Friday, September 11, 2015


In the section "Recovery, Escape, Consolation" from "On Fairy Stories," Tolkien uses the word "Mooreeffoc" as a means of achieving "Recovery." the word Recovery is used for Tolkien's purposes to explain process of regaining a clear view of the world.  "Mooreeffoc" is a word that was first invented by Charles Dickens and later defined by G K Chesterson to mean "the queerness of things when they have become trite, when they are seen suddenly from a new angle."

I just loved this idea when I read it.  "Mooreeffoc" is a sensation that certainly all people experience at some point or another, when something familiar becomes something entirely new.  It is like when you say a word over and over again, until it no longer feels right in your mouth.  It occurs when the world you know is suddenly the world you don't.

This idea, in Tolkien's essay, is used to describe the purpose of reading fantasy.  He argues that fantasy allows the reader to recover a proper understanding of the world by helping them to rediscover it from a new angle.  What Tolkien only barely touches on though, is the use of "Mooreeffoc" in creating fantasy.  Tolkien himself states that fantasy is only effective if it feels realistic, yet how can a story filled with elves and dragons be created in such a way that it seems familiar to readers?  This is accomplished by presenting readers with the familiar through unusual means.  While a reader such as myself may not be familiar with dragons, he is familiar with the courage it would take to face one.  In this sense, the use of "Mooreeffoc" in creating fantasy works in two directions: both creation and reception.

What do you think of the word "Mooreeffoc," and how do you think Tolkien, in his own works, invites readers to seek the familiar in unfamiliar places?

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