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RE: [mythsoc] Question about LOTR and redeeming Nordic mythology

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  • Croft, Janet B.
    Well, my sympathies on watching the movies ;) but people here know my opinion. I myself had to spend part of the Professor s birthday looking up references to
    Message 1 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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      Well, my sympathies on watching the movies ;) but people here know my
      opinion. I myself had to spend part of the Professor's birthday looking
      up references to the movies from papers I was editing, which I thought
      was a heckuva a way to celebrate...

      Anyway, try this, which I think may be exactly what you are looking for,
      IIRC:
      Chism, Christine. "Middle-earth, the Middle Ages, and the Aryan Nation."
      Tolkien the Medievalist. Ed. Jane Chance. London: Routledge, 2003.
      63-92.

      This one I just skimmed before filing but might be worth a look. Seemed
      awfully dense, so I was going to save tackling it for later:
      Werber, Niels. "Geo- and Biopolitics of Middle-Earth: A German Reading
      of Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings." New Literary History 36.2 (2005):
      227-46.

      Plus all the references in Tolkien's Letters; look in the index under
      Hitler.

      And as an aside, one of the papers I'm editing observes that there are
      Aryan supremacy groups out there that support a racist reading of LotR
      and love the movies for their "beautiful Nordic heroes," posting stills
      from the movies on their websites. Ik.

      Janet Brennan Croft

      -----Original Message-----
      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Sharon Bolding
      Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 11:25 AM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [mythsoc] Question about LOTR and redeeming Nordic mythology

      I spent part of the holidays watching a one-day marathon of all three
      LOTR movies. While watching it occured to me that Tolkein was showing
      the Nordic tradition in its most positive way for the triumpth of good.
      And at the same time, I was thinking about how the Nazi in WWII really
      twisted and corrupted that same tradition to evil intents. Is there any
      research or even any basis to believe that Tolkein may have tried to
      redeem the mythology from it's false corruption by the Nazi? I know that
      he started on the works well before the rise of Hitler, but some amount
      of the writing must have been influenced by the social milieu in which
      he lived. Any thoughts? Has anyone looked at this question before?

      Thanks,
      Sharon Bolding






      The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      Yahoo! Groups Links
    • David Bratman
      ... You bet he did. In both his literary and scholarly work. He wrote to a son serving in World War II: I have in this War a burning private grudge - which
      Message 2 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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        At 05:25 PM 1/4/2006 +0000, Sharon Bolding wrote:
        >I spent part of the holidays watching a one-day marathon of all three
        >LOTR movies. While watching it occured to me that Tolkein was showing
        >the Nordic tradition in its most positive way for the triumpth of good.
        >And at the same time, I was thinking about how the Nazi in WWII really
        >twisted and corrupted that same tradition to evil intents. Is there any
        >research or even any basis to believe that Tolkein may have tried to
        >redeem the mythology from it's false corruption by the Nazi?

        You bet he did. In both his literary and scholarly work. He wrote to a
        son serving in World War II: "I have in this War a burning private grudge -
        which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22 [in
        World War I]: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler ... [for]
        ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble
        northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved,
        and tried to present in its true light."

        [in above quote, for "Tolkein" read "Tolkien", for "Nazi" read "Nazis" and
        for "it's" read "its"]

        DB
      • Mike Foster
        This jogged a slumbering memory of my ICC days teaching Tolkien and journalism. About 20 years ago, I returned to my college office after class one night and
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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          This jogged a slumbering memory of my ICC days teaching Tolkien and
          journalism.

          About 20 years ago, I returned to my college office after class one
          night and found that a Ku Klux Klan pamphlet entitled "Theoden was a
          White Rider" had been left under my door by some helpful anonymous
          person. The title sums up the argument.

          Right about that time, the college student newspaper, which I advised,
          had run an editorial decrying KKK graffiti in some ICC toilet stalls.
          The editor's office got a note under the door saying, 'You have just
          received a friendly visit from the Ku Klux Klan. Our next visit might
          not be so friendly.'

          Reported that to college Public Safety and they to the East Peoria P.D.;
          nothing came of it.

          Remember Aesop on the blind men and their concepts of the elephant.

          Cheers,
          Mike

          P.S.
          If it's always winter and never Christmas, where do Mr. Tumnus and Ma
          and Pa Beaver get the fixings for tea?



          Croft, Janet B. wrote:

          >Well, my sympathies on watching the movies ;) but people here know my
          >opinion. I myself had to spend part of the Professor's birthday looking
          >up references to the movies from papers I was editing, which I thought
          >was a heckuva a way to celebrate...
          >
          >Anyway, try this, which I think may be exactly what you are looking for,
          >IIRC:
          >Chism, Christine. "Middle-earth, the Middle Ages, and the Aryan Nation."
          >Tolkien the Medievalist. Ed. Jane Chance. London: Routledge, 2003.
          >63-92.
          >
          >This one I just skimmed before filing but might be worth a look. Seemed
          >awfully dense, so I was going to save tackling it for later:
          >Werber, Niels. "Geo- and Biopolitics of Middle-Earth: A German Reading
          >of Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings." New Literary History 36.2 (2005):
          >227-46.
          >
          >Plus all the references in Tolkien's Letters; look in the index under
          >Hitler.
          >
          >And as an aside, one of the papers I'm editing observes that there are
          >Aryan supremacy groups out there that support a racist reading of LotR
          >and love the movies for their "beautiful Nordic heroes," posting stills
          >from the movies on their websites. Ik.
          >
          >Janet Brennan Croft
          >
          >-----Original Message-----
          >From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
          >Of Sharon Bolding
          >Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 11:25 AM
          >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          >Subject: [mythsoc] Question about LOTR and redeeming Nordic mythology
          >
          >I spent part of the holidays watching a one-day marathon of all three
          >LOTR movies. While watching it occured to me that Tolkein was showing
          >the Nordic tradition in its most positive way for the triumpth of good.
          >And at the same time, I was thinking about how the Nazi in WWII really
          >twisted and corrupted that same tradition to evil intents. Is there any
          >research or even any basis to believe that Tolkein may have tried to
          >redeem the mythology from it's false corruption by the Nazi? I know that
          >he started on the works well before the rise of Hitler, but some amount
          >of the writing must have been influenced by the social milieu in which
          >he lived. Any thoughts? Has anyone looked at this question before?
          >
          >Thanks,
          >Sharon Bolding
          >
          >
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          >
          >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
          >Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
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          >
          >
          >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
          >Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
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        • David Bratman
          ... I must refer you to a further study of the text -- C.S. Lewis. Nonsense, Jack; you re stumped and you know it -- W.H. Lewis.
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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            At 01:16 PM 1/4/2006 -0600, Mike Foster wrote:
            >If it's always winter and never Christmas, where do Mr. Tumnus and Ma
            >and Pa Beaver get the fixings for tea?

            "I must refer you to a further study of the text" -- C.S. Lewis.
            "Nonsense, Jack; you're stumped and you know it" -- W.H. Lewis.
          • Croft, Janet B.
            Whereas potatoes and tobacco grew wild on Numenor and were brought to Middle-earth by the settlers of Gondor and Anor, who thought of them as attractive garden
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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              Whereas potatoes and tobacco grew wild on Numenor and were brought to
              Middle-earth by the settlers of Gondor and Anor, who thought of them as
              attractive garden plants. They died out in most of Middle-earth, as
              palynologists studying core samples from ponds and glaciers have
              discovered, except for the species bred and cultivated in the Shire.


              Janet
              -----Original Message-----
              From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
              Of David Bratman
              Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 3:00 PM
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [mythsoc] Question about Narnia

              At 01:16 PM 1/4/2006 -0600, Mike Foster wrote:
              >If it's always winter and never Christmas, where do Mr. Tumnus and Ma
              >and Pa Beaver get the fixings for tea?

              "I must refer you to a further study of the text" -- C.S. Lewis.
              "Nonsense, Jack; you're stumped and you know it" -- W.H. Lewis.



              The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org Yahoo! Groups
              Links
            • Mike Foster
              Jo and I did a dramatic reading of the Pitter-Lewis debate before tackling LWW at our December smial. You can hear the glee in Warnie s voice. Cheers, Mike ...
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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                Jo and I did a dramatic reading of the Pitter-Lewis debate before
                tackling LWW at our December smial.

                You can hear the glee in Warnie's voice.

                Cheers,
                Mike

                David Bratman wrote:

                >At 01:16 PM 1/4/2006 -0600, Mike Foster wrote:
                >
                >
                >>If it's always winter and never Christmas, where do Mr. Tumnus and Ma
                >>and Pa Beaver get the fixings for tea?
                >>
                >>
                >
                >"I must refer you to a further study of the text" -- C.S. Lewis.
                >"Nonsense, Jack; you're stumped and you know it" -- W.H. Lewis.
                >
                >
                >
                >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                >Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Berni Phillips
                ... Oh, so that explains the casting of Eowyn (or however you spell her name -- I don t have a copy of the text where I am). I couldn t figure out how they
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 4, 2006
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                  >From: "Croft, Janet B." <jbcroft@...>
                  >

                  >And as an aside, one of the papers I'm editing observes that there are
                  >Aryan supremacy groups out there that support a racist reading of LotR
                  >and love the movies for their "beautiful Nordic heroes," posting stills
                  >from the movies on their websites. Ik.
                  >
                  >Janet Brennan Croft

                  Oh, so that explains the casting of Eowyn (or however you spell her name -- I don't have a copy of the text where I am). I couldn't figure out how they cast someone so bright and sunny as the ice princess of the text. I *liked* the actress; she just wasn't as described in the book.

                  Pick, pick, pick,
                  Berni
                • Michael Martinez
                  ... They aren t quite all so ignorant about Tolkien. There is at least one white supremacist site where Tolkien is reviled (as am I) for NOT being a white
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 5, 2006
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                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Croft, Janet B." <jbcroft@o...> wrote:
                    >
                    > And as an aside, one of the papers I'm editing observes that there
                    > are Aryan supremacy groups out there that support a racist reading
                    > of LotR and love the movies for their "beautiful Nordic heroes,"
                    > posting stills from the movies on their websites. Ik.

                    They aren't quite all so ignorant about Tolkien. There is at least
                    one white supremacist site where Tolkien is reviled (as am I) for NOT
                    being a white supremacist himself. It was kind of funny to see them
                    beating up on newcomers for liking Tolkien when I stumbled across that
                    forum a couple of years ago.

                    --
                    Michael Martinez
                    Author of Understanding Middle-earth, Parma Endorion, and Visualizing
                    Middle-earth
                    http://www.michael-martinez.com/
                    "Cuando Maria canta, ella canta para mí"
                  • John D Rateliff
                    Also amusing, in a ghastly sort of way, is the article That Noble Northern Spirit , written years ago (circa 1979-1981) by a neo-Nazi who admired Tolkien but
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jan 5, 2006
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                      Also amusing, in a ghastly sort of way, is the article "That Noble
                      Northern Spirit", written years ago (circa 1979-1981) by a neo-Nazi
                      who admired Tolkien but who knew, from reading LETTERS OF JRRT, that
                      Tolkien despised Nazism.
                      Sharon, in addition to the quote David cites I'd also recommend
                      your looking at letters #29 and #30 (LETTERS OF JRRT pages 37-38),
                      where Tolkien repudiates 'aryan' theory. Nothing irritated Tolkien
                      more than people or things which approached things he as interested
                      in and "got it wrong", whether Wagner's RING, CSL's Narnia, Spenser's
                      elves, Shakespeare's walking woods in MACBETH, &c. I suspect his
                      distaste for Irish (cf. his love of Welsh) and French (as opposed to
                      a sentimental attachment to Spanish) and possibly even his dislike of
                      Charles Williams' Arthurian poems (very unlike his own "The Fall of
                      Arthur") are a different manifestation of the same principal. It's in
                      the things that concern us most closely, and which we care about the
                      most, that we react most strongly against when a variant of them rubs
                      us the wrong way.
                      --JDR

                      current reading: The Narnian (Jacobs)


                      On Jan 5, 2006, at 8:47 AM, Michael Martinez wrote:
                      >> Janet Croft wrote:
                      >> And as an aside, one of the papers I'm editing observes that there
                      >> are Aryan supremacy groups out there that support a racist reading
                      >> of LotR and love the movies for their "beautiful Nordic heroes,"
                      >> posting stills from the movies on their websites. Ik.
                      >
                      > They aren't quite all so ignorant about Tolkien. There is at least
                      > one white supremacist site where Tolkien is reviled (as am I) for NOT
                      > being a white supremacist himself. It was kind of funny to see them
                      > beating up on newcomers for liking Tolkien when I stumbled across that
                      > forum a couple of years ago.



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • David Bratman
                      ... If it s written in that context it can t predate 1981, when Letters was published. However, the quote that I gave, and from which that article s title was
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jan 5, 2006
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                        At 10:53 AM 1/5/2006 -0800, John D Rateliff wrote:
                        >Also amusing, in a ghastly sort of way, is the article "That Noble
                        >Northern Spirit", written years ago (circa 1979-1981) by a neo-Nazi
                        >who admired Tolkien but who knew, from reading LETTERS OF JRRT, that
                        >Tolkien despised Nazism.

                        If it's written in that context it can't predate 1981, when Letters was
                        published. However, the quote that I gave, and from which that article's
                        title was taken, first appeared in print in Carpenter's biography in 1977,
                        p. 193-4.

                        You don't say where the article may be found, if indeed it may.


                        > Sharon, in addition to the quote David cites I'd also recommend
                        >your looking at letters #29 and #30 (LETTERS OF JRRT pages 37-38),
                        >where Tolkien repudiates 'aryan' theory.

                        Oh yes, that's hysterical. Tolkien deliberately misconstrues Nazi race
                        theory to show them up for the idiots they are. "I am not of Aryan
                        extraction: that is Indo-iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors
                        spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects." Then to the
                        question of whether he's Jewish: "I regret that I appear to have no
                        ancestors of that gifted people."


                        >Nothing irritated Tolkien
                        >more than people or things which approached things he as interested
                        >in and "got it wrong", whether Wagner's RING, CSL's Narnia, Spenser's
                        >elves, Shakespeare's walking woods in MACBETH, &c.

                        ... Peter Jackson ...


                        >It's in
                        >the things that concern us most closely, and which we care about the
                        >most, that we react most strongly against when a variant of them rubs
                        >us the wrong way.

                        Indeed.


                        DB
                      • John D Rateliff
                        ... You re right; it has to be 1981ff. I never saw the original publication but was given a photocopy of it in 1981 or shortly thereafter; the publication
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jan 5, 2006
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                          On Jan 5, 2006, at 11:10 AM, David Bratman wrote:
                          > If it's written in that context it can't predate 1981, when Letters
                          > was
                          > published. However, the quote that I gave, and from which that
                          > article's
                          > title was taken, first appeared in print in Carpenter's biography
                          > in 1977,
                          > p. 193-4.
                          >
                          > You don't say where the article may be found, if indeed it may.

                          You're right; it has to be 1981ff. I never saw the original
                          publication but was given a photocopy of it in 1981 or shortly
                          thereafter; the publication information was written on it, and I
                          don't remember it offhand all these years later. My copy isn't
                          immediately accessible, but I'll send a copy of it to you next time I
                          come across it, if you like.

                          > Oh yes, that's hysterical. Tolkien deliberately misconstrues Nazi
                          > race
                          > theory to show them up for the idiots they are. "I am not of Aryan
                          > extraction: that is Indo-iranian; as far as I am aware none of my
                          > ancestors
                          > spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects." Then
                          > to the
                          > question of whether he's Jewish: "I regret that I appear to have no
                          > ancestors of that gifted people."
                          >

                          Indeed. His rejecting the term "Nordic" elsewhere is of a piece with
                          this (LETTERS, page 375, he specifically dislikes it because "it is
                          associated . . . with racialist [racist] theories"). And then too
                          there's the matter of his modeling the Dwarves of THE HOBBIT on
                          medieval Jewish craftsmen (esp. of Iberia) and on Old Testament
                          Hebrew warrior-kings.
                          By contrast, Robert Howard (author of the Conan stories) believed
                          whole-heartedly in the Aryan myth; it would have been interesting, if
                          he'd lived a few more years, to have seen how or if he distanced
                          himself from the Nazi version/perversion/adaptation of that myth.
                          [slightly off-topic, I know, but I was reminded of R.E.H. yesterday
                          when I found out that his home town of Cross Plains, Texas was one of
                          the area on fire and wondered if the Howard house survived this
                          recent round of wildfires.] Spinrad's THE IRON DREAM points out the
                          ways in which the two traditions were frightingly close, while
                          Bernal's BLACK ATHENA for all its excesses does a great job of
                          tracing how much of the old Aryan myth still underlies our ideas of
                          early Eastern Mediterranean history (the interaction between Egypt,
                          Phoenicia, Greece).


                          >> Nothing irritated Tolkien
                          >> more than people or things which approached things he as interested
                          >> in and "got it wrong", whether Wagner's RING, CSL's Narnia, Spenser's
                          >> elves, Shakespeare's walking woods in MACBETH, &c.
                          >
                          > ... Peter Jackson ...

                          Well, yes; thought that went without saying.

                          >> It's in
                          >> the things that concern us most closely, and which we care about the
                          >> most, that we react most strongly against when a variant of them rubs
                          >> us the wrong way.
                          >>
                          >
                          > Indeed.

                          --JDR

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • David Bratman
                          ... As a collector of some of the odder Tolkien spinoffs (I cherish an old miniatures catalog which names Pippin and Merry as sons of Sam, the author having
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jan 5, 2006
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                            At 11:46 AM 1/5/2006 -0800, John D Rateliff wrote:

                            >You're right; it has to be 1981ff. I never saw the original
                            >publication but was given a photocopy of it in 1981 or shortly
                            >thereafter; the publication information was written on it, and I
                            >don't remember it offhand all these years later. My copy isn't
                            >immediately accessible, but I'll send a copy of it to you next time I
                            >come across it, if you like.

                            As a collector of some of the odder Tolkien spinoffs (I cherish an old
                            miniatures catalog which names Pippin and Merry as sons of Sam, the author
                            having apparently read nothing of LOTR except Appendix C), yes I'd be
                            interested.


                            > By contrast, Robert Howard (author of the Conan stories) believed
                            >whole-heartedly in the Aryan myth; it would have been interesting, if
                            >he'd lived a few more years, to have seen how or if he distanced
                            >himself from the Nazi version/perversion/adaptation of that myth.

                            A lot of people jumped back and forth on this, as others did over
                            Communism. If we can't have Howard's views because he died too soon, how
                            about H.P. Lovecraft's? A genteel racist who also believed in his own
                            stock's superiority, he lived long enough to recognize Hitler for the evil
                            that he was, and to his credit denounced Nazism before the war (which he
                            didn't live to see). Lovecraft was also an economic conservative who came
                            to see the virtue in the New Deal.


                            >[slightly off-topic, I know, but I was reminded of R.E.H. yesterday
                            >when I found out that his home town of Cross Plains, Texas was one of
                            >the area on fire and wondered if the Howard house survived this
                            >recent round of wildfires.]

                            According to what I've read, it rather miraculously did. Possibly Joe
                            Christopher, who lives two counties away, would know more.


                            >> ... Peter Jackson ...
                            >
                            >Well, yes; thought that went without saying.

                            Considering some of the things you've said in the past in defense of the
                            films, I rather thought it didn't.


                            >Interesting. I don't understand his or her remark about there not
                            >being any Tolkien adaptations, unless by this he or she means that no
                            >one has messed with Tolkien's text, as they have with Lewis's LWW.

                            I think she meant to say that the existing films messed with the text so
                            greatly that she refused to accept them as Tolkien adaptations.


                            >As for his or her deciding not to see films the v. thought of which
                            >made him or her "irrationally angry", that seems like a good call. I
                            >have to wonder, though, about the whole secondary separation thing;
                            >seems like a huge investment of mental energy to find out everyone
                            >involved in all three films and then keeping track of their role in
                            >subsequent films so he or she can boycott them all. What a waste of
                            >time and energy.

                            That puzzled me too, as the actors were not the problem with the films,
                            even when miscast. Besides, a boycott of all films with Jackson's actors
                            in them would force one to skip out on the wonderful "Eternal Sunshine of
                            the Spotless Mind".

                            DB
                          • Croft, Janet B.
                            ... That puzzled me too, as the actors were not the problem with the films, even when miscast. Besides, a boycott of all films with Jackson s actors in them
                            Message 13 of 15 , Jan 5, 2006
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                              >As for his or her deciding not to see films the v. thought of which
                              >made him or her "irrationally angry", that seems like a good call. I
                              >have to wonder, though, about the whole secondary separation thing;
                              >seems like a huge investment of mental energy to find out everyone
                              >involved in all three films and then keeping track of their role in
                              >subsequent films so he or she can boycott them all. What a waste of
                              >time and energy.

                              That puzzled me too, as the actors were not the problem with the films,
                              even when miscast. Besides, a boycott of all films with Jackson's
                              actors in them would force one to skip out on the wonderful "Eternal
                              Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".

                              DB

                              ** And I for one would hate to have to boycott everything else Sir Ian
                              McKellan appeared in. But you won't see me in line to see King Kong, not
                              at prices today and not when it means _paying_ to sit through
                              anti-piracy ads.

                              Janet


                              The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org Yahoo! Groups
                              Links
                            • Sharon Bolding
                              Thanks for all your references and pointers to these sources. I appreciate your insights. And now I have plenty of reading to get to...
                              Message 14 of 15 , Jan 9, 2006
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                                Thanks for all your references and pointers to these sources. I
                                appreciate your insights. And now I have plenty of reading to get to...
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