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Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings

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  • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
    I threw my two cents into the discussion on the Straight Dope board. It seems to me that the Original Poster just hadn t taken the time to look further than
    Message 1 of 16 , May 5, 2012
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      I threw my two cents into the discussion on the Straight Dope board. It
      seems to me that the Original Poster just hadn't taken the time to look
      further than his own ideas.

      He seemed to have a fair grasp of genre conventions, but precious little
      sense of the genre history. I spent maybe 5 minutes figuring out WHAT
      genre writers were likely in print before JRRT began writing his early
      stuff during WW I, and came up with only William Morris and Lord Dunsany.
      The other notables post-date JRRT's beginning work.

      And I admit to being flabbergasted by the claim that JRRT wasn't
      interested in foreshadowing! Years and years ago, I made a couple
      beginning notes for a papre on that in LOTR, but never got far. Maybe the
      time has come for it?

      Sarah

      > Great, I hope you enjoy it!
      >
      > And I definitely agree with John that there probably should be such a
      > book. Hmmmm?
      >
      > Doug
      >
      >
      > From: WendellWag@...
      > Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 7:00 PM
      > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Thanks, Doug. Incidentally, I just bought your book Arda Reconstructed.
      >
      > Wendell Wagner
      >
      > In a message dated 5/5/2012 9:56:51 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
      > dougkane@... writes:
      >
      >
      > Honestly, I think the best answer it too suggest that they read the
      > three and half volumes of HoMe dedicated to the history of The Lord of
      > the Rings. You could also suggest Wayne and Christina's LotR Reader's
      > Companion, but I don't think that would help much. Probably the LotR
      > section of their Reader's Guide would be more helpful. Other than that,
      > I can think off hand of any specific book dedicated to how LotR was
      > written.
      >
      > Now if they wanted to know how The Silmarillion was created, I would
      > know just what to suggest.
      >
      > Doug Kane
      >
      >
      > From: WendellWag@...
      > Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 6:20 PM
      > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > I'd like to reply to the first post in this thread on a message board:
      >
      > http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=650518
      >
      > It's someone who has a theory about how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the
      > Rings. It's clear that he hasn't actually read any scholarship on the
      > subject. I could, of course, simply tell him to read the entire
      > twelve-volumes of The History of Middle-earth, but he'd just be annoyed
      > by that. Is there a single book that gives the history of how Tolkien
      > wrote The Lord of the Rings? I'm not sure to what extent this could be
      > separated from the history of how he wrote The Silmarillion and The
      > Hobbit. Please, no false modesty. If one of you wrote such a book
      > about this subject, let me know. I'd like to be able to explain to the
      > guy how it would be useful to read the scholarship on the subject rather
      > than just guessing on his own.
      >
      > Wendell Wagner
      >
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      >
    • David Bratman
      That s a frustrating post to read, because the author is obviously intelligent and has what could be some potentially insightful things to say about narrative
      Message 2 of 16 , May 6, 2012
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        That's a frustrating post to read, because the author is obviously
        intelligent and has what could be some potentially insightful things to say
        about narrative viewpoint in LOTR, but it's all buried beneath this
        fantastic stuff about Tolkien's presumed intentions which has no authority
        at all, and merely suggests what would be in this person's mind if she(?)
        had been the one writing the story. It's particularly brazen to criticize
        Tolkien for abandoning intentions that you have no idea that he ever had in
        the first place. It's intriguing to suggest that the other hobbits were
        included for the deliberate, aforethought purpose of having backups around
        to cover the parts of the story Frodo couldn't narrate, but it doesn't fit
        in with anything we know from the drafts or Tolkien's work habits about how
        he constructed his story, and if Fatty was originally intended to cover the
        home front, then what about Odo? (A question which would probably be a
        complete non-sequitur to this person.) A point worth thought: if there's
        one interpretation of a work that shows it hanging together and making
        sense, and another interpretation which makes the author out to be an
        incompetent blunderer, which is more likely, or more useful for the reader?

        Apart from the documentary evidence in the History, the things this person
        most needs to read are not books, but a lot of articles, some of them rather
        hard to find. The papers by Paul Edmund Thomas and Christina Scull in the
        Blackwelder proceedings, though not addressing these specific points, would
        give a very clear idea of what kind of book Tolkien thought he was writing
        and how he went about doing it. But they're not likely to be easy to hand.

        On the question of whether Aragorn is a real, sympathetic and human
        character or merely a cardboard archetype designed to be espied from a
        distance, however, one should turn immediately to the Aragorn chapter in
        Paul Kocher's Master of Middle-earth, a book that's been around and easily
        available for forty years.
      • Larry Swain
        So you did. And I suggested the Chronology. Feel free to disagree. You are aware of course that it s a 2-volume work and suggesting one volume isn t the
        Message 3 of 16 , May 6, 2012
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          So you did.  And I suggested the Chronology.  Feel free to disagree.  You are aware of course that it's a 2-volume work and suggesting one volume isn't the same as the other.
          --
          Larry Swain
           
           
          On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:30 PM, Doug Kane wrote:
           

           

          Pssst, Larry, I already suggested the LotR section of the Reader's Guide portion of the Companion and Guide.
           
          Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 7:25 PM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings
           
           

           

          How about Wayne and Christina's Companion and Guide?  While not specifically on Tolkien's writing style or history of creation of LoTR, the Chronology in my view gives one all that needs be known.
           
          Larry Swain
           
           
          On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:10 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
           

           

          On May 5, 2012, at 6:20 PM, WendellWag@... wrote:
          . . .  I could, of course, simply tell him to read the entire twelve-volumes of The History of Middle-earth, but he'd just be annoyed by that.  Is there a single book that gives the history of how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings?  I'm not sure to what extent this could be separated from the history of how he wrote The Silmarillion and The Hobbit.  
          I don't know of any one book that does this. 
             If there is one,  I look forward to finding out about it.
                 If there isn't, perhaps somebody shd write one.
           
          --JDR (who can point you towards that sort of thing re. THE HOBBIT but not LotR).

           

           
           
          -- 
          http://www.fastmail.fm - mmm... Fastmail...
          

           

           

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        • Doug Kane
          Ah, I missed your reference to the Chronology. My apologies. From: Larry Swain Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2012 10:12 AM To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re:
          Message 4 of 16 , May 6, 2012
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            Ah, I missed your reference to the Chronology.  My apologies. 
            Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2012 10:12 AM
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings

             

            So you did.  And I suggested the Chronology.  Feel free to disagree.  You are aware of course that it's a 2-volume work and suggesting one volume isn't the same as the other.
            --
            Larry Swain
             
             
            On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:30 PM, Doug Kane wrote:
             

             

            Pssst, Larry, I already suggested the LotR section of the Reader's Guide portion of the Companion and Guide.
             
            Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 7:25 PM
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings
             
             

             

            How about Wayne and Christina's Companion and Guide?  While not specifically on Tolkien's writing style or history of creation of LoTR, the Chronology in my view gives one all that needs be known.
             
            Larry Swain
             
             
            On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:10 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
             

             

            On May 5, 2012, at 6:20 PM, WendellWag@... wrote:
            . . .  I could, of course, simply tell him to read the entire twelve-volumes of The History of Middle-earth, but he'd just be annoyed by that.  Is there a single book that gives the history of how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings?  I'm not sure to what extent this could be separated from the history of how he wrote The Silmarillion and The Hobbit.  
            I don't know of any one book that does this. 
               If there is one,  I look forward to finding out about it.
                   If there isn't, perhaps somebody shd write one.
             
            --JDR (who can point you towards that sort of thing re. THE HOBBIT but not LotR).

             

             
            -- 
            http://www.fastmail.fm - mmm... Fastmail...
            

             

             

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          • Morgan Thomsen
            Sounds like an interesting exchange! Where can it be found? (I tried to find a reference, without any success.) Thanks, Morgan
            Message 5 of 16 , May 6, 2012
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              Sounds like an interesting exchange! Where can it be found? (I tried to find a reference, without any success.)

              Thanks,

              Morgan

              On May 6, 2012 04:14 "John Rateliff" <sacnoth@...> wrote:


              Anyone else here remember the amusing little exchange between JRRT and
              Ch. Moorman? Moorman had a theory that Malory never had the chance to
              revise his work and asked Tolkien if the same was true of him, only to
              be told otherwise in no uncertain terms.

              --JDR


            • Larry Swain
              No problem. BTW, I was just at the board again, and the OP in the thread claims that any author who stops the flow of the plot in order to engage in
              Message 6 of 16 , May 6, 2012
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                No problem.  BTW, I was just at the board again, and the OP in the thread claims that any author who stops the flow of the plot in order to engage in exposition has failed as an author.  I find that comment very very telling.
                 
                Now that I think about it, could someone who hasn't really used The Companion and Guide, and who hasn't read much if any other Tolkien scholarship, use either volume independently with any degree of success?  I'm beginning to think we need to make a quick reading list for the OP. 
                --
                Larry Swain
                 
                 
                On Sun, May 6, 2012, at 10:36 AM, Doug Kane wrote:
                 

                 

                Ah, I missed your reference to the Chronology.  My apologies. 
                Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2012 10:12 AM
                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings
                 
                 

                 

                So you did.  And I suggested the Chronology.  Feel free to disagree.  You are aware of course that it's a 2-volume work and suggesting one volume isn't the same as the other.
                --
                Larry Swain
                 
                 
                On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:30 PM, Doug Kane wrote:
                 

                 

                Pssst, Larry, I already suggested the LotR section of the Reader's Guide portion of the Companion and Guide.
                 
                Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 7:25 PM
                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings
                 
                 

                 

                How about Wayne and Christina's Companion and Guide?  While not specifically on Tolkien's writing style or history of creation of LoTR, the Chronology in my view gives one all that needs be known.
                 
                Larry Swain
                 
                 
                On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:10 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
                 

                 

                On May 5, 2012, at 6:20 PM, WendellWag@... wrote:
                . . .  I could, of course, simply tell him to read the entire twelve-volumes of The History of Middle-earth, but he'd just be annoyed by that.  Is there a single book that gives the history of how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings?  I'm not sure to what extent this could be separated from the history of how he wrote The Silmarillion and The Hobbit.  
                I don't know of any one book that does this. 
                   If there is one,  I look forward to finding out about it.
                       If there isn't, perhaps somebody shd write one.
                 
                --JDR (who can point you towards that sort of thing re. THE HOBBIT but not LotR).

                 

                 
                 
                -- 
                http://www.fastmail.fm - mmm... Fastmail...
                

                 

                 

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              • Cristina
                Some of the letters do give snippets of insights on JRRT s writing process.
                Message 7 of 16 , May 7, 2012
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                  Some of the letters do give snippets of insights on JRRT's writing process.

                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Larry Swain <theswain@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > No problem. BTW, I was just at the board again, and the OP in
                  > the thread claims that any author who stops the flow of the plot
                  > in order to engage in exposition has failed as an author. I find
                  > that comment very very telling.
                  >
                  > Now that I think about it, could someone who hasn't really used
                  > The Companion and Guide, and who hasn't read much if any other
                  > Tolkien scholarship, use either volume independently with any
                  > degree of success? I'm beginning to think we need to make a
                  > quick reading list for the OP.
                  > --
                  > Larry Swain
                  > [1]theswain@...
                  >
                  >
                  > On Sun, May 6, 2012, at 10:36 AM, Doug Kane wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Ah, I missed your reference to the Chronology. My apologies.
                  > From: [2]Larry Swain
                  > Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2012 10:12 AM
                  > To: [3]mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of
                  > the Rings
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > So you did. And I suggested the Chronology. Feel free to
                  > disagree. You are aware of course that it's a 2-volume work and
                  > suggesting one volume isn't the same as the other.
                  > --
                  > Larry Swain
                  > [4]theswain@...
                  >
                  >
                  > On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:30 PM, Doug Kane wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Pssst, Larry, I already suggested the LotR section of the
                  > Reader's Guide portion of the Companion and Guide.
                  >
                  > From: [5]Larry Swain
                  > Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2012 7:25 PM
                  > To: [6]mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] A book on how Tolkien wrote The Lord of
                  > the Rings
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > How about Wayne and Christina's Companion and Guide? While not
                  > specifically on Tolkien's writing style or history of creation of
                  > LoTR, the Chronology in my view gives one all that needs be
                  > known.
                  >
                  > Larry Swain
                  > [7]theswain@...
                  >
                  >
                  > On Sat, May 5, 2012, at 07:10 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > On May 5, 2012, at 6:20 PM, [8]WendellWag@... wrote:
                  >
                  > . . . I could, of course, simply tell him to read the entire
                  > twelve-volumes of The History of Middle-earth, but he'd just be
                  > annoyed by that. Is there a single book that gives the history
                  > of how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings? I'm not sure to what
                  > extent this could be separated from the history of how he
                  > wrote The Silmarillion and The Hobbit.
                  >
                  > I don't know of any one book that does this.
                  > If there is one, I look forward to finding out about it.
                  > If there isn't, perhaps somebody shd write one.
                  >
                  > --JDR (who can point you towards that sort of thing re. THE
                  > HOBBIT but not LotR).
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > --
                  > http://www.fastmail.fm - mmm... Fastmail...
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > No virus found in this message.
                  > Checked by AVG - [9]www.avg.com
                  > Version: 2012.0.1913 / Virus Database: 2425/4980 - Release Date:
                  > 05/05/12
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > --
                  > http://www.fastmail.fm - mmm... Fastmail...
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > No virus found in this message.
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                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > References
                  >
                  > 1. mailto:theswain@...
                  > 2. mailto:theswain@...
                  > 3. mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  > 4. mailto:theswain@...
                  > 5. mailto:theswain@...
                  > 6. mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  > 7. mailto:theswain@...
                  > 8. mailto:WendellWag@...
                  > 9. http://www.avg.com/
                  > 10. http://www.avg.com/
                  > 11. mailto:dougkane@...?subject=Re%3A%20%5Bmythsoc%5D%20A%20book%20on%20how%20Tolkien%20wrote%20The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings
                  > 12. mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com?subject=Re%3A%20%5Bmythsoc%5D%20A%20book%20on%20how%20Tolkien%20wrote%20The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings
                  > 13. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/post;_ylc=X3oDMTJva3U0cW00BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzQ1NzM3BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTAyMDIyNwRtc2dJZAMyMzA4MgRzZWMDZnRyBHNsawNycGx5BHN0aW1lAzEzMzYzMjU4MDg-?act=reply&messageNum=23082
                  > 14. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/post;_ylc=X3oDMTJjdTI0YWlqBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzQ1NzM3BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTAyMDIyNwRzZWMDZnRyBHNsawNudHBjBHN0aW1lAzEzMzYzMjU4MDg-
                  > 15. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/23071;_ylc=X3oDMTM0aWhxa20yBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzQ1NzM3BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTAyMDIyNwRtc2dJZAMyMzA4MgRzZWMDZnRyBHNsawN2dHBjBHN0aW1lAzEzMzYzMjU4MDgEdHBjSWQDMjMwNzE-
                  > 16. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc;_ylc=X3oDMTJjcWV2NmEzBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzQ1NzM3BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTAyMDIyNwRzZWMDdnRsBHNsawN2Z2hwBHN0aW1lAzEzMzYzMjU4MDg-
                  > 17. http://www.mythsoc.org/
                  > 18. http://groups.yahoo.com/;_ylc=X3oDMTJicjllamxxBF9TAzk3NDc2NTkwBGdycElkAzQ1NzM3BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNTAyMDIyNwRzZWMDZnRyBHNsawNnZnAEc3RpbWUDMTMzNjMyNTgwOA--
                  > 19. mailto:mythsoc-traditional@yahoogroups.com?subject=Change%20Delivery%20Format:%20Traditional
                  > 20. mailto:mythsoc-digest@yahoogroups.com?subject=Email%20Delivery:%20Digest
                  > 21. mailto:mythsoc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe
                  > 22. http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                  >
                  > --
                  > http://www.fastmail.fm - The way an email service should be
                  >
                • WendellWag@aol.com
                  Thanks to everyone who replied to my question about how to explain to someone with a theory of how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings by pointing them to the
                  Message 8 of 16 , May 12, 2012
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                    Thanks to everyone who replied to my question about how to explain to someone with a theory of how Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings by pointing them to the scholarship on the subject.  Thanks especially to Sarah Beach for registering for the message board in order to post some information about this subject.  As happens far too often when you explain to someone that they don't know enough about the subject that they are pontificating about, the person who started the thread just disappeared after enough people told him that he was wrong about much that he wrote about.
                     
                    Wendell Wagner
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