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Re: Tolkien and Julian of Norwich

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  • Merlin DeTardo
    Without pretending to be comprehensive, I can at least offer some negative responses. Based on their indices, there are no references to Julian of Norwich in
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 23, 2007
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      Without pretending to be comprehensive, I can at least offer some
      negative responses. Based on their indices, there are no references
      to Julian of Norwich in the _J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia_ or the
      collections _Tolkien the Medievalist_, _Tolkien and the Invention of
      Myth_ or _Tolkien's Modern Middle Ages_. Nor does her name turn up
      in a search of only the *titles* on the online "A Bibliography of
      Scholarly Studies of J.R.R. Tolkien and His Works" for 1984-2000,
      prepared by Michael Drout and eight others. And Tom Shippey doesn't
      mention Julian in his chapter on the "True Tradition" of Tolkien
      sources (or elsewhere, apparently) in _The Road to Middle-earth_
      (2003 edition). Obviously this only scratches the surface.

      However, your reasonable supposition that Tolkien would have been
      well acquainted with Julian of Norwich finds support in the second
      volume (_Reader's Guide_) of Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond's
      _The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion & Guide_, where on p. 742, in a long
      entry on the "Oxford English School", they note that in 1946 Tolkien
      supervised John Lawlor's thesis on Julian. Is Lawlor still alive?
      He could say whether Tolkien ever mentioned the "Ainulindalë" in
      connection with Julian.

      By the way, the _Silmarillion_ passage you cite, in slightly
      modified form, dates to about 1920: it appears on p. 55 of _The Book
      of Lost Tales Part I_ as: "Thou Melko shalt see that no theme can
      be played save it come in the end of Ilúvatar's self, nor can any
      alter the music in Ilúvatar's despite". Perhaps it would be
      possible to determine when Tolkien could first have encountered
      Julian's writings, independently or through his study of
      the "Ancrene Wisse"? Possibly as a student, well before 1920,
      though his major work on the _Ancrene Wisse_ appeared in 1929;
      perhaps he also refers to it (or Julian) in his 1922 _A Middle
      English Glossary_. Sadly I've read neither work.

      Concerning the ideas Tolkien expresses in this section of
      the "Ainulindalë", it may not be necessary to cite Julian. Shippey
      (_Road_, 235-6) says that Tolkien is writing a calque on _Genesis_;
      Shippey also notes similar themes in Milton (and C.S. Lewis's
      comments on Milton) and in Boethius.

      I hope that serves for a beginning, until someone more knowledgeable
      chimes in.

      -Merlin DeTardo


      ---"David Simmons" <dsimmons@...> wrote:
      > As an avid reader of both Tolkien and the 14th-Century mystic
      Julian of Norwich, I have noticed certain commonalities in their
      eschatology.
      > Julian's assertion that "All Shall be well" sounds very similar
      to Tolkien's passage in the Silmarillion, "And thou, Melkor. shalt
      see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source
      in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite." Both allow for
      present evil, but assert the ultimate conquest of good. The
      desperate struggle of good even in the face of overpowering evil so
      present in Tolkien can likewise be found in the struggle of the
      servant in the parable of the servant in Julian's Showings.
      > Considering the work Tolkien did on the Ancrene Rule, he must
      surely have been familiar with Julian's writings. I am wondering if
      anyone is aware of any research on a possible connection.
    • David Bratman
      ... Tending to doubt Tolkien would have been discussing his mythology with his grad students under such circumstances. - David Bratman
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 23, 2007
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        At 04:01 AM 1/24/2007 +0000, Merlin DeTardo wrote:

        >In a long
        >entry on the "Oxford English School", they note that in 1946 Tolkien
        >supervised John Lawlor's thesis on Julian. Is Lawlor still alive?
        >He could say whether Tolkien ever mentioned the "Ainulindalë" in
        >connection with Julian.

        Tending to doubt Tolkien would have been discussing his mythology with his
        grad students under such circumstances.

        - David Bratman
      • Merlin DeTardo
        You re probably right, and yet on the same page (742) of the _Reader s Guide_, Scull and Hammond quote another of Tolkien s students, Robert Burchfield, from
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 23, 2007
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          You're probably right, and yet on the same page (742) of the
          _Reader's Guide_, Scull and Hammond quote another of Tolkien's
          students, Robert Burchfield, from "My Hero: Robert Burchfield on
          J.R.R. Tolkien":

          "I saw Tollers (as he was known) at weekly intervals in the academic
          years 1951-2 and 1952-3, sometimes in Merton College, sometimes at
          his home in Holywell. He puffed at his pipe while I told him of my
          work. He made many acute observations. I followed them all up. He
          beamed when I made some discoveries. Now and then he mentioned the
          hobbits, but he didn't press them on me, spotting that my interest
          lay in the scraped-out o's and double consonants of the _Ormulum_
          rather than in dwarves... Orcs, and Mr Bilbo Baggins."


          >---David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
          > At 04:01 AM 1/24/2007 +0000, Merlin DeTardo wrote:
          >>In a long entry on the "Oxford English School", they note that in
          1946 Tolkien supervised John Lawlor's thesis on Julian. Is Lawlor
          still alive? He could say whether Tolkien ever mentioned
          the "Ainulindalë" in connection with Julian.

          > Tending to doubt Tolkien would have been discussing his mythology
          with his grad students under such circumstances.
          >-David Bratman
        • William Cloud Hicklin
          ... some ... references ... the ... Invention of ... However, I find it difficult to believe that Tolkien would not have read Julian (or any other Middle
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 24, 2007
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            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Merlin DeTardo" <emptyD@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Without pretending to be comprehensive, I can at least offer
            some
            > negative responses. Based on their indices, there are no
            references
            > to Julian of Norwich in the _J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia_ or
            the
            > collections _Tolkien the Medievalist_, _Tolkien and the
            Invention of
            > Myth_ or _Tolkien's Modern Middle Ages_. .....

            However, I find it difficult to believe that Tolkien would not
            have read Julian (or any other Middle English author)at some
            time: and although I'm not very conversant with the Ancrene
            Wisse nor with the related St Catherine group of manuscripts, I
            wouldn't be surprised if they influenced Julian to a certain
            extent; some recent feminist scholars have postulated a female
            textual tradition in medieval England, copying and circulating
            these feminine texts among convents and anchoresses.

            On the other hand, Julian naturally could not have influenced
            the AW, and the East Anglian dialect of Middle English was not
            Tolkien's particular speciality. Googling Julian, the Cloud of
            Unknowing, and Margery Kempe, I can't find any edition by a
            scholar associated with Tolkien.

            Does anyone know whether Julian was an influence on Cardinal
            Newman's theology? I'm inclined to doubt it, since the
            impression I get of Oratory Catholicism is that it tended to
            regard Mertonish mysticism with some suspicion - certainly Lewis
            the "Newmanite Anglican" did.
          • Larry Swain
            I m in a rush and had meant to respond to this thread earlier, but....Julian s statement is not unique in patristic and medieval thought. More to the point
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 24, 2007
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              I'm in a rush and had meant to respond to this thread earlier,
              but....Julian's statement is not unique in patristic and medieval
              thought. More to the point though, Iluvatar's statement to Ulmo
              mentioned by the original poster has more in common with
              Augustine's City of God and other places where he speaks of even
              those who intend things for evil will have those things turned for
              our good. This is in part based on Romans 8:28 in the New
              Testament. That is, I doubt very much that Julian is a direct
              source or inspiration for the passage in question.

              On the question of whether Tolkien had read Julian of Norwich, I'd
              have to say that yes he did, though I have no proof for it. But
              for someone who worked on the texts that he did and produced a
              Middle English glossary for the 14th century to have overlooked a
              well known and widely available text boggles my mind. That isn't
              to say that he was intimate with the text or studied/taught it
              frequently, but just to say that given his field and his work, the
              probability is high that he had at least read Julian of Norwich.

              I'll have to return to the question of the influence of the Ancrene
              Wisse and the Katherine Group on Julian......

              Larry Swain


              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: "William Cloud Hicklin" <solicitr@...>
              > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and Julian of Norwich
              > Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 19:20:37 -0000
              >
              >
              > --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Merlin DeTardo" <emptyD@...>
              > wrote:
              > >
              > > Without pretending to be comprehensive, I can at least offer
              > some
              > > negative responses. Based on their indices, there are no
              > references
              > > to Julian of Norwich in the _J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia_ or
              > the
              > > collections _Tolkien the Medievalist_, _Tolkien and the
              > Invention of
              > > Myth_ or _Tolkien's Modern Middle Ages_. .....
              >
              > However, I find it difficult to believe that Tolkien would not
              > have read Julian (or any other Middle English author)at some
              > time: and although I'm not very conversant with the Ancrene
              > Wisse nor with the related St Catherine group of manuscripts, I
              > wouldn't be surprised if they influenced Julian to a certain
              > extent; some recent feminist scholars have postulated a female
              > textual tradition in medieval England, copying and circulating
              > these feminine texts among convents and anchoresses.
              >
              > On the other hand, Julian naturally could not have influenced
              > the AW, and the East Anglian dialect of Middle English was not
              > Tolkien's particular speciality. Googling Julian, the Cloud of
              > Unknowing, and Margery Kempe, I can't find any edition by a
              > scholar associated with Tolkien.
              >
              > Does anyone know whether Julian was an influence on Cardinal
              > Newman's theology? I'm inclined to doubt it, since the
              > impression I get of Oratory Catholicism is that it tended to
              > regard Mertonish mysticism with some suspicion - certainly Lewis
              > the "Newmanite Anglican" did.
              >
              >
              >
              > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >

              >


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