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Re: [mythsoc] Two Questions

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  • Lisa Deutsch Harrigan
    Mythopoeic - of, or engaged in, the making of myths (from my Webster s New World Dictionary) How do we use it? Broadly. Our mandate is to discuss the works of
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 13, 2004
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      Mythopoeic - of, or engaged in, the making of myths (from my Webster's
      New World Dictionary)

      How do we use it? Broadly.

      Our mandate is to discuss the works of Tolkien, Lewis & Williams and
      other Fantasy writers. We try to avoid the more obvious religious tracts
      of our writers in discussion, but many in the group read them, and use
      them to better understand the fantasy works that were written. Jung and
      other books about the making of Myths are also discussed on occasion. As
      are the the original myths of Greek & Roman & Beowulf, and any other
      cultures. Seems someone should be discussing Troy these days - and does
      that even count as Myth now that they've found the city?

      It's complex and hard to put a tight defnition on, and it should be that
      way. Myth making is a complex and hard to pin down process, to be
      enjoyed by all.

      Mythically yours,
      Lisa Deutsch Harrigan
      Tresurer, The Mythopoeic Society

      JTHeyman@... wrote:

      >'Lo. I've been mostly lurking on and off for a few years and had a
      >question that I hope this list can finally answer for me to remove any
      >remaining confusion: What, exactly, does "mythopoeic" mean?
      >
      >I've looked it up in dictionaries and had a college professor explain it
      >to me, but I'm still not 100% certain I understand it (I can be dense,
      >sometimes). As I understand it, Middle Earth is a mythopoeic creation,
      >as is Narnia, but they are fairly easy. Peter S, Beagle's "The Folk of
      >the Air" won the Mythopoeic Award, but I'm not sure how that qualified.
      >And, if I understand the term correctly, H.P. Lovecraft's unnamed
      >dreamworld (mentioned in many tales, and in which he takes us touring in
      >"The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath") would qualify. But I'm not sure
      >about that one. I'd appreciate any clarification the list could give.
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • Michael Martinez
      ... I have never heard of anyone trying to associate The Iliad and/or The Odyssey with any regions other than Homer s Aegean and Asian settings. However,
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 14, 2004
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        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, JTHeyman@j... wrote:
        > And a second, unrelated question regarding something I saw posted on
        > another list: How important is the sense of place in a mythopoeic
        > work?
        > There has always been an undercurrent of chatter in the media about
        > Middle Earth and whether or not it was based on real geography of
        > the planet Earth. The question was raised in me when that writer
        > on another list discussed the following: In the 1990's Felice
        > Vinci published an essay and a book about "Homer in the Baltics"
        > in which, based almost solely on place-names and island geography,
        > he said the Iliad and Odyssey were probably Nordic tales
        > transplanted to the Mediterranean when the northerners invaded the
        > region centuries earlier. If you read the Iliad and Odyssey as
        > Nordic tales instead of Greek tales, how important is that to the
        > tales themselves? If someone discovers that an area in Africa, or
        > on the Martian surface for that matter, corresponds too closely to
        > Tolkien's maps of Middle Earth, would that change how we should
        > think about it? Or does the mythopoeic work exist apart from a
        > sense of place ... as in the land of Faerie, where what we find
        > is what we bring there in our hearts?

        I have never heard of anyone trying to associate "The Iliad" and/or
        "The Odyssey" with any regions other than Homer's Aegean and Asian
        settings.

        However, Tolkien threw the pot into the wind and let the stew fall
        where it would with Middle-earth geography.

        THE LORD OF THE RINGS was originally supposed to be nothing more than
        a sequel to THE HOBBIT. THE HOBBIT had only a partially defined
        geography laid out on two maps (the map of wilderland and Thror's map
        of the Lonely Mountain).

        While writing THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Tolkien gradually extended the
        geography of THE HOBBIT westward and south until he produced the map
        which was (after recopying by his son Christopher) published in THE
        LORD OF THE RINGS. That finished map actually represented a merger
        between the geography of Tolkien's HOBBIT and his then unpublished
        SILMARILLION. Christopher Tolkien notes, in THE HISTORY OF
        MIDDLE-EARTH, that his father's LoTR was drawn to the same scale as
        the second Silmarrillion map, so that they could have been overlain.

        J.R.R. Tolkien suggested in the Prologue to THE LORD OF THE RINGS that
        the story is set in our own world, when he wrote about Hobbits:

        Those days, the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past,
        and the shape of all lands has been changed; but the regions
        in which Hobbits then lived were doubtless the same as those
        in which they still linger: the North-West of the Old World,
        east of the Sea....

        In various letters, Tolkien described Middle-earth as "our world",
        "round and inescapable", "the habitable lands of Men", and so forth.
        He struggled, however, to identify the geography of Middle-earth with
        actual Terrestial geography. He occasionally made comparisons,
        suggesting equivalent locations between various real and Middle-earth
        places to provide a sense of scale or cultural magnitude.

        Tolkien expressed regret in at least one letter that he did not use a
        real map of Europe for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

        So, in his case, the geography is feigned "true European" geography as
        it should have been prior to some cataclysmic upheaval (not described
        in the texts) which changed the face of the lands.

        Since Tolkien said in one letter that he imagined the events of the
        late Third Age to have occurred about 6,000 years ago, a Biblical
        cataclysm presents itself as the logical connection point between the
        geography of Middle-earth and the real geography (which really does
        extend back into prehistory anyway): the Great Deluge, Noah's flood.
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