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Tolkien the Subversive

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  • SusanPal@aol.com
    A university colleague of mine told me a funny/scary story today. She was teaching in an exchange program in Romania last year, and the English Department
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 18, 2006
      A university colleague of mine told me a funny/scary story today. She was
      teaching in an exchange program in Romania last year, and the English
      Department was under heavy scrutiny from the secret police, who assumed that it must
      be a nest of revolutionaries. One of her co-workers had gotten a big box of
      books in the mail and knew she was being watched by the police, so she gave
      the box to my friend, who took it to her apartment. She knew she was being
      followed, but she got the box home fine, and then went back to the university
      to teach an evening class.

      When she got back to her apartment at ten at night, the secret police were
      waiting outside her door, demanding that she allow them inside and open the
      box, which she did. One of the books in the box was THE HOBBIT, and the police
      fastened on the name Tolkien -- which evidently sounded Russian to them --
      and demanded that she tell them what kind of book this was.

      My friend hadn't read it, so she told them she didn't know. The secret
      police settled down in her apartment and made her read the book and explain it to
      them (I suppose it was in English, which they didn't speak?). So she read
      THE HOBBIT into the wee hours, and then told the secret police that it was a
      children's book about short people who live in holes in the ground.

      They were evidently satisfied with this explanation, and left.

      Susan


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mike Foster
      Susan, What a whimsical and cheering tale. One can only hope a few of the Romanian secret police went out and got copies to find out how it all ends up. Mike
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 18, 2006
        Susan,
        What a whimsical and cheering tale. One can only hope a few of the
        Romanian secret police went out and got copies to find out how it all
        ends up.

        Mike

        SusanPal@... wrote:

        >A university colleague of mine told me a funny/scary story today. She was
        >teaching in an exchange program in Romania last year, and the English
        >Department was under heavy scrutiny from the secret police, who assumed that it must
        >be a nest of revolutionaries. One of her co-workers had gotten a big box of
        >books in the mail and knew she was being watched by the police, so she gave
        >the box to my friend, who took it to her apartment. She knew she was being
        >followed, but she got the box home fine, and then went back to the university
        >to teach an evening class.
        >
        >When she got back to her apartment at ten at night, the secret police were
        >waiting outside her door, demanding that she allow them inside and open the
        >box, which she did. One of the books in the box was THE HOBBIT, and the police
        >fastened on the name Tolkien -- which evidently sounded Russian to them --
        >and demanded that she tell them what kind of book this was.
        >
        >My friend hadn't read it, so she told them she didn't know. The secret
        >police settled down in her apartment and made her read the book and explain it to
        >them (I suppose it was in English, which they didn't speak?). So she read
        >THE HOBBIT into the wee hours, and then told the secret police that it was a
        >children's book about short people who live in holes in the ground.
        >
        >They were evidently satisfied with this explanation, and left.
        >
        >Susan
        >
        >
        >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • susan_palwick
        Hi, Mike! When my colleague told me this story, I commented that it was good the box hadn t contained a copy of LOTR. For one thing, she would have had to
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 18, 2006
          Hi, Mike! When my colleague told me this story, I commented that it
          was good the box hadn't contained a copy of LOTR. For one thing, she
          would have had to spend much longer reading under police scrutiny; for
          another, LOTR strikes me as a far more truly subversive text, although
          perhaps in ways that neither an exhausted first-time reader nor English-
          impaired secret police would easily identify.

          Susan



          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Mike Foster <mafoster@d...> wrote:
          >
          > Susan,
          > What a whimsical and cheering tale. One can only hope a few of the
          > Romanian secret police went out and got copies to find out how it all
          > ends up.
          >
          > Mike
        • Walter Padgett
          I know th ... I know that Jack Zipes wrote about the subversive nature of =The Hobbit= in his book =Breaking the Magic Spell,= identifying Smaug as an image of
          Message 4 of 18 , Jan 19, 2006
            I know th

            On 1/19/06, susan_palwick <SusanPal@...> wrote:
            > ... , LOTR strikes me as a far more truly subversive text, although
            > perhaps in ways that neither an exhausted first-time reader nor English-impaired secret police would easily identify.
            >
            > Susan
            >
            > I won

            I know that Jack Zipes wrote about the subversive nature of =The
            Hobbit= in his book =Breaking the Magic Spell,= identifying Smaug as
            an image of a capitolist, for example. I was fascinated by this
            discussion. But I wonder why you might say LOTR is more subversive,
            and in what ways. Can anyone suggest further reading on this subject?
          • susan_palwick
            ... All I meant is that it s much more explicitly about resistance to totalitarianism, about overthrowing an evil regime. (And that would probably seem far
            Message 5 of 18 , Jan 19, 2006
              Walter said:

              > I know that Jack Zipes wrote about the subversive nature of =The
              > Hobbit= in his book =Breaking the Magic Spell,= identifying Smaug as
              > an image of a capitolist, for example. I was fascinated by this
              > discussion. But I wonder why you might say LOTR is more subversive,
              > and in what ways. Can anyone suggest further reading on this subject?

              All I meant is that it's much more explicitly about resistance to
              totalitarianism, about overthrowing an evil regime. (And that would
              probably seem far more subversive to the Romanian secret police than it
              does to us.)

              Susan
            • saraciborski
              ... If one means subversive of the contemporary regnant scientific status quo, one might consider LotR subversive because it is anti-materialist. That is, it
              Message 6 of 18 , Jan 19, 2006
                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Walter Padgett <wpadgett@g...> wrote:
                >
                > .... But I wonder why you might say LOTR is more subversive,
                > and in what ways. ....

                If one means subversive of the contemporary regnant scientific status
                quo, one might consider LotR subversive because it is anti-materialist.
                That is, it presents an image of the human being as more than physical,
                as having spiritual capacities (love, making free moral decisions) and
                especially because it stimulates in readers an experience of their own
                spiritual faculties.
                But, depending on how subversive is defined, others could find
                subversion in its themes and content, as well as in its effect.

                Sara Ciborski

                >
              • Stolzi
                Mark Hooker has written a good deal of fascinating scholarship about Tolkien fandom in Russia, translations in particular. The translations were varied and
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 19, 2006
                  Mark Hooker has written a good deal of fascinating scholarship about Tolkien
                  fandom in Russia, translations in particular.

                  The translations were varied and self-published (samizdat) because the
                  state-sponsored publication house gave up on Tolkien in a hurry. The chief
                  thing found subversive was the constant repetition of the theme,

                  "Men of the West, good. Men of the East, bad."

                  Diamond Proudbrook
                • menelvagor1939
                  Fascinating! Straight out of the Twilight Zone! Ben ... She was ... assumed that it must ... big box of ... she gave ... was being ... university ...
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 19, 2006
                    Fascinating! Straight out of the Twilight Zone!

                    Ben



                    In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, SusanPal@a... wrote:
                    >
                    > A university colleague of mine told me a funny/scary story today.
                    She was
                    > teaching in an exchange program in Romania last year, and the English
                    > Department was under heavy scrutiny from the secret police, who
                    assumed that it must
                    > be a nest of revolutionaries. One of her co-workers had gotten a
                    big box of
                    > books in the mail and knew she was being watched by the police, so
                    she gave
                    > the box to my friend, who took it to her apartment. She knew she
                    was being
                    > followed, but she got the box home fine, and then went back to the
                    university
                    > to teach an evening class.
                    >
                    > When she got back to her apartment at ten at night, the secret
                    police were
                    > waiting outside her door, demanding that she allow them inside and
                    open the
                    > box, which she did. One of the books in the box was THE HOBBIT,
                    and the police
                    > fastened on the name Tolkien -- which evidently sounded Russian to
                    them --
                    > and demanded that she tell them what kind of book this was.
                    >
                    > My friend hadn't read it, so she told them she didn't know. The
                    secret
                    > police settled down in her apartment and made her read the book and
                    explain it to
                    > them (I suppose it was in English, which they didn't speak?). So
                    she read
                    > THE HOBBIT into the wee hours, and then told the secret police that
                    it was a
                    > children's book about short people who live in holes in the ground.
                    >
                    > They were evidently satisfied with this explanation, and left.
                    >
                    > Susan
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                  • Jonathan Michael Reiter
                    Atomtetsuwan2002 here. Subversion in Tolkien, eh? Well, Seeing as C.S. Lewis is considered a christian apologist, Looks like there is some subversion to be
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 19, 2006
                      Atomtetsuwan2002 here. Subversion in Tolkien, eh? Well, Seeing as C.S. Lewis is considered a christian apologist, Looks like there is some subversion to be found in his works, as well.

                      Atomtetsuwan2002
                      at2k2
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: saraciborski
                      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 8:45 AM
                      Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien the Subversive


                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Walter Padgett <wpadgett@g...> wrote:
                      >
                      > .... But I wonder why you might say LOTR is more subversive,
                      > and in what ways. ....

                      If one means subversive of the contemporary regnant scientific status
                      quo, one might consider LotR subversive because it is anti-materialist.
                      That is, it presents an image of the human being as more than physical,
                      as having spiritual capacities (love, making free moral decisions) and
                      especially because it stimulates in readers an experience of their own
                      spiritual faculties.
                      But, depending on how subversive is defined, others could find
                      subversion in its themes and content, as well as in its effect.

                      Sara Ciborski

                      >







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



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                    • Lezlie
                      Very funny -- and, very scary -- I had been under the impression that the Roumania had improved considerably of late....? Lezlie ... She was ... assumed that
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jan 20, 2006
                        Very funny -- and, very scary --

                        I had been under the impression that the Roumania had improved
                        considerably of late....?

                        Lezlie


                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, SusanPal@a... wrote:
                        >
                        > A university colleague of mine told me a funny/scary story today.
                        She was
                        > teaching in an exchange program in Romania last year, and the English
                        > Department was under heavy scrutiny from the secret police, who
                        assumed that it must
                        > be a nest of revolutionaries. One of her co-workers had gotten a
                        big box of
                        > books in the mail and knew she was being watched by the police, so
                        she gave
                        > the box to my friend, who took it to her apartment. She knew she
                        was being
                        > followed, but she got the box home fine, and then went back to the
                        university
                        > to teach an evening class.
                        >
                        > When she got back to her apartment at ten at night, the secret
                        police were
                        > waiting outside her door, demanding that she allow them inside and
                        open the
                        > box, which she did. One of the books in the box was THE HOBBIT,
                        and the police
                        > fastened on the name Tolkien -- which evidently sounded Russian to
                        them --
                        > and demanded that she tell them what kind of book this was.
                        >
                        > My friend hadn't read it, so she told them she didn't know. The
                        secret
                        > police settled down in her apartment and made her read the book and
                        explain it to
                        > them (I suppose it was in English, which they didn't speak?). So
                        she read
                        > THE HOBBIT into the wee hours, and then told the secret police that
                        it was a
                        > children's book about short people who live in holes in the ground.
                        >
                        > They were evidently satisfied with this explanation, and left.
                        >
                        > Susan
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                      • Paola Castagno
                        First of all, let me introduce myself. I m new in this list, my name is Paola Castagno and I m from Spain, so I ask you to forgive my terrible english. About
                        Message 11 of 18 , Jan 20, 2006
                          First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm new in this list, my name is
                          Paola Castagno and I'm from Spain, so I ask you to forgive my terrible
                          english.

                          About this interesting issue, it seems very strange what you're saying,
                          because The Hobbit was published in Romania in 1975 (_o Poveste cu un
                          Hobbit_ Bucarest, Editura Ion Creangâ) [and in Russian in 1976 (_Hobbit, ili
                          Tuda i obratno_, Leningrad, Detskaya Literatura, 1976)]. Maybe it
                          was just the ignorance of a single person

                          Greetings :)


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • John D. Rateliff
                          ... Welcome to the list, Paolo. Hope you find much of interest here. ... The story sounds like urban legend to me. I mean, what kind of secret police sit down
                          Message 12 of 18 , Jan 20, 2006
                            on 1/20/06 7:27 AM, Paola Castagno at paolacastagno@... wrote:
                            > First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm new in this list, my name is
                            > Paola Castagno and I'm from Spain, so I ask you to forgive my terrible
                            > english.

                            Welcome to the list, Paolo. Hope you find much of interest here.

                            > About this interesting issue, it seems very strange what you're saying,
                            > because The Hobbit was published in Romania in 1975 (_o Poveste cu un
                            > Hobbit_ Bucarest, Editura Ion Creangâ) [and in Russian in 1976 (_Hobbit, ili
                            > Tuda i obratno_, Leningrad, Detskaya Literatura, 1976)]. Maybe it
                            > was just the ignorance of a single person

                            The story sounds like urban legend to me. I mean, what kind of secret
                            police sit down and patiently wait for the suspect to decide whether or not
                            there's any evidence? Bizarre.
                            But highly entertaining, nonetheless. Thanks for sharing.

                            --John R.
                          • John D. Rateliff
                            Had to give up on trying to read Alan Jacobs THE NARNIAN a week or so ago, since found myself getting too annoyed at the factual errors. I very much enjoyed
                            Message 13 of 18 , Jan 20, 2006
                              Had to give up on trying to read Alan Jacobs' THE NARNIAN a week or so ago,
                              since found myself getting too annoyed at the factual errors. I very much
                              enjoyed some of the things Jacobs had to say (he's written the best short
                              bit on Barfield's importance to Lewis I've ever come across) but couldn't
                              stick out all the misreadings and contradictions (he immediately followed
                              the Barfield passage by asserting that Harwood and Hamilton-Jenkins were
                              Inklings). Can someone who enjoyed the book post something nice about it,
                              reasons why you enjoyed it? Maybe I'm being too harsh on it, and a different
                              perspective might enable me to pick it back up and finish the thing.

                              --John R.
                            • Lezlie
                              *That s* what I *thought*! In fact, I was under this impression that it was rather popular in most of Eastern Europe, and had been for some time. Lezlie ...
                              Message 14 of 18 , Jan 23, 2006
                                *That's* what I *thought*! In fact, I was under this impression that
                                it was rather popular in most of Eastern Europe, and had been for some
                                time. Lezlie

                                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Paola Castagno <paolacastagno@g...> wrote:
                                >
                                > First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm new in this list, my name is
                                > Paola Castagno and I'm from Spain, so I ask you to forgive my terrible
                                > english.
                                >
                                > About this interesting issue, it seems very strange what you're saying,
                                > because The Hobbit was published in Romania in 1975 (_o Poveste cu un
                                > Hobbit_ Bucarest, Editura Ion Creangâ) [and in Russian in 1976
                                (_Hobbit, ili
                                > Tuda i obratno_, Leningrad, Detskaya Literatura, 1976)]. Maybe it
                                > was just the ignorance of a single person
                                >
                                > Greetings :)
                                >
                                >
                                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                >
                              • Mike Foster
                                Yes, Thorin referring to Bilbo as Child of the Kindly West had to go. Mike
                                Message 15 of 18 , Jan 27, 2006
                                  Yes, Thorin referring to Bilbo as 'Child of the Kindly West' had to go.

                                  Mike

                                  Stolzi wrote:

                                  >Mark Hooker has written a good deal of fascinating scholarship about Tolkien
                                  >fandom in Russia, translations in particular.
                                  >
                                  >The translations were varied and self-published (samizdat) because the
                                  >state-sponsored publication house gave up on Tolkien in a hurry. The chief
                                  >thing found subversive was the constant repetition of the theme,
                                  >
                                  >"Men of the West, good. Men of the East, bad."
                                  >
                                  >Diamond Proudbrook
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                  >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                • Stolzi
                                  Might have a mixup here. If the Rumanian story was about THE HOBBIT only - I disremember. THE HOBBIT may have made it into Russian unopposed, but the govt.
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Jan 27, 2006
                                    Might have a mixup here. If the Rumanian story was about THE HOBBIT only -
                                    I disremember. THE HOBBIT may have made it into Russian unopposed, but the
                                    govt. quit publishing translations somewhere in the process on LORD OF THE
                                    RINGS.

                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                    From: "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...>
                                    To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                                    Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 4:57 PM
                                    Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien the Subversive


                                    > Yes, Thorin referring to Bilbo as 'Child of the Kindly West' had to go.
                                    >
                                    > Mike
                                    >
                                    > Stolzi wrote:
                                    >
                                    >>Mark Hooker has written a good deal of fascinating scholarship about
                                    >>Tolkien
                                    >>fandom in Russia, translations in particular.
                                    >>
                                    >>The translations were varied and self-published (samizdat) because the
                                    >>state-sponsored publication house gave up on Tolkien in a hurry. The
                                    >>chief
                                    >>thing found subversive was the constant repetition of the theme,
                                    >>
                                    >>"Men of the West, good. Men of the East, bad."
                                    >>
                                    >>Diamond Proudbrook
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                    >>Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                  • Mike Foster
                                    Factual errors are becoming a great annoyance. They get repeated. Doesn t anyone read these things? Of course, when what is arguably America s best general
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Jan 27, 2006
                                      Factual errors are becoming a great annoyance. They get repeated.
                                      Doesn't anyone read these things? Of course, when what is arguably
                                      America's best general magazine New Yorker got in $$ doodoo, guess who
                                      got laid off first?

                                      The fact checkers.

                                      Moral of the story: Bill Wyman is the only Rolling Stones historian to
                                      trust. He wrote it down as he lived it.

                                      Ooops. Slight topic shift.
                                      Mike

                                      John D. Rateliff wrote:

                                      >Had to give up on trying to read Alan Jacobs' THE NARNIAN a week or so ago,
                                      >since found myself getting too annoyed at the factual errors. I very much
                                      >enjoyed some of the things Jacobs had to say (he's written the best short
                                      >bit on Barfield's importance to Lewis I've ever come across) but couldn't
                                      >stick out all the misreadings and contradictions (he immediately followed
                                      >the Barfield passage by asserting that Harwood and Hamilton-Jenkins were
                                      >Inklings). Can someone who enjoyed the book post something nice about it,
                                      >reasons why you enjoyed it? Maybe I'm being too harsh on it, and a different
                                      >perspective might enable me to pick it back up and finish the thing.
                                      >
                                      > --John R.
                                    • Jonathan Michael Reiter
                                      Atomtetsuwan2002 here. HUNH!?!?!? Atomtetsuwan2002 at2k2 ... From: Stolzi To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 6:01 PM Subject: Re:
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Jan 28, 2006
                                        Atomtetsuwan2002 here. HUNH!?!?!?
                                        Atomtetsuwan2002
                                        at2k2
                                        ----- Original Message -----
                                        From: Stolzi
                                        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                        Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 6:01 PM
                                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien the Subversive


                                        Might have a mixup here. If the Rumanian story was about THE HOBBIT only -
                                        I disremember. THE HOBBIT may have made it into Russian unopposed, but the
                                        govt. quit publishing translations somewhere in the process on LORD OF THE
                                        RINGS.

                                        ----- Original Message -----
                                        From: "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...>
                                        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                                        Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 4:57 PM
                                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien the Subversive


                                        > Yes, Thorin referring to Bilbo as 'Child of the Kindly West' had to go.
                                        >
                                        > Mike
                                        >
                                        > Stolzi wrote:
                                        >
                                        >>Mark Hooker has written a good deal of fascinating scholarship about
                                        >>Tolkien
                                        >>fandom in Russia, translations in particular.
                                        >>
                                        >>The translations were varied and self-published (samizdat) because the
                                        >>state-sponsored publication house gave up on Tolkien in a hurry. The
                                        >>chief
                                        >>thing found subversive was the constant repetition of the theme,
                                        >>
                                        >>"Men of the West, good. Men of the East, bad."
                                        >>
                                        >>Diamond Proudbrook
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                        >>Yahoo! Groups Links
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >



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



                                        SPONSORED LINKS Writing book Writing a book Writing child book
                                        Book writing software Science fiction and fantasy Writing a book report


                                        ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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                                        a.. Visit your group "mythsoc" on the web.

                                        b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
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                                        c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


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