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Luddite themes of the book.

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  • odzer@aol.com
    I was just looking at a prev post from Wendell Wagner that suggests that Tolkien had a Luddite sensibility. Don t you think that overstates it a bit? Deep
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 7, 2002
      I was just looking at a prev post from Wendell Wagner that suggests that
      Tolkien had a Luddite sensibility. Don't you think that overstates it a bit?
      Deep suspicion of 'modern technology', yes, but that's not the same as a
      violent, total rejection.Maybe i am splitting hairs, but Luddite , to me at
      least, has a negative connotation that is not commesurate with what I
      understand of Tolkiens more nuanced sensibility. in several letters he refers
      to some capibilities of modern technology that, as they are already at hand,
      he at least appriciates certain uses of, such as the ability to send
      airmail/airgrams to his son. And didn't he drive a car on a few occasions? No
      genuine Luddite would do anything to a car except smash it. While it is more
      likely that one might underestimate the strength of various degrees of
      Tolkien's distaste, concern for and at times even dread of modernity, it can
      be overstated too.
      Granted that Wendell probably used the term loosely, but it seems a topic to
      ponder, if anyone is interested.

      oh here is a good statement from the man himself on the subject, from
      letters, no 64

      " It is full Maytime by the trees and grass now. But the heavens are full of
      roar and riot. You cannot even hold a shouting conversation in the garden
      now, save about 1a.m. and 7p.m.- unless the day is too foul to be out. How I
      wish the 'internal combustion' engine had never invented. Or (more difficult
      still since humanity and engineers in special are both nitwitted and
      malicious as a rule) that it could have been put to rational uses-if
      any....."

      and in letter 75

      " well, I have got over 2000 words onto this little flimsy airletter; and
      I will forgive the Mordor-gadgets some of their sins, if they will bring it
      quickly to you..."

      However this letter, no 75, is an excellent one to refer to for expression of
      the fundamental basis of Tolkiens considerable dread for much of the modern
      worlds inventions, for how the human spirit is altered for the worse by them.
      So basically, I agree with Wendell's characterization, I just think it is too
      simplistic to term it a 'Luddite' sensibility

      wendell had written back in digest 828, while talking about the film:
      >At one point during the film I found myself idly wondering what time period
      the look of the Shire most resembled. I decided it looked rural English
      eighteenth century (and not generic Middle Ages, like a lot of fantasy).
      This actually does fit one of the underlying themes of the book. The scenes
      in Mordor and Isengard had the Industrial Revolution feel that matched the
      Luddite themes of the book. This was only a subtext in the movie, which was
      exactly what it should have been, since it isn't explicitly mentioned in the
      book either.

      Wendell Wagner

      and as for explicit mention in the books, how about Gandalf's line "
      Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we posses ourselves
      ''
    • jamcconney@aol.com
      Well, this has made me think a bit. Why is so much fantasy laid in the generic Middle Ages ? Is it a sort of desire to get back to simpler things while
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 7, 2002
        Well, this has made me think a bit. Why is so much fantasy laid in the
        "generic Middle Ages"? Is it a sort of desire to get back to simpler things
        while conveniently ignoring such matters as outside toilets, half year
        journeys, lugging your water from the well in a bucket, reading and writing
        by candlelight with goosequill pens?

        I admit I'm just as much into this as anybody, as I work in a rather
        desultory way on a long fantasy set in just such a world (it's science
        fictional in that it's another planet, one that has used up its natural
        resources and been forced back to nature by severe shorages of almost all the
        materials needed for technology. I didn't place it in the real middle ages
        because I wanted to make up my own sociology, geography, history and so
        on--rather like McCaffrey's Pern but without dragons).

        So I ask again--why so much fantasy set in the medieval milieu rather than,
        say, that of ancient Rome or the 18th century?

        Jamaq
      • WendellWag@aol.com
        In a message dated 3/8/2002 1:08:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, odzer@aol.com ... Note that my review began with This isn t quite a full review of _The Lord of
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 8, 2002
          In a message dated 3/8/2002 1:08:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, odzer@...
          writes:


          > I was just looking at a prev post from Wendell Wagner that suggests that
          > Tolkien had a Luddite sensibility. Don't you think that overstates it a
          > bit?

          Note that my review began with "This isn't quite a full review of _The Lord
          of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring_, more like some offhand
          observations." I'll accept that I overstated the case just because I didn't
          want to write several paragraphs explaining Tolkien's views in full.

          Wendell Wagner


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