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J. R. R. Tolkien: The Man, his works, his philosophy and ideas Discuss J. R. R. Tolkien and his magnificent literary works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

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Old 04-02-2011, 05:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The way Tolkien had seen the world...

Oh, the west... Some could describe it as heaven, all the elves would eventually head off to the west. Oh, the East, where the land of Mordor would be, aswell as evil Men. The place not-to-be. Oh, the south, Harad, many big open plains with a barbaric folk, once loyal to the numenorians, now following the black numenorians - servants of Mordor.

Now, take Europe as centre piece of the World. What do we find in the west? The united kingdom and America - not to forget the massive ocean in between. And in the east? Well, in the middle-east, we find evil-men, or saying it more correct: Anti-western civilizations. Not to forget communistic China and former SU. Now lets take a look at the South. When the people of the North arrived in the South, they were first praised and honoured by them. But when they found out they were being exploited, they started rising against the men of the North. Decolonization. Oh? Isn't that what we had seen in Africa?

Coincidence? You tell me!
 
Old 05-02-2011, 04:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Darbuli View Post
Oh, the west... Some could describe it as heaven, all the elves would eventually head off to the west. Oh, the East, where the land of Mordor would be, aswell as evil Men. The place not-to-be. Oh, the south, Harad, many big open plains with a barbaric folk, once loyal to the numenorians, now following the black numenorians - servants of Mordor.

Now, take Europe as centre piece of the World. What do we find in the west? The united kingdom and America - not to forget the massive ocean in between. And in the east? Well, in the middle-east, we find evil-men, or saying it more correct: Anti-western civilizations. Not to forget communistic China and former SU. Now lets take a look at the South. When the people of the North arrived in the South, they were first praised and honoured by them. But when they found out they were being exploited, they started rising against the men of the North. Decolonization. Oh? Isn't that what we had seen in Africa?

Coincidence? You tell me!
Yes, coincidence. People have been saying things like that ever since it was written but Tolkien denied he had any such intentions in writing it. Yes, it's written from an Anglo-centric perspective in an old-fashioned style, but that's all. There are parallels, but he wasn't trying to make a statement.

If you look at Western history you'll see the idea of a threat from the East coming up time and time again. The East really was where barbarians kept coming from, sweeping off the steppes and laying waste to civilisation. Then there was the threat of invasion by civilisations to the south-east of Europe, which is where the Haradrim come in; there are several historical parallels there. It's just the general sitation he's borrowed, though; just enough for it to seem familiar. He didn't believe in forcing a particular interpretation on his audience.
 
Old 06-02-2011, 03:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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methinks OP is a troll :P
 
Old 08-02-2011, 11:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Complete coincidence. Also, the countries in the Middle East aren't exactly 'anti-Western civilizations' either. Not all of them, anyway.
 
Old 11-02-2011, 09:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Radhruin View Post
If you look at Western history you'll see the idea of a threat from the East coming up time and time again. The East really was where barbarians kept coming from, sweeping off the steppes and laying waste to civilisation. Then there was the threat of invasion by civilisations to the south-east of Europe, which is where the Haradrim come in; there are several historical parallels there. It's just the general sitation he's borrowed, though; just enough for it to seem familiar. He didn't believe in forcing a particular interpretation on his audience.
It's also worth remembering as a further point that while Tolkien did switch disciplines, originally he entered Oxford as a Classicist, and I see a great deal of influence on all his work from this early interest. The theme of East vs. West was a central theme of Greek Literature of the 5th and 4th centuries BC, and a topic around which a great deal of philosophical interest arose, too. After this, of course, it continued as a central idea in many Western cultures. As Radhruin says, Tolkien was just drawing inspiration from historial ideas he knew and which his audience could be expected to be familiar with - there is really no need to read any more into it, when there is nothing in the works which invites such an interpretation.
 
Old 11-02-2011, 11:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Have to agree with the above points.

Tolkien was inventing something that could sit with the myths and legends of England and the greater European mythos.

Geographically speaking the Western Ocean (Atlantic) had always been the extent of civilisation as far as the European cultures went. it was this that he was drawing parallels with and had absolutely nothing to do with the Modern History of the world as it was in the 20th Century.

The parallels he was drawing were pre-15th Century at the very latest, with the majority sitting with a culture relating to the time of Beowulf and before.
 
Old 05-03-2011, 11:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think the original poster is correct. Middle Earth seems to have (at least at some points) been either our own earth in a much earlier age or a reflection of our world in a parallell universe. I can't remember the work but in one of Tolkiens writings an Anglo -Saxon somehow manages to visit Middle Earth and return to England, or something along those lines.

Numenor / Westernesse is definitely Atlantis.
 
Old 05-03-2011, 05:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arelendil View Post
I think the original poster is correct. Middle Earth seems to have (at least at some points) been either our own earth in a much earlier age or a reflection of our world in a parallell universe. I can't remember the work but in one of Tolkiens writings an Anglo -Saxon somehow manages to visit Middle Earth and return to England, or something along those lines.

Numenor / Westernesse is definitely Atlantis.
Tolkien expressly intended Middle-earth to remind people of North-Western Europe; he said as much. So, in that much the OP was correct; the rest of what he said was guff, though (reading far more into things than the author said was ever intended).

Yes, Middle-earth is supposed to be 'our' world in some invented long-ago time. The chap you're thing of was called lfwine of England; he found his way to Tol Eressa and spent time with the Elves there, the idea being that they told him their tales of ancient times and so that's notionally how we came by them.
 
Old 24-03-2011, 10:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arelendil View Post
I think the original poster is correct. Middle Earth seems to have (at least at some points) been either our own earth in a much earlier age or a reflection of our world in a parallell universe. I can't remember the work but in one of Tolkiens writings an Anglo -Saxon somehow manages to visit Middle Earth and return to England, or something along those lines.

Numenor / Westernesse is definitely Atlantis.
Original poster is as far off as can be. He likes to project middle-earth to 1900's earth, that's not the case at all. Tolkien himself said he never wanted involve modern day politics into his stories. He said it's fine if people wanna see them that way, or in any other way and any part/story of mythos, but he never liked the idea that writer directs people to think in some specific way.

There are tons of stories and chapters in the history of middle-earth and the enemy has come from east, north, behind, within so why do people keep insisting that the most known story stands somewhat above all others?

Tolkien wanted to write folklore for England, since it had none in the way scandinavians had, Greek had, etc. His stories take place in very same earth we live now, only way in the past. When it was first created it was flat and full of elves, ents and all other imaginary and even perhaps magical beings. Main continent was in the middle, hence Middle-Earth, and over its' 37 000 years of history many things changed and all things wonderful and unbelievable slowly faded.

At some point Undying Lands shifted to another plane, were only accessible with elvish boats, and the earth reformed to planet. After fall of Sauron begins the age of men, elves depart and known history begins.

There certainly are many flaws and illogical solutions, but hey, it's folklore. And given it's massive timespan and Tolkiens passion being the complete history of his Middle-Earth it just feels kinda thin to accuse him for viewing things in western friendly light.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 07:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As Tolkien once said, "To ask if the Orcs are Communists is to me as sensible as asking if Communists are Orcs." I think that sums it pretty well.

Either way, if you like to think about these things, you might like the story of "The Last Ring-Bearer", a Russian novel telling story of the battle for Middle-Earth from the viewpoint of culturally and technically advanced Mordor:

Quote:
...that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle Earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic. The shining tower of the Barad-Dr citadel rose over the plains of Mordor almost as high as Orodruin like a monument to Man -- free Man who had politely but firmly declined the guardianship of the Dwellers on High and started living by his own reason. It was a challenge to the bone-headed aggressive West, which was still picking lice in its log 'castles' to the monotonous chanting of scalds extolling the wonders of never-existing Nmenor. It was a challenge to the East, buckling under the load of its own wisdom, where Ying and Yang have long ago consumed each other, producing only the refined static beauty of the Thirteen Stones Garden. And it was a challenge to a certain someone else, for the ironic intellectuals of the Mordor Academy, unbeknownst to them, have come right up to the line beyond which the growth of their power promised to become both irreversible and uncontrollable...
 
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