Re: Catholicism, The Lord of the Rings, and the Letters
- --- Vincent Ferré wrote ---
I am not saying, of course, that the LoR does not possess a "catholic side" - I also have written about this point, and edited articles on this issue. All I am saying is that, very often, the issue is "solved" by a quotation of this famous letter. I think the Lord of the Rings itself is to be analysed, instead of relying on a statement by such a clever writer like Tolkien, in a letter among hundreds (only a part of his letters has been published, as you know), which needs to be "re-contextualized" . Working on a few writers like Tolkien, Proust, Broch, among others, I have been compelled to be very careful with their statements.<end quote>
My two cents. As a general approach, I think this is a very prudent caution. Of course, the letters have been invaluable in helping to reveal aspects of the man and his work that might otherwise have remained much more opaque; however, they only go so far, and as you rightly point out, understanding the context of each letter is an essential first step before adducing them as "proof" for any thesis. Some of the letters, especially, have really short-circuited that important process. As one example, I have seen the "other minds and hands" quotation (from the Waldman letter) used I don't know how many times to justify all manner of fan-fiction and -film, expansion of Tolkien's invented languages, etc., when this would probably not have been to Tolkien's liking at all.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Luthien: Alas! My beloved has perished! I must go to the Halls of Mandos to beg --
Beren: I'm not dead yet.
Luthien: Shh! To beg Mandos to bring him back --
Beren: I don't want to go on the cart.
Luthien: Shut up! I'm having a dramatic moment here.
Beren: I feel happy...
Luthien: (Nods to nearest elf with big club)
Big Club: Thud.
Luthien: Okay, I'm off to the Halls of Mandos. See ya. (Falls down)
>From: John Davis <john@...>________________________________________
>Sent: Jun 15, 2009 3:48 AM
>Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings
>Perhaps he was just mostly dead.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: scribbler@...
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 4:40 PM
> Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings
> > I've always wondered -- was Beren really dead? Or was he merely so close
> > to death that no one around could tell the difference? Was he really
> > resurrected, or simply revived?
> > If the Gift of Men is beyond even the Valar's understanding, it doesn't
> > make sense that Mandos would have the power to give Beren back his life,
> > no matter how persuasively Luthien sang.
> > emerdavid
> Well, it would seem incongruous that Mandos himself would not be able to
> distinguish between a "nearly dead" mortal soul and a "dead" one. Mandos
> is made anxious about the situation because Beren WILL NOT GO ON the way
> he is supposed to.
> It seems to me, that Beren's soul held onto the world to an unexpected
> degree, instead of passing out of the world. If he had passed out of the
> world, then I agree, Luthien's singing would have been tragic in that it
> would be to no point -- Beren would not be *there* to be returned. But
> that's not what Tolkien sets as the situation. He has Beren "hanging
> around" unexpectedly.
> I say - Beren was dead, but not "departed". A unique situation that the
> Valar could actually address.
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