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  1. Thomas Honegger's new Scholars Forumarticle offers a fascinating look at Jungian approaches to Tolkien's work, giving a very insightful look at the history and value of Jungian analysis of Tolkien. Please share any thoughts you have about the piece in this thread - the original article can be found in the Scholars Forumat:
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  2. First off, many thanks to Prof. Honegger for sharing this piece with us. A few years ago I took a class on 'Fantasy and Children's Literature', which involved a quite extended Jungian approach to The Lord of the Rings. It was one of the worst classes I ever took, for many reasons, and needless to say this left me having a very poor impression of the whole approach.
    This article highlights perfectly what was wrong with my class, which indeed seemed interested only in identifying archetypes in the text and nothing more. And 'doubtful' would be a rather generous way of describing the professor's grasp of the text...
    But Honegger, in part by the very act of pointing out the limitations of Jungian approaches to date, has also done a good job of showing how this approach might have real utility in reading Tolkien, and has made at least me reconsider my thoughts on Jung in regards to Tolkien. It is, at any rate, a very timely piece for the Plaza, since 'Tolkien-as-mythology' seems to be a theme that has come up quite often in the last couple months, and provides plenty of thought-food.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  3. I was reading an oldish interview with Neil Gaiman, and was struck by an interesting congruity between that and this paper. Prof. Honegger notes that Tolkien doesn't seem to have ever talked about Jung much, and even though notes for On Fairy Storiescontain Jung's name, the essay never actually deals with him. Honegger writes

    We can only speculate about why Tolkien seems to have avoided any direct and prolonged examination of Jung’s ideas. In the case of Freud we may blame a temperamental incompatibility for Tolkien’s dislike of psychological (and especially psycho-sexual) interpretations, yet with Jung the opposite is more likely: the two were drawing water from the same enchanted well. This might very well be the reason why he instinctively tried to keep a certain distance
    He goes on to comment on the possibility for Tolkien of his stories becoming essentially personal therapeutic means, something which too much concern with Jungian psychology might have promoted. Instead, he comments that
    We can therefore be grateful that Tolkien refrained from using his tales and stories as ‘therapeutic tools’ and treated them as works of art, polishing, refining and, in the end, sharing them with a wider audience. Thus they have lost some of their immediate personal relevance yet, in return, gained greatly in general importance...
    In Gaiman's interview, we get something a bit similar - though we're dealing with Campbell, not Jung:
    I like Campbell -- but, I sort of met him second. And the truth is, the stuff that I've always really enjoyed most of all is the primary influences. It's always interesting to see what people say about things. But I tend to be more interested in the actual myth. I think I got about half way through The Hero with a Thousand Facesand found myself thinking if this is true -- I don't want to know. I really would rather not know this stuff. I'd rather do it because it's true and because I accidentally wind up creating something that falls into this pattern than be told what the pattern is.-
    I'd imagine many authors who deal with myth must face a bit of a dilemma in this respect, on the one hand being tempted to analyse and 'understand' things, on the other hand not wanting the fruits of analysis to stifle creativity. While Tolkien maybe didn't comment too much on this himself, it is interesting to read a modern fantasy author's take on the problem.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  4. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
    Old Took
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    This thread has had me thinking on and off - but I've not really had the time to follow up my thoughts. I'll just throw out one of them:

    The Ring isn't, of course, a Jungian Shadow, but it does have at least one effect that would link it with Andersen's Shadow. When the man in Andersen's tale sends his Shadow away, he is diminished, eventually so much so that the Shadow takes over his life. This is obvious in the case of those whowantthe Ring, but also in the case of at least two who reject it; Frodo and Galadriel. Also perhaps Bilbo? Though not, it seems, Gandalf ....

    I suspect this idea could lead somewhere, but at present my mind isn't agile enough to see where to. Anybody else care to?
    I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses.


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