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Re: [mythsoc] Joseph Pearce on Tolkien

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    Quite true. (But many ... I don t see any serpentine connection, but certainly Tolkien would have found the sound-correspondence between _Sauron_ and _saura_
    Message 1 of 53 , Apr 9, 2011
      Quite true. (But many

      > even if Sauron has
      > nothing to do with saura (as in dinosaur for those etymologically
      > unaware), it is difficult not to see Sauron as a "snake-like" character
      > since he often is a snake in the grass, is crafty (perhaps more than any
      > other creature?), and certainly a tempter. (Others are easy to see,
      > such as Moria, which can have no connection to the Biblical mount).

      I don't see any serpentine connection, but certainly Tolkien would have found the sound-correspondence between _Sauron_ and _saura_ "pleasing" (i.e., as suitable nasty-sounding); but the fact remains that Gk. _saura_ cannot have been the actual or intended "source" of _Sauron_ (as Pearce wrongly asserts), because the root element of _Sauron_, THAW-, was a development (because Tolkien kept changing his languages) of an element going back to the very beginning of the mythology, where it appears as the name, _Thû_, of the character that eventually became Sauron; but _Thû_ bears no resemblance at all to _saura_.

      This is very like the case of Q. _Atalante_ and Atlantis. Tolkien states that it was a "happy coincidence", while the reader suspects it cannot have been a coincidence at all despite this claim: but in fact the root element _tal(at)-_/_talta-_ 'fall' long predates Tolkien's coining of _Atalante_ and even the Númenor story itself. I would still not say that there was no influence at all, only that such influence as there was was much more abstract and indirect than him saying something like, "I want a verb meaning 'fall' that will let me coin an island name that sounds like Atlantis".

      > There are other times when I think Tolkien is cheating a bit too...such
      > as Gandalf's name in the "south" (a place he roughly locates in one
      > letter as southern Europe if I remember correctly) is Incanus...Latin
      > for "gray" and "gray haired", yet later Tolkien made a couple different
      > attempts to derive the name from Middle Earth languages.

      Here I think there is no doubt that Tolkien gave Gandalf a Latin name (just as he first gave him and the Dwarves Icelandic names), but then for whatever reason decided that he had to explain it in terms of Middle-earth languages. The correspondence of both form, sense, and setting in this case is far too close to reasonably be coincidence.

      Carl
    • Darrell A. Martin
      Jason: I think your objection to Pearce, in that he did not mention Tolkien s disavowal of something he (Pearce) stated as a fact, is on target. My own focus
      Message 53 of 53 , Apr 12, 2011
        Jason:

        I think your objection to Pearce, in that he did not mention Tolkien's
        disavowal of something he (Pearce) stated as a fact, is on target. My
        own focus -- which is why I early on changed the Subject line to remove
        Pearce -- was on whether or not Tolkien's disavowal was definitive.

        Darrell
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