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SeanF

Tolkien 3.0

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22 minutes ago, Ran said:

To me, a lot of it -- even the framing of colonialism in Tolkien -- is that Tolkien opposed morally bad things because they were morally bad for the perpetrator, and that this was first and foremost in his mind if the perpetrator was otherwise a "good" person (evil people had other, larger problems which made him more immediately concerned for their victims rather than for them). Attanar really did have a genuine turn to good... but then began to think that if he ran things, it would all be better, and the urge to dominate grew out of that. Galadriel's rejection of the One Ring when Frodo offered it was a personal rejection of vanity and hubris. Feanor's greatness was also his downfall, because of his hubris. 

So in colonialism, yes, it was bad for the men of Middle-earth that the Númenóreans went from desiring to help the men of Middle-earth to wanting to dominate them,.. but it was really bad for the Númenóreans to become so prideful and desirious of domination.

It's like Tolkien's remark on social hierarchy, that it "may" be "damn bad" for you to tip your cap to the squire... but it "is damn good" for you to do so; the squire may end up letting it get to their head, may take mistaken pride in an accident of birth (but then again, maybe they won't, and will understand and respect the gesture), but knowing your place and being humble is always good. Tolkien's vision of moral action was generally very personal. Societies did not do good or ill, but rather individuals do, and the societies are shaped by how men treat one another.

For Tolkien, I think the big moral danger for good people is failing to respect the wills of other people, even (maybe especially)  if you are right and they are wrong.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Ran said:

If Middle-earth is the ancient untold history of Europe in another Age, then its inhabitants are proto-Europeans, and so are generally "white", and others who are not "white" end up having to be in some other place

To be fair though, Númenor is not technically Middle-Earth but rather an entirely separate island-continent settled by tribes of Edain who had, along with all mankind, (according to the primary chronology in the Grey Annals) 'awakened' east of the Orocarni mountains in a distant land of Middle-Earth called Hildórien, a mere 600 years before they sailed over the sea to settle in the Isle of Elenna. 

Tolkien explains, in my quotation above from HoME, that these tribes of Edain were of 'different races', languages, dialects, cultures, skin colourings and so forth, and that they had all been admixed with other 'races of Men' in the past. 

And this is consistent, btw, with real-life European history - even in the more limited understanding of early-to-mid 20th century, as a philologist aware of Indo-European root words, Tolkien surely knew that caucasian Europeans didn't 'pop' into being but were originally descendants of divergent peoples with different skin colours who migrated in waves over time, from the Levant and Africa etc. 

Why else did Tolkien even have the Edain 'migrating' from their awakening Hildórien in the Far East in the first place, in the first years of the Sun? Its a reflection of the real-life itinerant and hunter-gatherer movement of early, admixed human populations out of Africa and through the Levant, before they 'settled' in certain places and adopted agriculture and civilization (in Tolkien's legendarium, learning it first from Avari Elves and Dwarves in the East, and then becoming more enlightened under Noldor Elvish culture in Beleriand). 

By the Third Age, we are dealing with populations that have been settled and acclimatised for millennia. At the start of the Second Age, and with longer Númenórean lifespans, we really aren't that far away in time from the original Hildórien 'awakening' of mankind in the East. 

Tolkien was also undoubtedly aware, and noted himself, that the 'cradle of human civilization' was in Mesopotamia. 

I think we can see a vestige of this reflected in the semitic flavouring of Adûnaic (the native Númenórean tongue) and in Tolkien's description of Númenórean religion as 'hebraic' in character, while their culture had much in common with Pharanoic Egypt (in its monumentality, megaliths, preoccupation with death, entombment, embalming, mummification etc.) i.e. we find Tolkien describing in HoME IX (Sauron Defeated) that "Adunaic" has a "faintly Semitic flavour" and this was due to the fact that Khuzdul the language of the Dwarves, "had some features in  common with Adunaic,  the   ancient  'native'  language of Numenor", leading Tolkien to opine as a 'probable' theory that "in the  unrecorded  past  some of  the languages  of Men  - including the  language  of  the dominant  element in  the Atani  from which Adunaic was derived - had been influenced by Khuzdul". 

Now, Khuzdul is structured, as in all the ancient Semitic languages (Akkadian, Aramaic, Hebrew etc.), around triconsonantal roots, such as kh-z-d, b-n-d, and z-g-l and Tolkien indeed admitted that he had desired Dwarves to have cultural/linguistic affinities to the ancient Jews. 

And just like they had a 'faintly Semitic' (rather than European) native language (as befits the origin of all the Edain, no matter skin colour, in the 'East' where they came under Dwarvish influence), the Númenóreans also had cultural affinities with ancient Egypt and the ancient Hebrews (in religion):

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The Numenoreans of Gondor were proud, peculiar, and archaic, and I think are best pictured in (say) Egyptian terms. In many ways they resembled ‘Egyptians’ – the love of, and power to construct, the gigantic and massive. And in their great interest in ancestry and in tombs. (But not of course in ‘theology’: in which respect they were Hebraic and even more puritan – but this would take long to set out: to explain in deed why there is practically no overt ‘religion’, * or rather religious acts or places or ceremonies among the ‘good’ or anti-Sauron people in The Lord of the Rings.) I think the crown of Gondor (the S. Kingdom) was very tall, like that of Egypt, but with wings attached, not set straight back but at an angle.

And this Egyptian-style drawing of Númenórean headgear accompanied the letter:

https://sweatingtomordor.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/20140424_160412.jpg

This was noted by a scholar called Martha W. Driver (among many others) in the following study:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CB6hBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA32&dq=numenor+semitic&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiAmIWvnPPjAhXtQRUIHQ1dCpcQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=numenor semitic&f=false

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"Another ancient language of a similar type that takes a prominent place in Tolkien's history is Adunaic, the language of the kingdom of Númenor, Tolkien's version of Atlantis. 

Adunaic, like Khuzdul, has a recognizably Semitic-style structure; however, its phonology is rather more simplified and consistent than that of Hebrew and suggests a much more archaic Semitic language. 

It can be compared to the ancient language of Assyria and Babylon, suggesting that Númenor, as the parent culture of the civilized realms of Middle-Earth, stands in much the same relation to them as those ancient Semitic kingdoms stood to the later civilizations of Greece, Rome and medieval Europe."

 

Consider just one Adunaic word - the Adunaic name for Sauron is Zigûr which sounds like a name straight out of the ancient Sumerian-Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh. 

This must have been a deliberate linguistic decision by Tolkien, to give Numenor this 'air' of being the ancient, parent civilization much like Sumeria, Babylon and Egypt where in our real world ancient history. The ancient Greek legend of Atlantis in Plato's Critias, let us remember, was derived Plato tells us from Egyptian lore.

In other words, while not denying the Eurocentric focus of much of the Middle-Earth corpus and the fact that I do see the majority of Númenóreans as having been white-skinned - I don't think we can be too reductionist in this respect.  

Edited by Krishtotter

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, SeanF said:

For Tolkien, I think the big moral danger for good people is failing to respect the wills of other people, even (maybe especially)  if you are right and they are wrong.

Indeed, a key passage for that idea is where Erendis in Unfinished Tales states that even by her time - very early in the history of Númenor and at the beginning of Aldarion's deforestation of Enedwaith and Minhiriath, which provoked bitter opposition from the anti-colonial faction in Númenórean politics that would develop into the Faithful of Andunie - the men of Númenor failed to accept that, "there are other wills in the world beside their own" and would therefore "be as ruthless as the seawind if anything dare to withstand them", such as the lesser men of Middle-Earth.

It is for this reason that Erendis instructs her daughter that she, too, must have a 'will' of her own to withstand them: 

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"All things were made for their service: hills are for quarries, river to furnish water or to turn wheels, trees for boards, women for their body's need, or if fair to adorn their table and hearth...If we love Numenor also, let us enjoy it before they ruin it. We also are daughters of the great, and we have wills and courage of our own. Therefore do not bend, Ancalime. Once bend a little, and they will bend you further until you are bowed down."

This can even be traced back in Tolkien's in-world 'theology' to the creation myth, The Ainulindale.

As we both know, Tolkien conceived of creation as being the "Music of the Ainur", like a great symphony or orchestral piece with every distinct voice singing in harmony. Melkor was a disrupter of this music from the beginning, looking to sow discord. Sauron didn't join in this 'discord' because his great virtue was that he loved order and perfecting things. His later decision to join Melkor had to do with his reasoning that Melkor would get reconstruction achieved more quickly. 

Sauron's fall from grace was not the nihilistic desire for destruction, ruin and disorder represented by Morgoth. Rather, it stemmed from his great virtue itself and was its logical conclusion, if warped into becoming an end in itself. Tolkien's overriding moral being that the very things which make us great can be our undoing, if we lose sense of the fact that to "love" (in Catholic Thomist theology) is to 'will the good of the other'. 

Likewise, for Sauron according to Tolkien: "like all minds of this cast, Sauron's love (originally) or (later) mere understanding of other individual intelligences was correspondingly weaker; and though the only real good in, or rational motive for, all this ordering and planning and organization was the good of all inhabitants of Arda (even admitting Sauron's right to be their supreme lord), his 'plans', the idea coming from his own isolated mind, became the sole object of his will, and an end, the End, in itself.

Unlike the great Music of the Ainur, with all its diversity, in which each of the divine beings was permitted by Eru to "weave their own thoughts and ideas into this Music" without breaking the unity, Sauron wanted everyone to sing his song and could not envision any other notion of "the Good" or "Perfect" outside of it. His original intention was pure but the absolutization of it as the "thee only" song, and the exclusion of all other 'songs' that might be equally valid and part of Eru's grand design, completely corrupted him. 

Edited by Krishtotter

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3 hours ago, Krishtotter said:

Even as a much younger man, during WW1 when imperial nostalgia was high, Tolkien (again uncharacteristically for an Englishman) expressed in a letter dated 6 November 1914, his support for autonomy or home rule for Ireland 'as an ambition . . .' (Boas and Herford (eds.), The Year's Work in English Studies, 1925, 59–60).  John Garth's, Tolkien and the Great War p.22 and 230 (indeed, on p.51 of the book, notes: "To Tolkien, the nation's greatest goal was cultural self-realisation; not power over others...By his own admission, Tolkien was both an English patriot and a supporter of Home Rule for the Irish"

A shame that letter isn't published in the main collection, because I wasn't aware of it. His support for Irish Home Rule doesn't surprise me though, and not just because of his distaste for colonialism and Empire (there's the obvious religious point...).

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This article likely will be controversial here, but it also might be of some interest:

https://daily.jstor.org/the-question-of-race-in-beowulf/

The final paragraph:

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As Tolkien’s intellectual grandchild (my advisor was his student), I do not think it is accidental that Morrison’s critical voice reframes Beowulf for the racialized, political now. Tolkien’s deliberate shut out of Stuart Hall [Tolkien's African student who had assumed he too could be a Medievalist academic] means that we can only speculate about Hall as a critic of Beowulf, and we know that Anglo-Saxon scholarship continues to shut out black and minority scholars. With Morrison, finally, I believe we can put Tolkien’s “Monsters and Critics” to bed and read Beowulf anew.

 

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Tolkien’s deliberate shut out of Stuart Hall

His "ascetic" remark, his identification of the professor as a language professor, his conclusion in the paragraph makes it plain why he bounced out of it and it had nothing at all to do with his race or the national origin of the unnamed professor:

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Having given up Latin, I had sworn I would never traffic with an ancient language again. But here I was in another translation class.

That the curriculum was set up with a philological emphasis is well-known about the Merton college of the era, not least because Tolkien, a philologist, had a hand in developing the curriculum; I very much doubt he did so with the ulterior motive of thwarting the Stuart Halls of the world. It's a shame that Hall ended up at Merton, for whatever reason, when he wanted to pursue literary rather than linguistic studies, but I hardly think one should take out of it that Tolkien was some kind of racial gatekeeper.

There are some interesting things in the article, but the Stuart Hall bit is shamelessly misconstruing what Hall reported.

 

ETA: Kim's piece at Jstor ais definitely worse, but the cited Lavezzo piece also misconstrues Hall's writing! Here's what she claims:

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In dissuading Hall from his proposed project...

But that's not what happened. Hall didn't propose graduate work on Piers Plowman and the professor said he shouldn't. Hall is quite clear:

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Actually, I loved some of the poetry . . . and at one point I planned to do graudate work on Langland's Piers Plowman. But when I tried to apply contemporary literary criticism to these texts...

The professor was telling a student in a language-focused class to stop wasting their time with literary theory because it wasn't what the course was about, rather than making some kind of grand statement about Hall's aspirations as a medievalist. Hall recognized that the problem was that the curriculum for medieval literature was slanted to language, not literary analysis, rather than that he was somehow being put upon because of his race. 

I find this terribly frustrating. Lavezzo at least is making a point about "academic gatekeeping", the fact that Merton College was pushing medieval literature to be seen only  or primarily from a linguistic perspective, which is a perfectly valid point.Then Kim bizarrely turns into some sort of racial gatekeeping. This may turn on her citing something Mary Rambaran-Olm said at a conference, but given that the only evidence I can find of Hall ever referring to this event is in his own memoir, I'm a little suspicious that she's basically done the exact same thing, twisting Hall's meaning entirely out of its intention by ignoring part of what he wrote. 

Edited by Ran

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I'm passing this along to the person who passed this to me.

Edited to add, that you didn't convince him:

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maybe he's right, i don't know the truth about the stuart hall episode. But nothing he's saying is incompatible with what she's saying.

but for that to be true you have to buy that it was merely on linguistic rather than lit-theory grounds and didn't have anything at all to do with the people . . . i can't believe that in a time and place in which self-examination for white privilege wasn't a thing, that there were no issues between an old white baby of south african apartheid -- one of the world's most effective creators of ethnic legend -- and a young black jamaican marxist. 

 

Which is probably where this needs to stop, ibecause for you and him both, there can be little satisfaction or even value when I'm bringing the back-and-forth! 

Edited by Zorral

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To further back up what Ran says, Tolkien's academic experiences were a long-running civil war between 'Lit' and 'Lang' (with Chaucer as the No Man's Land). Tolkien was 'Lang'. 

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The sad thing is, there are genuine criticisms that can be made of the way Tolkien approached Beowulf. The Monsters and the Critics (1936) does not mention a single female character until the appendices. Trying to interpret the poem through a racial lens, however, is downright silly.

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" I can't believe......." is treating pure speculation as fact, when the author knows that the evidence does not support their contention.

I come across this quite a lot when reading history. Kathryn Warner rips into that line of argument very effectively in her Edward 2 blog.

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Hall's own memoir even notes he wasn't subject to overt racism at Oxford while an undergraduate, which this alleged "gatekeeping" is being painted as. He wasn't trying to suggest that race was the issue in that anecdote, but rather his interest in "Lit" over "Lang", as Marquis de Leech puts it.

But speaking of women, I saw the popular Twitter thread on the above passed along another historical fact but with a rather curious bent: when Tolkien moved on from the professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College in 1945, he was involved in selecting his successor. One of the leading candidates was Dorothy Whitelock, who was exceptionally accomplished. Unfortunately, Tolkien voted against her in favor of a male scholar of less note. On Twitter, this is put forward as pure sexism.

While I won't say it wasn't a part, I think the facts suggest something where sexism was a minor issue, and instead nepotism was the major factor. The scholar was  C.L. Wrenn, one of Tolkien's close friends, a member of the Inklings, whose wife Agnes was one of Edith Tolkien's very best friends. Hell, the men and their families even vacationed together.

 

More(?) saliently, Wrenn had been hired at Oxford at Tolkien's urging in the 30s to help share the burden of Anglo-Saxon education  -- in his second year at Oxford, Tolkien gave 136 lectures (the expected requirement was 36, but the philology department was severely understaffed), so you can see why  he desperately needed someone like Wrenn to help him. So Wrenn was basically Tolkien's right hand for a period of time. They had a long association, as friends and colleagues, which Whitelock did not have with Tolkien.

None of this should have been a factor in the decision, but yet I think it's pretty obvious it was. And at a remove, yes, the fact that Tolkien's intimates (besides his wife) were all men no doubt meant a woman like Whitelock could never have ended up in a similar position as Wrenn. But her sex was almost certainly not the first thing on Tolkien's mind when he voted for Wrenn over her.

As a kind of circumstancial proof, Tolkien touches on Wrenn's appointment in Letter #103, and then mentions how there's now the need to vote in a professor of modern literature. He even indicated who he favored: 

Quote

It ought to be C.S. Lewis...

While another friend of Tolkien's, and an Inkling and Coalbiter to boot, Nevill Coghill, ultimately got the chair, I think it's pretty clear that Tolkien was particularly sensitive to the academic climb of his friends and that's where his sympathies lay even when he was in a position to help them and even when superior candidates might have been at hand whom lacked the connection to Tolkien. Which isn't a great thing to say, but it seems to me much more honest than to frame it in gender terms. Gender played a part -- but at a remove. 

Edited by Ran

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I'd agree that this particular case was indeed cronyism, though Tolkien's own views of women in education were hardly progressive.

From Letter 43:

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Women really have not much part in all this, though they may use the language of romantic love, since it is so entwined in all our idioms. The sexual impulse makes women (naturally when unspoiled more unselfish) very sympathetic and understanding, or specially desirous of being so (or seeming so), and very ready to enter into all the interests, as far as they can, from ties to religion, of the young man they are attracted to. No intent necessarily to deceive: sheer instinct: the servient, helpmeet instinct, generously warmed by desire and young blood. Under this impulse they can in fact often achieve very remarkable insight and understanding, even of things otherwise outside their natural range: for it is their gift to be receptive, stimulated, fertilised (in many other matters than the physical) by the male. Every teacher knows that. How quickly an intelligent woman can be taught, grasp his ideas, see his point – and how (with rare exceptions) they can go no further, when they leave his hand, or when they cease to take a personal interest in him. But this is their natural avenue to love. Before the young woman knows where she is (and while the romantic young man, when he exists, is still sighing) she may actually 'fall in love'. Which for her, an unspoiled natural young woman, means that she wants to become the mother of the young man's children, even if that desire is by no means clear to her or explicit. And then things are going to happen: and they may be very painful and harmful, if things go wrong. Particularly if the young man only wanted a temporary guiding star and divinity (until he hitches his wagon to a brighter one), and was merely enjoying the flattery of sympathy nicely seasoned with a titillation of sex – all quite innocent, of course, and worlds away from 'seduction'.

Women are excellent learners...provided that they are being guided by men, especially by a man they fancy. 

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14 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

though Tolkien's own views of women in education were hardly progressive.

Very true, though I can't say what he thought of Whitelock, given that she was already a lecturer and published academic. He doesn't seem to refer to her in the published letters.

He did have an association with Ida Gordon, however, who held a doctorate in Old Norse, and she ended up asking his advice when she published on The Seafarer. So I'm not certain his words to his son were wholly indicative on his views of women in education as a whole, but perhaps rather his view of most female undergraduates. 

But yes, he was not at all a progressive in a lot of his notions. Letter #43 is quite eye-opening in regards to how he saw things. It was all very civilized and deeply sincere, but it was regressive.

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Letter #43 I've always taken as a reminder that even writer from bygone periods who are more kindly and open-minded than many of their contemporaries will still hold outdated and even reactionary views on some issues. He's not the malicious or outright hateful bigotry of Lovecraft or Howard, or even C.S Lewis' blatant sexism, but it's clear he had a very limited and paternalistic view on women, and a patriarchal one on marriage. Which, given the period he lived in, his conservatism and class,  and his religious background, isn't particularly surprising. 

 

Edited by Ser Drewy
grammar

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1 hour ago, Ser Drewy said:

Letter #43 I've always taken as a reminder that even writer from bygone periods who are more kindly and open-minded than many of their contemporaries will still hold outdated and even reactionary views on some issues. He's not the malicious or outright hateful bigotry of Lovecraft or Howard, or even C.S Lewis' blatant sexism, but it's clear he had a very limited and paternalistic view on women, and a patriarchal one on marriage. Which, given the period he lived in, his conservatism and class,  and his religious background, isn't particularly surprising. 

Having suffered my way through Lewis' That Hideous Strength recently, he definitely comes across as worse than Tolkien in that department.

(I fully agree with Tolkien's own assessment. He called it That Hideous Book).

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14 hours ago, Ser Drewy said:

Letter #43 I've always taken as a reminder that even writer from bygone periods who are more kindly and open-minded than many of their contemporaries will still hold outdated and even reactionary views on some issues. He's not the malicious or outright hateful bigotry of Lovecraft or Howard, or even C.S Lewis' blatant sexism, but it's clear he had a very limited and paternalistic view on women, and a patriarchal one on marriage. Which, given the period he lived in, his conservatism and class,  and his religious background, isn't particularly surprising.

Tried to read the Howard-Lovecraft letters a couple of years back, but had to stop because of the nonsense they discuss.

In Lovecraft's defense, though, one has to consider he married a Jewish immigrant who supported herself with her shop and evolved in his political views from boneheadedly backwater to supporting the New Deal and arguing for socialism. He never shed his racism, of course, but he evolved - and much farther than Tolkien who, as a human being, comes of as much more sympathetic and open-minded in his youth and early adulthood than as grumpy old man. Lovecraft, on the other hand, was a weirdo recluse as a youth and young adult who grew into a much better person in his later years. The racial issue aside, his views on politics, gender issues, and culture evolved for the better.

I have difficulty seeing Tolkien ever considering to marry a woman like Sonia Greene who supported herself or drastically changing his political views.

I mean, the man actually was a monarchist in the sense that he opposed democracy. How far on the right was that in early 20th century Britain?

And, frankly, we don't have access to material where Tolkien did not guard himself. What kind of jokes or snarks derogatory comments he made in private is likely going to remain private forever ... because he was far too guarded and private to entrust such things to letters (at least those who were published - which are clearly not all).

Can anybody elaborate on the accuracy of Carpenter's account on a fake Inklings meetings in his Inklings book? I mean, these guys come across as regressive caricatures. It would be difficult to even call them 'intellectuals' by modern standards.

Lewis must have been a very strange person - what was that 'relationship' he had with that older woman who was the mother of his dead friend and with whom he moved in while he was still studying?

Tolkien's own view on women clearly was warped both by his Catholicism as well as by the loss of his mother and his interpretation of the event. His marriage seems to have been a failure - taking care of Edith in old age doesn't really make up for how he seems to have treated her throughout his life (and he apparently couldn't even shut up about the fact that he was not liking it at Bournemouth). And the fact that he married his neighbor who turned out to have basically nothing in common with him besides the fact that they were both orphans didn't really make things better. They could have both been more happier if they had never married in the first place - or if they had had the grace to call it a day and go their separate ways after the children had grown up.

Had he had a wife who was more his intellectual equal his views on women certainly would have been different. One sees how Lewis' late relationship affected his own views - while he was having nothing to do with women, his friends should keep them out of their circle, too (and all the baggage of married life) but once he had a companion who inspired him intellectually he wanted to show her off.

That's really how misogyny is preserved and perpetuated - when you have 'intellectuals' who either deliberately or by accident marry or start relationships with women who are not even remotely your equal. Then you can confirm your prejudices essentially every day.

And while formal education for women wasn't that widespread a hundred years ago, women were still as intelligent then as they are today. There were always such intellectuals and artists who looked for and found equal partners. Tolkien clearly never even tried.

[My own girlfriend's parents are stuck in a very Tolkien-like marriage (Catholicism included), and I really must say that this is my personal nightmare variation of a marriage or relationship - when you have not only nothing in common but are not even capable of properly discussing your differences. Why would people marry or be together if they cannot even talk to each other in a meaningful way?]

17 hours ago, Ran said:

While I won't say it wasn't a part, I think the facts suggest something where sexism was a minor issue, and instead nepotism was the major factor. The scholar was  C.L. Wrenn, one of Tolkien's close friends, a member of the Inklings, whose wife Agnes was one of Edith Tolkien's very best friends. Hell, the men and their families even vacationed together.

I'm not sure we can really divide those issues. The Oxford environment was effectively exclusively male back then, much more than it is today, especially considering that it was relatively new that these men were even allowed to marry.

An exclusive male environment is sexist as such, you don't have to actually have conscious sexist thoughts or consciously allow your sexism to influence your decision to be sexist.

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Edith did actually find another man (to whom she became engaged, before she broke it off to marry Tolkien). But I'd disagree about their marriage being a failure. They did, genuinely, care for each other (I'd almost label Tolkien a demisexual, were it not for his assertion that men are naturally promiscuous creatures). They also had politics in common.

As for Tolkien's right-wingery... I suspect his views would have been much more common in France or Spain than Britain. Not least because British conservatism is traditionally pro-Anglican and anti-Catholic.

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13 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Edith did actually find another man (to whom she became engaged, before she broke it off to marry Tolkien). But I'd disagree about their marriage being a failure. They did, genuinely, care for each other (I'd almost label Tolkien a demisexual, were it not for his assertion that men are naturally promiscuous creatures). They also had politics in common.

They apparently had separate bedrooms for years. And nothing in common aside from the things you have in common when you live together for decades - i.e. your own past together and the children. I'm not doubting that there was genuine affection there - they had had similar experiences in childhood, and they had lived together most of their lives with apparently neither of them ever falling in love with somebody else or having an affair that we know of - but that's not my measure of a successful marriage (or rather: relationship). I mean, Tolkien failed pretty much at his grand enterprise, and, considering that it seems what he needed to get any creative work done (both academic and artistic writing) was encouragement and praise one can only guess at how productive the man could have been if his wife had liked 'his hobby' and he had been able to talk with her about all that. Not to mention the fact that he was not exactly a productive scholar, either. No proper dissertation and - how many published articles throughout his entire career? Half a dozen?

Is there any material written by Edith out there where one can assess her opinions firsthand?

I don't think Tolkien's general views on the sexuality of men have to include himself. One can be asexual and still generalize or even dismiss one own's gender, just as women can be misogynist, too.

13 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

As for Tolkien's right-wingery... I suspect his views would have been much more common in France or Spain than Britain. Not least because British conservatism is traditionally pro-Anglican and anti-Catholic.

Tolkien's true colors in the fascism department can be seen with his pro-Franco views - one assumes he would also have felt very at home in clerical fascist Austria before the Nazis took over.

His Catholicism caused Lewis to look down on him in this regard - and that certainly affected their friendship, just as at likely influenced Tolkien's views on Ireland. It is rather obvious why he may have not liked the a Protestant country to rule supreme over a Catholic country.

But I'm still not sure about what kind of monarchist he was. The impression one gets from the way he gets along with 'simple people' was that they better do as they are told and remain where they are (i.e. an estate-based society) the UK was already a joke as a monarchy even in Victorian days, much less the 20th century. Was he thinking about a society where there was less Parliament, less elections, and more oversight by the king?

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On 10/2/2019 at 9:52 AM, Lord Varys said:

They apparently had separate bedrooms for years. And nothing in common aside from the things you have in common when you live together for decades - i.e. your own past together and the children. I'm not doubting that there was genuine affection there - they had had similar experiences in childhood, and they had lived together most of their lives with apparently neither of them ever falling in love with somebody else or having an affair that we know of - but that's not my measure of a successful marriage (or rather: relationship). I mean, Tolkien failed pretty much at his grand enterprise, and, considering that it seems what he needed to get any creative work done (both academic and artistic writing) was encouragement and praise one can only guess at how productive the man could have been if his wife had liked 'his hobby' and he had been able to talk with her about all that. Not to mention the fact that he was not exactly a productive scholar, either. No proper dissertation and - how many published articles throughout his entire career? Half a dozen?

Is there any material written by Edith out there where one can assess her opinions firsthand?

I don't think Tolkien's general views on the sexuality of men have to include himself. One can be asexual and still generalize or even dismiss one own's gender, just as women can be misogynist, too.

Tolkien's true colors in the fascism department can be seen with his pro-Franco views - one assumes he would also have felt very at home in clerical fascist Austria before the Nazis took over.

His Catholicism caused Lewis to look down on him in this regard - and that certainly affected their friendship, just as at likely influenced Tolkien's views on Ireland. It is rather obvious why he may have not liked the a Protestant country to rule supreme over a Catholic country.

But I'm still not sure about what kind of monarchist he was. The impression one gets from the way he gets along with 'simple people' was that they better do as they are told and remain where they are (i.e. an estate-based society) the UK was already a joke as a monarchy even in Victorian days, much less the 20th century. Was he thinking about a society where there was less Parliament, less elections, and more oversight by the king?

You're judging Tolkien's marriage by his quantity of creative output? Good grief.

(I can't speak for Tolkien - and honestly, most of what I know about him and Edith comes from Humphrey Carpenter - but I tend to write less when I'm in relationships. Girlfriends can be distracting time-wise).

Yes, Tolkien was pro-Franco. Something his detractors rarely bring up, even though it remains the biggest black mark against him. Applying the label 'fascist' is just lazy though. Tolkien was an idiosyncratic reactionary, with very little time for actual fascists, and on the monarchist front, his preferred monarchy was one where the King spends his days poring over his stamp collection.

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