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Re: Illustrated Edition of Fouque's "The Magic Ring"

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  • jef.murray
    Sue, Your clarification is well taken. The Magic Ring is emphatically _not_ a book for young children. Although appropriate for some younger folk, I m
    Message 1 of 31 , Jan 30, 2010

      Your clarification is well taken. "The Magic Ring" is
      emphatically _not_ a book for young children. Although
      appropriate for some younger folk, I'm guessing the language
      alone, to say nothing of the themes with which the book deals,
      would be enough to discourage readers younger than, say, of high
      school age. That said, the previous edition was, according to
      one source, "eaten up" by high school kids, who were thrilled
      by the adventure, complexity, and epic nature of the tale(!).
      One of our intents in producing and illustrated edition was to
      make the tale more accessible in general and more acceptable
      to non-scholar readers.

      Regarding the "influence on Tolkien" aspect, yes, I think
      Jason got it partly right with his reference. Fouque was as
      well known in his day as Goethe, amazing as that might be to
      us in the 21st century. His novels were _very_ popular and
      _very_ highly regarded. Sad to say, today we primarily remember
      him only for his extended short story "Undine".

      But, back to the influence on Tolkien. That really is claimed
      by virtue of Fouque's popularity _and_ the acknowledged influence
      he had on folk like William Morris and George MacDonald. That
      Tolkien would have known of Fouque's works seems quite likely, but
      Amy makes a more extended case in her introduction to the scholarly
      edition of the book.

      Here are the relevant paragraphs, from Amy's introduction:

      - - - - -

      "Scholar Richard Mathews lists "The Magic Ring" as one of
      Fouque's most influential works because its blend of allegory
      and chivalric romance helped to pave the way for authors such
      as William Morris, who created the modern genre of high literary fantasy. According to scholar Frank Bergmann, Morris first came
      to read Fouque through the author and translator Charlotte M.
      Yonge. Fouque became one of Morris's inspirations for writing
      Nordic tales based on Scandinavian, Icelandic, and Germanic
      legends -- especially those tied to the Nibelungen myth, from
      which the magic ring motif emerged -- and Morris in turn
      influenced both C.S. Lewis and his fellow Inkling, J.R.R.
      Tolkien, the master of epic fantasy.

      "Bergmann also follows J.R.R. Tolkien's theoretical understanding
      of genre fiction from his 1947 essay "On Fairy-Stories" back
      to George MacDonald's 1893 essay "The Fantastic Imagination,"
      and from that text back to one of MacDonald's great
      influences, German Romanticism. MadDonald references Fouque
      by name. That MacDonald knew of "The Magic Ring" in particular
      is evident; he quoted directly from the novel for the introduction
      to the sixth chapter of his "Phantastes" (1858). Moreover, "The
      Magic Ring" exemplifies the 'merging of story and history, of
      fact and of imagination born of desire,' and especially
      'a transcendental rather than a conventional happy ending,'
      which Bergmann finds at the heart of Tolkien's defense
      and understanding of fantasy. Works such as "The Magic Ring"
      (and Fouque's "Undine", as Bergmann explains), interpreted by
      minds such as George MacDonald's, laid the foundations for
      Tolkien to develop his conception of the "eucatastrophe" --
      the joyous turn that is the "highest function" of the
      genre -- and the liturature that followed from it."

      - - - -

      Apologies for any typos, but I think the above is the
      heart of the case for Fouque's influence on Tolkien. Hope
      this helps....


      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Sue Bridgwater <suebridgwater@...> wrote:
      > Thanks all for pulling me up on my over-hasty reaction. How unclear one can be!  No, I'm not in favour of Bowdlerising but John Rateliff has expressed what I really meant by his phrase about certain texts having a restricted audience.  I can choose to regret the connotations within this work yet go on to read it for its other interesting aspects, whereas a very young reader may still be at the stage of taking everything literally.  It's not an easy issue at all, I have 35 years of Librarianship behind me, much of it in work with children, and I can't say that I want to stop children reading, say,  Narnia because of all the various objections many have raised to its assumptions, or Swallows and Amazons because it's middle class, or - well, enter as appropriate.  But - oh, but - there are works within every culture that assume without question the total wrongness and strangeness of other cultures, and they are the tricky ones.  No, you should not
      > alter a text and then never allow the original to be read; but think how many 'children's versions' of things you may have read as a child - were they all wrong?  A very old kettle of fish, and I have lifted the lid again.  Better hide, I suppose.
      > from Sue
    • dale nelson
      And of course George MacDonald s brief answer to the question What is a fairy-tale? was Read Undine (in The Fantastic Imagination, I believe). Dale
      Message 31 of 31 , Feb 1, 2010
        And of course George MacDonald's brief answer to the question "What is a fairy-tale?" was "Read 'Undine'" (in "The Fantastic Imagination," I believe).

        Dale Nelson

        From: John Rateliff <sacnoth@...>
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sun, January 31, 2010 10:58:10 PM
        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Illustrated Edition of Fouque's "The Magic Ring"


        On Jan 31, 2010, at 7:27 AM, WendellWag@aol. com wrote:
        So does anyone here think that "The Magic Ring" is a great story?

        Haven't read it, though now that this new edition is out I probably will, once I track down a copy. 

           If you want a quick fix on whether or not you're likely to find it worth reading, an easy way to do so is to check out the same author's most famous work, UNDINE, conveniently reprinted in Doug Anderson's TALES BEFORE NARNIA.*  If you skim UNDINE (which shd also be available from any number of university libraries or possibly through interlibrary loan from your public library) and like it, you might want to follow up on THE MAGIC RING. If his masterpiece leaves you cold, you ought not to feel any compunction to read on (though I allow most authors the three-book rule, myself).

        --John R.

        *Doug notes that it's a work which CSL liked well enough to hunt down and read in the original German.


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