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White Star over Mordor

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  • Michael Cunningham
    I was doing some research in respect of Owen and Sassoon when I happened upon the following essay from the April 1917 edition of The Hydra - a magazine
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 9, 2008
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      I was doing some research in respect of Owen and Sassoon when I happened upon the following essay from the April 1917 edition of The Hydra - a magazine produced by the patients of Craiglockhart Hospital. A tale entitled 'A Phantasmagoria' is included in this issue and while it is blatantly metaphorical the closing paragraphs recalled to mind Sam seeing the white star above the Mordor-black of Ephel Dúath when:

      '[t]he beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.'(Tolkien 1991, 238).

      'A Phantasmagoria' finally finds the narrator standing alone upon the peak of 'mountains of hatred' when he recounts:

      'I raised my eyes, and far, far above me shone one tiny pure white star, the Star of Man's Love and Forgiveness. Sick and weary, my soul cried out to it, and as I cried the light of that Star grew stronger and brighter, until beneath the strength of its purity the Mountains of hate burnt and crumbled away, the blood-red Moon shrank and died, and once more I was standing on Nothing. Gradually the pure white light became absorbed into the pink flush of the new-risen Sun, and in the midst of that ineffable glow of promise - I awoke.'

      Maybe a lot of young men turned their eyes heavenwards amongst the blood and mud of Flanders - given that this is Remembrance Sunday I thought I would post the above given the sacrifice not only of Tolkien's peers but also for many of his generation.

      Michael

      Tolkien, JRR. 1991, The Return of the King, Grafton
      The Hydra: http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/hydra/
      'A Phantasmagoria' : http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/hydra/170428/index.htm

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Bratman
      Michael, If you want to read a truly uncanny precursor of Tolkien, I suggest The Far Islands by John Buchan. It s in Doug Anderson s _Tales Before Tolkien_.
      Message 2 of 10 , Nov 10, 2008
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        Michael,

        If you want to read a truly uncanny precursor of Tolkien, I suggest "The Far
        Islands" by John Buchan. It's in Doug Anderson's _Tales Before Tolkien_.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Michael Cunningham" <vargeisa@...>
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:45 AM
        Subject: [mythsoc] White Star over Mordor


        I was doing some research in respect of Owen and Sassoon when I happened
        upon the following essay from the April 1917 edition of The Hydra - a
        magazine produced by the patients of Craiglockhart Hospital. A tale entitled
        'A Phantasmagoria' is included in this issue and while it is blatantly
        metaphorical the closing paragraphs recalled to mind Sam seeing the white
        star above the Mordor-black of Ephel Dúath when:

        '[t]he beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken
        land, and hope returned to him.'(Tolkien 1991, 238).

        'A Phantasmagoria' finally finds the narrator standing alone upon the peak
        of 'mountains of hatred' when he recounts:

        'I raised my eyes, and far, far above me shone one tiny pure white star, the
        Star of Man's Love and Forgiveness. Sick and weary, my soul cried out to it,
        and as I cried the light of that Star grew stronger and brighter, until
        beneath the strength of its purity the Mountains of hate burnt and crumbled
        away, the blood-red Moon shrank and died, and once more I was standing on
        Nothing. Gradually the pure white light became absorbed into the pink flush
        of the new-risen Sun, and in the midst of that ineffable glow of promise - I
        awoke.'

        Maybe a lot of young men turned their eyes heavenwards amongst the blood and
        mud of Flanders - given that this is Remembrance Sunday I thought I would
        post the above given the sacrifice not only of Tolkien's peers but also for
        many of his generation.

        Michael

        Tolkien, JRR. 1991, The Return of the King, Grafton
        The Hydra: http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/hydra/
        'A Phantasmagoria' : http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/hydra/170428/index.htm

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


        ------------------------------------

        The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
      • Michael Cunningham
        Thank you David, I have that very title on my shelf at the moment. I ll make a point of reading that tale. Much appreciated, Michael ... From: David Bratman
        Message 3 of 10 , Nov 12, 2008
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          Thank you David,

          I have that very title on my shelf at the moment. I'll make a point of reading that tale.

          Much appreciated,
          Michael


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David Bratman
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 5:51 AM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] White Star over Mordor


          Michael,

          If you want to read a truly uncanny precursor of Tolkien, I suggest "The Far
          Islands" by John Buchan. It's in Doug Anderson's _Tales Before Tolkien_.

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Michael Cunningham" <vargeisa@...>
          To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:45 AM
          Subject: [mythsoc] White Star over Mordor

          I was doing some research in respect of Owen and Sassoon when I happened
          upon the following essay from the April 1917 edition of The Hydra - a
          magazine produced by the patients of Craiglockhart Hospital. A tale entitled
          'A Phantasmagoria' is included in this issue and while it is blatantly
          metaphorical the closing paragraphs recalled to mind Sam seeing the white
          star above the Mordor-black of Ephel Dúath when:

          '[t]he beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken
          land, and hope returned to him.'(Tolkien 1991, 238).

          'A Phantasmagoria' finally finds the narrator standing alone upon the peak
          of 'mountains of hatred' when he recounts:

          'I raised my eyes, and far, far above me shone one tiny pure white star, the
          Star of Man's Love and Forgiveness. Sick and weary, my soul cried out to it,
          and as I cried the light of that Star grew stronger and brighter, until
          beneath the strength of its purity the Mountains of hate burnt and crumbled
          away, the blood-red Moon shrank and died, and once more I was standing on
          Nothing. Gradually the pure white light became absorbed into the pink flush
          of the new-risen Sun, and in the midst of that ineffable glow of promise - I
          awoke.'

          Maybe a lot of young men turned their eyes heavenwards amongst the blood and
          mud of Flanders - given that this is Remembrance Sunday I thought I would
          post the above given the sacrifice not only of Tolkien's peers but also for
          many of his generation.

          Michael

          Tolkien, JRR. 1991, The Return of the King, Grafton
          The Hydra: http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/hydra/
          'A Phantasmagoria' : http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/hydra/170428/index.htm

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

          ------------------------------------

          The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links






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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • John D Rateliff
          Another strong parallel, and possible direct inspiration, for Sam s seeing the Star over Mordor comes in Charlie Chaplin s THE GREAT DICTATOR [1940], which
          Message 4 of 10 , Nov 12, 2008
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            Another strong parallel, and possible direct inspiration, for Sam's
            seeing the Star over Mordor comes in Charlie Chaplin's THE GREAT
            DICTATOR [1940], which includes a scene in which the barber (Chaplin)
            and the girl hide on a roof top from storm troopers, see a star in
            the sky high above, and think about how its permanence and purity
            will outlast even Hitler's reich. Unfortunately, it's been too long
            since I've seen the film to be able to give any details.
            --JDR


            On Nov 12, 2008, at 11:08 AM, Michael Cunningham wrote:
            > Thank you David,
            >
            > I have that very title on my shelf at the moment. I'll make a point
            > of reading that tale.
            >
            > Much appreciated,
            > Michael
            >
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: David Bratman
            > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            > Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 5:51 AM
            > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] White Star over Mordor
            >
            >
            > Michael,
            >
            > If you want to read a truly uncanny precursor of Tolkien, I
            > suggest "The Far
            > Islands" by John Buchan. It's in Doug Anderson's _Tales Before
            > Tolkien_.
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: "Michael Cunningham" <vargeisa@...>
            > To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
            > Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:45 AM
            > Subject: [mythsoc] White Star over Mordor
            >
            > I was doing some research in respect of Owen and Sassoon when I
            > happened
            > upon the following essay from the April 1917 edition of The Hydra
            > - a
            > magazine produced by the patients of Craiglockhart Hospital. A
            > tale entitled
            > 'A Phantasmagoria' is included in this issue and while it is
            > blatantly
            > metaphorical the closing paragraphs recalled to mind Sam seeing
            > the white
            > star above the Mordor-black of Ephel Dúath when:
            >
            > '[t]he beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the
            > forsaken
            > land, and hope returned to him.'(Tolkien 1991, 238).
            >
            > 'A Phantasmagoria' finally finds the narrator standing alone upon
            > the peak
            > of 'mountains of hatred' when he recounts:
            >
            > 'I raised my eyes, and far, far above me shone one tiny pure
            > white star, the
            > Star of Man's Love and Forgiveness. Sick and weary, my soul cried
            > out to it,
            > and as I cried the light of that Star grew stronger and brighter,
            > until
            > beneath the strength of its purity the Mountains of hate burnt
            > and crumbled
            > away, the blood-red Moon shrank and died, and once more I was
            > standing on
            > Nothing. Gradually the pure white light became absorbed into the
            > pink flush
            > of the new-risen Sun, and in the midst of that ineffable glow of
            > promise - I
            > awoke.'
            >
            > Maybe a lot of young men turned their eyes heavenwards amongst
            > the blood and
            > mud of Flanders - given that this is Remembrance Sunday I thought
            > I would
            > post the above given the sacrifice not only of Tolkien's peers
            > but also for
            > many of his generation.
            >
            > Michael
          • Doug Kane
            ... John, I m curious to know whether you are basing your supposition that this scene in that classic film might have been a direct inspiration for Tolkien s
            Message 5 of 10 , Nov 12, 2008
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              John D. Rateliff wrote:

              > Another strong parallel, and possible direct inspiration, for Sam's
              > seeing the Star over Mordor comes in Charlie Chaplin's THE GREAT
              > DICTATOR [1940], which includes a scene in which the barber (Chaplin)
              > and the girl hide on a roof top from storm troopers, see a star in
              > the sky high above, and think about how its permanence and purity
              > will outlast even Hitler's reich. Unfortunately, it's been too long
              > since I've seen the film to be able to give any details.

              John, I'm curious to know whether you are basing your supposition that this scene in that classic film might have been a direct inspiration for Tolkien's writing that sequence purely on the extreme similarlity between the two scenes, or whether you have any indication that Tolkien actually saw/was impressed by the film?

              Doug



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              I have a couple of nitpicks with this. First, what do we know about the composition of the section of The Lord of the Rings where Sam sees the star over
              Message 6 of 10 , Nov 12, 2008
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                I have a couple of nitpicks with this. First, what do we know about the
                composition of the section of The Lord of the Rings where Sam sees the star over
                Mordor? Was that written after The Great Dictator was released? Second,
                the barber and the girl wouldn't think about Hitler, since the character
                equivalent to Adolf Hitler in the movie was called Adenoid Hynkel. Incidentally,
                this is a great movie, and you should all see it.

                Wendell Wagner


                In a message dated 11/12/2008 4:01:15 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                sacnoth@... writes:

                Another strong parallel, and possible direct inspiration, for Sam's
                seeing the Star over Mordor comes in Charlie Chaplin's THE GREAT
                DICTATOR [1940], which includes a scene in which the barber (Chaplin)
                and the girl hide on a roof top from storm troopers, see a star in
                the sky high above, and think about how its permanence and purity
                will outlast even Hitler's reich. Unfortunately, it's been too long
                since I've seen the film to be able to give any details.


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                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • John D Rateliff
                ... Yes. ... Yes (with Hynkel also played by Chaplin). ... Yes. Not as great as CITY LIGHTS or MODERN TIMES, but v. much a masterpiece. --JDR
                Message 7 of 10 , Nov 12, 2008
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                  On Nov 12, 2008, at 6:49 PM, WendellWag@... wrote:
                  > I have a couple of nitpicks with this. First, what do we know
                  > about the
                  > composition of the section of The Lord of the Rings where Sam sees
                  > the star over
                  > Mordor? Was that written after The Great Dictator was released?

                  Yes.

                  > Second, the barber and the girl wouldn't think about Hitler, since
                  > the character
                  > equivalent to Adolf Hitler in the movie was called Adenoid Hynkel.

                  Yes (with Hynkel also played by Chaplin).

                  > Incidentally, this is a great movie, and you should all see it.

                  Yes. Not as great as CITY LIGHTS or MODERN TIMES, but v. much a
                  masterpiece.

                  --JDR
                • John D Rateliff
                  ... I don t have any external evidence that Tolkien ever saw the Chaplin film. It s definitely possible, and I d argue it s v. probable, given the similarity
                  Message 8 of 10 , Nov 12, 2008
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                    On Nov 12, 2008, at 2:37 PM, Doug Kane wrote:
                    > John, I'm curious to know whether you are basing your supposition
                    > that this scene in that classic film might have been a direct
                    > inspiration for Tolkien's writing that sequence purely on the
                    > extreme similarlity between the two scenes, or whether you have any
                    > indication that Tolkien actually saw/was impressed by the film?

                    I don't have any external evidence that Tolkien ever saw the Chaplin
                    film. It's definitely possible, and I'd argue it's v. probable, given
                    the similarity between the scenes. If so, it's a good example of
                    Tolkien's ability to pull details out of unlikely sources.
                    --JDR
                  • Lynn Maudlin
                    In a funny little piece of self-foot-shooting, I failed to post this to the list yesterday: Not to answer for John, but don t you think that s a fairly human
                    Message 9 of 10 , Nov 13, 2008
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                      In a funny little piece of self-foot-shooting, I failed to post this
                      to the list yesterday:

                      Not to answer for John, but don't you think that's a fairly human
                      response? In a time of trouble and uncertainty to look up and see the
                      stars as timeless (well, *more* timeless than we are) and therefore a
                      sign of hope, of endurance?

                      -- Lynn --


                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Doug Kane" <dougkane@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > John D. Rateliff wrote:
                      >
                      > > Another strong parallel, and possible direct inspiration, for Sam's
                      > > seeing the Star over Mordor comes in Charlie Chaplin's THE GREAT
                      > > DICTATOR [1940], which includes a scene in which the barber (Chaplin)
                      > > and the girl hide on a roof top from storm troopers, see a star in
                      > > the sky high above, and think about how its permanence and purity
                      > > will outlast even Hitler's reich. Unfortunately, it's been too long
                      > > since I've seen the film to be able to give any details.
                      >
                      > John, I'm curious to know whether you are basing your supposition
                      that this scene in that classic film might have been a direct
                      inspiration for Tolkien's writing that sequence purely on the extreme
                      similarlity between the two scenes, or whether you have any indication
                      that Tolkien actually saw/was impressed by the film?
                      >
                      > Doug
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                    • Doug Kane
                      ... I do think it is a fairly human response. At the same time, the scene in the film as described by John has a remarkably similar feel to the scene in LOTR.
                      Message 10 of 10 , Nov 13, 2008
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                        Lynne Maudlin wrote:

                        > Not to answer for John, but don't you think that's a fairly human
                        > response? In a time of trouble and uncertainty to look up and see the
                        > stars as timeless (well, *more* timeless than we are) and therefore a
                        > sign of hope, of endurance?

                        I do think it is a fairly human response. At the same time, the scene in the film as described by John has a remarkably similar feel to the scene in LOTR. It does seem fairly remarkable to me that two such similar scenes would be developed independantly in two such different works within a relatively short period of time. Not impossible, but unlikely. Which is why I asked whether John had any information that further supported the idea that Tolkien had actually seen the film and had been influenced by it (being the knowledgable guy that he is). But, of course, he has already answered that question.

                        Doug


                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Lynn Maudlin
                        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 1:06 PM
                        Subject: [mythsoc] Re: re. Star over Mordor


                        In a funny little piece of self-foot-shooting, I failed to post this
                        to the list yesterday:

                        Not to answer for John, but don't you think that's a fairly human
                        response? In a time of trouble and uncertainty to look up and see the
                        stars as timeless (well, *more* timeless than we are) and therefore a
                        sign of hope, of endurance?

                        -- Lynn --

                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Doug Kane" <dougkane@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > John D. Rateliff wrote:
                        >
                        > > Another strong parallel, and possible direct inspiration, for Sam's
                        > > seeing the Star over Mordor comes in Charlie Chaplin's THE GREAT
                        > > DICTATOR [1940], which includes a scene in which the barber (Chaplin)
                        > > and the girl hide on a roof top from storm troopers, see a star in
                        > > the sky high above, and think about how its permanence and purity
                        > > will outlast even Hitler's reich. Unfortunately, it's been too long
                        > > since I've seen the film to be able to give any details.
                        >
                        > John, I'm curious to know whether you are basing your supposition
                        that this scene in that classic film might have been a direct
                        inspiration for Tolkien's writing that sequence purely on the extreme
                        similarlity between the two scenes, or whether you have any indication
                        that Tolkien actually saw/was impressed by the film?
                        >
                        > Doug
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >





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