The History of the Hobbit Feb 22, 2008 10:15:01 GMT -6
Post by fimbrethil on Feb 22, 2008 10:15:01 GMT -6
admin said:But I had read or heard somewhere that Tolkien wanted to write a tale for England so I wondered if Middle-earth was supposed to be our own Earth. But after reading The Silmarillion, Valinor and Middle-earth really did not conform to any of the religious or scientific explanations of the creation of earth.
I also recall (from where?) that Tolkien's intent was to write a mythology for England. As a mythology, it would not have had to mesh with any scientific explanation of the creation of the earth. It is debatable as to whether "The Music of the Ainur" is in conflict with religious undertanding of creation. I don't think Tolkien saw it that way.
By the end of the Silmarillion we have a world "cleaned up" enough to be our own. The seas are "bent," which I always took to mean that the world is now round. Valinor is removed from the circle of the world, and can only be reached by those who manage (with help) to find the straight path - not trapped in the circle of the world.
So things are set for Middle Earth to become Europe. But somewhere (Letters?) Tolkien cautions against trying to plot the map of the one on the other. Nevertheless, the Shire is approxiamately where England ought to be, if it eventually were cut off as an island.
So where is Middle Earth? Is it an ancient form of our world - prior to any history that we have - with only the Red Book surviving to tell us about it? Or is it some "other" place.
Tradtionally, I think "Fairyland" is part of our world, just out of sight for most mortals. Like Neverland, or Wonderland, or Oz, it can be reached by people in our world.
William Morris's tale takes place in an utterly other place, though one that is very like our own (not an alien planet). More like "Narnia." And it seems to me that Lewis does more on this subject to set up the modern fantasy genre than anyone else. He takes the time to explore the relationship between worlds, and how it is possible to move between them. (Unlike Lewis Carroll and the rabbit hole, which simply seems random.)
When Lewis and JRRT split the chore of writing science fiction, Lewis chose "other worlds" while JRRT took "this world, other time," did this choice reflect a pre-conditioning predilection on his part? For The Hobbit, I wonder if JRRT was simply following the standard European, Fairy-tale practice -- a format laid down long before modern (post rationalist times 1500 on) science made the idea of "other world" visits a routine part of human fiction? Just as the hobbit/ Dwarf tale has its roots in this Fairy-tale complex, so, the default mode of placement for anything "Fairy-tale-ish" JRRT might write would be our own world?
I think you are right - the default is "fairyland." As I recall this Tolkien/Lewis division, it led to Lewis writing his space trilogy, which isn't (in my mind) about "other worlds," since the planets can be reached from earth, and are really part of our world. But at that time, before we had landed on Mars, it was still possible to use the planets as locations for fantasy (as opposed to science fiction). And I think that Tolkien began writing a tale of Numenor as a result of that conversation with Lewis. So it seems that Numenor was always meant to be in the past of this world.
Opening a can of worms:
I still haven't read UT or HoME. My knowledge of Tolkien's legendarium comes from the published version of Silmarillion, which Christopher Tolkien polished up for publishing. So my question is: was the concern to make the various tales all work together as a whole cloth a concern of JRRT, or only of CT? Clearly JRRT worked hard to make LOTR hang together well, and kept a high level of consistency within it and its appendices. But was that level of consistency between the various other tales important to him? Or did he like spinning tales, and creating loose connections between them?