Misc. Tolkien

All about J.R.R.Tolkien's life, his beliefs and philosophies, and his interests
marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Wed May 27, 2009 11:53 am

Thanks for posting that extract from Unifinished Tales, CJ - I'm not as familiar with them as I should be so that's most enlightening!!
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But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Wed May 27, 2009 12:00 pm

Iolanthe wrote:It's very enlightening, isn't it? I ramble on about it in my unfinished essay somewhere...


Hoping we may get to see the finished product sooner or later, Iolanthe!! :)

Like Marbretherese, I'm not really familiar with the Unfinished Tales, but with time at present to delve into them, I'm finding them - and the accompanying notes - very enlightening.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed May 27, 2009 4:35 pm

They are a real treasure trove!

My essay is as unfinished as the Unfinished Tales :lol: . Maybe I should be less ambitious with it, polish what I've got and just post it. After all, it's not for academia, it's just for us!
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Wed May 27, 2009 5:02 pm

Please do. :wink:
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:05 pm

This is sort of interesting, though not as interesting as the title suggests:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6197169/JRR-Tolkien-trained-as-British-spy.html

(To give credit where it is due, I found this link through TOR.n.)
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:02 pm

Is this episode in Professor Tolkien's life what was referred to in "Letters", in an excerpt dated January 1939? In his letter #35 he writes

I may get part of the Easter Vac free. Not all - I shall have some papers to set; and some work in preparation for a "National Emergency" (which will take a week out).


The note to the letter states:
In January 1939 Tolkien was asked whether in the event of a national emergency (ie war) he would be prepared to work in the cryptographical department of the Foreign Office. He agreed and apparently attended a four-day course of instruction at the Foreign Office beginning on 27 March. But in October 1939 he was informed that his services would not be required for the present, and in the event he never worked as a cryptographer.

© 1981 George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) ltd


Source: The Letters of J R R Tolkien, ed Humphrey Carpenter
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....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Merry
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Postby Merry » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:52 pm

Well, good memory, Chrissiejane! I had forgotten that this was mentioned in the letters. But it appears that there are some disagreements about what really happened! :?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:38 pm

Yes indeed! It was the dates that rang vague bells for me Merry, and when I found the letter it does look like the same episode, but the version in "Letters" is much less exotic. :)
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....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Merry
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Postby Merry » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:40 pm

And the accounts also differ in regard to who said 'no' to whom: the Telegraph reports that Tolkien 'declined the offer', where Carpenter said that the 'spies' told Tolkien that he services were not required. Hmmm...
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:02 pm

I've turned to the invaluable Scull and Hammond JRR Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology to see if it sheds light on it. Their facts agree with Carpenter - he was informed in October that he wasn't needed for the present, and was subsequently never called. Given how thorough Scull and Hammond are and the access they were given to Tolkien's papers, there's no reason to suppose any other cause for him not doing it. But if we were to look for one they give this note for August - Autumn 1939:

August: Tolkien has an accident, resulting in concussion and requiring stitches, while visiting an old friend of Edith's on a farm in Worcestershire.

Tolkien's accident leaves him unwell for a long time, 'and that combined with the anxieties and troubles that all share [with the out-break of war], and the lack of any holiday, and with the virtual headship of a department in this bewildered university have made me unpardonably neglectful' (letter to Stanley Unwin, 19 December 1939). Edith is also ill all through summer and autumn 1939. Nonetheless, Tolkien now continues to work on The Lord of the Rings.


Sounds like the powers that be recognised that he was overworked and unwell, with a sick wife, and decided to only call on his services as a last resort.
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:23 pm

I know we talked about the Norman invasion in some other thread, but I can't find it, so I'll bring it up again here!

I was watching some of the additional stuff from the ROTK DVD last night--if I've watched it before, I can't remember it. (Maybe one of the benefits of getting older!) Someone said that Tolkien thought that if the Saxons had had horses, maybe the Normans wouldn't have beaten them so easily and things would be very different in England. And out of that came Rohan: Saxons with horses. Whoever the commentator was, he was still referring to the Saxons as 'we', as in 'we would have won', so the identification still runs deep!

So does anyone know how Tolkien (or anyone else, for that matter) would have thought England would be different today had they been able to fend off the Normans? I know he thought that the literature would be different, having preserved the national mythology, etc. Any other ways?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:04 pm

That's a good question, Merry. As well as preserving England's lost mythology, there is the whole language, of course, that started evolving differently as it incorporated new words, although Norman French was mainly spoken by the invading aristocracy.

Shippey (I think...) mentioned at the Festival in the Shire that because the ruling elite changed, all but the most basic education was given in French with the former English rulers denied it. I expect it made little difference to the Anglo Saxon in the street though! But it would also have affected the development of literature, almost bringing it to a standstill.

There must be a ton of other ways it affected how England developed, but for the life of me I can't think of any more at the moment!
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:20 pm

Wonderful discussion and I wish I had something to add but we never think of cultural changes on this side of the pond unless you are a native to the continent. So thinking of how the native peoples were when white Europeans came and what they are today I can grasp what huge disruptions took place in England to some degree.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:44 pm

I must admit it's not something I'd ever thought about over here until I read Tolkien and his views on it. To him (uniquely) it must have felt like a very real and present catastrophe because so much of what he loved about Saxon and pre-Saxon culture was lost. Both world wars, especially the Second, because the fight was brought to the Home Front, must have filled him with a dread that history could repeat itself.
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:20 pm

Iolanthe wrote:I must admit it's not something I'd ever thought about over here until I read Tolkien and his views on it.


Really? With civilizations switching hands all through out Europe's busy eras I'd have thought it was regular practice.

But I agree it must have troubled the Professor greatly. What he envisioned England to be like after a defeat must have been frightening.
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