Say What?!?

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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Iduna » Fri Sep 02, 2005 2:10 pm

I don't know either, not being English and not having lived at that time. I hardly ever find anyone who shares my opinion. I am just always curious about other people's opinions. And as I said: it is just my feeling and how I see the books.
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 2:22 pm

Wow. You sent me off on a biography hunt, and it appears that it was Tolkien's experiences in WWI that greatly influenced the direction of the whole body of his fantasy work. Didn't realize that it was that early in the whole endeavour!

Googled on Tolkien, biography - got a whole flock of hits. Interesting stuff.
>^..^<
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Andy Warton » Fri Sep 02, 2005 3:29 pm

Hey guys.

Selma, that's true - I heard Tolkien did use WW2 images/experiences in LotR, such as the Orcs representing the unbelievable foe of the Nazis, who were initially so daunting, it seemed they could never be defeated.

By the way, I'm suprised that so many people didn't like "The Hobbit"! I hated it at first, but when I got into it, I couldn't get enough. Besides, I had to read it - it was on the list of books everyone had to read before coming to my school.

LotR was torture for me, because I am a fantastically slow reader and the excitement soon ground to a halt.

:D

<small>[ 09-02-2005, 04:51 PM: Message edited by: Andy W ]</small>
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Iduna » Fri Sep 02, 2005 3:49 pm

Totally new perspective, Andy! I always considered Mordor in the East as Russia, and middle earth as central Europe. But well, I guess Nazi-Germany makes sense and Orcs and Nazis definitely share characteristics. Since I grew up in Western Germany, my geographic location probably influenced my "own theory" of the cold war and Mordor representing Russia.

Selma, what did you find out? I decided not to start reading my google results, because I should actually be working :-(

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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 4:06 pm

Not WW2, Andy - WW1. That's when Tolkien was a young man, he entered service in time to be involved in the Somme, contracted "trench fever" and was invalided home to England where he spent the rest of the war. It was his time in hospital that he spent first organizing his mythology and stories into the grand scheme that eventually became LotR. He is known to have presented some of the Middle Earth stories at meetings with other Oxford staff members, in the early 1920's.

Apparently, much of the story, background, history, and characters were set before the Nazis were a factor - the Beer Hall Putsch was, what, 1923? and Hitler didn't become Chancellor until 1933. I will admit that the Kaiser may have inspired aspects of Sauron's character, and the whole theme of the return of a defeated evil does sound like the Germany of WWI and WWII.

I think we've uncovered doctoral dissertation material here.
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Iduna » Fri Sep 02, 2005 4:59 pm

I don't know, I would rather not spend three years of my life just making speculations and writing them down. Nobody will ever be able to prove anything and Tolkien did not say what inspired him.

However, if Sauron's character and the return of an evil that was once defeated and tries to gain power again stands for Germany, this idea is not from the early 1920's. How could Tolkien have known the role of Germany in WWII at that time? WWI might have inspired his books in the first place, but we will never know which parts Tolkien created in WWII or after that.
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Andy Warton » Sat Sep 03, 2005 4:35 am

Okay, I know I may just be throwing oil on the fire here, but I also recall someone saying that "The Lord of the Rings" was actually a series of tales told orally in Tolkein's family as a tradition. They grew and became more detailed, and Tolkein wrote them as plausible ("plausible") books. Perhaps what happened was that Tolkein actually came up with the stories himself, told them to his young kids/nephews/neices, and then, seeing he'd hit on something special, decided to write them down. I don't remember all that much, myself. Has anyone else heard the same theory?
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Angie Parkes » Thu Sep 08, 2005 2:24 pm

More fuel for the flames.

In his introduction to LotR, Tolkien specifically states that he dislikes allegory, and he intended no direct correspondences between his books and real life. That being said, he was undoubtedly influenced by WWI.

I am a Tolkien fan; I have the privilege of working with a man who is a Tolkien scholar. I asked him for his comments about the suggestions made on this thread. This is his take:

It is true that Tolkien did not want you to think of his writing in terms of the one-to-one substitution of direct allegory. So the One Ring is not the Atomic Bomb.

But I don’t think that Tolkien would necessarily object to people drawing experiences/lessons from the books that can be applied to current situations as long as you did not confuse the two as being separate things.

Certainly WWI had a major influence on the writer’s of that generation. Raynor Unwin commented on one of the extended DVDs for the movies that he could not see how it could not have and that the proliferation of Fantasy writing after the war might be explained as an attempt to reconcile the horrors of that reality. The first versions of the Simarillion were written in 1917, just after Tolkien’s experiences in the Trenches. These I would not consider children’s stories. The Hobbit came about later (published 1937) and probably did start as a story for his children, John Francis (1917), Michael Hilary (1920), Christopher Reuel (1924), Priscilla Anne (1929) based loosely on the Myth Cycle that he had been developing previously.

Tolkien felt that England (as a result of the Norman Conquest) lacked a national mythology. This is what he sought initially to invent and some of his early writings set out in The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 5) show this influence.

He was, however, greatly influenced by the Icelandic/Nordic Sagas (in particular the Volsunga Saga, the Icelandic version of the Nibelungen cycle which influenced Wagner), the Finnish Epic, Kalevala and, probably, the Mabinogin.
My colleague John also directed me to Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth by John Garth and sent me this review from "Publishers Weekly".

This dense but informative study addresses the long-standing controversy over how J.R.R. Tolkien's WWI experience influenced his literary creations. A London journalist, Garth is a student of both Tolkien and the Great War. He writes that when war broke out, Tolkien was active in an Oxford literary society known as the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (TCBS), along with three of his closest friends. Finishing his degree before joining up, Tolkien served as a signal officer in the nightmarish Battle of the Somme in 1916, where two of those friends were killed. The ordeal on the Somme led to trench fever, which sent him home for the rest of the war and probably saved his life. It also influenced a body of Northern European-flavored mythology he had been inventing and exploring in both prose and verse before the war, toward its evolution into The Book of Lost Tales and in due course Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. This book could not pretend to be aimed at other than the serious student of Tolkien, and readers will benefit from a broad knowledge of his work (as well as a more than casual knowledge of WWI). But it also argues persuasively that Tolkien did not create his mythos to escape from or romanticize the war. Rather, the war gave dimensions to a mythos he was already industriously exploring. [my italics] Garth's fine study should have a major audience among serious students of Tolkien, modern fantasy and the influence of war on literary creation.
Read into LotR whatever you want, but it was not Tolkien's intention to draw parallels to modern events.
Cheers,
Angie
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby piqaboo » Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:41 pm

Dont most wars begin because some "evil" person attempts to control territory not theirs?

Perspective is a funny thing.......
I used to work with a persian and an indian. They both had learned the history of the same conquerer, (Nadir Shah, I think). One learned of him as a great hero, who made his country a mighty empire. The other learned of him as a despicable conqueror who overran their country and enslaved it.
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Angie Parkes » Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:48 pm

Don't OT and Shap & Haggis have the same sort of problem? :D
Cheers,
Angie
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby OperaTenor » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:09 pm

Angie, Angie, Angie..................

:D
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby piqaboo » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:11 pm

dont forget Sir Shos! ;)
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby OperaTenor » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:26 pm

No, I don't think Shos is deluded by perspective. He's the keeper of the absolute truth.

;)
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Angie Parkes » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:42 pm

Geez, OT, you channeling Mick Jagger?

:D
Cheers,
Angie
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Shapley » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:47 pm

No, Mick Jagger isn't dead, he just looks that way....
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Marye » Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:48 pm

[quote]Originally posted by OperaTenor:
[b] No, I don't think Shos is deluded by perspective. He's the keeper of the absolute truth. :D
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby OperaTenor » Thu Sep 08, 2005 5:21 pm

Hi Angie,

That's a Stones' song? Never really payed them much attention. Must be a case of 1,000 monkeys and 1,000 typewriters.....

Hi Mary,

Here in the Bushaters club, we dispense with titles......

:D

<small>[ 09-08-2005, 06:23 PM: Message edited by: OperaTenor ]</small>
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Trumpetmaster » Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:07 am

Originally posted by Shapley:
No, Mick Jagger isn't dead, he just looks that way....
:)

Going to see Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones in Concert next Tuesday Night. A first.....

:)
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Shapley » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:55 am

TM,

I hope you have a good time. I saw Bob Dylan a few years ago. It was a bit of a disappointment. I like Bob Dylan, but he probably should have stopped touring a decade or so ago.

It was actually humourous. All us old fogeys sitting around, when one of the attendees fired up a "doobie". Murmers and offended looks from all around, "I can't believe the gall!" was heard from nearby.

Times sure have changed.

V/R
Shapley
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Re: Say What?!?

Postby Marye » Fri Sep 09, 2005 11:37 am

Originally posted by TrumpetMaster:
Originally posted by Shapley:
[b] No, Mick Jagger isn't dead, he just looks that way....
:)

Going to see Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones in Concert next Tuesday Night. A first.....

:) [/b]
I have seen the Stones many times, last time it cost me $700.00 for two tickets. I am not going this time as I would have to take out a loan... what are you paying for your tickets TM?

The Stones are fun in concert.
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