Tolkien Biographies and Biographers

All about J.R.R.Tolkien's life, his beliefs and philosophies, and his interests
Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:20 pm

Merry, "anorak" has two meanings:

(1) a heavy water-proof parka with hood
(2) a person, usually male, who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects

Now, since Humprey Carpenter so kindly referred to Tolkien enthusiasts as "anorak-clad troups," we must assume he was referring to the parka. Not sure what exactly he has against parkas (a highly practical and useful, dare I say necessary, piece of winter outerwear), unless this is another class reference -- i.e., only the lower classes would require anoraks for slogging about in miserable weather, as the upper class educated elite have drivers to take them door-to-door and can afford to dress more fashionably. Perhaps the anorak/parka was also more associated with college students, who took up Tolkien's works in DROVES in the 60s-70s; hence the piece of outerwear called the anorak becomes synonymous with the person associated with wearing it -- the young college male obssessed with Tolkien (or some other "niche" subject).

I have a very stylish black parka/anorak that I happily wear every winter. Humphrey Carpenter and his ilk can bite me!
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

Merry
Varda
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Postby Merry » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:49 pm

:lol: Thanks, Lindariel. I'm sure it is a class reference. Interesting secondary meaning to the term.

I think Humphrey Carpenter is dead, but I'd like to see him and his kind get through an Iowa winter without a parka! And they can bite me, too. :twisted:
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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.

marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:56 am

Yes, Humphrey C died in 2005 at the early age of 58. His Times obituary is worth a look- it sheds a lot more light on the man himself. You can read it here:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 408779.ece

The use of the word 'anorak' as somebody with niche-obsessed tendencies came about, I think, because train-spotters and bird-watchers (both niche-obsessed) wear them in all weathers when spotting their trains and watching their birds. Again, they tend to be 'ordinary people'.

I agree that many critics simply haven't looked deeply enough into Tolkien's work, largely because his writings yield up their meanings slowly and with repeated reading. Background knowledge eg about philology is also helpful. And a couple of critics have been 'turned off' by some of their contemporaries' extreme behaviour, such as dressing up. They could do with opening their minds!
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"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:17 pm

Thanks for the obit, marbretherese. It's written in a personal style not often seen here in the States. Carpenter seems to have done some malicious things, all without malice, at least according to this!

It occurs to me that Tolkien himself would not have approved very much of all the anorak-clad and the girls with puffy-sleeves, etc. All the photos I've seen of him portrayed him as rather formally dressed, even when sitting under a tree. I guess we'd need to say that some of the readers of LOTR (and viewers of the movies) are as superficial about its deeper meaning as some of these critics.
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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.

Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:19 pm

Merry wrote:It occurs to me that Tolkien himself would not have approved very much of all the anorak-clad and the girls with puffy-sleeves, etc. All the photos I've seen of him portrayed him as rather formally dressed, even when sitting under a tree. I guess we'd need to say that some of the readers of LOTR (and viewers of the movies) are as superficial about its deeper meaning as some of these critics.


And also that these critics were clearly basing their opinion on the totality of people who love LOTR on the appearance and antics of the most outrageous of its fans. As the membership on this site clearly attests, not all of us wear costumes as a life-style choice, belong to the Society for Creative Anachronisms, play RPG video games nonstop, or spend all of our time clutching teddy bears and sighing over Orlando Bloom (we just sigh in an ever so dignified way over Viggo).

Not that there's anything wrong with wearing costumes . . .

Or the Society for Creative Anachronisms . . .

Or Orlando Bloom, for that matter (he just isn't Viggo, poor chap) . . .

Or teddy bears (delightful things) . . .

The video games? Well, I could certainly live without them . . . but that's MY choice . . .

The point is that many of us are highly educated, creative, and, dare I say, rather profound thinkers, and it is deeply insulting to be so summarily and sneeringly dismissed as a bunch of bizarre, feckless twits because we happen to perceive and appreciate beauties to which they are most unfortunately blind.

Perhaps we should be charitable and feel sorry for them . . . so very, very sorry.

Or, they can just bite me!
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

Merry
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Postby Merry » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:10 pm

:lol:

Maybe that's why the critics were so surprised that LOTR won the poll. They thought ALL the fans fit a certain profile.

You might be interested to know more about the poll. It was conducted by Waterstone's (is that a bookstore?) in their 105 branches, with 25,000 people replying. More than 1/5 of the voters voted LOTR in first place. It was 1200 votes ahead of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four. Pearce reports that LOTR won at almost every branch in Britain and in every region, with the exception of Wales, where Joyce's Ulysses won.

There were a lot of allegations that The Tolkien Society had organized people to vote, so other polls were held. The Daily Telegraph invited its readers to vote for the best book of the century, and LOTR again came in first and Tolkien was named the greatest author, followed by Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. Soon after, the Folio Society and its 50,000 members voted LOTR as Britain's favorite book of ANY century, followed by Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Dickens' David Copperfield.

As you might expect, there was a lot of tsk-tsking at all of these results!
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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.

marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:26 am

Yes, Waterstone's is a bookstore - one of the largest in the UK. These results must have come as a shock to the critics. And as far as I can recall, the Tolkien Society has around 900 - 1000 members worldwide, so unless each of them persuaded 25 people to take part it looks as though ordinary non-society-joining folk like Tolkien too. Real people, eh - such a nuisance. They just won't lie down. . . !

Edited to add: I forgot to mention I've done quite a bit of sighing over Orlando Bloom in my time. But never clutching a teddy bear :lol:
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"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."


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Merry
Varda
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Postby Merry » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:05 pm

I've been trying to think what it would have said about a nation or a time when 1984 was voted the best book. The thought of that makes me sad. While it certainly had a memorable message, is that the message that the 20th century held most important? And I can't remember if I thought it was well written or not. (I last read it when 1984 was in the future!)

Some of the critics noted the importance of school syllabi in regard to the polling results, but they mostly admitted that LOTR doesn't appear in most syllabi--too long for a semester, I guess.
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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 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:15 pm

They give the Tolkien Society credit for far more power than it's actually got :lol: .

It says everything that they couldn't accept that the poll could be true without being fixed in some way :roll: . The huge sales figures and number of editions alone should have given them a clue. Unless the Tolkien Society secretly buys all the copies.
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:35 pm

There's a lot of Harry Potter in this list ... but look at #7. To the naysayers ... stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it. :wink:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/30/the-15-biggest-bestseller_n_664029.html
Last edited by Riv Res on Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:38 pm

Your way of saying 'bite me', I imagine! :wink:

I'm kind of surprised by the Agatha Christie.
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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.

marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:49 am

Good to see that according to Huffington Post LOTR is the number one current bestseller (in the box to the right of the main list).
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"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/

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:00 pm

I was looking at a set of lists on another website last week (none of them agree... ) and LotR came in the top 10 just below Baden-Powell's 'Camping for Boys' :lol: .
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:31 pm

I think the noteworthy thing is that LOTR is virtually on ALL the top 10 lists. What does this say about the continued popularity of (dare I say, love affair with) this story ... poorly written ... 'paternalistic, reactionary, anti-intellectual, racist, fascistic and, perhaps worst of all in contemporary terms, irrelevant' ... as it is? :wink:
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:44 pm

That is an interesting list of terms, isn't it? Very political. Although this is a list that has been compiled from many critics, they agree in saying that somehow, LOTR is not politically correct. In other words, Tolkien's values are not my values. Whether or not this is actually true--and I think we could make counter-arguments about all of them--it's an extraordinary set of claims to have come from critics who are supposed to be liberal, open-minded, democratic, and embracing diversity.

RR, I run into these people all the time. When their ideas are popular, then they revel in being populist. When they are not, they are well above the uneducated masses. One cannot win. :?
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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.


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