Luddite themes of the book.
- 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
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 periodthe 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
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
- 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?
- In a message dated 3/8/2002 1:08:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, odzer@...
> I was just looking at a prev post from Wendell Wagner that suggests thatNote that my review began with "This isn't quite a full review of _The Lord
> Tolkien had a Luddite sensibility. Don't you think that overstates it a
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.
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