reviews (but not of MC)

hannibal at hannibal at
Thu Dec 11 05:20:03 EST 2003

Minnow, repyling to me:
> > >Nor is magic anything like
> > >such a prominent element in our world as it is in his fictionalized
> version.
> >
> > But it was, in the culture he gave his heart to: the Northern mythology
> has
> > all the things his Middle Earth has apart from Ents, which he did
> > specifically invent, and hobbits, ditto.  He has ignored the squabbling
> > bloodthirsty Asgardians, but the rest is a dead lift, and why not?
Why not indeed? But that isn't quite what he said in his 
quote, which claimed equivalence between Middle-Earth and  
'the [world] in which we live now' not between 
Middle-Earth and a different mythology.
I take your point about the relatively scarcity
in LotR of things that might count as 'doing magic', by the 
way, though quite a few things *are* magic, either in 
themselves or as the result of magic that was 'done' eons 
since (spells cast to prevent doors opening until you say 
'Friend', etc). Anyway, it still seems to me to be a rather 
different set-up from the one I'm familiar with from my own 
life, but then I've led a very sheltered existence! :-)

> > >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.
> >
> > He wasn't making a point at all, just telling the story he had in him to
> > tell, is the way I read it: that it happens to include such things as
> > trying to behave well rather than badly (if you are a hobbit, trying to be
> > brave and do the job you have been landed with, for instance) may if one
> > chooses be taken as a Moral Message, but Tolkien was pretty firmly
> > determined that he Had Not Written An Allegory, and I'm prepared to take
> > his word for it that such was not his intent.  Why should he be deemed to
> > have been "making a point"?  If he was, it may just have been "Listen! and
> > I will tell you of a wonderful dream" only without the Rood. 
I think you misunderstand me: I was talking about 
Tolkien's statement about LotR, not LotR itself. I 
was wondering what the point/meaning of the statement was, 
not the point/meaning of the book (if any).

> > Anyhow, why is "the themes of LotR are relevant to our own lives"
> uninteresting?
Because it's so obviously true that (I hope) it hardly 
needs pointing out, and also that at first blush the quote 
seemed to be claiming rather more than that.

> > I think you'll find that the maps have a scale, and that the area shown is
> > almost exactly that of Europe if one excludes Russia (which is presumably
> > beyond Mordor and Mirkwood to the East, where the map doesn't extend).
> The
> > distance from Hobbiton to Mount Doom is approximately 1050 miles as the
> > crow flies, it's about 400 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, and so forth.
> > The map at the back of my hardback *The Two Towers* certainly seems pretty
> > clear about distance in miles.
Thanks for that info, Minnow - my copy of LotR is back at 
my mother's house, some 8 day's journey from here (going on 
foot with nothing but my trusty knapsack) or slightly less 
by way of the A36.
Btw, how did the exam go?
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