Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin

A discussion of Tolkien's Unfinshed Tales
Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:29 pm

I'd forgotten that. Yes - another part of the classic hero journey! He also fights his monster, though in Tuor's case several of them (balrogs and dragons) when Gondolin falls. Then he flees from the city with Idril and the survivors through another dark tunnel - the one Idril secretly has dug fearing the worst.
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Postby Merry » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:51 pm

So do you think Tuor (whose name I can never type correctly the first time!) prefigured Aragorn?

I remember reading somewhere that JRRT was really into Joseph Campbell and I think I assumed that Campbell came first. I'd like to research that. If Tuor came before Campbell, then do you think that Tolkien consciously had a formula for Hero's Journey or that he was just imitating the mythologies of the past?

I don't know much about Campbell--need to do some more reading.
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Postby Philipa » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:11 pm

Excuse my ignorance but how long has Campbell been on the mythology scene?
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:39 pm

Tolkien's first setting down of Tuor's story definitely predates Campbell - he first started on The Fall of Gondodolin in 1916-17 - so I guess that he was so steeped in myths he understood the classic hero journey without the psychological take on it that Campbell had. The version in the Unfinished Tales refines it and Christopher Tolkien thought he wrote this version in 1951. But nearly all the elements were already there. It lacks the giving of the armour.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces came out in 1949 and this was his first major work on myths. The only thing published before that was his analysis and companion to Finnigan's Wake (I think he and his co-writer were the only people in the world that understood that book at the time apart from Joyce :lol: ).

I wonder if Tolkien read The Hero with a Thousand Faces when it came out? I wonder if he recognised Tuor's story in it and it had any influence in the retelling? I wasn't aware that Tolkien had ever read Campbell (there isn't any reference to it in the Skull and Hammond Companion and Guide, I've just looked). But, of course, it would be odd if he didn't given his love of myths. I wonder what he thought of Campbell's analysis of the meaning of myth - does it take some of the magic out of it?
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Postby Philipa » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:38 pm

Thanks for the dating of things. I really couldn't remember when Campbell's first book came out. Have you read The Hero with a Thousand Faces? I enjoyed The Power of Myth so perhaps I'll pick it up. :D
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Postby Merry » Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:18 am

I remember reading in a biography, but not Carpenter's, that JRRT was influenced by Campbell--but no evidence supporting the claim.

I'd like to read Campbell's book, too. Shall we make a goal of discussing it together, say, this summer?
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:55 am

It's a wonderful book and if you read any Campbell it should be this one. It would be fun to re-read it and compare his analysis of the Hero myth with Tolkien's heros.

That Tolkien was comparing and contrasting a wide range of myths is certain (with or without Campbell). I've got to the Lost Tales and his first thoughts about Numenor and in Christopher T's expansive notes it's clear Tolkien was aware of all the 'Kings from over the Sea' myths that are riddled through numerous cultures. These myths have a common theme of God-like beings who arrive, rule the peoples they meet, educate and bring benefits like advanced agriculture, then depart or have a sea burial i.e. returned to the sea. I guess it was all part of his interest in Atlantis and the wide research he did about it. We know that he wasn't just reading the tales he loved but following their tracks and themes through many cultures just as Campbell later did. I'm finding it hard to imagine now that he didn't read Campbell when his first books came out, as it seems like more grist to his mill.

As a Campbell lover this is really interesting.
Last edited by Iolanthe on Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Philipa » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:41 pm

Sounds like a plan Merry. I'm in and with Sue's view already forming I can see it will be a lively discussion. :D
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:55 pm

I've just re-read my post and edited 'Christopher T's expensive notes' to his 'expansive notes' :lol: . That makes a whole lot more sense :roll: .
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Postby Lindariel » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:01 pm

Which of Campbell's books do you propose that we read and discuss -- The Hero with a Thousand Faces or The Power of Myth? I haven't read either and am planning to acquire both ASAP. Just want to know which I should read first!!!
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Postby Philipa » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:50 pm

The Hero L. :D
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Postby Lindariel » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:17 pm

Thanks, Philipa! Placing my book order right now!
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Postby Merry » Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:40 am

I suggested we read Campbell this summer because I didn't want to derail the Unfinished Tales discussion. But I suppose we are capable of discussing two books at once. So when do we all want to start discussing Campbell?
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Postby Philipa » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:44 pm

Merry wrote:I suggested we read Campbell this summer because I didn't want to derail the Unfinished Tales discussion. But I suppose we are capable of discussing two books at once. So when do we all want to start discussing Campbell?


Merry, I liked your original idea of this summer. We can make a special thread for the discussion. I've got a lot on my plate right now but the summer should be a bit calmer for me.

What do you all say?
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Postby Lindariel » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:59 pm

Summer sounds good to me too. I vote for mid-June after the public schools have closed. My schedule becomes much less hectic then!
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