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RE: [mythsoc] Re: Nazgul

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  • Janet Croft
    I think you re on to something with #2. Perhaps in an analog to how the Ring affects the Ringbearers, repeated exposure to the Ringwraiths lessens one s
    Message 1 of 16 , Sep 10, 2001
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      I think you're on to something with #2. Perhaps in an analog to how the Ring
      affects the Ringbearers, repeated exposure to the Ringwraiths lessens one's
      resistance to them, making them more fearful. The Orcs of Mordor, for
      example, are more afraid of them than the Orcs of Isengard.

      Janet
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Trudy Shaw [mailto:tgshaw@...]
      Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2001 4:44 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Nazgul



      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Michael Martinez
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2001 12:29 AM
      Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Nazgul



      I once read an essay on the loss of sense of self that comes of being
      victimized through domination. I suspect that Tolkien may have
      resorted to the third person for the Lord of the Nazgul because that
      is the only time where he actually speaks of himself, and since he
      has been utterly enslaved to Sauron's will for thousands of years,
      and is no longer a living man, he cannot possess a sense of self.


      Oh, Yes! I think I've always taken it this way subconsciously but never
      stopped to reflect on it. The only identity he has left is "the Nazgul."
      Interesting that he's also making it clear that he's not merely "_a_ Nazgul"
      but "_the_ Nazgul."

      The translation of the word makes it clear enough that the Nazgul are
      the Ringwraiths and not their steeds. They lose their horses just as the
      travelers arrive at Rivendell, and before the Council of Elrond they're
      "just" the Black Riders (or the Ringwraiths when Gandalf talks about them).
      By the time they return with their new steeds, the language used to talk
      about them has grown darker and more direct, but I don't see any other
      connection.

      This does relate to a question I've seen discussed but for which I've
      never found a satisfying answer. Why do the Ringwraiths seem less powerful
      at the beginning of the book than later on? When hobbits--including the
      Gaffer and Farmer Maggot--encounter the Black Riders in the Shire, the
      hobbits are afraid, but it's nothing like the terror the Ringwraiths incite
      in people later on. (They seem to get by without their "sniffing" later on,
      too.)

      1. Are they purposely holding back at first, wanting to retain some
      secrecy (as implied when one "laughs" at Farmer Maggot when he threatens him
      with his dogs)?

      2. Are the hobbits protected from the terror to a certain extent because
      they don't realize who or what the Black Riders really are (seems to hold
      true when a Nazgul darkens the sun over Minas Tirith; Pippin cowers against
      the wall while Beregond--who doesn't know what it is--only "feels"
      something)?

      3. Do the Ringwraiths grow in power as Sauron gathers his power back to
      himself (which Gandalf gives as the reason they're abroad again)?

      4. Are their earlier appearances "leftovers" from when the story was
      less dark (I believe that in earlier drafts, the Black Rider actually turns
      out to be Gandalf)?

      5. Any explanations other than 1-4 (which are the ones I've run across
      in the past)?

      Of course, it could be a combination of any or all of these. The notes
      I've put in parentheses seem to support each of them. I'd _like_ to ignore
      #4, as I hate having to admit to _any_ inconsistency in Tolkien's depictions
      of Middle-earth, but I suppose it's possible...




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    • Stolzi@aol.com
      Trudy is correct; the unknown rider=Gandalf draft is discussed in David Bratman s Rejected Plot Twists essay, which may be found in a recent MYTHLORE.
      Message 2 of 16 , Sep 10, 2001
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        Trudy is correct; the "unknown rider=Gandalf" draft is discussed in David
        Bratman's "Rejected Plot Twists" essay, which may be found in a recent
        MYTHLORE.

        Diamond Proudbrook
      • David S. Bratman
        The suggestion that the Nazgul speaking in the third person is evidence of his dehumanization or enslavement by Sauron is an interesting one, but not I think
        Message 3 of 16 , Sep 12, 2001
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          The suggestion that the Nazgul speaking in the third person is evidence of
          his dehumanization or enslavement by Sauron is an interesting one, but not
          I think one that holds up. Other characters without this problem also
          refer to themselves in the third person. Examples:

          1) "Then you will see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked."

          2) "Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House
          of Valandil Isildur's son, heir of Elendil, has nought to dread!"

          Putting these three examples together, I'd begin to generalize that
          Tolkien's characters tend to speak in the third person at solemn moments of
          heightened emotion.

          Ted: I was fascinated by your guess that by saying "Come not between the
          Nazgul and his prey," the Witch-King is referring to his steed. I can
          understand why you thought that, but it never occurred to me that this
          could be anything but the Witch-King talking in the third person. Did you
          imagine that he would stand mutely by while the pterodactyl (or whatever it
          is) killed Theoden and Eowyn?

          Trudy: Tolkien had a lot of trouble working out exactly how powerful the
          Nazgul are. See "Unfinished Tales" for much of the workings behind this.
          His main point was that they worked more by fear than by actual physical
          power, but I think all four of your explanations apply to an extent.

          Niff: Re the Black Rider turning out to be Gandalf in the early draft -
          remember that as the hobbits walked through the Shire, neither they _nor
          (in the first instance) the author_ knew where Gandalf was. So when a
          rider suddenly appears in Tolkien's mind as he writes, he immediately
          assumes it's Gandalf. (Even in the final book, the hobbits think at first
          that it might be Gandalf.) But he only got a few paragraphs into it before
          realizing this was wrong. So then he was still left with the question of
          where Gandalf was, plus the new one: if this isn't Gandalf, who is it? It
          took him quite a while to answer these questions, and the answers opened up
          new depths in the story. Anyway, that's the summary of what I wrote about
          this in the article Mary referred to.

          David Bratman
        • ERATRIANO@aol.com
          In a message dated 09/12/01 7:18:27 PM Eastern Daylight Time, dbratman@stanford.edu writes:
          Message 4 of 16 , Sep 13, 2001
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            In a message dated 09/12/01 7:18:27 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
            dbratman@... writes:

            << Putting these three examples together, I'd begin to generalize that
            Tolkien's characters tend to speak in the third person at solemn moments of
            heightened emotion. >>

            Yes, this whole discussion sort of mystifies me. I had thought that speaking
            of oneself in the third person was an established style. Perhaps for formal
            or serious moments. And perhaps we have pretty much lost it and forgotten
            it, as we've lost the use of thee and thou.

            Lizzie
          • Michael Martinez
            ... evidence of ... but not ... also ... A device does not have to be used in the same way for each character. That would be rather boring. There may be
            Message 5 of 16 , Sep 13, 2001
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              --- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
              > The suggestion that the Nazgul speaking in the third person is
              evidence of
              > his dehumanization or enslavement by Sauron is an interesting one,
              but not
              > I think one that holds up. Other characters without this problem
              also
              > refer to themselves in the third person. Examples:
              >
              > 1) "Then you will see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked."

              A device does not have to be used in the same way for each
              character. That would be rather boring.

              There may be insufficient evidence to support the contention that the
              Nazgul's use of the third person was intended to convey his
              dehumanization. But such a usage cannot be disproven by contrary
              examples from characters who are not Sauronic slaves.

              And if there are so few examples of characters speaking in the third
              person at periods of heightened emotion (Gandalf's speech to the
              Balrog should have qualified for such usage, but he referred to
              himself in the first person), then I would say that there is
              insufficient evidence to support a contention of generality.

              At the very least, this device was used by Tolkien similarly to his
              device of the Eagles: sparingly. He may have desired nothing more
              than to slip in a little variety.
            • Stolzi@aol.com
              In a message dated 9/13/01 7:02:03 AM Central Daylight Time, ... of ... You re not going to have Sauron to kick around any moooooooore.......... Diamond
              Message 6 of 16 , Sep 13, 2001
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                In a message dated 9/13/01 7:02:03 AM Central Daylight Time,
                ERATRIANO@... writes:

                > << Putting these three examples together, I'd begin to generalize that
                > Tolkien's characters tend to speak in the third person at solemn moments
                of
                > heightened emotion. >>

                "You're not going to have Sauron to kick around any moooooooore.........."

                Diamond Proudbrook
              • David S. Bratman
                ... I wouldn t call it a device - that s too close to a gimmick or a verbal tick, which would be more than boring, it would be annoying, if more than one
                Message 7 of 16 , Sep 13, 2001
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                  At 06:35 AM 9/13/2001 , Michael Martinez wrote:

                  >A device does not have to be used in the same way for each
                  >character. That would be rather boring.

                  I wouldn't call it a "device" - that's too close to a gimmick or a verbal
                  tick, which would be more than boring, it would be annoying, if more than
                  one character used it. Rather, it's a stylistic trait in Tolkien, one
                  which is probably not unique to him. Other traits of formality in speech
                  may be noted in Tolkien that are used pretty much across the board for all
                  characters, notably a tendency to avoid contractions. This also is not
                  boring when many characters do it.

                  >There may be insufficient evidence to support the contention that the
                  >Nazgul's use of the third person was intended to convey his
                  >dehumanization. But such a usage cannot be disproven by contrary
                  >examples from characters who are not Sauronic slaves.

                  Indeed. Which is why I wrote "I think." But I was concerned merely to
                  reply to the suggestion that third-person was by itself an implication of
                  dehumanization. Clearly it is not.

                  And there are counter-examples on the other side, too. The Mouth of Sauron
                  is so dehumanized that he has forgotten his own real name, a fact the text
                  comments on. Yet he manages to refer to himself as "I" several times. And
                  the Witch-King says to Gandalf, "This is MY hour" (emphasis added), a
                  wording which might strike his Master as suspiciously arrogant.

                  >And if there are so few examples of characters speaking in the third
                  >person at periods of heightened emotion (Gandalf's speech to the
                  >Balrog should have qualified for such usage, but he referred to
                  >himself in the first person), then I would say that there is
                  >insufficient evidence to support a contention of generality.

                  Which is why I wrote "BEGIN to generalize" and "TEND to speak". This isn't
                  an automatic "circumstance A produces result B" situation; nothing in
                  Tolkien is. One could also suggest that the Battle at the Bridge was less
                  solemn (though at least as serious) an occasion as the others, but that's
                  dubious. (My wording was "solemn moments" rather than "periods".)

                  >At the very least, this device was used by Tolkien similarly to his
                  >device of the Eagles: sparingly. He may have desired nothing more
                  >than to slip in a little variety.

                  Probably so: Brian Rosebury's study of Tolkien notes his careful use of
                  word order, for instance, to avoid verbal fatigue. But variety under what
                  circumstances? I am merely suggesting that there are certain occasions at
                  which it tends to happen, while at others it would not be appropriate.
                  Tolkien had a good ear.


                  At 12:54 PM 9/13/2001 , Mary S. wrote:

                  >"You're not going to have Sauron to kick around any moooooooore.........."

                  Politicians, on the other hand (this references Nixon, and Dole was spoken
                  of earlier) seem to speak in the third person to make sure their names get
                  in the sound bites.

                  And comic book characters often speak in the third person because, comic
                  book words being mostly dialogue, it's an easy way to introduce them. Dave
                  Sim, back when he was good (which was a long time ago now), played many
                  amusing riffs on this and other forms of vocal self-reference in "Cerebus",
                  eventually settling on third-person as the mark of a country-bumpkin dialect.

                  Strangely, drama (whether stage plays, movies, or tv), though even more
                  dialogue-heavy than comic books, rarely has characters who talk this way.
                  I'm trying, but failing, to resist the temptation to say that this might be
                  because dramatists, even hack screenwriters, are usually better writers
                  than most comic book scripters ...

                  David Bratman
                • michael@xenite.org
                  ... verbal ... more than ... one ... speech ... for all ... not ... I think we re approaching a middle ground on the Nazgul passage and I feel no compelling
                  Message 8 of 16 , Sep 13, 2001
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                    --- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
                    > I wouldn't call it a "device" - that's too close to a gimmick or a
                    verbal
                    > tick, which would be more than boring, it would be annoying, if
                    more than
                    > one character used it. Rather, it's a stylistic trait in Tolkien,
                    one
                    > which is probably not unique to him. Other traits of formality in
                    speech
                    > may be noted in Tolkien that are used pretty much across the board
                    for all
                    > characters, notably a tendency to avoid contractions. This also is
                    not
                    > boring when many characters do it.

                    I think we're approaching a middle ground on the Nazgul passage and I
                    feel no compelling need to make an issue of it. You make some good
                    points, and have given me something to think about.
                  • Trudy Shaw
                    ... From: michael@xenite.org To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2001 4:55 PM Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Nazgul I think we re approaching a
                    Message 9 of 16 , Sep 14, 2001
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                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: michael@...
                      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2001 4:55 PM
                      Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Nazgul


                      I think we're approaching a middle ground on the Nazgul passage and I
                      feel no compelling need to make an issue of it. You make some good
                      points, and have given me something to think about.



                      Since we're talking about JRRT here, I'd venture that the "middle ground" could very well be that he was aware of both possible meanings when he composed that particular piece of dialogue, and wrote it in a way that didn't rule out either one. Pure speculation, of course. -- Trudy



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