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  1. Comments on Tolkien and Cambridge

    Many thanks to Simon Cook for the latest essay in the Scholars Forum (the first after some hiatus)! Please use this thread to share any comments or related thoughts about Tolkien and Cambridge, which can be found here:

    http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread....dge-Simon-Cook



    (PS - any missing spaces or other eccentricities of formatting are a result of the uploading process. I tried to even these out before letting the essay go live, but I probably missed some - let me know and I'll make the corrections.)
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 09/May/2014 at 12:34 PM.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  2. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #2
    This is really interesting. So the early Legendarium was not just inspired by late 19th century fairies.

    It's also interesting to be reminded of the racial stereotypes, particularly north / south, that were around at the time, and that Tolkien seems to have bypassed altogether. Echoes of them can still be heard in European debates (industrious, honest north vs. indolent, corrupt south).
    I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses.

  3. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #3
    Looking forward to reading this! I've got my weekend all planned out. I'll be back with comments later :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  4. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #4
    I read it and loved it. Thank you so much for posting this essay, as a poor student I am very appreciative for any scholarly information I can get without having to subscribe to journals :)
    My only comment is on the goddess Nerthus who appears to be some sort of mother goddess such as were part of many ancient societies. I believe she is linked with the sister-son relationship of the Anglo-Saxons that we see reflected in the Rohirrim. Even though the Rohirrim have a king as leader of their patriarchal society, there are echoes of the older matriarchal society through the importance of the sister-son relationship. There's a thread about it somewhere but after searching for it I cannot find it.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  5. I want to thank Simon again for a fascinating paper - I've also just finished reading his longer TS paper, which he's kindly passed on, and which complements this piece very nicely.

    From my perspective, I'm extremely happy to see more discussion of ethnological and mythological debates that formed such an important part of Tolkien's background. The specific parallels are often hard to untangle, but it seems pretty clear that legendary and mythological matter of the continental Angles had a huge effect on Tolkien - Ing, Scyld/King Sheave, wondrous times of Peace, people showing up or setting out on mysterious ship-journeys, and 'culture heroes'. Along with Chadwick, R.W. Chambers' edition of Widsith (published 1912) definitely caught Tolkien's notice.

    The specifics can be hard to pin down though. With the 'southern Rohirrim', I'm not entirely convinced we can really point to Ridgeway as even a probable source. Tolkien would most likely have found the idea of the Achaeans as originally Germanic fairly absurd - I think he saw a commonality between the lifestyle depicted in Homer and in the Germanic world, but probably stemming more from the idea that they both shared a common stage of cultural development (so to speak): they were both going through a 'heroic age' phase. As for geography, the Goths readily put a Germanic people in the Mediterranean - some of the resonances there have been teased out by Miryam Librán-Moreno in Fisher's essay collection.

    Anyway, moving back North, it will also be interesting to see how the new Commentary to Beowulf fills out our impressions of Tolkien's views on North Sea/Baltic legend and the English. He has notes on the Beowulfian phrase Fréa Ingwina, for instance ('Lord of the Friends of Ing'), which he relates to the ancient worship of Ing in those parts. I'll be interested to see whether these comments, from (apparently) the 1930's and 40's, help us understand Tolkien's initial impulses in writing his mythology (in which, at one point, Ing the ancestor of the Germanic Ingwines was going to feature directly - see The History of Eriol and ∆lfwine in the BoLT II), or how those impulses carried on and changed (or didn't) in his later writings. A very tangled thread, but a fascinating one!
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 02/Jun/2014 at 06:38 PM.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  6. In other words, it is not clear what bearing believing an idea to be historically true has on Tolkien's making use of it.

    This is a good point, and moves on Tolkien's part like having Gothic speakers be the ancestors of Old English speakers do arguably represent a kind of literary smoothing to depict a more harmonious situation than that arrived at by scholarly inquiry. But there's always the question of why a given idea might have resonated or stuck in Tolkien's mind - I can certainly see it with the Goths (who, both on their own terms and in their relationship to the English, rather preoccupied Tolkien), but I'm not quite as clear on why we should see it with Ridgeway's ideas (especially when that connection doesn't really 'explain' anything we couldn't just as well without it). I suppose it's basically a case that this might have been an influence - but whether it was for sure, and if so just what role it played amidst the various other plausible or probable influences that went into making the Rohirrim what they are, seem very hard to pin down (harder than at least in some cases).
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

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