Myths: 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' discussion

All about J.R.R.Tolkien's life, his beliefs and philosophies, and his interests
marbretherese
Posts: 765
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 1:42 pm
Location: Middle England
Contact:

Postby marbretherese » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:38 am

Merry wrote:It seems to me, anyway, that Tolkien was CSL's mentor, certainly in matters of faith, maybe in writing.


Well, yes and no, I'd say. I reckon that all the Inklings mentored each other in a way. In Diana Glyer's book The Company They Keep she makes the point that even folk who criticise your work can have a major effect on you - either you take their advice or stick to your guns - and there are several Inklings, such as Warnie Lewis (CSL's brother, who was a bit of a hero to CSL I think) and Owen Barfield, whose influence is often overlooked. The noisy ones were CSL and Charles Williams. Tolkien did influence Lewis on matters of religion and literature, but Lewis also influenced Tolkien. Possibly by making him stick to his guns!
0 x
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:46 pm

Oh, I see what you mean, marbretherese! Maybe Tolkien's dislike of CSL's fictional work, which he thought was superficial, drove him to a deeper level of writing. Lewis seemed to like Tolkien's writing, LOTR at least, and that kind of support surely helped to keep Tolkien writing.

But getting back to Campbell, I guess I'm looking for a male wisdom figure in Tolkien's adult life, someone he looks up to and to whom he goes for advice. I guess a lot of men have fathers in this role.
0 x
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
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:17 pm

I'm beginning to think that Tolkien didn't have a true male wisdom figure - just fragments of several men that influenced him at different stages. The nearest mentor is still Aunt Jane, which reinforces the 'Jane as Gandalf' theory. This lack may well explain the forceful prescence of Gandalf. I can see a boy lacking a father, who's many fictional characters are also fatherless, creating the best of all wise companions to see you through life. I think Gandalf is the fatherly guide he never truly had and explains why he is so intensely real. That's my theory anyway!

I've looked Robert Murray in my invaluable Skull and Hammond Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader's Guide (I really recommend it although it costs rather a lot of dosh). He is younger than Tolkien (born in 1925) which discounts him. I think I was temporarily sidetracked by my memory of the frail man we met at Exeter, forgetting how long Tolkien had been dead!

He was the grandson of James A. H. Murray of the Oxford English Dictionary. He read classics at Oxford from 1944-48 and that's how he got to know Tolkien. It was this friendship that led Murray to the Roman Catholic Faith so it sounds as though Tolkien was his mentor, not the other way around. He was lucky enough to read proof versions of LOTR, hence those famous letters.

So now we know :lol: .
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:17 pm

I think that's a good theory, Iolanthe! It's sort of like the characters, Gandalf at the forefront, but also Aragorn, Faramir, even Sam, embody the wisdom of the ages.

Great story about Fr. Murray--I didn't know that! I met an elderly Jesuit English prof a few years ago who was one of JRRT's students at Oxford. He said that the Professor came to prayers and dinner at the Jesuit seminary every few weeks or so. I can imagine him doing that at Blackfriars, too. I haven't read of any particular 'spiritual director' that came out of those communities, but I can imagine that there was kind of a collective wisdom there.

But, yes, Aunt Jane! I wish we knew more about what he learned from her.
0 x
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
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:29 pm

I imagine it was a lot as she was a singularly remarkable and intelligent woman - a Batchelor of Science in 1895 and finally running a farm (up 'Bag-end' lane) almost single-handed. She seems to have been unstoppable with almost boundless energy, even at 90.
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Athelin
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:01 pm
Location: my own kind of Imladris

Postby Athelin » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:08 pm

Hello Ladies,

sorry to interrupt - though I always wanted to join the discussion on the Tolkien forum and especially on The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the book rests still unread on my shelf - I'm right now finding myself in the middle of a job-tsunami with EVERYTHING uprooted and upturned. So please forgive me for having made promises in the first place.......... :oops: :roll:
0 x
Awake! The shadow is gone and all darkness is washed clean!

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:11 pm

Athelin, don't worry about this at all! I think we're all in a bit of a whirlwind these days and our motto is always 'Real life comes first!'

I'm actually going to give a lecture on this book to a senior psych class next week, so I might be here this weekend asking some frantic questions. :shock:
0 x
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
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:07 pm

How wonderful Merry! Good luck :D .

Don't worry Athelin, I've had to put my reading on hold too and am only half way through the book! This can be a slow burn conversation and we can pick it up again any time when the mood (and spare time) takes us :wink: .
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Sun Sep 27, 2009 5:06 am

So I gave my little talk on Monday and it was fun! After explaining a little about Campbell and those who influenced him and those whom he influenced, I asked the students to tell me the steps of the hero's journey based on the stories they knew. They did pretty well.

The only major step they didn't get was the hero coming back to his homeland, bringing the benefits of his journey back for the good of all. I thought it was interesting that they wouldn't have picked up on that, but I'm told that most college students are still in their narcissistic phase! But it occured to me that this step is also kind of missing in the LOTR movies. The book is delightful in its description of the cleansing of the Shire, Sam's nursery work and wedding, and the year of plenty that followed. It makes you think it might all have been worth it!

Anyway, the psych prof in whose class I was speaking said that for Jung, an archetype was a 'capacity for action'. That's interesting--so heroes have capacities to act in ways that others don't. There's an insight in there, I imagine, but I'm staying up too late and I can't figure it out! :?
0 x
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
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:14 pm

I'm glad it went so well - there's a lot of food for thought for the students there and I'm not surprised they identified most parts of the Hero's journey, it just shows how universal it is, doesn't it?

That's a good point about the films and the fact that, although the world's been saved, there is no specific example to bring it home (in both senses of the phrase!).

It's an interesting take on archetypes - a 'capacity for action'. I'll have to think more on that one too. Do we need to get in touch with the archetype within us to find that capacity in extreme situations? As they come ready built to deal with things do we sort of take on their mantle when we need their help?
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:02 am

Yes, I think so. I remember reading somewhere that Campbell thought that the hero's journey could serve as a sort of spiritual or psychological counselor for people. From what I've read, he thought that growing up, the journey toward maturity, requires heroism from all of us, and the monomyth can help us find the way. So we know there is a hero in us (buried deeply, as Tolkien thought of Bilbo!).
0 x
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
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:23 am

I really believe that's true! And Tolkien certainly did, whether consciously or not, and with the right guides we can find it - though I think the guides are crucial, as crucial as Gandalf to Bilbo and Frodo. I think one of the greatest problems of our dissolving Western Society (at least over here) is a lack of guides. We are very short of Gandalfs to set us on that journey to true adulthood!
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:23 am

Are we dissolving Western society? Nobody told us over on this side of the pond. :twisted:
0 x
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
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:08 am

:lol: It certainly seems to be dissolving where I live!
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
Varda
Posts: 3263
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:12 pm

In what ways?
0 x
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.


Return to “Tolkien's Life, Beliefs, and Interests”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests