Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tread Warily?

In the process of compiling research and writing my paper throughout the last few weeks, I have encountered an enormous amount of contradictory and alternate stories within Tolkien's mythology. While I appreciate the creative genius of Tolkien, I think encountering these instances damages the reality of his world within my own mind. I understand that this is not history, but I badly want it to be. I am torn between fully investigating all of Tolkien's unpublished work and leaving it alone because I don't want to expose myself to the realizations it brings. Thoughts?

4 comments:

Anna Adams said...

I think the alternate stories add to the reality of Tolkien's world. A lot of the alternate stories are the ones that take place in his world's history, right? In real life, there is always more than one version of a historic event because different people tell it. I realize Tolkien was only one person, but his ideas changed as he got older and rewrote stories, so it's kind of like more than one person writing the history, I think. I say go for a full investigation.

Ashley Cauley said...

I agree with Austin. As I read Tolkien's works I want them to be real. I don't like the idea of Tolkien changing his mind and writing something a different way. Especially in "Unfinished Tales", the contradictory story lines just confuse me. I will say that there are some really cool tidbits in the additional readings, but overall they are a bit too "drafty" for my liking. I want the "final" story, not the infinite drafts that came before.

Lorin said...

I definitely know what you mean, Austin! But I also really like what you said, Anna - that these different story lines contribute to the sense of the reality of Middle-earth. I almost feel like I can never have enough of this "history" to read, so even though some of the Unfinished Tales reading was a bit difficult to get through, I really enjoyed it! I also think that never completely knowing for sure about certain things, or getting many alternate stories about things (like the blue wizards, or who/what exactly is Tom Bombadil) adds a sort of irresistible mystery to Tolkien's writing. It also makes it much more fun to discuss and debate these sorts of unknown things!

S. M. said...

I enjoy reading alternate versions of Tolkien’s stories because it makes me feel like I am reading folklore. Stories in oral tradition change depending on who is telling them, and as Anna was saying, the different versions of Tolkien’s tales are akin to different accounts of historic events.