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The Marquis de Leech

Tolkien 2.0

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Table of contents for Gondolin's been posted. 

Interesting. Some new material I think, will be worthwhile to have it all together and with some more analysis/commentary than before. But as expected not a coherent novel.

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23 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Another very good essay.

It wouldn't  matter whether or not Bilbo, Frodo, or Lotho were actually wealthier than either the Thain, or the Master of Buckland.  The former would still be upper middle class, the latter upper class.  Socially, Pippin and Merry are Boy Mulcaster and Sebastian Flyte;  Frodo is Charles Ryder.

It would be interesting to know whether a Numenorean knight or lord of Gondor, would consider an upper class hobbit as an equal, or just see him as wealthy farmer (although, after the War of the Ring, they'd likely accept Merry and Pippin as equals).

Sam simply leapfrogs the entire system.  He becomes a millionaire, a successful politician, and his daughter is lady in waiting to the Queen of Gondor, and you can't rise higher up the social ladder than that.

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Although I'm not posting on this forum as often as I one have, I'm glad that this thread is still active. So, I have a blog where I publish Polish translations of ASOIAF essays, chiefly @LmL's Mythical Astronomy, but few months ago I've started a series of my own, The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, where I explore how JRRT's works inspired GRRM, where the two disagree etc. - and seeing this discussion still active, I thought that some of you might find it interesting. 

The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, Episode I is one of those mega-long essays, it's more like three essays merged into one. In Part I: GRRM's Approach to Tolkien I try to refute the claim that GRRM is anti-Tolkienic in his writing, and describe how GRRM-Tolkien relationship works, at least in my view. Part II is about references to LOTR, The Silmarillion and The Hobbit in ASOIAF, but those that are easy to decode, stuff like names taken from Tolkien's language (Melian-Meliana of Mole's Town, Daeron & Dareon - Daeron of Doriath, Beren & Berena Stark, Barth Blacksword as Turin Blacksword, Durin and Duran Ravenfriend from TWOIAF and such). And for no good reason I've also included my old theory that Coldhands is GRRM's inversed, grim version of Coldhands, his response to this one element of Arda GRRM never liked. Part III has a title that's an obvious reference to Poe, Oh, that land which the Eldar name Númenórë, lost to us for evermore and talks about parallels between Westernesse and the Great Empire of the Dawn from TWOIAF. Ar-Pharazôn & Tar-Miriel as Bloodstone Emperor and Amethyst Empress + my theory that GRRM's Daynes, Hightowers and Valyrians parallel the two main groups that survived the Downfall of Numenor, the Faithful (Dayne & Hightower as the Dunedain) and the King's Men (Black Numenoreans, Corsiars of Umbar). And how Narsil is basically Dawn and also Lightbringer because Narsil symbolises the same unity of the Sun and the Moon Earendil the Lightbringer does.

The Sword of Elendil was forged anew by the Elvish smiths, and on its blade was traced a device of seven stars set between a crescent Moon and the rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes; for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor. Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, The Flame of the West.

This episode briefly discusses Turin as well, and Lightbringer & other ASOIAF meteoric swords as Anguirel and Anglachel/Gurthang.

The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, Episode II /has long sections where I just talk about the history and cosmology of Arda, trying to encourage people who read my series just because they want to see how Tolkien inspired GRRM, and don't care about Tolkien himself, to read Tolkien because he's so great. Then I talk about some gods and goddesses of Planetos might have been influenced by Tolkien's Ainur, the Valar and the Maiar. After this, I discuss the Long Night of Valinor from The Silmarillion, and how it might have influenced ASOIAF Long Night. Then about Fingolfin & Fingon and other Noldor as basis for some symbolism and language used to describe the Others (Ringil, Aeglos the Icicle etc.). And how some language from Oberyn vs. Gregor duel might be inspired by Fingolfin vs. Morgoth after Dagor Bragollach. And then I try to show my readers how much GRRM loves the Fall of Gil-galad song and the character, and how it's becuause of Gil-galad that GRRM became enamoured with LOTR.

‘Things got more interesting in the barrow downs, though, and even more so in Bree, where Strider strode onto the scene. By the time we got to Weathertop, Tolkien had me. ‘Gil-galad was an elven king’, Sam Gamgee recited, ‘of him the harpers sadly sing’. A chill went through me, such as Conan and Kull had never evoked’. (Dreamsongs)

There's a chapter about how GRRM's symbolism surrounding Azor Ahai & Lightbringer might be based on Earendil & Narsil, and how Tolkien uses ancient Mornignstar/Evenstar symbolism in his books. Then there's a section about references to Arnor in the North of Westeros, and to Gondor in the South, especially at Starfall and Oldtown, with the Citadel, Starry Sept and the Hightower. And then I explore Minas Morgul references in ASOIAF, and what's their point.

The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Sansa & Lúthien is the shortest essay so far, and it explores similarities between the two, things like Sandor the Hound as Huan the Hound of Valinor (and the Gravedigger as mute Huan who can speak only thrice).

And how lines like this:

The northern girl. Winterfell’s daughter. We heard she killed the king with a spell, and afterward changed into a wolf with big leather wings like a bat, and flew out a tower window. (George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords)

are hidden references to Tolkien (in this specific case, it's a nod to that scene where Beren & Luthien infiltrate Angband disguised as a vampire bat and a werewolf).

The Brief History of Gondor, Its Rise, Zenith, Decline and Fall of Kingship is an extra episode for ASOIAF fans who're not huge into LOTR, but would like to read about the history of Gondor, and Arnor's fall, and why there's no king and the Ruling Stewards govern the realm.

The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Minas Tirith and the Hightower discusses parallels between Minas Tirith and the Hightower, the Citadel of Oldtown with the Citadel of Osgiliath, glass candles and the palantiri stones, and how Oldtown being made entirely from stone is a reference to Gondor, which means Stoningland. And about how Hightower banner shows a Beacon of Gondor, and that's why Lord Leyton is called the Beacon of the South... and that the Voice of Oldtown moniker might be all about Saruman and his Voice.

Then I talk about how the upcoming siege of Oldtown by Euron might parallel the Siege of Minas Tirirth, with Aegon coming to the rescue as the returning king, or if GRRM choses to subvert this trope, Euron (with his Eye of Sauron sigil) might take the city.

And the crux of this essay is how black oily stone of Moat Cailin, Yeen, Asshai and all those places is obviously an homage to Lovecraft, but that it owes something to Tolkien as well, as black wet stone is the hallmark of Numenorean and Dunedain architecture (Orthanc is made from gleaming wet & black stone, Morannon as well)... and how the first level and the foundations of the Hightower are made from black stone, just like the first level of Minas Tirith, which supports my older theory that Houses Dayne and Hightower are based on the Dunedain, as they're survivors of the Great Empire (or some other lost advanced civilization) and parallel the Dunedain.

 

 

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2 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Really enjoying these essays.

On the Sam Gamgee's social rise question: I think Tolkien here was harking back to an older 17th - 18th century tradition from what might be called the "merchant middle class". An extended middle class merchant family would value hard work, ability and loyalty in their servants, agents and followers, who were often recruited young. Exceptional service might result in them informally becoming almost a member of the family, or in some cases even being formally adopted or possibly married in. This would be a possible way for someone a long way down the social scale to rise dramatically. Admittedly there doesn't otherwise seem to be much sign of a merchant middle class in the Shire!

 

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16 hours ago, A wilding said:

Really enjoying these essays.

On the Sam Gamgee's social rise question: I think Tolkien here was harking back to an older 17th - 18th century tradition from what might be called the "merchant middle class". An extended middle class merchant family would value hard work, ability and loyalty in their servants, agents and followers, who were often recruited young. Exceptional service might result in them informally becoming almost a member of the family, or in some cases even being formally adopted or possibly married in. This would be a possible way for someone a long way down the social scale to rise dramatically. Admittedly there doesn't otherwise seem to be much sign of a merchant middle class in the Shire!

 

Actually, I think there is.  At various points, we read of auctioneers, mill owners, horse dealers, people who deal in food, alcohol, and tobacco.  Butterbur owns the freehold of his inn, and employs servants.  Bilbo (and presumably other rich hobbits) has items of gold, silver, and crystal, which implies the existence of goldsmiths, jewellers etc. I think it would be a middle class that deals overwhelmingly in agricultural products or luxury  goods, but it exists. 

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One problem is that the Shire and the class distinctions in RBPL's essay are essentially late Victorian or maybe interwar Britain (that's why Bertie Wooster is an apt comparison). This is not really compatible with a "realistic" historical embedding, neither with the dark ages/early middle ages (Gondor somewhat like the Byzantine Empire, Rohan a mix of Anglo-Saxons and Goths etc.) that are closest to the setting nor with late MA/early modern times (say 15th/16th century) that would also somewhat fit the Shire economy. So the Shire has to be taken on its own and the question how Shire upperclass would relate to Gondorian knights or courtiers is maybe impossible to answer because Gondor is just too different from Shire and there is no overarching class system that easily encompasses both.

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4 hours ago, Calibandar said:

For those interested, there is what is being called the first Tolkien exhibition in 25 years being held in Oxford at the Bodleian Library.

I may attend it myself when I'm in England soon.

https://tolkien.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

 

 

 

I’d like to go just to attend.  :)

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9 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Another round of Tolkienian alternate history. This time looking at a Fingolfin who does not despair:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/tolkienian-speculative-guessing-iii-time-flows-still-at-the-iron-hill/

I love how you finish pointing out how a tragic and somewhat senseless death actually set up the conditions that brought down Morgoth.  

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7 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I love how you finish pointing out how a tragic and somewhat senseless death actually set up the conditions that brought down Morgoth.  

Yep. That's the thing about The Silmarillion - it is an honest and sympathetic attempt to portray the Northern Theory of Courage, and goes into some very dark places... but out of the darkness comes light. It really is the Music writ large.

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10 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Yep. That's the thing about The Silmarillion - it is an honest and sympathetic attempt to portray the Northern Theory of Courage, and goes into some very dark places... but out of the darkness comes light. It really is the Music writ large.

And shows the limitations of the Northern Theory of Courage.

Elven military history is one long series of glorious defeats, which is fine for the warriors who win everlasting renown by dying gloriously, but terrible for elven civilians who get slaughtered and enslaved.  The purpose of fighting a war is to win, not to die gloriously.

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

And shows the limitations of the Northern Theory of Courage.

Elven military history is one long series of glorious defeats, which is fine for the warriors who win everlasting renown by dying gloriously, but terrible for elven civilians who get slaughtered and enslaved.  The purpose of fighting a war is to win, not to die gloriously.

But Finarfin doesn't get half the fangirls Feanor does! ;)

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21 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

But Finarfin doesn't get half the fangirls Feanor does! ;)

It's magnificent, but it isn't war.

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On 8/29/2018 at 12:42 PM, SeanF said:

And shows the limitations of the Northern Theory of Courage.

Elven military history is one long series of glorious defeats, which is fine for the warriors who win everlasting renown by dying gloriously, but terrible for elven civilians who get slaughtered and enslaved.  The purpose of fighting a war is to win, not to die gloriously.

There is a metaphysical justification for all this with Beleriand being 'Morgoth's Ring'. The wars of the Noldor are not tragic, they are supposed to be necessary to defeat the guy. It is their involuntarily sacrifice that allows the Valar to put Morgoth down during the War of Wrath. It is the kind of over-explanation that draws away much of the tragedy from the whole literary setup. We have to swallow that God and his angels can't defeat the devil in any other way than by having people who cannot possibly defeat die a lot to focus his evilness mostly on one particular area of the world.

Not to mention that the basic setup of the tragedy of the Elder Days has great issues with the evil problem. Is it really worth it to teach Melkor a lesson by allowing him to actually cause a lot of suffering for your other creatures? Who cares whether the big picture looks better if there are some blood red stains in the middle of it if the price for that is trauma and death and desperation while you are alive? I'm sure those men and elves who saw Angband from the inside before they died won't particularly cherish those memories in the afterlife or when they return to life in Arda Remade (if that ever happens).

On 8/30/2018 at 1:36 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Silly question.  Are the elves in Valinor “waining” like the elves left in Middle-Earth?

From what I recall they do. Just much slower than those in Middle-Earth due to the fact that they live in Valinor, but the earth itself has been marred by Melkor's substance, and they bring it with them when they follow the call of the Valar to Aman. That seems to be the reason (I'm speculating there) for Míriel's unnatural death not to mention Finwe's even more unnatural desire for a second wife.

But since Melkor marred the earth long before the Valar retreated to Aman it might also be that the Blessed Realm was marred from the start, even before the Elves came. It would be much better there than anywhere else, but the way life becomes there clearly don't agrees with how men live, or else the speculations about what would happen if mortal men lived in Aman wouldn't make much sense.

The way things were supposed to be should have allowed Valar, Maiar, Elves, and Men to live together in the world without their presence causing any problems for the others. Which most definitely isn't how things turned out.

By the way:

'The Fall of Gondolin' looks really great!

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29 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

There is a metaphysical justification for all this with Beleriand being 'Morgoth's Ring'. The wars of the Noldor are not tragic, they are supposed to be necessary to defeat the guy. It is their involuntarily sacrifice that allows the Valar to put Morgoth down during the War of Wrath. It is the kind of over-explanation that draws away much of the tragedy from the whole literary setup. We have to swallow that God and his angels can't defeat the devil in any other way than by having people who cannot possibly defeat die a lot to focus his evilness mostly on one particular area of the world.

Not to mention that the basic setup of the tragedy of the Elder Days has great issues with the evil problem. Is it really worth it to teach Melkor a lesson by allowing him to actually cause a lot of suffering for your other creatures? Who cares whether the big picture looks better if there are some blood red stains in the middle of it if the price for that is trauma and death and desperation while you are alive? I'm sure those men and elves who saw Angband from the inside before they died won't particularly cherish those memories in the afterlife or when they return to life in Arda Remade (if that ever happens).

 

It would perhaps have suited the story better had Tolkien kept his world entirely pagan.

In such a world, Feanor and his sons would swear an oath with devastating consequences for themselves and everyone else;  Hurin would incur the enmity of an evil god who would persecute his family relentlessly;  the gods would wage war among themselves, and be indifferent to the effect on elves and men.  And, the theology of this wouldn't matter, because the gods are capricious and unknowable.

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14 minutes ago, SeanF said:

It would perhaps have suited the story better had Tolkien kept his world entirely pagan.

In such a world, Feanor and his sons would swear an oath with devastating consequences for themselves and everyone else;  Hurin would incur the enmity of an evil god who would persecute his family relentlessly;  the gods would wage war among themselves, and be indifferent to the effect on elves and men.  And, the theology of this wouldn't matter, because the gods are capricious and unknowable.

Possibly. It is a very odd fuse of pagan and christian elements, anyway. Especially the vow and all that sounds like a hideous thing which they brought upon themselves and their children and people (and sealed, in a sense, by the kin-slaying, of course) - which makes an interpretation that has it also playing a role in the history of salvation very strange.

The theological concept of good things coming out of evil acts is very odd in and of itself because that justifies or ennobles such acts post hoc in the view of the big picture. Tolkien's theology as per the Ainulindale is that everything Melkor and his 'discordians' try to do against Eru's will is only going to add his glory - meaning that every suffering and every evil deed within creation have not only an 'Eru approved' stamp on it but one can even say that the man in the sky wanted that - and that it happening adds to his glory (I don't understand how it could, but, then, I'm just a mere mortal ;-)).

 If the Noldor had to go to Beleriand to occupy Morgoth, etc. then it was *necessary* or even *good* that Feanor took the ships, etc. Else he would never have gotten to Beleriand and Morgoth would have ruled Middle-earth for the remainder of the history of Arda, enslaving everybody but the privileged and pampered folk of the Blessed Realm - or perhaps he would have even attacked them, in the end, after he had subdued everybody else.

The War of Wrath is not delayed as per this justification but takes place when it can take place - after the Noldor have made the way for it. The whole punishing angle (Valinor being closed, no help to the kin-slayers, etc.) is dropped in this 'reinterpretation'. And this really doesn't sit very well with the way the stories are told.

One can write a lot of articles about how Tolkien reinterpreted his early stories without ever changing them, making his new views of what *truly* happened not fitting well with what the words actually say. Especially those stories which only exist in Lost Tales form in lengthy forms - when the later versions are just summaries of the LT then the content never truly changed on a fundamental level.

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Lord Varys,

That's just the problem of "pain".  I've never put much truck in that simply because if we never felt pain we'd never know what the lack of pain or pleasure means.  It is the contrast between pain and pleasure that make pleasure meaningful.  A world created without any pain would be eternally neutral because there is nothing to contrast the good experiences from the bad experiences.  

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6 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Lord Varys,

That's just the problem of "pain".  I've never put much truck in that simply because if we never felt pain we'd never know what the lack of pain or pleasure means.  It is the contrast between pain and pleasure that make pleasure meaningful.  A world created without any pain would be eternally neutral because there is nothing to contrast the good experiences from the bad experiences.  

But that is a just view drawn from taking the 'status quo' as your standard. Why should a god setting up the world need pain to make us feel or understand pleasure? And where is the pain going to be in heaven/Arda Remade/after the Second Coming? Surely I'm not going to feel any pain when I hang out with the Holy Trinity, right?

Tolkien's work can actually be taken as a magnifying glass on the shortcomings of theology here - we have the promise of Arda Remade in this world. A fact that, if correct, means the entire theater of creation was just that - a prelude to Second Ainulindale when everything is understood and corrected and made whole again. Even Melkor will understand what he didn't understand before, implying that he will be there, too.

If this is the case, if there is a way to make that happen, then the first round - the lives of all the children of Eru in Arda Marred - was, in the end, pointless, because they will never live in that world again.

And many of those people will have suffered without ever understanding the reason for this in life just to teach the devil some lesson god could, most likely, also have taught that guy by another way (say, by explaining it to him outside creation, or by allowing him to watch Ea unfold only as a cockroach with free will, unable to actually harm, torture, or kill any of his children) - which is obviously a very cruel practical joke. The Elves and some men get access to the teachings of the Valar, so they know about the Ainulindale and stuff, but if you are some poor Avar, Orc, Easterling, Haradrim, etc. you don't get the luxury to *sort of know* that everything happens *for a reason*.

Pain is not going to be a part of Arda Remade, and it was never supposed to be part of the first round. It is just there because the devil marred the creation, basically. It is true that some beauty and *good things* supposedly came from that (in the Ainulindale we get the snowflake as a feature, and in the whole larger human picture one assumes that bravery and steadfastness against the Evil One, etc. would also be some such *good things*) but actually taking that view is a pretty twisted view if you look at it from the human POV.

If I tell you that your children got cancer to add to the beauty of the creation of god in a way you may only understand after your own death (or not at all, because you are not god, will never be god, and never understand things the way he does in his infinite wisdom) then you have every right to interpret this as a sick joke.

The same goes for the thousands or millions of people being broken down under the heels of the two dark lords in this world. Even if they were to understand *the beauty of the world* in the afterlife their own memories of their lives would be remarkably different from the lives of the people who were born and lived millennia of peace and pleasure in Valinor.

And why would want to view one's own life as a small piece in a much larger artwork?

The idea you can view your own life as a book you put in god's bookcase in heaven, never to take it out again, is a very odd idea. Your life is first and foremost your life, and if your traumas and pains and all the suffering can be taken from you and be properly understood after your death it has more or less the same effect on this *afterlife persona* of yours as it would have if some other person had made those experience - or you would know about those experiences only in an abstract sense.

One can see where Tolkien's original concept of Túrin fighting against Morgoth in the last battle comes from. He had to take so much shit from that guy that it was only just that he would put him down, no matter how strange this looks from the cosmological perspective.

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