Undarkened Heart

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Falvlun 15/Oct/2006 at 11:09 AM
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"Having set myself a task, the arrogance of which I fully recognized and trembled at: being precisely to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own: it is a wonderful thing to be told that I have succeeded, at least with those who have still the undarkened heart and mind." (Letter 180) my emphasis

Who would Tolkien consider to have the "undarkened heart and mind" and what sort of criterion does such a mind possess?

This line is followed directly by Tolkien plunging into the role of language in legends and vice versa. So, simply by virtue of association, would the ’undarkened heart and mind’ be one which still values language and mythology? If so, what would this actually entail?

Perhaps he’s speaking of those who free their mind from all the scienctific mumbo-jumbo and pell-mell industrialistic drive in order to appreciate those things which underlie human thought and identity.

Or, to use a more modern example, people who will sit down to enjoy a good book rather than zoning out in front of the TV for hours.

Additionally, there does seem to be a sort of innocence associated with an "undarkened heart". What sort of innocence would this be?

Lastly, I do find it interesting that one of the qualifiers of "an undarkened heart and mind" is the enjoyment of the Lord of the Rings. I could be reading this wrong (my cause/effect could be mixed up), but it does seem a bit egotistic to say that someone who doesn’t enjoy your work is therefore "in the dark" about certain important matters. And the last thing I would accuse Tolkien of would be egoism in terms of the LotR.

So, what’s your synopsis of this "undarkened heart and mind"?

Falvlun 15/Oct/2006 at 11:09 AM
Horse-lord of the Mark Points: 2512 Posts: 3814 Joined: 21/Sep/2004

"Having set myself a task, the arrogance of which I fully recognized and trembled at: being precisely to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own: it is a wonderful thing to be told that I have succeeded, at least with those who have still the undarkened heart and mind." (Letter 180) my emphasis

Who would Tolkien consider to have the "undarkened heart and mind" and what sort of criterion does such a mind possess?

This line is followed directly by Tolkien plunging into the role of language in legends and vice versa. So, simply by virtue of association, would the ’undarkened heart and mind’ be one which still values language and mythology? If so, what would this actually entail?

Perhaps he’s speaking of those who free their mind from all the scienctific mumbo-jumbo and pell-mell industrialistic drive in order to appreciate those things which underlie human thought and identity.

Or, to use a more modern example, people who will sit down to enjoy a good book rather than zoning out in front of the TV for hours.

Additionally, there does seem to be a sort of innocence associated with an "undarkened heart". What sort of innocence would this be?

Lastly, I do find it interesting that one of the qualifiers of "an undarkened heart and mind" is the enjoyment of the Lord of the Rings. I could be reading this wrong (my cause/effect could be mixed up), but it does seem a bit egotistic to say that someone who doesn’t enjoy your work is therefore "in the dark" about certain important matters. And the last thing I would accuse Tolkien of would be egoism in terms of the LotR.

So, what’s your synopsis of this "undarkened heart and mind"?

Jinniver Thynne 15/Oct/2006 at 12:49 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 994 Posts: 424 Joined: 28/Jan/2006

Great question!

Maybe he means those who still have an open mind for a rattling good story, who aren’t seeking cleverness (at least not on the surface) and trickery; those who are ready and willing to be enchanted and moved to walk in another world; those who are open to tales of wizards, of dragons, of Elves, of Hobbits. I think he means ’undarkened heart’ to refer to those who have not allowed logical concerns to overtake their human ability to be moved. I love science and think it can in fact be incredibly beautiful (especially when talking about time and the walls of the universe and causal loops and the like), but sometimes we only allow to enter our hearts what our eyes tell us, what is able to be explained, when in Tolkien’s work there is a lot which cannot be explained. Tolkien’s work prompts us to seek further...

Jinniver Thynne 15/Oct/2006 at 12:49 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 994 Posts: 424 Joined: 28/Jan/2006

Great question!

Maybe he means those who still have an open mind for a rattling good story, who aren’t seeking cleverness (at least not on the surface) and trickery; those who are ready and willing to be enchanted and moved to walk in another world; those who are open to tales of wizards, of dragons, of Elves, of Hobbits. I think he means ’undarkened heart’ to refer to those who have not allowed logical concerns to overtake their human ability to be moved. I love science and think it can in fact be incredibly beautiful (especially when talking about time and the walls of the universe and causal loops and the like), but sometimes we only allow to enter our hearts what our eyes tell us, what is able to be explained, when in Tolkien’s work there is a lot which cannot be explained. Tolkien’s work prompts us to seek further...

Endril 15/Oct/2006 at 12:54 PM
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I think Tolkien referes to those who can still appreciate such kind of story and that are not affected by the modern writings. I don’t think he refers at the fast that only the ones that like LOTR have undarkened hearts. So he is not egotistic. He refers probably at those than can still imagine a world like the one he created and that can still appreciate old legends and miths. 
Endril 15/Oct/2006 at 12:54 PM
Healer of Imladris Points: 9193 Posts: 9362 Joined: 15/Jan/2006
I think Tolkien referes to those who can still appreciate such kind of story and that are not affected by the modern writings. I don’t think he refers at the fast that only the ones that like LOTR have undarkened hearts. So he is not egotistic. He refers probably at those than can still imagine a world like the one he created and that can still appreciate old legends and miths. 
Captain Bingo 15/Oct/2006 at 12:59 PM
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Interesting use of words there. ’Still undarkened’ implies that to have an ’undarkened’ heart & mind is one’s original state, but something that many people lose. It implies some kind of ’fall’ - but not in the Christian sense of Original Sin as that is a state one is born into & must be ’saved’ from.

What, as you ask, would ’darken’ one’s heart & mind, & remove it from its ’lightened’ state? The World? ’The Machine’ - desire to ’control & coerce’ the world & other people?

Perhaps, in light of Tolkien’s philosophy one could argue it is those who can still enter ’Faery’, who still bear their own ’Fay Star’.

In the Smith essay Tolkien wrote:

But Faery is not religious. It is fairly evident that it is not Heaven or Paradise. Certainly its inhabitants, Elves, are not angels or emissaries of God (direct). The tale does not deal with religion itself. The Elves are not busy with a plan to reawake religious devotion in Wootton. The Cooking allegory would not be suitable to any such import. Faery represents at its weakest a breaking out (at least in mind) from the iron ring of the familiar, still more from the adamantine ring of belief that it is known, possessed, controlled, and so (ultimately) all that is worth being considered - a constant awareness of a world beyond these rings. More strongly it represents love: that is, a love and respect for all things, ’inanimate’ and ’animate’, an unpossessive love of them as ’other’. This ’love’ will produce both ruth and delight. Things seen in its light will be respected, and they will also appear delightful, beautiful, wonderful even glorious. Faery might be said indeed to represent Imagination (without definition because taking in all the definitions of this word): esthetic: exploratory and receptive; and artistic; inventive, dynamic, (sub)creative. This compound - of awareness of a limitless world outside our domestic parish; a love (in ruth and admiration) for the things in it; and a desire for wonder, marvels, both perceived and conceived - this ’Faery’ is as necessary for the health and complete functioning of the Human as is sunlight for physical life: sunlight as distinguished from the soil, say, though it in fact permeates and modifies even that.

Which is a passage I never get tired of quoting - as some will have noticed!

I think ’a desire for wonder, marvels, both perceived and conceived’ sums up an ’undarkened heart & mind perfectly’.
Captain Bingo 15/Oct/2006 at 12:59 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 1573 Posts: 957 Joined: 31/Jan/2006
Interesting use of words there. ’Still undarkened’ implies that to have an ’undarkened’ heart & mind is one’s original state, but something that many people lose. It implies some kind of ’fall’ - but not in the Christian sense of Original Sin as that is a state one is born into & must be ’saved’ from.

What, as you ask, would ’darken’ one’s heart & mind, & remove it from its ’lightened’ state? The World? ’The Machine’ - desire to ’control & coerce’ the world & other people?

Perhaps, in light of Tolkien’s philosophy one could argue it is those who can still enter ’Faery’, who still bear their own ’Fay Star’.

In the Smith essay Tolkien wrote:

But Faery is not religious. It is fairly evident that it is not Heaven or Paradise. Certainly its inhabitants, Elves, are not angels or emissaries of God (direct). The tale does not deal with religion itself. The Elves are not busy with a plan to reawake religious devotion in Wootton. The Cooking allegory would not be suitable to any such import. Faery represents at its weakest a breaking out (at least in mind) from the iron ring of the familiar, still more from the adamantine ring of belief that it is known, possessed, controlled, and so (ultimately) all that is worth being considered - a constant awareness of a world beyond these rings. More strongly it represents love: that is, a love and respect for all things, ’inanimate’ and ’animate’, an unpossessive love of them as ’other’. This ’love’ will produce both ruth and delight. Things seen in its light will be respected, and they will also appear delightful, beautiful, wonderful even glorious. Faery might be said indeed to represent Imagination (without definition because taking in all the definitions of this word): esthetic: exploratory and receptive; and artistic; inventive, dynamic, (sub)creative. This compound - of awareness of a limitless world outside our domestic parish; a love (in ruth and admiration) for the things in it; and a desire for wonder, marvels, both perceived and conceived - this ’Faery’ is as necessary for the health and complete functioning of the Human as is sunlight for physical life: sunlight as distinguished from the soil, say, though it in fact permeates and modifies even that.

Which is a passage I never get tired of quoting - as some will have noticed!

I think ’a desire for wonder, marvels, both perceived and conceived’ sums up an ’undarkened heart & mind perfectly’.
Kirinki54 15/Oct/2006 at 01:17 PM
Librarian of Imladris Points: 2897 Posts: 1354 Joined: 17/Nov/2005

I think so too. He refers to those who do not enter into Fairy with a willingness to be emotionally moved and accept its own logic. Instead they come with a set agenda, with preconceived expectations, bearing with them the Primary world which does not belong there. Not being open to fantasy is really to darken your heart and mind. I think he speaks in general terms here, but the words might also have been directed specifically towards most literary critics and also towards the linguists that had hi-jacked his beloved philogy.

Kirinki54 15/Oct/2006 at 01:17 PM
Librarian of Imladris Points: 2897 Posts: 1354 Joined: 17/Nov/2005

I think so too. He refers to those who do not enter into Fairy with a willingness to be emotionally moved and accept its own logic. Instead they come with a set agenda, with preconceived expectations, bearing with them the Primary world which does not belong there. Not being open to fantasy is really to darken your heart and mind. I think he speaks in general terms here, but the words might also have been directed specifically towards most literary critics and also towards the linguists that had hi-jacked his beloved philogy.

Laielinwen 15/Oct/2006 at 01:32 PM
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I’ve been pondering this a lot. It is an excellent question and I’d like to toss out an idea to see what y’all think.  We know that myths largely in the past were handed down orally. They were tales told/passed down from generation to generation by a largely ’illiterate’ people. The myths of course were eventually written down, but didn’t most begin as oral tales... thus giving the element of mystery and opportunity for those to prove their faith no matter that they could read or not.

Tolkien was much interested in myth and being a student of languages would have been well aware of the oral traditions. In fact we see them in his stories... there are so many songs sang and poems recited in The Hobbit and LOTR.

What if he somehow had in mind that he would be creating and writing down from the inception... Where in the past things were known from oral traditions. Perhaps some may not be interested in ’reading’... perhaps they’d rather live in the dark ages and hear the tales of old as they always had and their parents and grandparents before them.

To open your heart and mind to this new way of being introduced to myth... to be accepting of something that may be intellectually stimulating AND challenging and possibly too difficult for some to comprehend so therefore may be dismissed without effort to try...

Just an idea...

Laielinwen 15/Oct/2006 at 01:32 PM
New Soul Points: 31115 Posts: 27324 Joined: 16/Mar/2002

I’ve been pondering this a lot. It is an excellent question and I’d like to toss out an idea to see what y’all think.  We know that myths largely in the past were handed down orally. They were tales told/passed down from generation to generation by a largely ’illiterate’ people. The myths of course were eventually written down, but didn’t most begin as oral tales... thus giving the element of mystery and opportunity for those to prove their faith no matter that they could read or not.

Tolkien was much interested in myth and being a student of languages would have been well aware of the oral traditions. In fact we see them in his stories... there are so many songs sang and poems recited in The Hobbit and LOTR.

What if he somehow had in mind that he would be creating and writing down from the inception... Where in the past things were known from oral traditions. Perhaps some may not be interested in ’reading’... perhaps they’d rather live in the dark ages and hear the tales of old as they always had and their parents and grandparents before them.

To open your heart and mind to this new way of being introduced to myth... to be accepting of something that may be intellectually stimulating AND challenging and possibly too difficult for some to comprehend so therefore may be dismissed without effort to try...

Just an idea...

Captain Bingo 15/Oct/2006 at 01:47 PM
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Laielinwen Running off at a tangent....I also think the ’oral’ tradition was important in Tolkien’s thinking re Middle-earth. Certainly the fairy & folk tales we have now were mainly oral in origin. What’s often forgotten is that they were part of a much larger collection of tales, lore & wisdom which were never written down & so are now lost, but which would have been our ancestor’s minds as they heard the story, & provided a lot of ’background’ information - things that may seem to us ’odd’ or mysterious or illogical may have made perfect sense to our ancestors as they would have had information we don’t have in order to ’fill in the gaps’.

Tolkien does much the same thing in LotR with references to other tales which are never told in the story - names of characters or titles of songs & lays which we never hear.
Captain Bingo 15/Oct/2006 at 01:47 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 1573 Posts: 957 Joined: 31/Jan/2006
Laielinwen Running off at a tangent....I also think the ’oral’ tradition was important in Tolkien’s thinking re Middle-earth. Certainly the fairy & folk tales we have now were mainly oral in origin. What’s often forgotten is that they were part of a much larger collection of tales, lore & wisdom which were never written down & so are now lost, but which would have been our ancestor’s minds as they heard the story, & provided a lot of ’background’ information - things that may seem to us ’odd’ or mysterious or illogical may have made perfect sense to our ancestors as they would have had information we don’t have in order to ’fill in the gaps’.

Tolkien does much the same thing in LotR with references to other tales which are never told in the story - names of characters or titles of songs & lays which we never hear.
Laielinwen 15/Oct/2006 at 02:21 PM
New Soul Points: 31115 Posts: 27324 Joined: 16/Mar/2002

Yes...
In my classroom students often ask me why certain fairy tales are told a tad differently from each other and they didn’t realize that these tales they are reading about were originally passed down orally.

Tis a shame about those lost... like family stories and histories... we need to record the stuff!

Another thought on the subject... in another thread we were talking about how important the language is to Tolkien. For him the language comes first... the words and then the story. Perhaps he could be referring to the fact that his mythology would need to contain more than just tales... it would have language, tales and peoples... all part of the creation and that those open to all those components instead of just the story would not have the darkened heart and mind.

still thinking aloud... hehe

Laielinwen 15/Oct/2006 at 02:21 PM
New Soul Points: 31115 Posts: 27324 Joined: 16/Mar/2002

Yes...
In my classroom students often ask me why certain fairy tales are told a tad differently from each other and they didn’t realize that these tales they are reading about were originally passed down orally.

Tis a shame about those lost... like family stories and histories... we need to record the stuff!

Another thought on the subject... in another thread we were talking about how important the language is to Tolkien. For him the language comes first... the words and then the story. Perhaps he could be referring to the fact that his mythology would need to contain more than just tales... it would have language, tales and peoples... all part of the creation and that those open to all those components instead of just the story would not have the darkened heart and mind.

still thinking aloud... hehe

Captain Bingo 15/Oct/2006 at 02:43 PM
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Laielinwen I remember reading Peig Sayer’s (1873 - 1958) autobiography ’An Old Woman Remembers’ - Peig was a storyteller from the Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland. She tells how she would be able to remember a long story after just one hearing (her son, Michael o’Guiheen, in his autobiography ’A Pity Youth Does Not Last, refers to one story, The King of Ireland’s Son which would take ’two weeks of nights in the telling’ ) . What she would do, on first hearing the story, wass to face a blank wall & as the story was being told she would mentally ’project’ the images onto the wall. This enabled her to remember the story, along, one supposes with the usual ’stock phrases’ that one finds in folk tales.

This ability to visualise the story would be a powerful aide memoir, & seems to have been a more natural ability than it is for us, with TV & films seemingly having damaged our visualisation capacity. Its always struck me that, on reading LotR we first ’hear’ the narrator’s words, setting the scene & then only the voices of the Hobbits in the Inn. Only then, & very gradually, are we given descriptions of places & people. Its as if Tolkien is taking us through the process that Peig describes.....

As for lost stories, Jinniver & I were talking about the Welsh Triads the other night, & about how many tales have been lost, only surviving as references in these mnemonic verses
Captain Bingo 15/Oct/2006 at 02:43 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 1573 Posts: 957 Joined: 31/Jan/2006
Laielinwen I remember reading Peig Sayer’s (1873 - 1958) autobiography ’An Old Woman Remembers’ - Peig was a storyteller from the Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland. She tells how she would be able to remember a long story after just one hearing (her son, Michael o’Guiheen, in his autobiography ’A Pity Youth Does Not Last, refers to one story, The King of Ireland’s Son which would take ’two weeks of nights in the telling’ ) . What she would do, on first hearing the story, wass to face a blank wall & as the story was being told she would mentally ’project’ the images onto the wall. This enabled her to remember the story, along, one supposes with the usual ’stock phrases’ that one finds in folk tales.

This ability to visualise the story would be a powerful aide memoir, & seems to have been a more natural ability than it is for us, with TV & films seemingly having damaged our visualisation capacity. Its always struck me that, on reading LotR we first ’hear’ the narrator’s words, setting the scene & then only the voices of the Hobbits in the Inn. Only then, & very gradually, are we given descriptions of places & people. Its as if Tolkien is taking us through the process that Peig describes.....

As for lost stories, Jinniver & I were talking about the Welsh Triads the other night, & about how many tales have been lost, only surviving as references in these mnemonic verses
NineFingered 16/Oct/2006 at 02:40 PM
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My guess is that an "undarkened heart and mind" would have pure notions of human nature. What I’m trying to say is that Tolkien hallows beautiful virtues such as love, friendship, innocence and honor. A person with a dark heart would probably not understand that "love is patient, love is kind, love never lets it die", to quote St. Paul. In other words, in a world where the notion of love is so tampered with modern non-traditional ideas, the concept of love in Tolkien’s tales would seem alien. Just to give one example, is there at any time some character who desired to repudiate his spouse, sort of divorce him or her? Are there tales of infidelity? I cannot think of any right now, but if you know any, please mention them. Those who love someone, love that person to the end. Usually modern best-sellers involve a corruption of these virtues, especially love, which is brought down to sex most of the time. This doesn’t happen in LOTR. I am not saying that everyone in Tolkien’s books is virtuous, of course that wouldn’t be true, but the basic concepts of truth are there: good is better than evil, love means sacrifice, etc. etc. and if we had a totally dark mind and heart, we would not be able to understand the books.
NineFingered 16/Oct/2006 at 02:40 PM
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My guess is that an "undarkened heart and mind" would have pure notions of human nature. What I’m trying to say is that Tolkien hallows beautiful virtues such as love, friendship, innocence and honor. A person with a dark heart would probably not understand that "love is patient, love is kind, love never lets it die", to quote St. Paul. In other words, in a world where the notion of love is so tampered with modern non-traditional ideas, the concept of love in Tolkien’s tales would seem alien. Just to give one example, is there at any time some character who desired to repudiate his spouse, sort of divorce him or her? Are there tales of infidelity? I cannot think of any right now, but if you know any, please mention them. Those who love someone, love that person to the end. Usually modern best-sellers involve a corruption of these virtues, especially love, which is brought down to sex most of the time. This doesn’t happen in LOTR. I am not saying that everyone in Tolkien’s books is virtuous, of course that wouldn’t be true, but the basic concepts of truth are there: good is better than evil, love means sacrifice, etc. etc. and if we had a totally dark mind and heart, we would not be able to understand the books.
Jinniver Thynne 17/Oct/2006 at 02:03 PM
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NineFingered - there are a few tales of marital discord - there are couples such as Eol and Aredhel, and the famous story - Aldarion and Erendis (or Aldarion and ’er-indoors ), a fascinating and sad story of how a couple grow apart and grow to hate one another. Celebrimbor loved Galadriel and his love was doomed to be unrequited as she had married Celeborn. Maeglin loved Idril but they were cousins. Celegorm attempted to trick Luthien into marriage. There are a lot of tangled love stories, and there is a fair amount of lust too!

Jinniver Thynne 17/Oct/2006 at 02:03 PM
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NineFingered - there are a few tales of marital discord - there are couples such as Eol and Aredhel, and the famous story - Aldarion and Erendis (or Aldarion and ’er-indoors ), a fascinating and sad story of how a couple grow apart and grow to hate one another. Celebrimbor loved Galadriel and his love was doomed to be unrequited as she had married Celeborn. Maeglin loved Idril but they were cousins. Celegorm attempted to trick Luthien into marriage. There are a lot of tangled love stories, and there is a fair amount of lust too!

NineFingered 17/Oct/2006 at 05:01 PM
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Jinnier, I know there is a lot of lust and a lot of tangled love stories, but I don’t think you got my point. Those who married because of love do not have any case of infidelity. All the cases you pointed out are pre-marriage love tangles, and of course that happens everywhere, except Aldarion and Erendis. But I never read that Aldarion and Erendis hated each other. Perhaps Aldarion didn’t think too highly of her, but he didn’t leave her for another woman. And Erendis certainly loved him, or else she wouldn’t have been so sad at his leaving. The notion of marriage is very traditional in Tolkien’s books, and lust is shown as an evil thing.
NineFingered 17/Oct/2006 at 05:01 PM
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Jinnier, I know there is a lot of lust and a lot of tangled love stories, but I don’t think you got my point. Those who married because of love do not have any case of infidelity. All the cases you pointed out are pre-marriage love tangles, and of course that happens everywhere, except Aldarion and Erendis. But I never read that Aldarion and Erendis hated each other. Perhaps Aldarion didn’t think too highly of her, but he didn’t leave her for another woman. And Erendis certainly loved him, or else she wouldn’t have been so sad at his leaving. The notion of marriage is very traditional in Tolkien’s books, and lust is shown as an evil thing.
damabiah 18/Oct/2006 at 09:46 AM
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very interesting question, and interesting answers indeed
I agree with all, I can add another one
undarkened hearts and minds could be those, who believe their is always hope, even in the darkest moments; those, who never give up, keep their eyes and hearts open, and take each opportunity to defend their world
damabiah 18/Oct/2006 at 09:46 AM
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very interesting question, and interesting answers indeed
I agree with all, I can add another one
undarkened hearts and minds could be those, who believe their is always hope, even in the darkest moments; those, who never give up, keep their eyes and hearts open, and take each opportunity to defend their world
Jinniver Thynne 18/Oct/2006 at 12:55 PM
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NineFingered - i agree that Tolkien presents marriage as the desirable state to be in, however I think that even in the pairings I presented there was love. Eol and Aredhel certainly loved one another at first, it was later on when Aredhel wished to leave the woods and her husband forbade it that the relationship went wrong; perhaps there was a little too much love on Eol’s part in this relationship, as shown by his incredible anger and jealousy when his wife left. I think with Aldarion and Erendis it was that she grew to dislike her husband over time and withdrew from him - its a very sad story of changing people and personalities and an inability of either partner to cope with this. Its one of Tolkien’s most adult tales, I always think.
Jinniver Thynne 18/Oct/2006 at 12:55 PM
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NineFingered - i agree that Tolkien presents marriage as the desirable state to be in, however I think that even in the pairings I presented there was love. Eol and Aredhel certainly loved one another at first, it was later on when Aredhel wished to leave the woods and her husband forbade it that the relationship went wrong; perhaps there was a little too much love on Eol’s part in this relationship, as shown by his incredible anger and jealousy when his wife left. I think with Aldarion and Erendis it was that she grew to dislike her husband over time and withdrew from him - its a very sad story of changing people and personalities and an inability of either partner to cope with this. Its one of Tolkien’s most adult tales, I always think.
NineFingered 19/Oct/2006 at 11:17 AM
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I agree, Jinniver. Those 2 are probably the most important examples of domestic problems in marriage. And in both cases, the characters ended up unhappy. Eol’s case, as you said, was probably one of exagerated jealousy,  and Aldarion and Erendis simply thought different about things and were distanced, and unhappy. These 2 stories only increase the desirability of a good marriage in all other cases to be happy in such a state. Probably other couples had marital discord, but they were able to solve it without distancing themselves. And in any case, divorce was never an option in ME.
NineFingered 19/Oct/2006 at 11:17 AM
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I agree, Jinniver. Those 2 are probably the most important examples of domestic problems in marriage. And in both cases, the characters ended up unhappy. Eol’s case, as you said, was probably one of exagerated jealousy,  and Aldarion and Erendis simply thought different about things and were distanced, and unhappy. These 2 stories only increase the desirability of a good marriage in all other cases to be happy in such a state. Probably other couples had marital discord, but they were able to solve it without distancing themselves. And in any case, divorce was never an option in ME.
Arvellas 21/Oct/2006 at 06:56 PM
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Falvlun: "I could be reading this wrong (my cause/effect could be mixed up), but it does seem a bit egotistic to say that someone who doesn’t enjoy your work is therefore "in the dark" about certain important matters."

I don’t think it meant Tolkien was egotistic; I take it as meaning that he was glad that there were people who understood what he was trying to do and appreciated his work for what he meant it to be.  So the fact that they appreciated his books was just one sign that they were already "undarkened."  And considering Tolkien’s lifelong love of Language, I think he would like to find that there were others who loved Language too.

Arvellas 21/Oct/2006 at 06:56 PM
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Falvlun: "I could be reading this wrong (my cause/effect could be mixed up), but it does seem a bit egotistic to say that someone who doesn’t enjoy your work is therefore "in the dark" about certain important matters."

I don’t think it meant Tolkien was egotistic; I take it as meaning that he was glad that there were people who understood what he was trying to do and appreciated his work for what he meant it to be.  So the fact that they appreciated his books was just one sign that they were already "undarkened."  And considering Tolkien’s lifelong love of Language, I think he would like to find that there were others who loved Language too.

Endril 22/Oct/2006 at 01:47 AM
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The undarkened thing wasn’t about liking or disliking what Tolkien wrote, but refering to the posibility that someone could still enjoy a story placed in some old times. You don’t find to many storyes placed in old times as most of the fictional storyes are Science Fiction. Tolkien didn’t refered at his work.
Endril 22/Oct/2006 at 01:47 AM
Healer of Imladris Points: 9193 Posts: 9362 Joined: 15/Jan/2006
The undarkened thing wasn’t about liking or disliking what Tolkien wrote, but refering to the posibility that someone could still enjoy a story placed in some old times. You don’t find to many storyes placed in old times as most of the fictional storyes are Science Fiction. Tolkien didn’t refered at his work.
Falvlun 22/Oct/2006 at 09:23 AM
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These are interesting ideas being tossed around. Thanks for joining the game. ::grin::

Captain Bingo, I think you’ve captured the idea wonderfully in "a desire for wonder, marvels, both perceived and conceived’. I like this definition because it seems to be the most all-encompassing, as well as the most applicable to Tolkien’s work and his reasons for creating it.

Jinniver, I think you’ve gathered the specifics as to why someone would love Tolkien’s books, and you’ve also provided a neat angle, equating the undarkened heart to being able to be moved. However, it seems to me by the wording, and the feel, of what Tolkien is saying encompasses a state of being which transcends just reading, or only books. The undarkened heart, therefore, wouldn’t only effect the quality and sort of stories you enjoy, but the way you live and percieve the world around you. As for the retention of the ability to be moved, I see this too, in that the ’undarkened heart’ is one which still can react to the world around it, and to use the analogy of another of my favourite books, to never leave the tips of the hair of the great rabbit which is being pulled out of the hat of the universe.

Laielinwen, I do feel that there is a connection to language, in all its manifestations, to the ’undarkened heart’, if merely because it was something so close to Tolkien’s heart. Language, as the vehicle for transporting the ideas, myths, history, and beliefs of a people, has a sort of purity associated to it, and someone who percieves this purity and preciseness could also better appreciate the myths and concepts, etc.

I still can’t get away from the idea that the "undarkened heart’ has a sort of innocence attached to it: a child-like wonder and awe. In this way, innate intelligence or taught knowledge would not determine whether a person has such a pure mind, but it is more of a matter as to how they use this mind.

Ninefingered, that is a beautiful idea, yet I’m not sure it could exactly follow. For someone could have pure notions of human nature, yet still not enjoy Tolkien. Also, it seems a rather prestiguous requirement: Only those with pure notions of human nature will enjoy the Lord of the Rings. I would like to think that I have a perfectly balanced system of morality, or that I understand that which is good and essential to human nature and society, yet I’m not presumpuous enought to be sure I am.

Arvellas and Legolas (nice new name, by the way!), it appears to me to be a matter of grammar. The line seems to translate to me to say: "If you enjoyed my books, you have an undarkened heart and mind". This is not to say that there are those out there with an undarkened heart and mind that would not enjoy his books, but rather, every person who has looked favourably upon the LotR can be said to have such.

Thus, it would follow that all of us have undarkened hearts and minds, and therefore the easiest way to figure out what the undarkened heart and mind was, would be to figure out what all of us have in common.

Which is why I rather liked Capt. Bingo’s assessment as a desire for "wonders, marvels, both perceived and conceived."

Falvlun 22/Oct/2006 at 09:23 AM
Horse-lord of the Mark Points: 2512 Posts: 3814 Joined: 21/Sep/2004

These are interesting ideas being tossed around. Thanks for joining the game. ::grin::

Captain Bingo, I think you’ve captured the idea wonderfully in "a desire for wonder, marvels, both perceived and conceived’. I like this definition because it seems to be the most all-encompassing, as well as the most applicable to Tolkien’s work and his reasons for creating it.

Jinniver, I think you’ve gathered the specifics as to why someone would love Tolkien’s books, and you’ve also provided a neat angle, equating the undarkened heart to being able to be moved. However, it seems to me by the wording, and the feel, of what Tolkien is saying encompasses a state of being which transcends just reading, or only books. The undarkened heart, therefore, wouldn’t only effect the quality and sort of stories you enjoy, but the way you live and percieve the world around you. As for the retention of the ability to be moved, I see this too, in that the ’undarkened heart’ is one which still can react to the world around it, and to use the analogy of another of my favourite books, to never leave the tips of the hair of the great rabbit which is being pulled out of the hat of the universe.

Laielinwen, I do feel that there is a connection to language, in all its manifestations, to the ’undarkened heart’, if merely because it was something so close to Tolkien’s heart. Language, as the vehicle for transporting the ideas, myths, history, and beliefs of a people, has a sort of purity associated to it, and someone who percieves this purity and preciseness could also better appreciate the myths and concepts, etc.

I still can’t get away from the idea that the "undarkened heart’ has a sort of innocence attached to it: a child-like wonder and awe. In this way, innate intelligence or taught knowledge would not determine whether a person has such a pure mind, but it is more of a matter as to how they use this mind.

Ninefingered, that is a beautiful idea, yet I’m not sure it could exactly follow. For someone could have pure notions of human nature, yet still not enjoy Tolkien. Also, it seems a rather prestiguous requirement: Only those with pure notions of human nature will enjoy the Lord of the Rings. I would like to think that I have a perfectly balanced system of morality, or that I understand that which is good and essential to human nature and society, yet I’m not presumpuous enought to be sure I am.

Arvellas and Legolas (nice new name, by the way!), it appears to me to be a matter of grammar. The line seems to translate to me to say: "If you enjoyed my books, you have an undarkened heart and mind". This is not to say that there are those out there with an undarkened heart and mind that would not enjoy his books, but rather, every person who has looked favourably upon the LotR can be said to have such.

Thus, it would follow that all of us have undarkened hearts and minds, and therefore the easiest way to figure out what the undarkened heart and mind was, would be to figure out what all of us have in common.

Which is why I rather liked Capt. Bingo’s assessment as a desire for "wonders, marvels, both perceived and conceived."

NineFingered 23/Oct/2006 at 08:39 AM
Crafter of the Shire Points: 2251 Posts: 1253 Joined: 17/Jul/2005

Hi, Falvlun, I was just saying that you should know what pure human nature is like. Not actually be like that. I mean, most people can’t be like that right? I reread my first post now, and I confess that when I wrote it I was pretty upset about people being so superficial, never looking into things, and I was just plain dissapointed in a world that had lost a sense of beauty and truth. Nowadays, beauty and truth are what you believe it to be, not something that actually doesn’t depend on you, but exists outside of you. Sorry if I’m getting into philosophy, I sometimes do it, and I understand your confusion in that it’s hard to follow, because I’ve been in the same situation too. Perhaps not all people with these notions will like LOTR, as you mentioned, because they are afraid of entering the world of Fantasy or some other reason. And of course people who have never heard about true love, beauty, honor, etc. can like LOTR. And they will probably get a lot out of it too, that will help them grow into better people. I did not want to make it look like prestigious requirement at all, it just helps to understand the story, don’t you think?

So what do we all have in common? Allow me to quote Tolkien:

"The magic of Fairie is not an end in itself, its virtue is in its operations: among these are the satisfaction of certain priordial human desires. One of these desires is to survey the depths of space and time. Another is (...)to hold communication with other living things...." (On Fairie Stories) [my emphasis].

I think we can also identify with these concepts, which Tolkien describes in the same essay: Fantasy, Recovery, Escape and Consolation.

"Fantasy is a natural human activity...[It] is founded upon the hard recognition that things that are so in this world as it appears under the sun; on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it". (On Fairire Stories)

NineFingered 23/Oct/2006 at 08:39 AM
Crafter of the Shire Points: 2251 Posts: 1253 Joined: 17/Jul/2005

Hi, Falvlun, I was just saying that you should know what pure human nature is like. Not actually be like that. I mean, most people can’t be like that right? I reread my first post now, and I confess that when I wrote it I was pretty upset about people being so superficial, never looking into things, and I was just plain dissapointed in a world that had lost a sense of beauty and truth. Nowadays, beauty and truth are what you believe it to be, not something that actually doesn’t depend on you, but exists outside of you. Sorry if I’m getting into philosophy, I sometimes do it, and I understand your confusion in that it’s hard to follow, because I’ve been in the same situation too. Perhaps not all people with these notions will like LOTR, as you mentioned, because they are afraid of entering the world of Fantasy or some other reason. And of course people who have never heard about true love, beauty, honor, etc. can like LOTR. And they will probably get a lot out of it too, that will help them grow into better people. I did not want to make it look like prestigious requirement at all, it just helps to understand the story, don’t you think?

So what do we all have in common? Allow me to quote Tolkien:

"The magic of Fairie is not an end in itself, its virtue is in its operations: among these are the satisfaction of certain priordial human desires. One of these desires is to survey the depths of space and time. Another is (...)to hold communication with other living things...." (On Fairie Stories) [my emphasis].

I think we can also identify with these concepts, which Tolkien describes in the same essay: Fantasy, Recovery, Escape and Consolation.

"Fantasy is a natural human activity...[It] is founded upon the hard recognition that things that are so in this world as it appears under the sun; on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it". (On Fairire Stories)

Ankala Teaweed 24/Oct/2006 at 07:00 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6116 Posts: 4487 Joined: 15/Apr/2002
Quote: Originally posted by Laielinwen on Sunday, October 15, 2006
In my classroom students often ask me why certain fairy tales are told a tad differently from each other and they didn’t realize that these tales they are reading about were originally passed down orally.

Actually, oral historians train for years to get the details just right. So it is not necessarily a memory issue. Case in point, the still living epic stories of the Iroquois and the Finns, which are the Great Law of Peace, and the Kalevala, respectively.

That being said, there are other reasons for details to change, and those would include times and situations where the story is told to make a certain point. Many old stories illustrate value systems and what might be considered to be good conduct or mores. Therefore, a specific element of a story may be enhanced and another element more glossed over, in a telling.

And then also, in the case of the European fairy tales, there were also cultural differences where very similar tales might be told by two different peoples, but they would understandably not be identical.

Ankala Teaweed 24/Oct/2006 at 07:00 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6116 Posts: 4487 Joined: 15/Apr/2002
Quote: Originally posted by Laielinwen on Sunday, October 15, 2006
In my classroom students often ask me why certain fairy tales are told a tad differently from each other and they didn’t realize that these tales they are reading about were originally passed down orally.

Actually, oral historians train for years to get the details just right. So it is not necessarily a memory issue. Case in point, the still living epic stories of the Iroquois and the Finns, which are the Great Law of Peace, and the Kalevala, respectively.

That being said, there are other reasons for details to change, and those would include times and situations where the story is told to make a certain point. Many old stories illustrate value systems and what might be considered to be good conduct or mores. Therefore, a specific element of a story may be enhanced and another element more glossed over, in a telling.

And then also, in the case of the European fairy tales, there were also cultural differences where very similar tales might be told by two different peoples, but they would understandably not be identical.

Endril 24/Oct/2006 at 09:40 PM
Healer of Imladris Points: 9193 Posts: 9362 Joined: 15/Jan/2006
Falvlun: Thank you. Also I like the ideea of descovering whae we all have in common to see what an undrkened heart meens anyway. I think there are still people with undarkened hearts which still didn’t read LOTR. That’s another meening that comes to me by reading the sentence above.
Endril 24/Oct/2006 at 09:40 PM
Healer of Imladris Points: 9193 Posts: 9362 Joined: 15/Jan/2006
Falvlun: Thank you. Also I like the ideea of descovering whae we all have in common to see what an undrkened heart meens anyway. I think there are still people with undarkened hearts which still didn’t read LOTR. That’s another meening that comes to me by reading the sentence above.
Arvellas 25/Oct/2006 at 08:01 PM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 5462 Posts: 3016 Joined: 16/May/2006

Ann Kalagon-Excellent points.

With the Arthurian legends, for instance, the French made some changes largely to give themselves a representative, adding their own character (Lancelot).  The main downside was that they used him to more or less replace Gawaine.

There are also many instances where historians suspect that the Iliad changed before it was written down; in one instance I recall, an amendment was made according to improving technology: the addition of a character using iron arrowheads.

Arvellas 25/Oct/2006 at 08:01 PM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 5462 Posts: 3016 Joined: 16/May/2006

Ann Kalagon-Excellent points.

With the Arthurian legends, for instance, the French made some changes largely to give themselves a representative, adding their own character (Lancelot).  The main downside was that they used him to more or less replace Gawaine.

There are also many instances where historians suspect that the Iliad changed before it was written down; in one instance I recall, an amendment was made according to improving technology: the addition of a character using iron arrowheads.

Jinniver Thynne 26/Oct/2006 at 01:46 PM
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Falvlun - The undarkened heart, therefore, wouldn’t only effect the quality and sort of stories you enjoy, but the way you live and percieve the world around you. As for the retention of the ability to be moved, I see this too, in that the ’undarkened heart’ is one which still can react to the world around it, and to use the analogy of another of my favourite books, to never leave the tips of the hair of the great rabbit which is being pulled out of the hat of the universe.

I actually think that the ability to be moved by a good story is akin to having that kind of reaction to and perception of the world. To accept and be taken in by a story we must ’lose ourselves’ to a certain degree, and we must be alive to description and be able to imagine how the world being described would look, and how it would feel. Only those who are perceptive can imagine, and only those willing to accept wonders can be moved by fantasy.

Where is the rabbit quote from? I love it!

Jinniver Thynne 26/Oct/2006 at 01:46 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 994 Posts: 424 Joined: 28/Jan/2006

Falvlun - The undarkened heart, therefore, wouldn’t only effect the quality and sort of stories you enjoy, but the way you live and percieve the world around you. As for the retention of the ability to be moved, I see this too, in that the ’undarkened heart’ is one which still can react to the world around it, and to use the analogy of another of my favourite books, to never leave the tips of the hair of the great rabbit which is being pulled out of the hat of the universe.

I actually think that the ability to be moved by a good story is akin to having that kind of reaction to and perception of the world. To accept and be taken in by a story we must ’lose ourselves’ to a certain degree, and we must be alive to description and be able to imagine how the world being described would look, and how it would feel. Only those who are perceptive can imagine, and only those willing to accept wonders can be moved by fantasy.

Where is the rabbit quote from? I love it!

Bearamir 27/Oct/2006 at 06:11 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen;  This thread has been nominated for transfer to Ad Lore, and from what I can see such a nomination is warranted.  So, with your permission please permit me to transfer this thread to that forum...and in doing so please accept my profound appreciation (and a small tribute) for your efforts.  
Bearamir 27/Oct/2006 at 06:11 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen;  This thread has been nominated for transfer to Ad Lore, and from what I can see such a nomination is warranted.  So, with your permission please permit me to transfer this thread to that forum...and in doing so please accept my profound appreciation (and a small tribute) for your efforts.  
Falvlun 13/Nov/2006 at 09:41 AM
Horse-lord of the Mark Points: 2512 Posts: 3814 Joined: 21/Sep/2004

Bael, Thanks! I wondered where this thread had gotten to. Been rather busy the past couple of weeks.

Jinniver, The rabbit being pulled out of the hat concept is found in Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder. It’s basically a philosophy-through-the-ages handbook written in a very compelling novel form.

Ninefingered, that your two quotes really rang a bell with me, and you’ve explained your reasoning nicely. There seems to be a fusion here, of the desire for wonders and human nature. The wonders wanted are pure in themselves-- the love of imagination and fantastical ideas, and shear possibilities. The human nature is rather more interesting. Tolkien seems to be describing a human nature that is fast vanishing. Western thought, dominated by science and logic, often leaves no room for the purely imaginative and places limits on how a person must think. Thoughts must follow a paradigm of reason. And then, humans in general are moving away from nature, boxing ourselves in geometric cities and cyber connections. Communication does seem to be key. And what is writing? but a different medium for communication. It’s the passing of ideas and stories and histories and thoughts. Tolkien wanted to create a mythology for England. He found a blank space that he deemed necessary to fill. Why did Tolkein find it so necessary to create a mythology? A country’s myths are the heartbeat. They are what gives life to a people.

Ah, this is really jumbled thoughts, unconnected with previous statements. I don’t have time to make them more coherent, but I shall try upon my return, whenever that is.

Falvlun 13/Nov/2006 at 09:42 AM
Horse-lord of the Mark Points: 2512 Posts: 3814 Joined: 21/Sep/2004

Bael, Thanks! I wondered where this thread had gotten to. Been rather busy the past couple of weeks.

Jinniver, The rabbit being pulled out of the hat concept is found in Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder. It’s basically a philosophy-through-the-ages handbook written in a very compelling novel form.

Ninefingered, that your two quotes really rang a bell with me, and you’ve explained your reasoning nicely. There seems to be a fusion here, of the desire for wonders and human nature. The wonders wanted are pure in themselves-- the love of imagination and fantastical ideas, and shear possibilities. The human nature is rather more interesting. Tolkien seems to be describing a human nature that is fast vanishing. Western thought, dominated by science and logic, often leaves no room for the purely imaginative and places limits on how a person must think. Thoughts must follow a paradigm of reason. And then, humans in general are moving away from nature, boxing ourselves in geometric cities and cyber connections. Communication does seem to be key. And what is writing? but a different medium for communication. It’s the passing of ideas and stories and histories and thoughts. Tolkien wanted to create a mythology for England. He found a blank space that he deemed necessary to fill. Why did Tolkein find it so necessary to create a mythology? A country’s myths are the heartbeat. They are what gives life to a people.

Ah, this is really jumbled thoughts, unconnected with previous statements. I don’t have time to make them more coherent, but I shall try upon my return, whenever that is.

The Mormegil 17/Nov/2006 at 05:03 AM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 672 Posts: 74 Joined: 25/Jan/2004

"Having set myself a task, the arrogance of which I fully recognized and trembled at: being precisely to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own: it is a wonderful thing to be told that I have succeeded, at least with those who have still the undarkened heart and mind."

Tolkien refers to those who have told him he’s succeeded -- those who approve of his writings. And it’s those with undarkened heart and mind who’ve given such approval. Tolkien compliments those with an appreciation for his work. He suggests that such success isn’t forthcoming from those who lack the undarkened mind and heart -- arrogant, no? Of course, Tolkien may simply have been stating his position tongue-in-cheek ...

 

The Mormegil 17/Nov/2006 at 05:03 AM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 672 Posts: 74 Joined: 25/Jan/2004

"Having set myself a task, the arrogance of which I fully recognized and trembled at: being precisely to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own: it is a wonderful thing to be told that I have succeeded, at least with those who have still the undarkened heart and mind."

Tolkien refers to those who have told him he’s succeeded -- those who approve of his writings. And it’s those with undarkened heart and mind who’ve given such approval. Tolkien compliments those with an appreciation for his work. He suggests that such success isn’t forthcoming from those who lack the undarkened mind and heart -- arrogant, no? Of course, Tolkien may simply have been stating his position tongue-in-cheek ...

 

Bearamir 29/Nov/2006 at 07:59 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Falvlun on Sunday, October 22, 2006

Which is why I rather liked Capt. Bingo’s assessment as a desire for "wonders, marvels, both perceived and conceived."


As do I.  It expresses very eloquently, the storyteller’s desire to communicate to the audience, not only the overt aspects of image, theme, and situation...but the underlying symbolic ones as well.

But to answer the question...for me the "undarkened heart" implies a discerning one...one without preconcieved notions of what, could, should or would happen...and one that is content to let the story tell itself, it it’s own time (and at it’s own pace). 

Bearamir 29/Nov/2006 at 08:00 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008
Quote: Originally posted by Falvlun on Sunday, October 22, 2006

Which is why I rather liked Capt. Bingo’s assessment as a desire for "wonders, marvels, both perceived and conceived."


As do I.  It expresses very eloquently, the storyteller’s desire to communicate to the audience, not only the overt aspects of image, theme, and situation...but the underlying symbolic ones as well.

But to answer the question...for me the "undarkened heart" implies a discerning one...one without preconcieved notions of what, could, should or would happen...and one that is content to let the story tell itself, it it’s own time (and at it’s own pace). 

Laielinwen 06/Dec/2006 at 03:44 AM
New Soul Points: 31115 Posts: 27324 Joined: 16/Mar/2002

Actually, oral historians train for years to get the details just right. So it is not necessarily a memory issue. Case in point, the still living epic stories of the Iroquois and the Finns, which are the Great Law of Peace, and the Kalevala, respectively... Ann

My thoughts on this were not involving oral historians/professionals as much as the common mom, dad or grandparent telling the stories to their children/grandchildren who then followed suit.  Just to elaborate on my thought a bit.

Bear that is an excellent thought and very logical.

<Nessa Edit:  Coming from you, that is high praise indeed.  Thank you. >

Aure 11/Dec/2006 at 06:43 PM
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It may seem a bit egotistic to say that someone who doesn’t enjoy your work is therefore "in the dark" about certain important matters, but the -very- first thought I had upon reading that quote was of those critics who spoke out rather nastily against Tolkien’s works before they caught on like the proverbial wilfire. It might just be my own cynical nature to hear the biting criticism in the words, mind you.

I do not suggest it was egotism that brought on the statement, if I read it aright. I believe it is more that since he was not only pouring out his personal creation but also something that personified myth and legend and Britain herself with an intellectual factor added to make it all the more all-encompassing, that those who were incapable of enjoying it had been somehow tainted that they didn’t understand why Britain needed what he’d given her.