Escaping the Echo Chamber

The place for measured discourse about politics and current events, including developments in science and medicine.
Post Reply
User avatar
Túrin Turambar
Posts: 5834
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2005 9:37 am
Location: Melbourne, Victoria

Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber

Post by Túrin Turambar »

In The Hobbit, the Dwarves make a living as craftsmen, living amongst non-Dwarves throughout Middle Earth. They are appreciated for their skill but distrusted by those they dwell amongst, and are on a quest to reclaim their lost homeland of Erebor. This matches fairly closely with Medieval European depictions of Jews. In Letter 176 Tolkien is explicit that this is intentional: " "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue..."

Accordingly, he made the Dwarven language (when it appears) to explicitly follow Semitic patterns, as Quenya follows Finnish and Sindarin Welsh.

You can have a discussion as to whether this is racist. A modern author would undoubtedly think twice before basing his race of sometimes bumbliing, officious, cowardly and greedy characters on the Jews. Tolkien was writing at a time when this sort of stereotyping was normal and acceptable. The question is bigger than this particular example.
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38637
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Frelga wrote:Sorry, yov, I really don't have the time now. There's been some academic work on the subject, which you could probably locate if interested.
N.E.B. mentions two pieces in a post above.
noting a couple works of Tolkien scholarship (by Rebecca Brackmann and Renée Vink) that argue both sides
Rebeccal Brackmann's piece "Dwarves are Not Heroes: Anti-Semitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's Writing" can be read at: https://dc.swosu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cg ... t=mythlore

I should note that I have posted elsewhere that I disagree with her conclusions.

Renée Vink's “'Jewish' Dwarves: Tolkien and Anti-Semitic Stereotyping" can be read at: https://www.deepdyve.com/lp/west-virgin ... pFQm6CfRko

I have not read that one.

There is a brief discussion here about John Rateliff's comments in The History of the Hobbit about this subject that be found at http://thehalloffire.net/forum/viewtopi ... 066#p98066

There was another discussion in a different thread can be found at http://thehalloffire.net/forum/viewtopi ... 61#p104261
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
Beorhtnoth
Posts: 298
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2020 6:13 pm

Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber

Post by Beorhtnoth »

I haven't read all 54 pages. Was the echo chamber escape successful? :whistle:
In a society built on deceit, telling truth is a seditious act
User avatar
Alatar
of Vinyamar
Posts: 9562
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:39 pm
Location: Ireland
Contact:

Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber

Post by Alatar »

Nope. A failed experiment :)
Image
The Vinyamars on Stage! This time at Bag End
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1616
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber

Post by N.E. Brigand »

In 2019, The Desert Sun, a local newspaper in Palm Springs, California, did an experiment: they stopped including opinion pieces on national issues for a month. As a result, readers apparenty became less polarized and paid more attention to local issues that were otherwise getting little attention.
Post Reply