G. Wells, but Lewis was adamantly opposed to Wells's notions of social
        development.


        > It is no coincidence that there are 64 species of wild plants in The
        >Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings as well as several invented varieties.

        No coincidence to what? Tolkien hardly needed to know a plant ecologist,
        let alone be politically allied with him, to know 64 species of wild
        plants. Botany was one of his favorite avocational interests. See W.H.
        Lewis, _Brothers and Friends_, p. 207.


        >In an allusion to such tomes as Tansley's, Tolkien wrote: *One writes
        >such a story not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, not
        >by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in the
        >dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind....* (7)

        If this is an allusion to Tansley, quote something from Tansley that it's
        an allusion to.


        > It has been pointed out that the flora of Middle Earth is largely
        that of
        >the English Midlands.

        Source for this.


        >From 1896-1900 the family of the young Tolkien
        >found lodgings in Sarehole, at that time a village in Warwickshire.

        Actually it was in Worcestershire at the time. Everyone gets this wrong,
        Tolkien himself included, because the boundary was later changed. See my
        article, "Tolkien and the Counties of England," in Mallorn (1999).


        > What gives Tolkien's readers *The experience of these phenomena as
        >comprising a living and meaningful cosmos ...* (17) may reflect Tansley's
        >influence.

        Something stronger is needed than a "may reflect." Evidence for it is
        needed too.


        > The last fifteen years of Tansley's life were spent promoting nature
        >conservation in Britain, and although Tolkien was not notorious as an
        >ecological activist, there is little doubt that he supported Tansley in these
        >efforts.

        I know of no evidence that Tolkien did anything other than grumble at
        expanded urban development. Do you?


        > In future articles Amodeo's question, What can we learn about land
        >stewardship from The Lord of the Rings? will be taken up in detailed
        >reference to the story and film.

        Please don't use the film as a subject in a scholarly article about
        Tolkien. It's by totally different authors, has totally distinct aesthetic
        aims, and where it overlaps with Tolkien is merely borrowing from him, and
        discussing Tolkien's own work will cover that.

        I've read the two paragraphs of Amodeo's article that appear for free on
        the ASLA web site. He quotes from the film and attributes it to the book.
        This is an utterly appalling thing to do.

        - David Bratman
      • Carl F. Hostetter
        Tolkien was no Socialist. Anyone wishing to explore Tolkien s socio-political leanings would be much better advised to looks towards the neo-feudalism of the
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 10, 2004
          Tolkien was no Socialist. Anyone wishing to explore Tolkien's
          socio-political leanings would be much better advised to looks towards
          the neo-feudalism of the Catholic apologist Hilaire Belloc. It
          dovetails _much_ more clearly with Tolkien's professed monarchism, with
          the systems to which he was clearly sympathetic as portrayed in _The
          Lord of the Rings_, and with his devout Catholicism. Moreover, we know
          that he enthusiastically gave copies of Belloc's works to his son
          Michael (inscribed copies surfaced on the 2nd-hand market not too long
          ago, after Michael's library was sold).

          http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0035.html

          "Belloc understood a rooted life, close to nature, as being humanly
          superior to the massification produced by modern civilization. Give a
          man a farm, a small business, an artisan’s anvil, a boat to sail, wine
          to drink — suffuse all this with the love of Christ; center man’s life
          around liturgical rhythms; and that man — at least Man writ in the
          large and taken by the handful — is happier than his industrial
          counterpart. A Catholic culture tends — and tends is the operative word
          — toward this kind of life. Tempering greed and avarice, man is then
          more than himself. As A. N. Wilson notes, in his introduction to a new
          edition of The Four Men, Belloc knew that his ideal was doomed...."


          --
          =============================================
          Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org

          ho bios brachys, he de techne makre.
          Ars longa, vita brevis.
          The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.
          "I wish life was not so short," he thought. "Languages take such
          a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."
        • Walt Sheasby
          My thanks to Carl F. Hostetter and David Bratman for their good comments on my post on *Ecosystems of Middle Earth: JRR Tolkien.* Since this is by no means a
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 10, 2004
            My thanks to Carl F. Hostetter and David Bratman for their good
            comments on my post on *Ecosystems of Middle Earth: JRR Tolkien.*
            Since this is by no means a finished paper ready for academic print
            publication, these comments are very helpful and will be used in any
            future research and revision. Let me take up a few points.

            1. Carl objected that * Tolkien was no Socialist* and David insisted
            *No evidence is offered that Tolkien shared Morris's politico-social
            views.* Neither paid attention to my paragraph that began, In early
            1956 Tolkien wrote to the editor of the New Republic magazine:
            *I am not a socialist in any sense....*

            My argument, rather, was that despite his apparent Oxfordian
            conservativism, Tolkien was indebted to those who drew from the most
            radical innovators of the Victorian age, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx.
            I am publishing a series of articles in the Routledge journal Capitalism,
            Nature, Socialism on *Karl Marx and the Victorians� Nature*.

            2. Morris and Tolkien are both known as Neo-Medievalists, but their
            commitment to chivalric values by no means prevented either from
            denouncing the overlords of their own time. In the case of the low-born
            Tolkien, there is no mistaking the edge of class resentment against the
            Sharkeys and Pimples.

            3. I am not aware of any disparagement of the *banded workshops* of
            News from Nowhere or the similar ideas of John Ruskin, the Guild
            Socialists like G.D.H. Cole, or the Peter Kropotkin Mutualists, but I will
            keep looking. In the meantime, we agree that there is plenty scorn heaped

            on the mills bossed by Sharkey. Any help showing where *Tolkien might
            have disparaged both* would be very welcome.

            4. If Dave thinks it essential, I can easily show that the Election
            Manifestos of the both the British Labour Party and the Conservative
            Party favored unlimited economic growth and development, and the
            Peaceful Atom was seen in that context. Tolkien�s anti-nuclear stance
            was not ecological in today�s sense, but rather parralleled the views of
            Lord Bertrand Russell.

            5. My thanks to Dave for the correction that Sarehole, thought to be a
            village in Warwickshire, *Actually it was in Worcestershire at the time.*
            I will try to find and cite his article.

            6. Finally, Dave also makes a very good suggestion: *...about Tolkien's
            ecological awareness. It'd be better with a section discussing this aspect
            of Tolkien as a source of his appeal to the hippie/counter- culture
            movement of the 1960s.* In fact, I�m working on that.

            If there are no strenuous objections, I will be posting in a few days an
            article on the reception of Tolkien in the Shire of the Haight-Ashbury
            during the Summer of Love in 1967. The article portrays Emmett Grogan,
            a young man four years my junior, who struggled to defend the Haight
            community from the Sharkeys. I knew him and other future Diggers as an
            SDS organizer sharing a loft with the SF Mime Troupe from 1965 to late
            1967. I again met and talked with him at length in Barney�s Beanery a
            decade later. On April 6, 1978, 35-year-old Emmett Grogan was found
            dead of an overdose on a New York City subway car.

            But in 1967 he became known as Frodo, and his Diggers Underground
            helped create a counter-culture that has waned but is still with us today. It
            is interesting that the Tolkien revival is now coinciding with an anti-war
            movement. Grogan was credited with the ubiquitous two-finger peace
            symbol of the time, merely because he flipped an Irish rude gesture at a
            news photographer. The Diggers were consciously, militantly, ecological,
            and in that they transmitted Tolkien�s ethos to the young of the world. I
            think you will find it a fascinating story of some of the noblest but silliest
            jesters in history, who still make us laugh and sing through our tears.



            =============================================

            From: "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...>

            Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2004

            Tolkien was no Socialist. Anyone wishing to explore Tolkien's
            socio-political leanings would be much better advised to looks towards
            the neo-feudalism of the Catholic apologist Hilaire Belloc. It dovetails _much_ more clearly with Tolkien's professed monarchism, with the
            systems to which he was clearly sympathetic as portrayed in _The
            Lord of the Rings_, and with his devout Catholicism. Moreover, we know
            that he enthusiastically gave copies of Belloc's works to his son
            Michael (inscribed copies surfaced on the 2nd-hand market not too long
            ago, after Michael's library was sold).

            http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0035.html

            "Belloc understood a rooted life, close to nature, as being humanly
            superior to the massification produced by modern civilization. Give a
            man a farm, a small business, an artisan�s anvil, a boat to sail, wine
            to drink � suffuse all this with the love of Christ; center man�s life
            around liturgical rhythms; and that man � at least Man writ in the
            large and taken by the handful � is happier than his industrial
            counterpart. A Catholic culture tends � and tends is the operative
            word � toward this kind of life. Tempering greed and avarice, man
            is then more than himself. As A. N. Wilson notes, in his introduction
            to a new edition of The Four Men, Belloc knew that his ideal was
            doomed...."

            Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org
            =============================================

            From:"David Bratman" <dbratman@...>
            Date:Fri, 09 Apr 2004

            At 07:16 PM 4/9/2004 -0700, Walt Contreras Sheasby wrote:
            >J. R. R. Tolkien: Saving the Ecosystems of Middle Earth

            Interesting paper. Emphasizes some good points about Tolkien's
            ecological awareness. It'd be better with a section discussing this
            aspect of Tolkien as a source of his appeal to the hippie/counter-
            culture movement of the 1960s. Too many writers dismiss their
            love for Tolkien as inherently risible, but it's nothing of the sort.

            There still remained profound differences between them, of
            course. The main problem with this paper is that, chronology
            apart, you could use the same arguments to prove that Tolkien
            _was_ a hippie. No evidence is offered that Tolkien shared
            Morris's politico-social views, or that he got his ecological
            awareness from Tansley. You need to delve into more detail
            here.

            > The 1955 Election Manifesto of the British Labour Party
            declared: ... In this mainstream 1950s *modernism* there was no
            room for someone of Tolkien's ecological mind.>

            And the manifesto of the Conservative Party (which actually won
            the election) says something similar. To demonstrate that this was
            the mainstream view, you should quote both. But this raises

            bigger questions. In the 1950s, atomic power was not viewed as
            the opposite of ecological awareness as it became later. It was still
            thought of as the clean alternative to coal, the burning of which
            was responsible for the London smogs which in the 1950s were at
            their worst. Tolkien claimed no etymological connection between
            smog and Smaug (Letters p. 31 offers his story), but you could
            suggest one. That would put Tolkien very much on the anti-coal
            side.

            >Despite interpretations that try to transform Tolkien into an
            Edmund Burke type of reactionary, it seems clear that Tolkien
            would have welcomed the workshops of News from Nowhere
            in preference to the mills bossed by Sharkey.>

            This statement needs evidence. Tolkien might have disparaged
            both.

            > Tolkien's style of fantasy and his landscapes were clearly
            indebted to Morris. >

            Absolutely, but this evinces no attachment to Morris's socialist
            ideals. C.S. Lewis's style in "Out of the Silent Planet" was clearly
            indebted to H.G. Wells, but Lewis was adamantly opposed to
            Wells's notions of social development.

            > It is no coincidence that there are 64 species of wild plants in
            The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings as well as several invented
            varieties.>

            No coincidence to what? Tolkien hardly needed to know a plant
            ecologist, let alone be politically allied with him, to know 64
            species of wild plants. Botany was one of his favorite avocational
            interests. See W.H. Lewis, _Brothers and Friends_, p. 207.

            >In an allusion to such tomes as Tansley's, Tolkien wrote: *One
            writes such a story not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, not
            by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in
            the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind....* >

            If this is an allusion to Tansley, quote something from Tansley that
            it's an allusion to.

            > It has been pointed out that the flora of Middle Earth is largely
            that of the English Midlands. >

            Source for this.

            >From 1896-1900 the family of the young Tolkien found lodgings
            in Sarehole, at that time a village in Warwickshire. >

            Actually it was in Worcestershire at the time. Everyone gets this
            wrong, Tolkien himself included, because the boundary was later
            changed. See my article, "Tolkien and the Counties of England,"
            in Mallorn (1999).

            > What gives Tolkien's readers *The experience of these
            phenomena as >comprising a living and meaningful cosmos ...*
            (17) may reflect Tansley's influence. >

            Something stronger is needed than a "may reflect." Evidence for it
            is needed too.

            > The last fifteen years of Tansley's life were spent promoting
            nature conservation in Britain, and although Tolkien was not
            notorious as an ecological activist, there is little doubt that he
            supported Tansley in these efforts.

            I know of no evidence that Tolkien did anything other than
            grumble at expanded urban development. Do you?

            > In future articles Amodeo's question, What can we learn about
            land stewardship from The Lord of the Rings? will be taken up in
            detailed reference to the story and film.>

            Please don't use the film as a subject in a scholarly article about

            Tolkien. It's by totally different authors, has totally distinct aesthetic
            aims, and where it overlaps with Tolkien is merely borrowing from
            him, and discussing Tolkien's own work will cover that.

            I've read the two paragraphs of Amodeo's article that appear for
            free on the ASLA web site. He quotes from the film and attributes
            it to the book. This is an utterly appalling thing to do.

            - David Bratman

            =============================================





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • David Bratman
            ... On the contrary. I don t see how Tolkien saying I am not a socialist is evidence that Tolkien shared Morris s political views. It seems to me to say
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 10, 2004
              At 05:24 PM 4/10/2004 -0700, Walt Sheasby wrote:

              >1. Carl objected that * Tolkien was no Socialist* and David insisted
              >*No evidence is offered that Tolkien shared Morris's politico-social
              >views.* Neither paid attention to my paragraph that began, In early
              >1956 Tolkien wrote to the editor of the New Republic magazine:
              >*I am not a socialist in any sense....*

              On the contrary. I don't see how Tolkien saying "I am not a socialist" is
              evidence that Tolkien shared Morris's political views. It seems to me to
              say precisely the opposite. Therefore my statement stands: No evidence is
              offered that Tolkien shared Morris's politico-social views. Rather, you
              say he didn't. But in that case, his interest in Morris's medievalism is
              hardly evidence that he did share Morris's other views. Either reference
              to Morris's medievalism should be dropped as irrelevant, or a more subtle
              argument constructed by which Tolkien's attraction to medievalism is
              evidence of a conservationist tendency in him, while it was evidence of a
              broader socialist outlook in Morris. The two men got something different
              politically out of the same aesthetic affection. Or so I'd guess.


              >My argument, rather, was that despite his apparent Oxfordian
              >conservativism, Tolkien was indebted to those who drew from the most
              >radical innovators of the Victorian age, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx.

              Who are "those who drew from ... Darwin and Marx"? Morris and Tansley? If
              so, I repeat: no evidence is offered that he was indebted to them. If you
              mean somebody other than Morris and Tansley, I can't imagine who.


              >2. Morris and Tolkien are both known as Neo-Medievalists, but their
              >commitment to chivalric values by no means prevented either from
              >denouncing the overlords of their own time. In the case of the low-born
              >Tolkien, there is no mistaking the edge of class resentment against the
              >Sharkeys and Pimples.

              This is quite wrong. First, Tolkien was not low-born. He was poor, but
              that is not the same thing as working-class. Impoverished middle-class was
              his background. In class-ridden England, especially in days of yore, how
              much money you had didn't affect your class status. Impoverished
              aristocrats (why do you think so many of them married wealthy American
              heiresses in those days?) on the one hand, and flashy nouveau-riche
              bounders on the other, littered the landscape.

              Secondly, Tolkien's obvious disapproval of Saruman and Lotho (to give them
              their proper names) is NOT a class resentment at all. It is a political
              disgust at self-appointed dictators. Frodo, Pippin, Merry, and even Fatty
              Bolger were all members of the extreme upper class of Shire society, as
              Tolkien's discussions of their families and a look at the genealogical
              charts will show. Higher up than the Sackville-Bagginses, who were social
              climbers eager for Bilbo's and Frodo's status which they never got.

              As for Saruman, whatever social class a wizard has, Gandalf had the exact
              same class, and Tolkien is fully admiring of him. It is Saruman's
              behavior, not his class standing, which meets Tolkien's disapproval.


              >Any help showing where *Tolkien might
              >have disparaged both* would be very welcome.

              I have no idea. That is why I wrote "might".


              >4. If Dave thinks it essential, I can easily show that the Election
              >Manifestos of the both the British Labour Party and the Conservative
              >Party favored unlimited economic growth and development, and the
              >Peaceful Atom was seen in that context. Tolkien�s anti-nuclear stance
              >was not ecological in today�s sense, but rather parralleled the views of
              >Lord Bertrand Russell.

              Yes, I think it makes sense to talk about the Conservative Party. They
              governed Britain for some 52 of Tolkien's 81 years, including the period
              1951-64, and Tolkien almost certainly supported them if he supported any
              party politically.

              If your interest is in the parties' economic policies, your point is fair
              enough, but bringing in nuclear power plants confuses the issue. It
              certainly managed to confuse me.

              Tolkien was in no way parallel to Bertrand Russell*. Russell was an
              extremist crusader against nuclear WEAPONS. I do not know if he had
              anything to say about nuclear POWER, but in the 1940s and 50s the
              nuclear-disarmament crowd tended, if anything, to be in favor of nuclear
              power, as a peaceful use for the same technology. ("Swords into
              plowshares" was a phrase used a lot in those days.) Check out the Baruch
              Plan, or Pugwash. Ecologists also tended to favor nuclear power, as a
              cleaner alternative to coal, as I said. The dangers of nuclear power
              didn't become apparent until later, and a huge change in opinion occurred.

              So I'm not sure what you mean by "Tolkien's anti-nuclear stance." If you
              mean anti-nuclear war, he certainly did not share the unilateralist views
              of Russell - advocated in later years by such as Jonathan Schell - but it
              was only the Russells and Schells who claimed that to oppose them was to
              support nuclear war. If you mean anti-nuclear power, this would have been
              in Tolkien's case merely a byproduct or facet of his opposition to
              uncontrolled economic development.

              *That is what he called himself, he did not use his title of Lord, and if
              you do use it, the correct form is Lord Russell, not Lord Bertrand.


              >If there are no strenuous objections, I will be posting in a few days an
              >article on the reception of Tolkien in the Shire of the Haight-Ashbury
              >during the Summer of Love in 1967.

              I would be very interested in reading this, especially if it contains your
              personal reminiscences and thoughts on the subject.

              However, as this is primarily a discussion list, perhaps it would be better
              if you put the article on a web site, and posted its URL to the address. I
              think a lot of our readers prefer not to get posts that are too long.

              - David Bratman
            • Wayne G. Hammond
              ... This struck Christina and me too, as it did David. We would be very interested to know of any verifiable evidence that Tolkien got to know Tansley , let
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 11, 2004
                Walt Sheasby wrote:

                > While at Oxford, he got to know Tansley. In 1927 Arthur George
                >Tansley was appointed Sherardian Professor of Botany at Oxford, from
                >which he retired with the title of Professor Emeritus in 1937. Tolkien
                >participated in a standing seminar with the senior founder of the British
                >Ecological Society, who was knighted in 1950 while serving as the first
                >chairman of the Nature Conservancy from 1949-1953. (5) Tansley died
                >in 1955 at the age of 84.

                This struck Christina and me too, as it did David. We would be very
                interested to know of any verifiable evidence that Tolkien "got to know
                Tansley", let alone "participated in a standing seminar" with him. You give
                a reference to John Bellamy Foster (the URL, by the way, works only if one
                removes the "www.") but his assertion that Tolkien "took part in a standing
                seminar" is unsupported by any evidence or further reference. In nearly
                five years' research into Tolkien's life and works for our forthcoming
                _Tolkien Companion and Guide_, during which we have scoured every available
                letter and other resource concerning Tolkien, we have not run across the
                name of Tansley, nor in compiling a very detailed chronology of Tolkien's
                life have we found any evidence of Tolkien participating in a seminar on
                botany or ecology.

                Wayne Hammond
              • Walt Sheasby
                Hello Wayne: My source for this is John bellamy Foster, an impeccable researcher and editor, who I suspect is planning to publish something about Tansley. I
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 11, 2004
                  Hello Wayne:
                  My source for this is John bellamy Foster, an impeccable researcher and
                  editor, who I suspect is planning to publish something about Tansley. I
                  believe his email address is on the URL you searched. I suggest you
                  contact him and ask for permission to reproduce his response to your
                  question. I would be very interested to read it on this list if he is willing.
                  As I said, my note is not a finished piece of work, but more in the nature
                  of a rough draft needing a great deal more research.

                  Personally, I think the internal evidence of Tolkien's work shows evidence
                  of reading in botany, and Tansley's work would seem the likeliest
                  candidate for an Oxfordian to turn to. Let me ask, has a list of books in
                  Tolkien's personal library been published? I suppose a researcher there
                  (if there are any known to those on this list) could also check the records of
                  library loans to faculty. This is something I was hoping to do on my next
                  visit to England; but if someone wants to beat me to it, I will gladly settle
                  for a foonote citing the researcher, and spend more of my time boating on
                  the Thames.

                  For Frodo!
                  -Walt Sheasby

                  "Wayne G. Hammond" <Wayne.G.Hammond@...> wrote:
                  Walt Sheasby wrote:

                  > While at Oxford, he got to know Tansley. In 1927 Arthur George
                  >Tansley was appointed Sherardian Professor of Botany at Oxford, from
                  >which he retired with the title of Professor Emeritus in 1937. Tolkien
                  >participated in a standing seminar with the senior founder of the British
                  >Ecological Society, who was knighted in 1950 while serving as the first
                  >chairman of the Nature Conservancy from 1949-1953. (5) Tansley died
                  >in 1955 at the age of 84.

                  This struck Christina and me too, as it did David. We would be very
                  interested to know of any verifiable evidence that Tolkien "got to know
                  Tansley", let alone "participated in a standing seminar" with him. You give
                  a reference to John Bellamy Foster (the URL, by the way, works only if one
                  removes the "www.") but his assertion that Tolkien "took part in a standing
                  seminar" is unsupported by any evidence or further reference. In nearly
                  five years' research into Tolkien's life and works for our forthcoming
                  _Tolkien Companion and Guide_, during which we have scoured every available
                  letter and other resource concerning Tolkien, we have not run across the
                  name of Tansley, nor in compiling a very detailed chronology of Tolkien's
                  life have we found any evidence of Tolkien participating in a seminar on
                  botany or ecology.

                  Wayne Hammond









                  The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org


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                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Wayne G. Hammond
                  ... willing. ... At this point in my and my wife s work on our book -- the last gasp and desperate for time -- I m afraid that we can t afford to follow up
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 11, 2004
                    Walt Sheasby wrote:

                    >My source for this is John bellamy Foster, an impeccable researcher and
                    >editor, who I suspect is planning to publish something about Tansley. I
                    >believe his email address is on the URL you searched. I suggest you
                    >contact him and ask for permission to reproduce his response to your
                    >question. I would be very interested to read it on this list if he is
                    willing.
                    >As I said, my note is not a finished piece of work, but more in the nature
                    >of a rough draft needing a great deal more research.

                    At this point in my and my wife's work on our book -- the last gasp and
                    desperate for time -- I'm afraid that we can't afford to follow up this
                    sort of tentative lead, or rather, follow it up any further than we have
                    with sources immediately available to us. I suppose that you will do so
                    eventually, for the sake of your finished work. I'd hoped that you had
                    something concrete already.

                    >Personally, I think the internal evidence of Tolkien's work shows evidence
                    >of reading in botany, and Tansley's work would seem the likeliest
                    >candidate for an Oxfordian to turn to.

                    Certainly Tolkien read about botany. That's well known: see, for instance,
                    his _Letters_, p. 402: "All illustrated botany books (or better, contact
                    direct with an unfamiliar flora) have for me a special fascination." These
                    included _Flowers of the Field_ by C.A. Johns and _Wild Flowers of the Cape
                    Peninsula_ by Mary Maytham Kidd (as we know from a statement by Tolkien
                    about his childhood reading, for the first, and this letter, for the
                    second). But there's no evidence that has come to my attention, at least,
                    that he read anything by Tansley -- which is not to say that he didn't.

                    >Let me ask, has a list of books in
                    >Tolkien's personal library been published? I suppose a researcher there
                    >(if there are any known to those on this list) could also check the
                    records of
                    >library loans to faculty. This is something I was hoping to do on my next
                    >visit to England; but if someone wants to beat me to it, I will gladly
                    settle
                    >for a foonote citing the researcher, and spend more of my time boating on
                    >the Thames.

                    No such list has been published.


                    Wayne Hammond
                  • regisdanilo
                    Dear Mr. Hammond, may I ask when your Tolkien Companion and Guide will be published. Amazon.com says the US editions will be out in May, but Amazon.co.uk
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 13, 2004
                      Dear Mr. Hammond,
                      may I ask when your Tolkien Companion and Guide will be published.
                      Amazon.com says the US editions will be out in May, but Amazon.co.uk
                      claims they´ll be out in September. Is there are pub date actually?
                      Or are you still working on it?

                      Thanks in advance,
                      Olaf Keith


                      > This struck Christina and me too, as it did David. We would be very
                      > interested to know of any verifiable evidence that Tolkien "got to
                      know
                      > Tansley", let alone "participated in a standing seminar" with him.
                      You give
                      > a reference to John Bellamy Foster (the URL, by the way, works
                      only if one
                      > removes the "www.") but his assertion that Tolkien "took part in a
                      standing
                      > seminar" is unsupported by any evidence or further reference. In
                      nearly
                      > five years' research into Tolkien's life and works for our
                      forthcoming
                      > _Tolkien Companion and Guide_, during which we have scoured every
                      available
                      > letter and other resource concerning Tolkien, we have not run
                      across the
                      > name of Tansley, nor in compiling a very detailed chronology of
                      Tolkien's
                      > life have we found any evidence of Tolkien participating in a
                      seminar on
                      > botany or ecology.
                      >
                      > Wayne Hammond
                    • Wayne G. Hammond
                      ... Still working on it, I m afraid, but trying desperately to finish before long. It won t be published in May! but our publishers would very much like it to
                      Message 10 of 13 , Apr 13, 2004
                        Olaf wrote:

                        >Dear Mr. Hammond,
                        >may I ask when your Tolkien Companion and Guide will be published.
                        >Amazon.com says the US editions will be out in May, but Amazon.co.uk
                        >claims they´ll be out in September. Is there are pub date actually?
                        >Or are you still working on it?

                        Still working on it, I'm afraid, but trying desperately to finish before
                        long. It won't be published in May! but our publishers would very much like
                        it to be out by the time of the Marquette Tolkien conference in late
                        October (as would we). So it's September, I guess, with fingers crossed.
                        We've been sidetracked a few times, most recently so that we could do a new
                        analysis of changes between editions and printings of _The Lord of the
                        Rings_, to guide corrections to the 50th anniversary edition.

                        Wayne Hammond
                      • Nessime
                        ... So the erroneously *corrected* froward will be restored? For that I will happily purchase another edition (or three - I still have to replace the copies
                        Message 11 of 13 , Apr 13, 2004
                          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Wayne G. Hammond"
                          <Wayne.G.Hammond@w...> wrote:

                          > We've been sidetracked a few times, most recently so that we could
                          > do a new analysis of changes between editions and printings of
                          > _The Lord of the Rings_, to guide corrections to the 50th
                          > anniversary edition.
                          >
                          > Wayne Hammond

                          So the erroneously *corrected* "froward" will be restored? For that
                          I will happily purchase another edition (or three - I still have to
                          replace the copies my sons have because they have editions with that
                          erroneous *correction*).

                          I'm still appalled by how many people quote that line and don't
                          realize that the word shouldn't be "forward," but "froward."

                          Julia C.
                        • regisdanilo
                          Dear Mr. Hammond, thank you very much for the update on the Tolkien Companion. I am working on my own thesis about Tolkien, so naturally I am quite interested
                          Message 12 of 13 , Apr 14, 2004
                            Dear Mr. Hammond,
                            thank you very much for the update on the Tolkien Companion. I am
                            working on my own thesis about Tolkien, so naturally I am quite
                            interested in such books. They make research easier.

                            Olaf Keith

                            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Nessime" <fifthchildg3@y...> wrote:
                            > --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Wayne G. Hammond"
                            > <Wayne.G.Hammond@w...> wrote:
                            >
                            > > We've been sidetracked a few times, most recently so that we
                            could
                            > > do a new analysis of changes between editions and printings of
                            > > _The Lord of the Rings_, to guide corrections to the 50th
                            > > anniversary edition.
                            > >
                            > > Wayne Hammond
                            >
                            > So the erroneously *corrected* "froward" will be restored? For
                            that
                            > I will happily purchase another edition (or three - I still have
                            to
                            > replace the copies my sons have because they have editions with
                            that
                            > erroneous *correction*).
                            >
                            > I'm still appalled by how many people quote that line and don't
                            > realize that the word shouldn't be "forward," but "froward."
                            >
                            > Julia C.
                          • Cathy Akers-Jordan
                            Wayne and Christina, I just received your Tolkien Companion and Guide as a birthday present. Wow! Even though I ve only peekd at the two volumes, I m very
                            Message 13 of 13 , May 4, 2007
                              Wayne and Christina,

                              I just received your Tolkien Companion and Guide as a birthday
                              present. Wow! Even though I've only peekd at the two volumes, I'm very
                              impressed and am looking forward to reading it.

                              Cathy
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