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Re: Context ... or something like that

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  • michael_martinez2
    ... When I took a class on The Birth of Europe in college, the professor asked the students to fill out a little survey. One of the questions was, What do
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 26, 2001
      --- In mythsoc@y..., ERATRIANO@a... wrote:
      > There is a lot of our Northern Ancient History woven into Tolkien.
      > It's not that we will learn the sagas from Tolkien, but that if we
      > ever do get a chance to study them, there will be a familiarity, a
      > something.... the way there is a something when a Tolkien or
      > Inklings fan goes to England. It is only too bad that it is so
      > difficult and rare an experience to follow up and learn this
      > stuff. We get Greek and Rome up the wazoo.... but for the
      > Northlands we don't get a lot.

      When I took a class on "The Birth of Europe" in college, the
      professor asked the students to fill out a little survey. One of the
      questions was, "What do you hope to gain from this course". Nearly
      everyone answered that they wanted to learn more about the barbarians
      (specifically, the Germans). Dr. Shealy pointed out that the reason
      why people find so little information on those early peoples is that
      not much is available.

      Tolkien, however, did not give up on Greece. Except for the Bible,
      I'm not sure he was influenced by anything which passed through Roman
      hands, but he loved Greek mythology and the way it was interwoven
      with Greek language. That had a profound influence upon him, and it
      is quite evident in his Middle-earth mythologies.

      My current view is that Tolkien wrote THE LORD OF THE RINGS as an
      example of what Anglo-Saxon literature might have evolved into, had
      there been no 1066. It would have been strongly influenced by Greek
      mythology in just the ways he is influenced, of course -- there are
      inspirations for some of the stories and characters in Greek
      mythology -- but it is also modelled on ancient Anglo-Saxon/Germanic
      superlatives.

      Tolkien looked for influence in many languages and cultures, but I
      have become more convinced over the past year that he was trying to
      devise a workable model for a modern Anglo-Saxon literature. He once
      wrote that he hoped people would add to what he had begun. For years
      I thought he meant Middle-earth -- that he hoped there would be more
      Middle-earth stories, perhaps through dramatic adaptations, to which
      he didn't really object.

      But I believe what he meant was that he hoped people would see what
      he was trying to do and continue that work.

      I may change my opinion in the future, but though I have criticized
      Shippey's books for hammering the Anglo-Saxon elements at the expense
      of all but ignoring the Greek and Biblical elements, I think this is
      where Shippey's line of reasoning must lead. I don't know if he has
      gone that far himself. But some of the things he has written
      convinced me (finally) that Tolkien wanted to revive Anglo-Saxon
      literature in an unusual way. He didn't want to go back to the
      past. He wanted to pick up the thread where it should have been
      found, had the history not been diverted along Franco-Norman lines.

      If I am correct, then Tolkien's greatest act of sub-creation (in my
      opinion) was his most subtle.
    • David S. Bratman
      ... And then you surprise me by saying something as perceptive as this, which is supported by Shippey s observation that words like mathom and smial are
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 26, 2001
        At 09:21 AM 12/26/2001 , Michael Martinez wrote:

        >My current view is that Tolkien wrote THE LORD OF THE RINGS as an
        >example of what Anglo-Saxon literature might have evolved into, had
        >there been no 1066.

        And then you surprise me by saying something as perceptive as this, which
        is supported by Shippey's observation that words like "mathom" and "smial"
        are Tolkien's reconstruction of what some real Anglo-Saxon words would have
        evolved into had they lived on into modern English.

        >Tolkien looked for influence in many languages and cultures, but I
        >have become more convinced over the past year that he was trying to
        >devise a workable model for a modern Anglo-Saxon literature.

        Further supported by his authorship of what are, if not the only, certainly
        among the very few original poems in modern English using the Anglo-Saxon
        poetic meters.

        >He once
        >wrote that he hoped people would add to what he had begun. For years
        >I thought he meant Middle-earth -- that he hoped there would be more
        >Middle-earth stories, perhaps through dramatic adaptations, to which
        >he didn't really object.

        Not as such, or he'd never have sold the rights, first to the BBC for a
        radio adaptation and later to the film. But he certainly reserved the
        right to object to particular aspects of particular adaptations, and
        exercised that right with great vigor.


        >But I believe what he meant was that he hoped people would see what
        >he was trying to do and continue that work.
        >
        >I may change my opinion in the future, but though I have criticized
        >Shippey's books for hammering the Anglo-Saxon elements at the expense
        >of all but ignoring the Greek and Biblical elements, I think this is
        >where Shippey's line of reasoning must lead.

        I think both interpretations are correct. That Tolkien did hope for
        adaptations in other media of his own work is the clear meaning of the
        famous passage in the Waldman letter, and is confirmed by Letter 260.

        But your other supposition, though not directly supported by any text I can
        think of offhand, rings so true that I'm sure you're correct, even if
        Tolkien did not consciously realize that was his true desire.
      • michael_martinez2
        ... And then you surprise me with the utmost politeness. Whatever it is in my responses which rankles you, I have not come looking for fights.
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 26, 2001
          --- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
          > At 09:21 AM 12/26/2001 , Michael Martinez wrote:
          >
          > >My current view is that Tolkien wrote THE LORD OF THE RINGS as an
          > >example of what Anglo-Saxon literature might have evolved into, had
          > >there been no 1066.
          >
          > And then you surprise me by saying something as perceptive as this,

          And then you surprise me with the utmost politeness. Whatever it is
          in my responses which rankles you, I have not come looking for fights.
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