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Old 07-28-2021, 11:28 AM   #29
Thinlómien
Shady She-Penguin
 
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: In a far land beyond the Sea
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Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.Thinlómien is wading through the Dead Marshes.
I hadn't read The Smith in ages, perhaps never (it was read aloud to me as a child) and I had really no idea what I was getting into. All in all, I quite enjoyed it. Unlike Legate, I wasn't disturbed by the Smith's keeping the Faery to himself because - sorry Professor - I saw the story as deeply allegoric. It seemed to me indeed that you could just as well say that Nell, or Nan, or Ned, or even old Noakes had their own Faery where they could travel and see marvellous things of their own (well maybe Noakes would not be interested, but theoretically). Faery is fantasy, and fantasy is private - even if Tolkien's children visited Middle-Earth with him, it wasn't quite the same place as it was for him. It's not the same for anyone; we all have our private imaginations no one else can ever fully enter. To me, the story is a lot about this.

Also, about how the Smith's extensive journeys in Faery, as wonderful as they are, put a distance between him and the rest of the village, even his family. When he comes home in the end, you can see how his son Ned is relieved that his father will now spend more time with his family and be there for him and teach him things, as well as being there for his daughter and little nephew and his wife. I know Tolkien advocated fantasy as a means of escapism, but this story seems to say, too much is too much. You have to come back to real life, there are people who need you.

All that being said, I loved how faery itself was described. The Elf-Queen, very much like both Goldberry and Galadriel, the Elven party reminiscent of King Thranduil's forest feast, the fearsome Elven warriors with their ships, the magical flowering tree with the fruit... it's all very Middle-Earth, and very beautiful. There are rather unsettling things too, such as the lake that is not made out of water but of stone. Everything in Faery is very atmospheric and it was a joy to read.

Lastly, it is interesting to hear the cooks were an allegory. I have to say I was wondering about them the whole time. I have never heard of a medieval custom of there being a cook in a village that cooks for everyone (in a castle yes, but in a village?), yet that seems to be the arrangement in the village in the Smith. I wonder if there is any historical precedent of this, or if it's simply there for the allegory.
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