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Old 05-18-2005, 11:12 AM   #45
Fordim Hedgethistle
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OK, I could not help myself. I just had to look up "enchantment" in the OED:

1. The action or process of enchanting, or of employing magic or sorcery.

2. fig. Alluring or overpowering charm; enraptured condition; (delusive) appearance of beauty.
Interesting, no? And from Tolkien's own "On Fairy-Stories":

Enchantment produces a Secondary World into which both designer and spectator can enter, to the satisfaction of their senses while they are inside; but in its purity it is artistic in desire and purpose.
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.

But there are two really remarkable things about Tolkien's description of enchantment that I think bear mentioning:

1) He states that is it enchantment which produces the Secondary World, and not the other way around. This would seem to imply that the effect of the writer's art on the reader is what makes the world; in this case, he sees the reader as being enchanted as much by his own ability or willingness to recieve and reimagine the art, as he is by the art of the author.

2) He believes that this enchantment is fulfilled when the reader and the writer together enter the world in some kind of partnership. "to the satisfaction of both their senses." This is very much in keeping with his view of the relation between reader and writer in the creation of that world in the first place ("enchantment produces the Secondary World").

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.
Scribbling scrabbling.
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