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Old 05-19-2005, 07:27 PM   #65
littlemanpoet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
This was rather surprising to me, that Tolkien would use a word -- and not just any word, but one so central to his own art -- in a way that is slightly different from its normal usage. In Tolkien's formulation, "enchantment" loses all sense of being "overpowering" or "enrapturing"; it certainly is not productive of a "delusive appearance of beauty"! What is more, in Tolkien's view of enchantment, he allies that word not with "magic or sorcery" but with Art.
It was not surprising to me. Tolkien was responsible for creating an entire genre of modern literature, as well as a major shift in thinking about it. That kind of "revolutionary" thinking requires coinage of new words and meaning. This is the man who coined "eucatastrophe", as well as whole languages. Your final sentence in this quote reveals that Tolkien was a modern, writing in an era in which magic and sorcery have been replaced by Art, at least in terms of credibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
So it seems to me that with his stories, Tolkien was attempting to invite me to be enchanted by his art, and that without my active participation in the creation of that world by agreeing with his art, then it cannot exist. In the end, he gives the reader a measure of freedom; we are not being taken over by his world, but co-creators of it.
This is an elegant statement, Fordim. It does Tolkien proud, I dare to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Is there a way to account for the possibility of the reader's 'willful sublimation', to expand upon the term littlemanpoet has coined for willful interpretation?
By this I think you mean that the reader is deluding herself into a kind of enchantment within a story that the author never intended? I think that this does happen, and that Tolkien bemoaned it in his Letters, especially in regard to the American reaction to LotR in the 60's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
If we start speculating about something as tenuous as that, & what effect it may or may not have on our reading then we will definitely get sidetracked down a blind alley to a dead end that leads us nowhere fast & we'll find ourselves up the creek without a paddle.
My my, davem, you must have been in a real hurry when you wrote this.... four, count 'em, four colloquial turns of phrase in one sentence. Yike! Admittedly, quite handy for saying what you mean in short fashion. ... not to mention one mixed metaphor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucepan Man
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
All I'm saying is that we should attempt, in the first instance, to experience & participate in the art as fully as we can, & we do that by leaving as much of our (conscious - ie the stuff were aware of rather than the stuff which may or may not exist) baggage at the door.
We shouldn't have to do anything or any particular thing with art, legally, morally or intellectually.
SPM, I think davem is proposing a conditional statement: If readers are to experience the full echantment of the story, then they must leave as much of their baggage at the door as they can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
But what would be wrong would be to read the story in the first place seeking to find answers to those things which are in our own world.
Although I agree with what you say in general, I think you overstate it by calling it "wrong"; perhaps "ill-advised" would be more appropo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
This to me explains something of the difference between different types of novel (I won't say fantasy novel, as I think it applies to any novel) - we have those which immediately plunge us into another place/time and those in which we must first travel through a reflection of our own world. In the latter I find that it is much more difficult to get that sense of being lost or enchanted as I find that while reading I am waiting for the characters to come back into the grey real world, and for the spell to be broken. This does not happen in Tolkien's work, it is immediately immersive and needs no plot hook to the primary world.

Tolkien's world, as something utterly different to our own, does not need us to have an understanding of the primary world, which is why it is also not necessary to compare aspects of it to the primary world. It is complete in itself. It also appeals to many people of many cultures, suggesting again that due to its contained nature it does not need to explain itself.
Hmmm...... I don't know.... there are a couple things that hold me back from this. First, Tolkien says in his letters over and over again that his Middle-earth is NOT utterly different from our own world, but feigned history of an era in this world. Second, whereas the Shire is obviously part of the feigned history, it serves as a sort of mediation between the primary world and the rest of Middle-earth. Third, even transitional fantasies are really immersive. Granted, what the transitional fantasies attempt is more difficult, because by means of the feigned primary world they allow the reader to bring expectations (baggage, sic) to her reading that she might otherwise leave behind; but as you implied, novels and fantasy novels share the characteristic of "feignedness". Thus, the difference between a transitional and an immersive, is that the former (seems to be attempting to) move(s) the reader from the familiar to the strange.
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