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Old 06-04-2002, 08:56 PM   #26
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Colorado (just east of the Misty Mts.)
Posts: 111
Evenstar1 has just left Hobbiton.

I must confess that at times the depth of this conversation has escaped me! You are all extremely intelligent individuals!

That being said, I promised to weigh-in when I'd read more of Pierce's book: "Tolkien, Man and Myth." I'm about halfway through (I'm a slow reader) and I am now more completely in love with Middle Earth than I previously thought possible! You MUST read this book if you want to understand where JRRT was coming from, theologically (and otherwise)! It is truly fascinating!

First of all, as you may know, the Silmarillion was written first and...
...far from creating a new theology Tolkien merely adopted and adapted an old one to his own use. This Catholic theology, explicity present in "The Silmarillion" and implicitly present in "The Lord of the Rings," is omnipresent in both, breathing life into the tales as invisibly but as surely as oxygen. Whether Tolkien was consciously aware of this is another matter, but subconsciously he was so saturated with the Christian concept of reality that it permeates his myth profoundly. (p. 94)
Pierce goes on to heavily support all of his own words with quotes from direct conversations with Tolkien's friends, family, from other bios written on JRRT (including the aforementioned bio by Humphrey Carpenter), as well as direct quotes from Tolkien's own letters, written to his children. He equates the Sil to a re-writing of Genesis, as seen through the eyes of JRRT's own, deep, Catholic spirituality, coupled with an Augustinian philosophy. Yet he practically and brilliantly manages to accomodate different modern theories at the same time. (For instance, Tolkien did not find creationism and evolutionism to be mutually exclusive, so he had the Ainur unfold the landscape of time and then placed his "children" (Men and Elves) within that landscape.) The LOTR, however, is not so direct of a translation from the Bible. It is more of an offshoot of ideas that he'd germinated in the Sil. Some of what Pierce points out I had completely missed, probably because I, as a Catholic, am so "saturated" with it, myself! But did you know that:

The character of Elrond is (partly) based on Fr. Francis, the priest who helped to raise JRRT and his younger brother, Hilary, after their mother died?

Sam Gamgee "is indeed a reflexion (sic) of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself." (p. 40)

On the headstones of JRRT and his wife, Edith, are the names "Beren" and "Luthien!" (I just loved that!)

In any event, I am thoroughly enjoying reading this book, and look forward to next beginning the "Silmarillion!"
- Eve
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