Thread: Tolkien Bio-pic
View Single Post
Old 04-18-2019, 08:54 AM   #9
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,128
William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
I was afraid of this

Writers who don't know their subject except on the surface, and are faking it:

In one particular scene in the new bio-pic Tolkien, the young J.R.R. Tolkien (Hoult) takes his friend Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) out to lunch at a fancy restaurant. Both poor, both orphans, the teens uncomfortably negotiate their upper-class surroundings, but then Tolkien finds his ease telling Edith about a particular English phrase that’s transfixed him lately: Since the phrase is beautiful, he reasons, it should mean something beautiful, beyond its banal definition. With her prodding, he starts creating a redefinition, conjuring a mystical forest inhabited by elves (take a guess for yourself what the phrase was, trivia masters! If you need a hint, try working backwards from the elvish city of “Caras Galadhon” and its ruler, “Celeborn”). The give-and-take of their blossoming romance is founded on language, and in such ways, Tolkien makes a case for why the mind of The Lord of the Rings author was as fascinating as his fantasy epics.
First off, as most will know, Celeborn and his city didn't exist in 1915 and wouldn't until the next world war was well under way. And while it is true that Tolkien , in On Fairy-Stories, singled out "cellar door" as singularly euphonious, it doesn't get one very close to Celeborn unless one mispronounces him Seleborn.

But beyond, that, it creates a notion of Tolkien's word/world creation process which is not only wrong, but explicitly rejected by the man himself (don't the writers own a copy of Letters?)

'When you invent a language,' he said, 'you more or less catch it out of thin air. You say boo-hoo and that means something.'

I have of course no precise memory of just what I said, but what is here written seems odd, since I think it unlikely that I should intentionally have said things contrary to my considered opinions. I do not think that an inventor catches noises out of the air... it comes of course out of his linguistic equipment and has innumerable threads of connexion with other similar-sounding 'words' ... No vocal noises mean anything in themselves.
In this case, of course, Celeborn was created from long-existing Noldorin stems to give a meaning of "Silver Tree,"* to go with his wife "Tree Maiden"* and their city "Tree Fort." Nothing remotely do do with basement entrances!

And, yes, the article confirms that Tolkien's trench-visions include Black Riders arising from German cavalrymen: nonsense both internally and externally, since not only did the Black Riders' conception lie two decades in the future, but there was no German cavalry on the Western Front by 1916; the Germans had converted their troopers to infantry once it became apparent horses had no place in trench warfare.

*Later altered, but this was what T intended when he first wrote the Lorien chapter
The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings could be said to turn on what Sauron didn’t know, and when he didn’t know it.
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote