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Re: Source for alleged Tolkien quotation?

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  • not_thou
    This supposed quotation was questioned in another online discussion about a year ago. For what it s worth, the consensus there* was that the quote was
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 29, 2012
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      This supposed quotation was questioned in another online discussion about a year ago. For what it's worth, the consensus there* was that the quote was apocryphal; one person reported frustration attempting to trace it years earlier. Checking the Wikipedia entry for "Orcs (Middle-earth)", I see the quote had appeared there for almost seven years beginning June 29, 2004, when the article seems first to have been expanded from a mere placeholder. I don't know if the quote has a further history or was created by that Wikipedia editor. Later the quote was included in a subsection of the article titled "Orcs and Evil", which was deleted on June 27, 2011, with an editor commenting "most of the section is opinion. further it is unsourced".

      -Merlin

      * http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=313378#313378




      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo@...> wrote:
      >
      > In the Tolkien newsgroups Steve Morrison has asked if anyone knows a source
      > for an alleged Tolkien quotation that appears to flourish on the interweb
      > (as a simple Google search will show -- I have not, however, been able to
      > find a citation for it), but we have drawn a blank and therefore now turn
      > here :)
      >
      > The statement in question is "We were all orcs in the Great War"
      >
      > While Tolkien is known to have said that there were orcs on both sides
      > (e.g. _Letters_ no. 71 to Christopher Tolkien in May 1944), but the
      > statement that they were _all_ orcs would seem to contradict his statements
      > that there were also good people on both sides (as well as include himself
      > among the orcs) - while I obviously cannot be sure, this doesn't strike me
      > as something Tolkien would be likely to say.
      >
      > Can anyone here identify where this comes from? If this group also draws a
      > blank, I am inclined to believe that it is a mistake.
      >
      > Best,
      > Troels
      >
      > --
      > Love while you've got
      > love to give.
      > Live while you've got
      > life to live.
      > - Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/
      >
    • John Rateliff
      It sounds v. unlike Tolkien, and I wd treat it as purely apocryphal until shown good evidence to the contrary. Mostly particularly because it expresses a point
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 30, 2012
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        It sounds v. unlike Tolkien, and I wd treat it as purely apocryphal until shown good evidence to the contrary.
           Mostly particularly because it expresses a point of view that I don't think Tolkien shared. Ezra Pound, yes; JRRT, no, so far as I know.
           --John R.


        On Jan 29, 2012, at 4:46 PM, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
        In the Tolkien newsgroups Steve Morrison has asked if anyone knows a source for an alleged Tolkien quotation that appears to flourish on the interweb (as a simple Google search will show -- I have not, however, been able to find a citation for it), but we have drawn a blank and therefore now turn here :) 

        The statement in question is "We were all orcs in the Great War"

        While Tolkien is known to have said that there were orcs on both sides (e.g. _Letters_ no. 71 to Christopher Tolkien in May 1944), but the statement that they were _all_ orcs would seem to contradict his statements that there were also good people on both sides (as well as include himself among the orcs) - while I obviously cannot be sure, this doesn't strike me as something Tolkien would be likely to say. 

        Can anyone here identify where this comes from? If this group also draws a blank, I am inclined to believe that it is a mistake. 

        Best,
        Troels

      • Larry Swain
        On Mon, Jan 30, 2012, at 01:07 PM, John Rateliff wrote: It sounds v. unlike Tolkien, and I wd treat it as purely apocryphal until shown good evidence to the
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 30, 2012
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          On Mon, Jan 30, 2012, at 01:07 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
           

           

          It sounds v. unlike Tolkien, and I wd treat it as purely apocryphal until shown good evidence to the contrary.
             Mostly particularly because it expresses a point of view that I don't think Tolkien shared. Ezra Pound, yes; JRRT, no, so far as I know.
             --John R.
           

          On Jan 29, 2012, at 4:46 PM, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
          In the Tolkien newsgroups Steve Morrison has asked if anyone knows a source for an alleged Tolkien quotation that appears to flourish on the interweb (as a simple Google search will show -- I have not, however, been able to find a citation for it), but we have drawn a blank and therefore now tu rn here :) 
           
          The statement in question is "We were all orcs in the Great War"
           
          While Tolkien is known to have said that there were orcs on both sides (e.g. _Letters_ no. 71 to Christopher Tolkien in May 1944), but the statement that they were _all_ orcs would seem to contradict his statements that there were also good people on both sides (as well as include himself among the orcs) - while I obviously cannot be sure, this doesn't strike me as something Tolkien would be likely to say. 
           
          Can anyone here identify where this comes from? If this group also draws a blank, I am inclined to believe that it is a mistake. 
           
          Best,
          Troels
           
           
          I agree with John, here.  The apocryphal quote seems pacifist and at least anti-war to me.  But Tolkien was neither of those things, and we need only look at his creative output or his letters specifically to his sons during WWII to see what he thought of war.   I doubt he'd paint either himself or his friends as all orcs anymore than both sides in the War of the Rings are all orcs.
           
          Just my .1/2
           
          Larry Swain
          -- 
          http://www.fastmail.fm - Same, same, but different...
          
        • Darrell A. Martin
          ... Greetings: John Garth s Tolkien and the Great War certainly covers topics directly related to the alleged quotation. It is an indirect argument, from
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 30, 2012
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            ...
            >> On Jan 29, 2012, at 4:46 PM, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
            ...
            >>> The statement in question is "We were all orcs in the Great War"
            >>> While Tolkien is known to have said that there were orcs on both
            >>> sides (e.g. _Letters_ no. 71 to Christopher Tolkien in May 1944), but
            >>> the statement that they were _all_ orcs would seem to contradict his
            >>> statements that there were also good people on both sides (as well as
            >>> include himself among the orcs) - while I obviously cannot be sure,
            >>> this doesn't strike me as something Tolkien would be likely to say.
            >>> Can anyone here identify where this comes from? If this group also
            >>> draws a blank, I am inclined to believe that it is a mistake.
            >>> Best,
            >>> Troels

            Greetings:

            John Garth's "Tolkien and the Great War" certainly covers topics
            directly related to the alleged quotation. It is an indirect argument,
            from silence, to be sure; nevertheless, had the quotation been genuine
            one would certainly expect Garth to have at least mentioned it. He did not.

            Garth does quote Letter 71, in T&TGW, pg. 219 that "in real life [Orcs]
            are on both sides" -- but also quotes Tolkien, that both sides include
            "plain naturally honest men, and angels" as well.

            I would add as someone who has experienced combat, that characterizing
            all of ones comrades as essentially evil is a betrayal. It dishonors not
            only ones own service, but that of those who did not come home. (That is
            why I despise John Kerry even more than Jane Fonda, when I bother to
            think about either of them, which is seldom.) What did Tolkien think of
            the TCBSers Smith and Gilson? Orcs?

            I find the body of JRRT's comments on the Great War, and war in general,
            so at variance with the idea that "we were all Orcs" that if someone
            came up with a specific reference I would drive at my next opportunity
            to the Wade Center and look for it.

            I wouldn't find it, I am all but certain.

            Darrell
            former sergeant, US Army Vietnam
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