Nibelung’s Ring??

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Endril 28/Dec/2006 at 07:03 AM
Healer of Imladris Points: 9193 Posts: 9362 Joined: 15/Jan/2006
I came upon this title while reading the biography of J.R.R.Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter. I wondered what it is, another fantasy story or it is another kind of work, different from writing? I only heard about a movie called like this, but sure you can’t find out nothing from there so maybe you can help me.
Steophan 28/Dec/2006 at 07:50 AM
Stablehand of the Mark Points: 290 Posts: 29 Joined: 24/Dec/2006

This is the ring of Wagner’s Ring Cycle - a series of four epic operas written in the mid to late 19th century.  It is losely based on Germanic myths, featuring Pgan gods, dwarves, and other mythological creatures.  The similarity between this and LOTR is mostly superficial though.

Wikipedia link :

Curubethion 28/Dec/2006 at 08:12 AM
Craftsman of Minas Tirith Points: 1988 Posts: 1540 Joined: 11/Dec/2005

"Wagner created the story of the Ring by fusing elements from many German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales." (From the Wikipedia article)

So this might be where the parallels to LOTR (a ring that gives the power to rule the world, the curse on the ring) come from. Tolkien also drew extensively from Scandinavian myth. Therefore, I don’t think it’s a matter of "Tolkien copied Wagner", but rather "Tolkien and Wagner borrowed from the same source."

Steophan 28/Dec/2006 at 08:17 AM
Stablehand of the Mark Points: 290 Posts: 29 Joined: 24/Dec/2006
I think Tolkien once said something like "They are both round. There the similarity ends" about comparisons between the two rings, and by implication, the two stories. Probably in the Letters somewhere, but I don’t have a copy to hand...
Fern Leaf 28/Dec/2006 at 08:55 AM
Hasty Ent of Fangorn Points: 2772 Posts: 3303 Joined: 18/May/2004
The Nibelungenlied (Song of the Nibelungs), an epic poem in Middle High German, served as an inspiration for Wagner’s work. I have read it and I think that’s it’s a wonderful story. If you have time, find it and read it. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it.
Vugar 28/Dec/2006 at 10:36 AM
Chieftain of Mordor Points: 8170 Posts: 5398 Joined: 01/Jun/2004
Here is the comment referenced: "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." (Letter #229, Letters of Tolkien) The one-sentence rebuttal was part of a greater letter concerning Tolkien’s commentary on an error-riddled Swedish translation of the Lord of the Rings by a Dr. Ohlmarks. With an introduction that contained such remarks that Sauron was an allegory of Stalin, Tolkien was undoubtedly irritated in his response. The particular line quoted was directed to Ohlmarks’ claim that the One Ring "is in a certain way ‘der Nibelungen Ring’" (Ibid)
halfir 28/Dec/2006 at 03:39 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002

John Garth -Tolkien and the Great War - says that Carpenter in his biography overstates Tolkien’s dislike of comparisons with his work to that of Wagner’s Ring Cycle- but I think Carpenter is in the right. Tolkien did not like what Wagner stood for and certainly resented any comparison between LOTR anbd Wagner’s Ring.

Patrick Curry -Defending Middle Earth says that:

’Tolkien disliked Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen....all the more so for drawing directly on some of the same mythological material that Wagner only knew second-hand, and used to very different ends. (2. The Shire:Culture, Society, and Politics)

And Shippey-The Road to Middle Earth says that:

’Wagner was one of several authors with whom Tolkien had a relationship of intimate dislike’ (App A)

Leslie Ellen Jones- Myth and Middle Earth writes:

’Tolkien was right in his denial that he was influenced by Wagner’s Ring Cycle.....The fact was Tolkien and Wagner were independently influenced by the same myth and Tolkien considered that Wagner told the story wrong.’ {Preliminary Mythological Note; Chapter 7 Crafty and Deep)

My comment  ’Tolkien did not like what Wagner stood for ’. refers  specifically to the way in which Wagner had used the mythology in a second-hand and in Tolkien’s view incorrect way, not commenting on Tolkien’s view of how Wagner’s music might have been used by  the Nazis, about which I have  myself have read nothing nor seen anything written on that subject.

It is clear, however, that the Arryan and superman concept -used in its most vile racist sense  -would not have found anything but contempt from him.

Tolkien was proud of his German lineage, but not as distorted through the polluted lens of Hitler’s Germany.

This is made abundantly clear in several letters.

In Letter # 30 he is dismissive of the Nazi concept of Aryanism and writes:

’I have been regard my German name with pride...I cannot , however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride."

In Letter # 45 he refers to:

’that ruddy litttle ignoramus Adolf Hitler’ and ’this ’Nordic’ nonsense’.

And in Letter # 81 he writes:

"We knew Hitler was a vulgar and ignorant little cad’.

But even earlier than that as John Garth observes (Tolkien and the Great War - Chptr. Too long in Slumber) Tolkien had lost some of his earlier undergraduate love affair with Germany:

’As well as describing the natural world Quenya furnishes a vocabulary for wartime....Particularly striking is how Quenya at this stage equates Germans with barbarity.Kalimban is Barbary, Germany; Kalimbarie is barbarity; kalimbo is ’a savage uncivilized man, barbarian - giant,monster, troll,’ and kalimbardi is glossed ’the Germans’



geordie 28/Dec/2006 at 05:38 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
halfir - Good stuff, as ever.    I wonder if I might chime in with something I hadn’t noticed before on Tolkien’s view of his personal names, and also of his Abstammung [German: ’descent, genealogy’] ?

In his lecture _English and Welsh_ delivered as the first in a series of the O’Donnell Lectures at the Examination Schools in Oxford on 21st October 1955, Tolkien says

’In a missionary enterprise a converted heathen may be a good exhibit, and as such, I suppose, I was asked to appear’.

He then goes on to describes himself as ’a Saxon in Welsh terms, or in our own one of the English of West Mercia’. But the most remarkable thing [to me] is this:

’I am not a German, though my surname is German... my other names are Hebrew, Norse, Greek and French. I have inherited with my surname nothing that originally belonged to it in language or culture, and after 200 years the ’blood’ of Saxony and Poland is probably a negligible physical ingredient’.

Mind you, in this as in all of Tolkien’s writings, we must take _context_ into account; and remember where he was, and whom he was addressing [a bunch of philologists, in this case]. For here Tolkien, while being strictly accurate from a language point of view, was also being ’tongue in cheek’. I think. Because he then goes on to say

’I do not know what Mr. O’Donnell would have to say to this. I suspect that to him anyone who spoke a Celtic language was a Celt whatever he spoke: and so the Celts won on the swings and the roundabouts’.
[Angles and Britons: University of Wales Press, 1963, p.10]

halfir 28/Dec/2006 at 05:46 PM
Emeritus Points: 46547 Posts: 43664 Joined: 10/Mar/2002