reviews (but not of MC)

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Wed Dec 10 17:09:48 EST 2003


Snipping from the Telegraph article:

[Tolkien's Middle Earth, as he saw it] "was not a name of a never-never land
without relation to the world we live in... The theatre of my tale is this
Earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is
imaginary."

This quotation intrigues me. What does it boil down to? I'd have thought
there are quite a few other imaginary elements there than just the
historical period (elves, dwarves, ents, etc etc). And the continent where
it's set bears no obvious relation to any I know. Nor is magic anything like
such a prominent element in our world as it is in his fictionalized version.
I'd like to think that Tolkien was making a more interesting point than that
the themes of LotR are relevant to our own lives, but I can't see how else
to parse it.

Which reminds me obliquely of a question I was wondering about the other
day: how big is Middle-Earth meant to be? Just the bit where the action
takes place I mean, not the havens of the west or any other havens that may
possibly be located at other points of the compass. I'm sure Tolkien had it
all worked out - he was obviously that kind of person - and by totting up
the various journeys made on foot or horseback and how long they all took
one could probably come up with a pretty good estimate of the distances
involved. One thing's for sure, it's nothing like as big as our own dear
Middle-Earth. I haven't read the book for quite a while, but I'd guess the
whole of Tolkien's Middle-Earth would fit quite comfortably into Texas.
Anyone know better?

Charlie

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