FoTR - At The Sign Of The Prancing Pony: Bk I, Chapter VIIII

A chapter by chapter as well as general discussion of Tolkien's masterpiece
marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:01 pm

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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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Kirill Leonov
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Postby Kirill Leonov » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:07 am

0 x
Tracking the sun in his galleon and travelling the skies
'Til his splendour was shorn by the birth of morn and he died with the dawn in his eyes

Merry
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Postby Merry » Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:39 pm

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.

marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:10 pm

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
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Postby Merry » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:49 pm

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
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:14 pm

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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
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Postby Merry » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:31 pm

Right! And we (Catholics) are taught that manna is a kind of symbolic precursor to the eucharist.
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.

Kirill Leonov
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Postby Kirill Leonov » Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:29 pm

0 x
Tracking the sun in his galleon and travelling the skies

'Til his splendour was shorn by the birth of morn and he died with the dawn in his eyes

Merry
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Postby Merry » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:28 pm

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.

Kirill Leonov
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:05 am
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Postby Kirill Leonov » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:58 pm

0 x
Tracking the sun in his galleon and travelling the skies

'Til his splendour was shorn by the birth of morn and he died with the dawn in his eyes

Merry
Varda
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Postby Merry » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:00 am

Yes, indeed: I disagree most vehemently! :twisted: I guess we could discuss whether Christianity belongs in fantasy or not. But I don't think of Tolkien as fantasy (yes, we would have to define the word) and I'm not really interested in fantasy. In fact, now that I think of it, what is precisely missing from most fantasy, those superficial imitators of Tolkien, is the depth of meaning, Eru in the background, singleness of purpose, sacrifice, and sacramentality that grew out of Tolkien's lived experience as a devout religious practictioner.

(My most recent theory about what LOTR is, if it is not fantasy, is that it is a Christian romantic mythologizing of Tolkien's experience in WWI--thank you, John Garth!)

And Tolkien writes in one of the letters that LOTR is a fundamentally Catholic/Christian work. So that cannot be denied, no matter what people think about religion or Catholic Christianity. As I've said before, I agree with you about Narnia, but what I don't like about Narnia is that it makes religion superficial and one of many childish myths.

The really interesting question, then, in my mind is what Tolkien meant by the statement that LOTR was a "fundamentally Catholic" work. He was too precise a thinker and writer to mean that it was what all (or at least most) religions share with humanism.

And finally, just to stir up more argument with you, I think Tolkien would not have thought the legends about knights are a different genre!
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.

Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:35 pm

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Lindariel

“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 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:18 pm

I know I need to give your post more thought, Lindariel, but I have a minute here, and my first thought is that JRRT identifies LOTR as a fundamentally Catholic work--not the Sil or any of his other works, about which he makes no comment that I know of. While the creation myth is in the deep background of LOTR, my own thinking about what makes LOTR Catholic doesn't rest on it.

Your research points out what Tolkien himself says in your first quote: if I may paraphrase, the Catholicism is not explicit, but implicit. He mentions Grace, Our Lady (and the context of the quote, if I remember correctly, is about whether Galadriel draws on Our Lady for some elements of her character), beauty, majesty, simplicity, the story itself, and symbolism.

On the relationship between Catholicism and natural theology, more later!
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
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:48 pm

Tolkien says that 'the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism'. It is there in all the actions and interactions of the main characters but it is so far absorbed (rather than lying on the surface for all to see, like the Narnia books) that LotR can be read and enjoyed as pure fantasy without readers being wacked on the head by Christian symbolism at every turn (though it's there for those that want to look for it). That speaks a lot to Tolkien's genius - there is a 'rightness' to the story and the trials, tribulations and final triumphs of Frodo, Sam, Aragorn et al that speaks deeply to us whether we look at it through religious glasses or not. We don't need them to be hooked on the story, find it meaningful or even inspiring.

There is no 'religion' in the book whatsoever and yet Tolkien's faith is everywhere, isn't it? It's one of the things that make it so extraordinary.
0 x
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Kirill Leonov
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Postby Kirill Leonov » Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:38 am

I seem to have started quite a discussion here...
Thanks especially to Lindariel for her long and interesting post.

Well, yes, I think I do get the "removing of religion". Tolkien reduced his Christian (to be more specific: Catholic) faith to the underlying values that really matter and discarded all the rituals like mass, sacraments etc as well as the persons appearing in the Bible, in order to make place for a new mythology. He used what he valued greatly himself about Christianity, which was not the superficial word-perfectness of believing in every single bloody letter of the Bible, but rather what resides in it when you look past the words on the surface, so he calls his works Christian in spirit (and it is a liberal spirit), but theorld he creates is not a Christian world in the sense one would understand it when first hearing the word, because the stuff by which you identify a religion usually, mainly the names and rituals, have been discarded as unnecessary to the underlying values. To me there is no contradiction.
So, if Galadriel is based on Mary in some way (I don't know the quote), she is based on an archetypal figure, an "unearthly" woman who is protector and "mother figure" (and here we may find a Catholic element, if we want to see it thus: Protetants don't worship Mary as some kind of heaven queen, after all), but without the unnecessary elements like angels, the virgin birth thing and whatever.

Iolanthe, even if you see Tolkien as something much deeper than your average fantasy book, LotR still is what created the genre. It still is fantasy. And lack of depth, compared to Tolkien, doesn't mean the genre in itself is bad. Your average book generally lacks such depth, no matter which genre. Tolkien has high quality, is real literature, but still remains fantasy, since there is no contradiction; those are different categories.
There are other fantasy novels with some background and depth, too, by the way - take "Der Weiße Wolf" (The White Wolf) by Käthe Recheis for example, or Michael Ende's "Neverending Story" or "Momo" (the latter is a bit "beside the main genre", but a lot is crossover nowadays, and it matches fantasy most), they all have a message, and so do Astrid Lindgrens fantasy books (mainly thinking of "Brothers Lionheart" and "Mio" there). While not exactly so "message-laden", Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series certainly is rich and deep with its huge variety of cultures and characters (he does not use elves and dwarves, by the way) as well as a detailed background history and mythology. And I find Sergei Lukianenko's Watch series interesting too, in that aspect - it is writen in a very light, colloquial style, but contains certain insights about the world; he clearly put quite a lot of thought into it.

So, since Tolkien pretty much defined the genre (there were earlier fantasy works, but not many), and since he removed all blatant Christianity from it, the genre does not go well with Christianity, for my taste. Legends about knights and similar have that, since they were, if you want to put it like that, "the fantasy of medieval times", when religion was much more part of people's life, and in a much less liberal sense - whereas the actual fantasy genre stems from a time where one can state freely that a virgin birth is not necessary for the creation of a kind of philosophy to make people live together in peace, that hell is just a metaphor noteven contained in the Bible, that what the Bible says about Egypt is, historically speaking, mostly rubbish, and that the consuming of body and blood of Jesus seems to be some archetypal ritual with certain cannibalistic elements (drawing power from the blood... that one's a common legend, actually, if you just look around) of which it would be interesting to know the origin. Back then, I would most likely have been killed for stating that (dependign on exact time and place), and Tolkien would certainly have been accused of heresyand blasphemy, no matter if the underlying values of LotR match the Christian ones or not.
But times have changed (luckily) and religion has been reduced to those values mostly, because many see them as really enough to live with, and I think this is mirrored in the fantasy genre as well, where a Christian world was no longer necessary because there are "alternatives" nowadays that have become eligible.

And now I hope nobody takes offence at that. :)
0 x
Tracking the sun in his galleon and travelling the skies

'Til his splendour was shorn by the birth of morn and he died with the dawn in his eyes


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