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Old 09-17-2019, 07:31 PM
 
Location: The North Star State
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Originally Posted by calgirlinnc View Post
I much prefer "Harry Potter", perhaps in part because I always had a fascination for novels set at boarding schools. I also found a charm in the "Harry Potter" books that the LOTR trilogy (excluding "The Hobbit") seems to lack. LOTR is that much darker and takes itself more seriously, from the language to the thematic elements. I do not doubt that LOTR is brilliant, but "Harry Potter" is for me, more enjoyable in every way.
They are very different books. In many ways they are products of their time. Harry Potter has a modern safe-for-children element, while as you note LOTR is a dark story (I like that about it). Also, LOTR was informed by Tolkien's knowledge of British/Germanic history and philology. This both made it somewhat richer and somewhat more imaginatively constrained in comparison to Harry Potter.

It occurs to me that since there was magic and black arts in Tolkien's works, were fundamentalist Christians as disturbed by it as some have been over Harry Potter and the 'witchcraft' therein? Or is that sort of freak-out more of a modern (and mostly American, I presume) thing?
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:30 PM
Status: "On the Road Again" (set 7 days ago)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post
They are very different books. In many ways they are products of their time. Harry Potter has a modern safe-for-children element, while as you note LOTR is a dark story (I like that about it). Also, LOTR was informed by Tolkien's knowledge of British/Germanic history and philology. This both made it somewhat richer and somewhat more imaginatively constrained in comparison to Harry Potter.
I suppose there is still a sense that Tolkien is "high fantasy" and Rowling wrote "children's books"; however, I think it is easy to overlook the dark elements in "Harry Potter" because of the fun elements like Quidditch and the sorting hat and the interesting candy. On one level there are the "everyday" scary things a child might encounter, such as the school bully, the neglectful (abusive?) caretaker, the sadistic teacher. But of course the dememtors are much darker than all of that; Voldemort himself is evil personified; and perhaps darkest of all are the mental and emotional battles Harry must face as he lives out his destiny.

Whole books have been written about all the details in "Harry Potter" (books which I haven't read), such as the Latin words for spells, the various mythological creatures, and so forth. Harry's world is of course built upon our familiar world, so no, the world building is not as complex as Tolkien, but IMO that makes it no less inventive.

Quote:
It occurs to me that since there was magic and black arts in Tolkien's works, were fundamentalist Christians as disturbed by it as some have been over Harry Potter and the 'witchcraft' therein? Or is that sort of freak-out more of a modern (and mostly American, I presume) thing?
This is a super intriguing question. As a Christian myself, I never understood the hoopla about the idea that Christians shouldn't read "Harry Potter"; some of my daughter's friends are still not allowed to read it even in 7th grade, which I find peculiar. By book 4 the allegorical overtones are obvious. Interestingly enough, Rowling (who is a Christian) has said she tried to keep her faith to herself so as not to give away too much of the series' ending.

There are also books written about the series being a Christian allegory; there's one called "Looking for God in Harry Potter" by John Granger. According to the Amazon summary, Granger was homeschooling his children and started reading HP to explain to them why they weren't allowed to read it, only to discover the books filled with biblical allusions and themes.

Tolkien's books of course are also overtly and famously Christian allegory; Tolkien himself said that LOTR was "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."

Here's a really brief summary of some examples of that (Google and other sources can of course delve into this more deeply than I ever could):

https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/...stian-allegory

But what is really interesting is that LOTR, while written intentionally to be a religious text, was not necessarily celebrated for that at the time. Just the opposite happened--the books were embraced by the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s.

Here is an excellent article about why LOTR was perfectly suited to those groups and why they embraced it. It is too long to quote but is well worth a read:

BBC - Culture - Hobbits and hippies: Tolkien and the counterculture

I did not know for example how much Tolkien was influenced by his experiences in WWI and how those horrible events shaped the books.

Great post--it really made me think--and even though my response can't possibly do justice to all the complexities and nuances, you have given me much to research and ponder.

Last edited by calgirlinnc; 09-17-2019 at 10:49 PM..
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:01 AM
 
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For me the best John Tolkien wrote because they are more mature
I was bored sometimes in Harry Potter
He wondered whether monsters book the same monotony?
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:07 AM
 
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Woah - don't going using Tolkien and Christian allegory in the same sentence.

Tolkien is on record for his extreme dislike for allegory - it was one of his 'beefs' with his close friend CS Lewis' works.

The snippet quoted above is from one of Tolkien's letters #142:
Quote:
From Letter #142:
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like `religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
With further clarifications regarding allegory in his works in Letter #165:
Quote:
It is not `about' anything but itself. Certainly it has no allegorical intentions, general, particular, or topical, moral, religious, or political. The only criticism that annoyed me was on that it `contained no religion' (and `no Women', but that does not matter, and is not true anyway). It is a monotheistic world of `natural theology'. The odd fact that there are no churches, temples, or religious rits and ceremonies, is simply part of the historical climate depicted. It will be sufficiently explained, if (as now seems likely) the Silmarillion and other legends of the First and Second Ages are published. I am in any case myself a Christian; but the `Third Age' was not a Christian world.

Last edited by Trekker99; 09-18-2019 at 08:19 AM..
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:27 AM
Status: "On the Road Again" (set 7 days ago)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekker99 View Post
Woah - don't going using Tolkien and Christian allegory in the same sentence.

Tolkien is on record for his extreme dislike for allegory - it was one of his 'beefs' with his close friend CS Lewis' works.

The snippet quoted above is from one of Tolkien's letters #142:


With further clarifications regarding allegory in his works in Letter #165:
OK, wow. But if it isn't allegory, what is it?

And don't you find it interesting--or perhaps confusing--that in another letter (#186) Tolkien writes: "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power." Or that he acknowledges in letter #131: ""I dislike Allegory - the conscious and intentional allegory - yet any attempt to explain the purport of myth or fairytale must use allegorical language."

I am no match for Tolkien's philosphy or intellect (and maybe that is why "HP" is more charming for me), so I feel I can only scratch the surface here with these posts.

https://literature.stackexchange.com...eadings-of-the

Last edited by calgirlinnc; 09-18-2019 at 08:38 AM..
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calgirlinnc View Post
OK, wow. But if it isn't allegory, what is it?

And don't you find it interesting--or perhaps confusing--that in another letter (#186) Tolkien writes: "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power." Or that he acknowledges in letter #131: ""I dislike Allegory - the conscious and intentional allegory - yet any attempt to explain the purport of myth or fairytale must use allegorical language."

I am no match for Tolkien's philosphy or intellect (and maybe that is why "HP" is more charming for me), so I feel I can only scratch the surface here with these posts.

https://literature.stackexchange.com...eadings-of-the
Tolkien was no doubt a Christian, and as he himself explains in his letters, his works are infused with the Christian 'spirit'.

So, perhaps people confuse symbolism with allegory.

For instance, Galadriel can thought to have certain elements of Mary, or perhaps be reminded of Jesus when Gandalf sacrifices himself. But, Tolkien makes it VERY clear that we are not to equate Galadriel=Mary, or Gandalf=Christ; as that would be allegory.

In contrast, from CS Lewis' works: Aslan=Christ unequivocal intended allegory.
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Maine
18,199 posts, read 22,112,629 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post
They are very different books. In many ways they are products of their time. Harry Potter has a modern safe-for-children element, while as you note LOTR is a dark story (I like that about it). Also, LOTR was informed by Tolkien's knowledge of British/Germanic history and philology. This both made it somewhat richer and somewhat more imaginatively constrained in comparison to Harry Potter.
Agreed. I love both series very much. But Tolkien's tale has a depth and pathos that Rowling's never achieved. Rowling's worldbuilding has a certain amount of whimsy about it, which is part of its charm. But it is also very hard to be deeply moved by much of it. What pathos she achieves is done with character relationships, which is great. But Tolkien has both.

Tolkien also achieved something that I don't think any other author has ever done: He made the allure of Good preferable to Evil. This is something that all authors have struggled with. Even Milton's Paradise Lost failed here. Satan --- the supposed Super Villain of all Human History --- comes across as the most interesting character. In most stories, the villains are nearly always the most interesting (if not most sympathetic) characters. The temptation of evil is pretty easy to understand.

But the allure of Good ... ? That's harder. And Tolkien did it. He didn't shy away from the allure of Evil. That's kinda the whole point of the story. But he also managed to show the beauty of grace of Good in a way that no author ever has.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post
It occurs to me that since there was magic and black arts in Tolkien's works, were fundamentalist Christians as disturbed by it as some have been over Harry Potter and the 'witchcraft' therein? Or is that sort of freak-out more of a modern (and mostly American, I presume) thing?
Some fundamentalists were and still are. But they have always been an EXTREME minority, even within Christendom. They just happen to be a very loud minority.
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Maine
18,199 posts, read 22,112,629 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekker99 View Post
Tolkien was no doubt a Christian, and as he himself explains in his letters, his works are infused with the Christian 'spirit'.

So, perhaps people confuse symbolism with allegory.

For instance, Galadriel can thought to have certain elements of Mary, or perhaps be reminded of Jesus when Gandalf sacrifices himself. But, Tolkien makes it VERY clear that we are not to equate Galadriel=Mary, or Gandalf=Christ; as that would be allegory.

In contrast, from CS Lewis' works: Aslan=Christ unequivocal intended allegory.
Yup.

Tolkien repeatedly denied that THE LORD OF THE RINGS intended any sort of allegory. But applicability? Even he admitted the story was applicable.

The difference? Allegory has a very one-for-one meaning, firmly in the grip of the author. So Aslan = Jesus. Or Animal Farm = Communism. Pilgrim's Progress is an allegorical overload.

There is nothing like that in Tolkien. But there is lots of symbolism and applicability. You can see allusions to the Virgin Mary in Galadriel and Elbereth. Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo all take on elements of a Christ Figure at times. Lembas obviously has bits of the Eucharist intended. The Phial of Galadriel is not unlike Holy Water. And Tolkien's portrayal of Evil is very much in the Christian tradition.

If you really want to dive in the symbolism, just take a look at the date the Ring was Destroyed: March 25th. Traditionally, that was the date of Creation, the date of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, the date of Christ's conception, and the date of His crucifixion. As a devout Catholic, Tolkien would have known all this. That date is no accident. It is a date significant to both Jews and Christians as a date of intense sorrow and Ultimate Triumph.
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Old 09-18-2019, 09:17 AM
Status: "On the Road Again" (set 7 days ago)
 
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And so I've now discovered that there are books, websites, dissertations and so on devoted to the allegorical nature of --or lack thereof--in LOTR. This is quite a debate, apparently. Undoubtedly my little CD posts cannot add anything new or relevant to that topic.
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Old 09-18-2019, 09:31 AM
 
1,454 posts, read 435,197 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calgirlinnc View Post
And so I've now discovered that there are books, websites, dissertations and so on devoted to the allegorical nature of --or lack thereof--in LOTR. This is quite a debate, apparently. Undoubtedly my little CD posts cannot add anything new or relevant to that topic.
Well, regardless of subsequent debates or dissertations on any allegory in LOTR's, I will take Tolkien's (the author himself) word on it.

People tend to deconstruct and reinvent what they *think* (or want to see) in a work after an author's death. But it doesn't make it 'right' -especially when the author has many many many times said to the contrary.

If someone wants a good peek behind the curtain as to Tolkien's mindset, comments, and beliefs - go read his Letters.
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