Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tolkien and the Prose Edda

There were a few similarities between Prose Edda and Tolkien's works that I found that may seem obvious, but they weren't mentioned in class so I figured I'd mention them now. One thing I noticed is that there's another hierarchy of gods; in The Silmarillion there is "One" above all else: Eru ("The One") (AKA Iluvatar?) and in the Prose Edda the highest and oldest god is Alfather. Each god also has multiple names; Eru has at least two while Alfather has twelve(!). The story in the Prose Edda also talked about ages that had passed (the "golden age" if I'm remembering correctly), while the passing of ages is an important theme in Lord of the Rings (and consequently, The Hobbit as well). Also, did anyone else notice that both the story in the Prose Edda and Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit use lays or verses? I felt that they served to advance the respective stories in a way that normal text may not have been able to do. The ideas that Tolkien gained from studying other mythologies helped him to make a mythology that could qualify as a real mythology, in my opinion.

2 comments:

Idril said...

I also noticed the use of lay and verse in the Prose Edda and Tolkien's works; however I didn't see them used in quite the same manner. In the Prose Edda, the lays and verses seem to merely reinforce the summary provided by High, Just-as-High,and Third. I didn't have to read them quite as thoroughly as the ones presented in Tolkien's works. Tolkien's verses explored and enhanced the backdrop to the present adventures of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, rather than merely providing a summary.

I do agree that the use of lay and verse in both texts advances the stories in a way that normal prose cannot.

Radagast said...

I think it's possible that Tolkien got the idea to use verse from here thought, even though it's used differently. I think he used that element to definately enhance his story and add more depth to it.

I also noticed that they had a lot of names for one person, and I think that sort of added to the realness of the stories. Even though it's confusing, I think behind each name there is another story or background scene to that person's life. We see that in Turin Turambar too. He has a bunch of names and each one is associated with a different place he went or deed he did or something. So, I think the names add to the depth too.