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RE: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien and Oriental Calligraphy

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  • Doug Kane
    Thanks, Wayne and Christina! _____ From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Wayne G. Hammond Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 6, 2009
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      Thanks, Wayne and Christina!

      _____

      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Wayne G. Hammond
      Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 7:35 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Norton AntiSpam] Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien and Oriental Calligraphy



      Doug Kane wrote:

      >It has been pointed out to me that there is a striking similarity between
      >Tolkien's monogram, and a character in the Chinese and Japanese alphebets.
      >Here is a sample:
      ><http://www.mahou <http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/422B/.>
      org/Kanji/422B/.>http://www.mahou <http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/422B/.>
      org/Kanji/422B/.
      >
      >Does anyone know whether Tolkien ever demonstrated any knowledge of or
      >interest in oriental languages, or specifically in oriental calligraphy? I
      >know that (as Wayne and Christina say), he had from a very early age "an
      >abiding interest in alphabets and scripts" but I've never heard that that
      >interest extended to oriental languages. But my knowledge is woefully
      >inadequate in this area. The similarity is probably just a coincidence,
      >but it piqued my interest nonetheless. If anyone has any thoughts or
      >information on the subject I'd be interested in hearing more.

      It's almost certainly a coincidence. Although Tolkien had an early liking
      for Japanese prints, we've recorded no interest in or study of Chinese or
      Japanese (see the essay "Languages" in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and
      Guide: Reader's Guide). Nor was it necessary: the idea of intertwining
      letters to form monograms (or ciphers) has a long history in the West, and
      Tolkien developed his now-familiar JRRT monogram after trying out a series
      of simpler versions.

      Wayne & Christina

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






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    • Croft, Janet B.
      Actually, Tolkien s monogram reminds me very distantly of the signature symbols used by Aubrey Beardsley http://www.wormfood.com/savoy/salome/154.html (I know
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 7, 2009
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        Actually, Tolkien's monogram reminds me very distantly of the signature symbols used by Aubrey Beardsley http://www.wormfood.com/savoy/salome/154.html (I know there are more examples but that's the best I found in a quick search online) and James Whistler http://www.mr-whistlers-art.info/art/design/exhibitions/signature.shtml - perhaps the influence was indirectly Oriental through these and similar artists? Or perhaps it went back to Albrecht Durer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AlbrechtD%C3%BCrer01.jpg ? Do we know if Tolkien had any appreciation of Beardsley? I looked in Wayne and Christina's book on Tolkien's art but the closest mention is a discussion of Tolkien's comments on surrealism in art in OFS.

        Janet


        From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Wayne G. Hammond
        Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 9:35 PM
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien and Oriental Calligraphy


        Doug Kane wrote:

        >It has been pointed out to me that there is a striking similarity between
        >Tolkien's monogram, and a character in the Chinese and Japanese alphebets.
        >Here is a sample:
        ><http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/422B/.<http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/422B/>>http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/422B/.<http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/422B/>
        >
        >Does anyone know whether Tolkien ever demonstrated any knowledge of or
        >interest in oriental languages, or specifically in oriental calligraphy? I
        >know that (as Wayne and Christina say), he had from a very early age "an
        >abiding interest in alphabets and scripts" but I've never heard that that
        >interest extended to oriental languages. But my knowledge is woefully
        >inadequate in this area. The similarity is probably just a coincidence,
        >but it piqued my interest nonetheless. If anyone has any thoughts or
        >information on the subject I'd be interested in hearing more.

        It's almost certainly a coincidence. Although Tolkien had an early liking
        for Japanese prints, we've recorded no interest in or study of Chinese or
        Japanese (see the essay "Languages" in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and
        Guide: Reader's Guide). Nor was it necessary: the idea of intertwining
        letters to form monograms (or ciphers) has a long history in the West, and
        Tolkien developed his now-familiar JRRT monogram after trying out a series
        of simpler versions.

        Wayne & Christina

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



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Wayne G. Hammond
        ... I doubt that there was any Oriental influence on the monogram, direct or indirect. Tolkien s is unlike Beardsley s or Whistler s devices, but in the same
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 8, 2009
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          Janet wrote:

          >Actually, Tolkien's monogram reminds me very distantly of the signature
          >symbols used by Aubrey Beardsley
          ><http://www.wormfood.com/savoy/salome/154.html>http://www.wormfood.com/savoy/salome/154.html
          >(I know there are more examples but that's the best I found in a quick
          >search online) and James Whistler
          ><http://www.mr-whistlers-art.info/art/design/exhibitions/signature.shtml>http://www.mr-whistlers-art.info/art/design/exhibitions/signature.shtml
          >- perhaps the influence was indirectly Oriental through these and similar
          >artists? Or perhaps it went back to Albrecht Durer
          ><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AlbrechtD%C3%BCrer01.jpg>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AlbrechtD%C3%BCrer01.jpg
          >? Do we know if Tolkien had any appreciation of Beardsley? I looked in
          >Wayne and Christina's book on Tolkien's art but the closest mention is a
          >discussion of Tolkien's comments on surrealism in art in OFS.

          I doubt that there was any Oriental influence on the monogram, direct or
          indirect. Tolkien's is unlike Beardsley's or Whistler's devices, but in the
          same long tradition as Durer's (if more elaborate). There's a small section
          on monograms in Edward Johnston's _Writing and Illuminating, and
          Lettering_, a book Tolkien owned.

          We've not recorded that Tolkien had any appreciation of Beardsley's work,
          but one never knows.

          Wayne


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        • Croft, Janet B.
          Thanks - I m going to go take a look at it out of curiosity. Now the monogram I developed for myself back in high school is quite definitely inspired by
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 9, 2009
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            Thanks - I'm going to go take a look at it out of curiosity. Now the monogram I developed for myself back in high school is quite definitely inspired by Tolkien's, no questions about it...

            Janet


            ...

            There's a small section
            on monograms in Edward Johnston's _Writing and Illuminating, and
            Lettering_, a book Tolkien owned.

            ...

            Wayne

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