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Old 07-27-2021, 08:55 PM   #27
Bęthberry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemanpoet View Post
I can't find the quote from one of you, who mentioned Smith's occupation as mere ironmonger. Did Tolkien perhaps choose his occupation because of the possible pun of himself being a 'word-smith?' Reading the descriptions of Smith's faerie-blessed works in that light, it seems that Tolkien may be saying that his own craft of word-smithy was enriched by Faerie. And this could be taken in the sense of his philology as well as being a writer of stories.

To expand upon Guinevere's evidence that the Village Hall and Kitchen and Master Cook are a play on the village church and parson, the reversal of gift draws attention to itself. Gift given without merit, as described in SoWM, is known as grace. It seems to me that Tolkien's description of the King and Queen of Faerie as essentially benevolent cuts across the grain of the tradition of Faerie as well, and in this he seems to follow George MacDonald instead of the larger tradition. Faerie seems to partake of spirituality in some sense. And thus SoWM has in some ways the feel of a parable, not unlike George MacDonald's work.
Well, originally it was Verlyn Vlieger.
Quote:
It is worth noting that while Niggle is an artist, Smith is an artisan, a blacksmith who works with iron, traditionally an element inimical to fayery. That Tolkien should have chosen this medium for his central character I find quirky and perplexing. But then, nobody ever said Tolkien was an easy read. (I certainly never did.)
in her essay which examines many of the contradictions in Tolkien's comments and his writing, https://dc.swosu.edu/mythlore/vol38/iss1/3/.

That edition which Guinevere recommends, the one edited by Flieger, has some very interesting comments from Tolkien about SoWM. I'll quote a few passages which pertain to our discussion, of course with the provisio that I don't think an author's comments necessarily are the last word on his or her art.

Tolkien's essay opens with
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This short tale is not an 'allegory', though it is capable of course of allegorical interpretations at certain points. It is a "Fairy Story", of the kind in which beings that may be called 'fairies' or 'elves' play a part and are associated in action with human people, and are regarded as having a 'real' existence, that is one in their own right and independent of human imagination and invention. It is cast in an imaginary (but English) country-side, before the advent of power-machinery but at a time when [community prosperity] had begun to have an effect in making many of them vulgarly self-satisfied, and coarser. pp. 111-112
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While Nell and his daughter Nan were probably themselves elf-friends and even walkers in Outer Fairey, Ned was dependent on his father: he could receive 'Fairey' only through the lore and companionship of the older Smith. p.141
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But (as in my stories generally) it will be observed that there is no religion. There is no church or temple.... In a story written by a religious man this is a plain indication that religion is not absent but subsumed: the tale is not about religion or in particular about its relation to other things. p. 142
I'm not sure if this helps or hinders us, but it does add piquancy to the soup. And nice punning about wordsmith and a blacksmith.
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Last edited by Bęthberry; 07-28-2021 at 01:10 AM.
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