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Rings of Influence: The Essence and Impact of The Lord of the Rings

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Kenton Buck

on 9 February 2014

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Transcript of Rings of Influence: The Essence and Impact of The Lord of the Rings

Rings of Influence
The Essence and Impact of The Lord of the Rings
One Winterum Class to Rule Them All!
Course Agenda
Origin of the Rings
Life & Language

Plot Summary
Isildur, who cut the Ring from Sauron's hand, kept the ring instead of destroying it.
Sauron lives, but his power is diminished.
Ring found by Gollum who kept it in the Misty Mountains for hundreds of years.
Bilbo Baggins finds the Ring during in
The Hobbit.
The Ring helps him through his adventures.
Bilbo gives the Ring to his nephew, Frodo Baggins.
Gandalf discovers that Bilbo's ring is the One Ring.
...it must be destroyed before Sauron takes control of Middle Earth
Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring quest to destroy the Ring by throwing it into the fires of Mt. Doom in Mordor!
J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Millennium
LoTR is the 2nd bestselling book of all time with 150 million copies worldwide!
The Hobbit
is the 6th with 100 million copies sold worldwide!
The Silmarillion
and other writings sells thousands of copies a year.
Tolkien's works have been translated into more than 40 languages!
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
What makes Tolkien so special?
Numerous adaptations and derivative works have been inspired by Tolkien.
The Story
Break for elevensies.
Tolkien invented the modern fantasy genre.
Thanks for watching!
Origin of the Rings
Tolkien's Life and Languages
Childhood & Adolescence
Tolkien was born in 1892 in Orange Free State, where he lived with his Father, Mother, and Brother.
Tolkien family 1892
Tolkien's mother moved the family back to England.
Idyllic English Countryside
...this becomes the Shire!
Nostalgia in Tolkien's Writing
1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations
Tolkien worked for the Oxford English Dictionary
Nostalgia is a desire for a time/place that cannot be returned to...
Nostalgia of Tolkien's childhood could not be returned to because of industrialization
Urban sprawl swallowed up childhood home
The Scouring of the Shire
After the War of the Ring, the hobbits return to find their home destroyed.
"This is worse than Mordor! . . . It comes home to you, they say; because it is home, and you remember it before it was ruined."
Unlike Tolkien, the hobbits are able to restore the Shire!
Tolkien Falls in Love
Edith Bratt
Tolkien first met Edith in a Catholic orphanage after his parents died.

Because they were not of age, the priests forbid Tolkien to see Edith.

Tolkien stayed away for two years out of respect for the priest who raised him.
Two years later...
Edith was engaged to another man!

Tolkien was so persuasive that she broke off the engagement and married him.
Out of Tolkien's relationship with Edith comes
The Tale of Beren and Luthien.
The names Beren and Luthien are inscribed on Edith and J.R.R. Tolkien graves.
Tolkien Goes to War
Tolkien enlisted and was trained as a Calvary officer.
Riders of Rohan
Ended up as signaling officer frustrated with breakdown of communication.
Palantir - a seeing stone
Beacons of Gondor
Tolkien went to war with his three best friends.

Two were dead within two weeks.
Merry and Pippin were captured by orcs and presumed dead, only to be found alive later.
LoTR is filled with images of trench warfare and hideous reality of battle
The Dead Marshes
"Corpses piled like cordwood" at Helm's Deep
Aragorn acts sympathetically towards soldiers who have what we would now describe as shell shock.
Very different from how Britain treated these soldiers.
After the War...
“Frodo dropped quietly out of the doings of the Shire, and Sam was pained to notice how little honor he had in his own country. Few people knew or wanted to know about his deeds and adventures”
"I have been too deeply hurt."
Frodo withdraws psychologically, and ultimately physically, from Middle Earth.
Frodo writes does his adventures in "The Red Book"
Was writing part of the healing process for Tolkien?
Of Language and Literature
Tolkien didn't invent Middle Earth,
...he rediscovered it!
Tolkien found inspiration in the language and culture of the middle ages.
As a young man Tolkien began to study Philology
1. the branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages.
Literally means the love of words
Tolkien worked for the Oxford English Dictionary

Had to discover the origin and etymology of words
Some of Tolkien's Words in the OED
At Oxford, Tolkien studied both Anglo Saxon (Old English) and Middle English works
Translated Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf
Tolkien used his writing to bridge the ancient English language and literary tradition, linking old English epics (Beowulf) and today
Line 112: "eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas"
[Then the evil brood all awoke], giants and elves and monsters (orcs!!)
Found word in language and then fleshed it out in his stories
Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?

Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?

Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?

Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?

They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;

The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.

Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,

Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?
This is the start of a famous Anglo Saxon poem called
The Wanderer
Readers of Tolkien now have an incentive to explore Old English language and literature
Tolkien's Invented Languages
Tolkien used his knowledge of philology to create languages!
He probably spoke about 16 languages!
Elvish contains about 15 dialects.
Tolkien claimed that he wrote his books to have a place where his languages could be spoken.
Two Main Dialects:


Quenya Elvish
the language of the high elves (only once in LoTR)
based on Finnish
Sindarin Elvish
Common in LoTR
based on Welsh
Less Developed Languages
Languages of Men
At least three

Khuzdul (Secret language of Dwarves)
there is also a sign language
Valarian (Language of the Powers)
Language of the Orcs
Black Speech (created by Sauron)
Tolkien's languages give his story continuity and consistency beyond any other fantasy work.
For example
Lord of the Rings...Literature?
What makes literature?

Critical and popular appeal

Passed the test of time

Changes a genre (leaves a posterity of work)

Carl Jung (Psychologist)
"Whoever speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices... Therein lies the social significance of art: it is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is most lacking."
The Hero's Quest
What was Tolkien's age most lacking?

LoTR fills the void of disillusionment after the Great War
The hero is invited to leave a mundane life and seek adventure.

Frodo asks Galdalf to take the Ring instead

Frodo meets with the Wise and the Fellowship is formed

Frodo begins his quest with the aid of the Fellowship
The Road of Trials
Frodo encounters many obstacles, allies, and enemies along the way.
Frodo destroys the Ring...sort of.
Refusal of the Return
Frodo leaves a free Middle Earth.
Is the Lord of the Rings still original?
The sword's power confronts any who touch it with the absolute truth about themselves
The Sword of Shannara
Shea and Flick quest for the Sword of Shannara and confront the Warlock King.
The Sword of Shannara
The heroes in Lord of the Rings are not looking to obtain a treasure...but to throw one away.
Literature renews itself with new critical modes.
People assume that literature needs an elite readership

Serious literature can't have a happy ending...Tolkien rejected this idea
Why Tolkien's work is overlooked?
Books by Tolkien
Tolkien Gateway

The Council of Elrond

Useful Reddits
r/quenya and r/sindarin

Of Sorcerers and Men: Tolkien and the Roots of Modern Fantasy Literature (Portable Professor Series)

The Tolkien Professor
Full transcript