The Love of Faery

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halfir 21/Dec/2006 at 06:14 PM
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In his explanatory essay on Smith of Wootton Major (cf. Verlyn Flieger edt.  Harper Collins2005 ISBN 0 00 720247 4) Tolkien writes:

’The love of faery is the love of love: a relationship towards all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect, and removes or modifies the spirit of possession and domination. Without it even  plain ’Utility’ will in fact become less useful; and will turn to ruthlessness and lead only to power , ultimately destructive.’

While Tolkien was using this statement in the context of the relationship betwen man and elves in Smith of Wootton Major, it is interesting to see how it could be aplied -internally - in LOTR. Clearly Tom Bombadil would be seen as a  lover of Faery  because we can see in him  the removal  the spirit of possession and domination , and of course  Bilbo, Frodo, and perhaps above all, Sam in his delight at going to see elves, represent the best of this love of Faery , and Sauron and Saruman the very anithesis of the love of Faery.


Endril 21/Dec/2006 at 09:17 PM
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halfir: I saw how you included the different characters as lovers/non lovers of Faery. I wonder where would the elves be? They are lovers, non lovers or they are Faery itself, as they have at the origins of there creation the concept of the fantastic creatures, known in many cultures as faeryes.
halfir 21/Dec/2006 at 11:01 PM
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That’s an interesting question. Given the way I have used Tolkien’s words they would -paradoxically- in the context of LOTR be flawed lovers of faery. I say that because , unlike Tom B they had not, because of the creation of the Three -removed or modified the spirit of possession and domination.
Captain Bingo 22/Dec/2006 at 08:47 AM
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Interestingly the Elves’ motivation seems to be to make the whole of M-e into ’Faery’ - they perhaps love Faery too much, & wish it to be all there is. Left to them the whole world would be absorbed into Faery. Yet, I think Tolkien is speaking of Man’s love of Faery, not the Elves’. Legolas’ point is interesting - in a sense the Elves are Faery & in a sense their love of Faery is a kind of self love. Men may love Faery or not & yet still remain themselves (albeit diminished). Tolkien’s concern would seem to be with Men & their relationship to a Faery which includes Elves, & less with the relationship of Elves to Faery. As to Elves, his concern is with their relationship to the mortal world.

If that makes sense.....
Jinniver Thynne 22/Dec/2006 at 11:10 AM
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I don’t know. I think that the Elves do love Faery, but their urge to create things like Silmarils and Rings and other works of art may stem from a wish to recreate or in some cases even improve on Faery (improve in their eyes). The question is whether this is right or wrong. In creating the Silmarils they end up unleashing trouble on the world, and in their art they seem to want to ’preserve’ (and maybe ’improve’ as I’ve said)what they see instead of creating something new.

Anyway back to the original question, are the Ents simple lovers of Faery looked at in that light?
Enegue 22/Dec/2006 at 06:15 PM
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halfir: One might extend your "flawed faery" concept to include even the  Valar if one was to consider Aule’s impatience with the coming of the Children.  While he expresses his motives as "to love and to teach them, so that the too might perceive the beauty of Ea, ".  While this may be so, he did it in secret, knowing that what he was doing would not be taken well by Iluvatar, and stating that "it seemed to me that there is great room in Arda for many things that might rejoice in it, yet it is for the most part empty still, and dumb."

This position would appear to indicate that while the Valar may have been "lovers of faery" individuals in all groups may stray from the ideal.

Brandywine74 25/Dec/2006 at 05:37 PM
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Where would the Hobbits sit in all this? Sam, Bilbo etc. are unusual in that they are attracted to the elves and things that might be considered faery. Most hobbits have no interest in this either as attraction or purposed domintation.
KingODuckingham 25/Dec/2006 at 08:10 PM
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in a sense the Elves are Faery & in a sense their love of Faery is a kind of self love To take this statement and apply it to the Silmarillion: when talking of the split of the Noldor, which of these is showing the qualities of faery more clearly (or correctly)? Are the elves that went back to Valinor rejecting their self-love/will to dominate and subjugating themselves to the will of the Valar? And are the Valars lovers of Faery (it seems from the definition that they would fit very well). To draw all this this love of Faery good or bad? Galadriel, we are told, committed no evil, yet she is certainly possessed of a rather immoderate love of faery. How is this reconciled in your minds?
Brandywine74 25/Dec/2006 at 10:02 PM
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Yet Galadriel possessed one of the three elven rings which are used to preserve and hold up, in a sense, the passage of time. As stated above, she would have a flawed love of faery.

In my mind the Elves that went to Valinor are the more perfect lovers of faery since they are content to follow the will of the Valar.

I would say that the love of faery is a good thing as shown by Sam etc. vs. Saruman et al.

Turgonian 27/Dec/2006 at 07:49 AM
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Brandywine74 -- The Three Rings were not for dominating, but for preserving and healing. ’Healing’ isn’t wrong, is it? You could say ’healing’ is a kind of domination (you are changing something, after all), but Tolkien saw domination and the lust for it as destructive. Healing isn’t destructive (nor is preservation!). Tolkien makes clear that if Lothlórien would be erased, if the power of the Three Rings would fade, the world would become a much less beautiful place. Indeed -- Galadriel committed no evil, and I don’t think her love was flawed.

And the Hobbits? Hard to say. They are tillers, so in a sense they use the land. They love it, but they don’t know that they do.

KingODuckingham -- Galadriel didn’t just have an immoderate love for Faery, but also a love for new lands and (just a little bit) for command. She wanted to be in charge -- not for herself, but for the land; but she had a tiny streak of lust for power inside her, unlike Tom Bombadil.