Tolkien Annecdote

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MsBrandybuck
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Tolkien Annecdote

Postby MsBrandybuck » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:13 pm

My daughter's college wind ensemble just played a spring concert. The song selection was so diverse that the conductor was compelled to introduce each piece and say a few words about it.

One of the songs was from Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle. Here he had one of the professors, Dr. Gulledge, come up to speak of it.

The professor proceeded to say that you can't think of Wagner's Ring Cycle without also mentioning J.R.R. Tolkien. He said that some brave soul who sat in one of Professor Tolkien's lectures had the temerity to ask him how his Ring of Power was like Wagner's Ring. Tolkien fixed the young man with a hard stare and said, "They're both round and made of gold. The similarity ends there."

However, Dr. Gulledge says that Tolkien would sometimes sequester himself in his room and listen to the 15 hours of music straight through with no interruptions. It is his belief that Wagner's composition most probably had some influence on Tolkien and his "Ring Story." However, seeing that Tolkien served in the trenches in WWI and saw many of his friends and comrads die, there was no love lost between the British and the Germans- which may explain Tolkien's hesitance to aknowledge the work of a German composer.

Have any of you heard anything to corroborate this? Or just have some thoughts to express?
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TomCotton
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Re: Tolkien Annecdote

Postby TomCotton » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:40 pm

Here are a couple of references to that :
A PDF
http://www.isi.org/lectures/text/pdf/birzer.pdf

The quote from the pdf
Date: August 3, 2001
When the Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings appeared in 1961, its author was appalled. Fluent in Swedish, J.R.R. Tolkien found no problems with the translation. Indeed, Tolkien often considered the various Scandinavian languages as better mediums for his Middle-earth stories than English, as the medieval Norse and Icelandic myths had strongly influenced them. His disgust, instead, came from the presumption found within the introduction to the Swedish edition. The crime: translator Åke Ohlmark had compared Tolkien's ring to Wagner's ring. "The Ring is in a certain way 'der Niebelungen Ring,'" Ohlmark had written. Indignant, Tolkien complained to his publisher: "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases."
The translator's commentary was simply "rubbish," according to Tolkien.


The other reference:
Scribd.com Two Ring Cycles - Tolkien and Wagner

I have never compared the two rings or noted any similarities besides the obvious one stated by JRRT. Reading the names in the list of dwarves in the Elder Edda was an eye opener, though. :)
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MsBrandybuck
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Re: Tolkien Annecdote

Postby MsBrandybuck » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:55 pm

Thanks Tom- I skimmed through some of that, and will read closer when I have the time to do it without interruption.

I think it's interesting that Tolkien has no trouble admitting that he was greatly inspired by Norse legends and that he'd even nicked some of the names from the Elder Edda.

Then why so vehemently deny that Wagner was a source of insiration- if indeed he was? Is it precisely because he [Wagner] was German?

Also- do you know whether the Norse legend of Sigürd [Seigfried] inspired Tolkien's tale of Turin? I see definite similarities in the stories but have not whether he fashioned his tale on this legend.

Has anyone read, btw, Tolkien's "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún? I have- and I did get a Turin vibe from it.
Tolkien evidently wrote this himself while he was still a professor at Oxford in the 1930's. I think he had been lecturing on the subject and developed his lecture notes into the book- or maybe Christopher developed his lecture notes into a book- I can't recall now.
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shireling
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Re: Tolkien Annecdote

Postby shireling » Wed May 18, 2011 11:33 pm

MsBrandybuck wrote:...why so vehemently deny that Wagner was a source of insiration- if indeed he was? Is it precisely because he [Wagner] was German?

I wouldn't be surprised if he did. I couldn't read the PDF link that Tom posted, so I don't know what it's about. But the Dom lost all of his classmates in the Battle of the Somme - he was the lone survivor (btw, very like Number 41 and Gene Roddenberry in WWII), and in later years, had to remind Boomers that Sauron wasn't at all Hitler. I think everybody who was around and remembered both wars so well could be excused for not getting over it.

Still, I just can't blame Tolkien for being so possessive. This was his baby, regardless of the bank where the donors resided ;).
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MsBrandybuck
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Re: Tolkien Annecdote

Postby MsBrandybuck » Thu May 19, 2011 12:26 am

shireling wrote:But the Dom lost all of his classmates in the Battle of the Somme - he was the lone survivor (btw, very like Number 41 and Gene Roddenberry in WWII), and in later years, had to remind Boomers that Sauron wasn't at all Hitler. I think everybody who was around and remembered both wars so well could be excused for not getting over it.

Still, I just can't blame Tolkien for being so possessive. This was his baby, regardless of the bank where the donors resided ;).


True - I think we tend to forget just how brutal was the trench warfare of WWI- though doubtless our British cousins keep a sharper memory of it than we do.

I read also that in the time period of Tolkien's interest in Finnish mythology- much of western Europe was enamored with the same subject and many varied works were produced from the inspiration of this mythology. It was in fashion to do so, as it were.
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