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Re: [mythsoc] re 'hope'

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  • Pauline J. Alama
    Interesting. When I read Shippey s discussion of hope & hopelessness in LotR, it reminded me of (I think) Christopher Lasch s distinction between hope and
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 26, 2002
      Interesting. When I read Shippey's discussion of hope & hopelessness in LotR, it reminded me of (I think) Christopher Lasch's distinction between hope and optimism. Optimism is the belief that one can expect a good outcome, that every day in every way we're getting better & better, blah blah blah. Hope is the will to keep on trying, even when you understand the very real possibility of a tragic outcome. In Lasch's opinion (IIRC), our society needs more hope and less optimism. I think Tolkien would have agreed with that; and I think the "hope" that some of his better characters (Sam, I think, is one) are said to lack is Lasch's "optimism."

      Pauline J. Alama, Ph.D.

      --- On Sat 03/23, Margaret Dean <margdean@...> wrote:
      > odzer@... wrote:
      > >
      > > I really wanted to hear what anyone else thought about the use
      > of the
      > > word 'hope' in this passage from History of Middle Earth vol 12 , pg
      > 308:
      > >
      > > "the folk of Beor were more steadfast in endurance of hardship
      > and sorrow,
      > > slow to tears or to laughter; their fortitude needed no hope to
      > sustain it."
      > >
      > > I posted this question some weeks ago, but no one offered any
      > suggestions, so
      > > I am asking once more, since the subject of the word "hope' has
      > arisen again.
      > > Clearly the word/concept of hope is a deep and subtle one in
      > Tolkiens
      > > understanding ( Tolkien's weltunshaungen? how is that lovely word
      > spelled?)
      > > To have hope is important, but to strive without hope is also a high
      > virtue?
      > > Maybe it is as simple as that, and I am seeking subtle nuances where
      > the
      > > sense is straightforward. But I do think there is something to
      > explore in the
      > > contrast between Christian and pre Christian 'heroic' understandings
      > of this
      > > wonderful word, 'hope'.
      >
      > There is a very interesting passage in the "Debate of Finrod and
      > Andreth" (in MORGOTH'S RING, Book X of the History of
      > Middle-earth series) in which Finrod distinguishes between two
      > kinds of hope, one of which the Elves call =amdir= ("looking
      > upward") and the other of which they call =estel=
      > ("trust"). The
      > latter word, at least, should look familiar. He defines =amdir=
      > as the kind of hope that looks forward to some fortunate outcome,
      > and =estel= as, basically, the knowledge that all is in the hands
      > of a beneficent and loving creator (Iluvatar, in this case),
      > whatever happens.
      >
      >
      > --Margaret Dean
      > <margdean@...>
      >
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