Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Realms

It is interesting to note that in most of Tolkien's works regarding Middle-Earth, every story is kept to a single realm. All the magic and adventures, all the characters and fantastical creatures are in Middle-Earth. However, in Smith, Faery is treated almost as another dimension. It is vague and unclear how Feary is reached and where it is. Why do you think Tolkien is inconsistent in this manner? What is his purpose in making Faery some removed land rather than keeping the story all in one realm.

5 comments:

Varda said...

I almost feel reluctant to decide whether or not the fairy realm Smith visits is even another realm at all, mostly because there is such a blur surrounding the means Smith takes to reach this other land. In Tolkien's legendarium, it seems as though the kingdoms of men are still somewhat separate from the kingdoms of other creatures, even though they are all in the same world. Do we know the fairy realm is another dimension to Smith?

Uinen said...

I really do feel like Smith's world of faerie is a different realm than Middle-earth. I think maybe it is on purpose. I feel like the land of Faerie isn't really mentioned in M-e, and rightfully so. I think that despite the magic in M-e, Faerie is more of a light-hearted magical realm, or so it would seem from "On Faerie Stories." Child-like in a way that can relate to adults. I feel like maybe The Hobbit is a good in terms of closeness to Faerie in the context of Middle-earth, but when we move to Lord of the Rings and that gets so far from Faerie, that I can't really see them as the same realm. Also, I feel like there are too many similarities between Smith's Faerie realm and M-e that it seems more like a separate attempt to create a similar or same world, but not attempts that are intended to overlap.

Oromë said...

I don't see any particular connection between Faerie and Middle-earth. I think this is because the two realms serve a different purpose. Both Faerie and Middle-earth are distinctly other-worldly, but they do not relate to our own world in the same way. Middle-earth is a setting for a novel. It is its own place that is internally consistent and completely separate from our own earth. In Smith though, we see Tolkien attempt to connect the realm of magic to the one we live in. In The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the reader sees "magic" and fantasy where they are supposed to be: somewhere else, but in Smith, magic invades the "real world," as if it were something that is actually attainable where we are now.

Ossë said...

Like others have said, this story is completely separate from Tolkien's Middle-earth stories. In "Smith of Wootton Major," I think Tolkien was telling a story more similar to medieval stories and romances about the realm of Faery. In these stories, Faery is clearly a separate world, so I think this is why Tolkien wrote this story so differently. By including a completely different realm in this story, Tolkien also emphasizes the power and magic of the Fay-star. The star allows Smith to enter Faery, an entirely different world. I think this also shows Smith's own uniqueness. He gets chosen as the recipient of the star, and unlike the other characters, he is able to walk between two worlds.

Estë said...

I think you all have great points here. It would appear that Faery is a completely separate realm or dimension in Smith, but why do some elements of this realm and that realm mingle? In other words, if they are totally separate worlds how do we reconcile the fact that Smith travels between them and so does the Fairy King?
It reminds me of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, in which the wardrobe serves as the portal between unique realities. It would seem that the star serves the same purpose, perhaps. It allows the person who possesses it to travel easily between the two worlds.
Orome, your comment on the difference between Middle-earth and Faery in Smith reminded me of something I thought of a few weeks ago. Namely, that there is a distinction between the stories that are set in an internally consistent environment, like LOTR, and those that are set in what seems to be our world but with important magical events and characters. I posted about this a few weeks ago and how it made me think of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude which is part of a genre called “magical realism” wherein magic is incorporated organically into the narrative. I do wonder about these different kinds of Faery stories and how Tolkien would explain them.