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Re: Tolkien and Imperialism

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  • Katie Glick
    Well, that s
    Message 1 of 2 , May 27, 2005
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      <<The Jackson films, he says, "have remade memories of Western
      imperialism as the only honorable alternative to an evil Eastern
      Empire." >>

      Well, that's certainly not anywhere near the realm of possible
      interpretations I took from the books or the films. It seems to me
      that if that were the intended message, there would have to be other
      alternatives presented that were portrayed as not honorable. didn't
      notice anything to that effect ... I also don't think you could call
      it an "Empire" as in reading I tended to equate Middle Earth to one
      country, like England and Mordor simply an area of that country that
      had been taken over by force, to translate it into the real world, it
      would be like, if, in England the monarchy suffered some disaster and
      was dissolved with nothing to replace it, so that local lords became
      the only form of government ... and one of those lords took over the
      eastern part and began a reign of terror with the intent to take over
      the whole country.

      I certainly don't envision Aragorn setting sail for the West or
      marching into the South to conquer the Undying Lands or the Southrons.
      I think it's made pretty clear that his responsibility lies in Middle
      Earth and not expanding to take over all areas of the world.

      And to me, if there was supposed to be a message of "Imperialism,
      yay!" in there, there would have had to be some sort of opposing
      system that was portrayed and shown as clearly failing, like some
      isolationist area that was determined simply to wait and see and then
      defend it's own borders, should it come to that, who was ultimately
      proved to be horribly wrong.

      I think the fact that the story was not simply about a war that must
      be fought to overcome the evil, but instead was mainly about a mission
      to destroy a ring with the battles that were fought either a result of
      being directly attacked, or in order to aid Frodo's mission, that it
      would be extremely difficult to try to put a political message in
      there ... because it's ultimately a personal story not a political
      one.

      But of course, in their own quest to write something new and unheard
      of people are stretching to discover things in literature lke that, in
      the hopes of gaining some type of notoriety or literary credit (note:
      I have not read the essay in question, so I can't say whether I think
      this particular essay is like that ... but the premise in the quotes
      above seems like quite a stretch to me). I was astonished to read an
      essay once that posited that Gatsby was actually an African-American.
      (!) As far as I can tell, that simply is not there. But with a book
      that's been the subject of so much literary criticism and analysis,
      it's not surprising to me that someone might go out of their way to
      find something new and different to say ... I just feel like that
      person was making things up that simply were not there.

      -kt
    • Sara Ciborski
      Most of my additional thoughts are in my reply to Janet s post. I m glad you note the very un-imperialistic quality of Aragorn s kingship, as I have omitted
      Message 2 of 2 , May 28, 2005
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        Most of my additional thoughts are in my reply to Janet's post. I'm glad you note the very un-imperialistic quality of Aragorn's kingship, as I have omitted that aspect. But it provides another example of Smyth's distortion. Tolkien made it clear that Aragorn's rule was to be benevolent, enlightened, with neither the political domination nor economic exploitation usually associated with imperialism. The film, however, might readily appear (to someone looking for it) to promote a view of imperialism since it excludes these indications about the future and because of its protracted and relentless focus on military conquest.

        Yes, in this case I think the author was stretching quite far to make a point.

        Sara Ciborski
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Katie Glick
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, May 27, 2005 5:41 PM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and Imperialism


        I certainly don't envision Aragorn setting sail for the West or
        marching into the South to conquer the Undying Lands or the Southrons.
        I think it's made pretty clear that his responsibility lies in Middle
        Earth and not expanding to take over all areas of the world.

        .....
        But of course, in their own quest to write something new and unheard
        of people are stretching to discover things in literature lke that, in
        the hopes of gaining some type of notoriety or literary credit...
        -kt


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




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