View Single Post
Old 05-28-2002, 10:32 PM   #10
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.

Kalessin --

I've never had a chance to tell you this, but I've found many of your posts very challenging. I approach things as an academically trained historian and as a student of English literature. You must have some philosophy in your background or at least be able to think like a philosopher, something which I find quite impossible!

I am sympathetic with your view that Tolkien's works leave much open to interpretation and ambiguity, including the whole question of explicitly Christian or Catholic themes. As I initially indicated, whether I examine the first or the tenth draft of the LotR, I do not see such a precise delineation of belief.

Although I consider myself to be a religious person, I am not a Christian. Yet many of the themes which have been identified by myself or others as reflective of Tolkien's Catholicism do resonate in my heart because they strike receptive chords. In some cases, I can see echoes of my own Jewish tradition; in others, it is the mythic past, whether that of the ancient north or those more explicitly representative of the later medieval period. If I were a philologist like T.A. Shippey, I could probably see additional tie ins to the entire structure and outline of many ancient languages.

Yet, having voiced these reservations, I do think it would be a valid and possibly enlightening project to examine the draft LotR in terms of themes which I believe Tolkien himself would have identified as Christian and/or Catholic. Fortunately, we do have the author's Letters, and he was often very clear in these about what he considered to fall into this category. I also think such a project, if done well, would be an enormous amount of work.

As far as I know, no one has systematically examined this statement by Tolkien concerning the later Christian revisions to see if it was an accurate reflection of his process of writing, or merely something his mind came up with later because he wanted it to be so.

In your last post, you implicitly raise the additional question whether this process of "Christianizing" the writing was limited to the LotR or instead was extended to his final revisions of the Silm. The latter would be far beyond me, as I simply don't know this book well enough.

Actually, the whole thing would be beyond me, given my present life and commitments, but what a fascinating subject it would make!

sharon, the 7th age hobbit
Multitasking women are never too busy to vote.
Child of the 7th Age is offline