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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 3:57 pm 
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axordil wrote:
V-man:

I got out of academia to avoid doing research. :D


Reading books like Whittingham's isn't research, anymore than reading discussions like these are.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:58 pm 
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Does being an archetype preclude having a soul?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:28 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
axordil wrote:
V-man:

I got out of academia to avoid doing research. :D


Reading books like Whittingham's isn't research, anymore than reading discussions like these are.


Is there a footnote in the book? Hmm? Trust me, when I start seeing footnotes here, I'll excuse myself.

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Does being an archetype preclude having a soul?


Identification with the archetypal is different than that with the mimetic. I'm not sure if that answers your question, but I think it's relatively safe to say one can't have the same range of appreciation for a Manwë or even a Fëanor as for a Frodo or Sam. At what point in the continuum a character develops "soul" I leave to yovargas, since he's the person who proposed the yardstick.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:35 pm 
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Whittingham's book actually doesn't have any footnotes OR endnotes. I was actually pretty surprised when I checked that. It's a pretty readable text, compared to many other Tolkien secondary sources, including Shippey, Flieger, et al. (or even Kane).

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:51 pm 
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Oh, Kane. That scribbler. :roll:

Ax wrote:
I think it's relatively safe to say one can't have the same range of appreciation for a Manwë or even a Fëanor as for a Frodo or Sam.


I would say something slightly different: that one can't have the same depth of identification with a Manwë or even a Fëanor. For a lot of people, especially now, that identification is the basis for liking a character well enough to care what happens to him. Watching an awe-inspiring archetype do awe-inspiring things can feel more remote somehow than watching someone whose strengths and weaknesses you have been brought to understand from within do the same. "I wonder if I could do as well" is a question that comes up only in the second case.

But, obviously, not everyone needs or wants to identify with book characters on that level.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:56 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Whittingham's book actually doesn't have any footnotes OR endnotes. I was actually pretty surprised when I checked that. It's a pretty readable text, compared to many other Tolkien secondary sources, including Shippey, Flieger, et al. (or even Kane).


Well, that IS refreshing.

Still doesn't mean I'll read it. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:56 pm 
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waives at Ophelia. *













*waives at Ax too

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:25 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
Oh, Kane. That scribbler. :roll:


Well, he does have a bunch of endnotes (though not as many as some).

Ax wrote:
I think it's relatively safe to say one can't have the same range of appreciation for a Manwë or even a Fëanor as for a Frodo or Sam.


I would say something slightly different: that one can't have the same depth of identification with a Manwë or even a Fëanor. [/quote]

I would agree with that to a great extent. On the other hand, I identify more with Voronwë than any of the characters in LOTR (hence my screen name). And I think that Túrin is probably Tolkien's best-developed character in all of his work.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:05 am 
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I think that Túrin is probably Tolkien's best-developed character


Túrin deserved the separate volume he got. I find it interesting that his story also contains some of the most probing depictions of the Eldar, more so even than the tale of Beren and Lúthien. The scenes in Doriath, and the interaction with Beleg later, are really some of the best "close-ups" we have of some of the principal characters of the age.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:12 am 
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Also the interaction with Gwindor and Finduilas. Not to mention the great scene with the visiting Elves Gelmir and Arminas.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:37 am 
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Yep. It's not that Tolkien couldn't do it (get into a character's head in a more "modern" sense). I just think it would have taken another lifetime to do it consistently across the stories of the First Age. But I don't have to tell you that.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:17 am 
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It would have taken another lifetime, and it probably shouldn't have been done anyway.

Still, we grasp for the shreds of the human even in beings that transcend humanity. For me as a Christian, the moments in biblical text that show the humanity of Jesus—when he weeps, or rages, or is filled with dread—those are dear to me. This doesn't diminish him, I think, and I don't think it would have diminished Aragorn, either.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:13 pm 
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He has a few. The "all my choices go awry" moment sticks in my mind in particular. But once he's swallowed up by the kingship entirely? One could (and fanfic does) speculate on the Private Life of Elessar, but that's a different narrative.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:53 pm 
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axordil wrote:
He has a few. The "all my choices go awry" moment sticks in my mind in particular.


There are more than a few. As a Strider in Bree he lets slip a few hints of how the lonely life of a Ranger is getting to him, even if I think those belong more to Trotter. There's his longing for Arwen in Lórien and the heartbreaking "and came there never again as a living man." There's my favorite, "there go three that I love and the smallest not the least." There's his kidding with Merry and Pippin in the houses of healing, which I have mentioned. And there are flashes of arrogance, "Will you aid me or thwart me. Choose swiftly!" (why couldn't they have included that line in the movie!)

Now, he doesn't often show doubt, fear, weakness. Prim, Jesus was only 33. Aragorn is what? 90? at the time of LOTR.

On a tangent, back in the late 80s in the Soviet Union, religious texts finally became available freely. A woman's magazine of all things published excerpts from the Bible, so that at one point I had the Sermon on the Mount and Ecclesiastes open side by side. It struck me then how one was so clearly words of a young man, while the other could only be written in an old age.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:01 pm 
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I wasn't prescribing for Aragorn anything that I find moving in characters or people who are presented in a different way. I am not attacking Aragorn. He is who he is. All I'm doing is expressing my preference (preference, not prescription) for characters who are presented with more immediacy. And I have said repeatedly that Aragorn in the book works perfectly just as Tolkien presents him.

Those moments you list are my favorite Aragorn moments, because we see a glimpse of his feelings or his history.

It's like . . . LotR is a feast of a book, a brilliant one. I enjoy the feast, admire the accomplishment of creating it; but I'm still going to prefer some dishes to others because of my personal taste, even if they are all perfectly cooked. But I don't think less of anyone who likes the dishes I don't care for, or of anyone who doesn't care for the dishes that are my favorites. There's enough for everybody.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:40 pm 
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Prim, I didn't mean to imply that you HAVE TO like Aragorn. I'm talking strictly about the devices Tolkien used to describe the character. I adore the hobbits myself, precisely for the way I can relate to them, for the human-sizeness of them. But I love Aragorn and the -mir brothers nonetheless.

What I am trying to say is not, by any means, that any reader is somehow wrong for preferring some characters to others. I just disagree that the more epic, archetypal to use Ax's terms, character are devoid of souls. It's all there - the anguish, the fears, the love, the pride - all there in the text.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:50 pm 
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Quote:
It's all there

There, but not quite as accessible as time goes on and the Crown of the Reunited Kingdom looms.

Quote:
immediacy


A wonderful word, a precise and accurate word. Strider (nee Trotter) has it. Aragorn, less so. Elessar, none at all...except when he lets Strider slip through. Or Telcontar.

Does he remind anyone else of Henry V in Shakespeare? Not in the specifics--if Strider heard the chimes at midnight he was pursuing something fell--but in the change that he knows will come upon him?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:27 pm 
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The Valar are meant to be archetypes so they don't count. Besides, they're not main characters in the story, the Children of Illuvatar are.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:27 pm 
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I'm late joining in here, but if I may comment on the earlier part of the discussion (and apologies if it's a bit simplistic):

I also love works of fiction where the characters are fully developed and are easy to care about and to relate to, but I agree with those who state that Tolkien had different intentions. I understand that he was inspired by the older forms of literature that he loved, but I think it might go beyond that. As an academic and professor I think Tolkien understood that students get more out of a subject when they are not given too much, so that they have to fill in the blanks to really get to the heart of a matter. In reading LoTR I do find myself caring deeply about, in some ways relating to, or at least sympathizing with Aragorn, and frankly never doubting that he has a soul. I think the soul is implicit in all the characters (even Gollum....not sure about the Orcs though) I do wish I could know Aragorn better, but I think that might be what Tolkien intended.

If I might drift into a metaphor (I'm sorry, I can't help it, I'm a songwriter). A while back I was given a big box of stuff relating to some long gone ancestors. In the box were letters, photos, drawings, keepsakes, poems, valentines, locks of hair, essays, items that were precious to them - even a ring! :shock: (no, really! I tried it on, nothing happened). I don't doubt that these people were complete human beings, or that they had souls. I know the basic facts of their lives, but I yearn to really know them better - to know what they really were like, what they thought about. I keep going back to that box, and every time I do I seem to gain a bit more insight into their lives.

There's an old saying in showbiz: "Leave'em wanting more, and they'll keep coming back". I think JRRT understood that very well, and perhaps that's one reason we all keep coming back.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:19 pm 
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Lindréd wrote:

Quote:
I do wish I could know Aragorn better, but I think that might be what Tolkien intended.


I think Tokien realized that his readers would want to know more about Aragorn's past, especially once all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and he dropped Éowyn as a match and brought in Arwen. That is why we get the extra backstory in the Appendices. I remember when I first read the Trilogy, and like others have posted here, was (pleasantly) surprised when Arwen appeared in Minas Tirith. I was so pleased to find the past and future of their story in the Appendices.

Quote:
There's an old saying in showbiz: "Leave'em wanting more, and they'll keep coming back". I think JRRT understood that very well, and perhaps that's one reason we all keep coming back.


Too right! I'll never get enough of M-e ;)

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