Tolkien's Expanding Universe

Seeking knowledge in, of, and about Middle-earth.
User avatar
axordil
Pleasantly Twisted
Posts: 8999
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:35 pm
Location: Black Creek Bottoms
Contact:

Post by axordil »

But I think this element of moral satisfaction is what draws us in.
Yes. It's fiction, after all. ;)

But it's also not quite the same thing as a mere happy ending or just desserts being parceled out. It's a sense of true and deep closure, an element also usually missing from real life. Frodo's departure is inescapably bittersweet, for example, but it is necessary and truthful.
User avatar
Impenitent
Throw me a rope.
Posts: 6819
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:13 am
Location: Deep in Oz

Post by Impenitent »

What draws us in?

Yesterday, watching the films again, I saw Gandalf pick up the Book of Mazarbul and I saw the runes of Moria and it struck me...these are real languages! Sindarin and Quenya are real!

Tolkien didn't write a book; Tolkien created fully functional languages and from these grew a culture and a vision and world...and from these flowed stories with real roots, deep roots. And the stories really never ended.

I think, had Tolkien lived forever, he still would never have completed The Silmarillion because it continued to be discovered by him. He could not finish it.

Tolkien did it first, too, and then all those other fantasy writers were so inspired that they tried to do it, too. They wanted desperately to plunge in and create as he did but they did not have the roots - the "living" culture from which the stories are an outgrowth. They were all trying to write books, trying to write stories, but that wasn't Tolkien's starting point. He was not trying to create the background for his stories. If anything, his stories were a means for him to work out, to discover, what really happened.

This is why we want to see beyond the vistas; because we know that there is something there, that the map of Middle Earth goes far beyond the meagre journeys we have taken there. We know.
Mornings wouldn't suck so badly if they came later in the day.
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38622
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

:)
"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."
User avatar
Primula Baggins
Living in hope
Posts: 40005
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:43 am
Location: Sailing the luminiferous aether
Contact:

Post by Primula Baggins »

:love:
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
User avatar
axordil
Pleasantly Twisted
Posts: 8999
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:35 pm
Location: Black Creek Bottoms
Contact:

Post by axordil »

Impy has just stated clearly why I won't write straight high fantasy. The exercise in world-building that has to take place behind the scenes for it is simply too daunting, because I look at the bar JRRT set.
User avatar
MithLuin
Fëanoriondil
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:13 pm

Post by MithLuin »

Yes. It is why I can write a 60,000+ word story that takes place in the Halls of Mandos. I know the place is there, and I know what it is for, and there is this tiny glimpse of what it is like....but it's real. I can go explore it and find the rules for my story as I go, even though Tolkien never really showed us the 'inside.'

Not that I'm anywhere near as good as Tolkien at this, I hasten to add! But he did the ground work. It was a lot easier, almost natural, to set a story here.

And yet, when I tried to do the same thing for JKR's story, I found that King's Cross was all she showed us. What might be beyond that, or what that place might be like for someone other than Harry...she did not give any clue, or any indication. So I had to make that one up out of broadcloth.

But everything I placed into the Halls of Mandos already existed in Tolkien's world, from the tapestries to Fëanorean lamps to a sun that rises in the West to the throne room of Angband. I never had to invent there...I was just borrowing from this fully-realized world with not only a story, but a history and even a myth behind it. Whereas poor Snape had to wander around a nebulous, amorphous afterworld that my sister found quite depressing.

Speaking of which, Caranthir has been demanding my attention all day, so I should go see what he wants...
Holbytla
Posts: 5870
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:31 pm

Post by Holbytla »

Going to steal a line from Rebecca that I think is apt and puts things rather concisely.

Actually I will have to paraphrase because my brain is addled.

Tolkien brings together people that have similarities but are not the same.
Image
User avatar
Folca
Posts: 141
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 10:40 pm
Location: The Great Northwest

Post by Folca »

"Tolkien brings together people that have similarities but are not the same."

Agreed. I am not a fan of sci-fi or high fantasy in general, yet LOTR is my absolute favorite book and the most read in my library. I think there is a uniqueness about the story, the world and its characters that appeals to a certain type of person, and that allows for the transcendance over other differences. The story is beloved by people with certain characteristics. I have certainly noticed that no matter how often I have been disagreed with here, I have been very impressed at how civil and open the forum is compared to most Internet forums. I have friends who like the entertainment of the movies, but a true fan is a unique find and makes for a good acquaintance no matter the circumstances. This has been a fantastic thread to read.
"Ut Prosim"
"There are some things that it is better to begin than refuse, even though the end may be dark" Aragorn
"Those who commit honorable acts need no forgiveness"
http://killology.com/sheep_dog.htm
User avatar
solicitr
Posts: 3728
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Engineering a monarchist coup d'etat

Post by solicitr »

these are real languages! Sindarin and Quenya are real!

Tolkien didn't write a book; Tolkien created fully functional languages
Well, not really. He constructed the skeletons of functional languages, with just enough flesh to make them look convincing. But you can't actually communicate usefully in Q or S (without resorting to neo-Elvish invention).
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38622
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

The curious origin of Tolkien's story Smith of Wootton Major (the best of his short fiction, in my humble opinion), should probably be mentioned in this thread, since it is a good example of the serendipitous ways in which his worlds expanded (even though Smith is not part of the legendarium, per se).

In around 1964, Tolkien contracted to write an Introduction to George MacDonald's Golden Key (probably because he had previously praised MacDonald, and that book in particular). The problem was, when Tolkien went to take another look at the book, he found that he disliked it intensely. Fortunately, the project ended up being abandoned, which saved him from either having to back out, or write a critical essay (in the sense of expressing a negative opinion), which would not have exactly served to help sell the book.

In the course of trying to draft this Introduction, Tolkien attempted to describe what Faery was by giving an Illustration. He started to outline a story that Faery could be put into. However, the story quickly took on a life of its own, and the next thing he knew, he had abandoned the Introduction to focus on the story. And that is how Smith of Wootton Major came into being.

For any interested in learning more about this, and tracing the creation of this excellent little fable, I strongly recommend the extended edition book of Smith of Wootton Major, edited by none other than Verlyn Flieger. It is, in its way, as interesting a study as Rateliff's History of the Hobbit. It was only released by Harper Collins; there is no Houghton Mifflin American edition, but it is still easily obtainable through Amazon.
"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."
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1597
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Post by N.E. Brigand »

Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:For any interested in learning more about this, and tracing the creation of this excellent little fable, I strongly recommend the extended edition book of Smith of Wootton Major, edited by none other than Verlyn Flieger. It is, in its way, as interesting a study as Rateliff's History of The Hobbit. It was only released by HarperCollins; there is no Houghton Mifflin American edition, but it is still easily obtainable through Amazon.
That edition also contains a further expansion: Tolkien's essay, "Smith of Wootton Major", which is both a commentary on the story and a subcreational elaboration of the world of Wootton Major and its neighbors. (I got to hear Flieger read the essay in Birmingham a few months before the edition was published.)
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38622
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Yes indeed! (My thanks to you, N.E.B., for recommending the expanded edition to me in the first place!)
"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."
User avatar
Frelga
Meanwhile...
Posts: 18515
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:31 pm
Location: Home, where else

Post by Frelga »

Not sure if this is the thread for this, but here's something cool in the works: Clickie for the project to rename a stretch of a river in NZ into Anduin Reach.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
Post Reply