Was Merlin the Inspiration For Gandalf ?


In case you can't be bothered reading all that.

Right at the end the author summarises it thusly: " In the case of Gandalf, he clearly has family resemblances to Merlin figures, yet he remains individualized and independent within the tradition."
 
Tolkien himself said something about the origin of Gandalf:


Odin as a wanderer with a wide-brimmed hat etc. also must have contributed to the Gandalf concept. His name, of course, comes from medieval Icelandic literature.
 
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There's also a King Gandolf in Morris' The Well At The World's End, which Tolkien knew well.

I have to say, given Tolkien's firm avowal there's no Celtic myth in his works, I've never looked much at Gandalf as a Merlin type. Gandalf as an Odinic wanderer is apparently in letter 107 so that one fits. Not that Merlin and Odin have a ton of differences in this role, it's mostly flavouring - but that is the flavouring, and a truer inspiration.

Also angels.
 
I thought about Merlin and Gandalf for a moment -- the thing is, there are different Merlins going back a long way. But the only things about Merlin that strike me right off as Gandalfy is that Merlin too is a counselor of a king (i.e. Aragorn), and has some prophetic capacity. But Merlin as rumoredly the son of a spirit or indeed of the devil, no, nothing Gandalfy there. Merlin as involved in the deception that leads to Arthur's begetting -- no parallel with Gandalf there either, nor Merlin as falling under the sway of Nimue. Incidentally, if anyone has an authoritative pronunciation for her name, could he or she share it here?
 
I’ve always mentally pronounced it as Nim-ewe…
There seem to be a great many variants of her name.


I guess we have some liberty about how to say Nimue. Happily, I got some advice from my French-speaking daughter when I asked about Dindrane. It's not "din-drain"!

I don't know, by the way, how Haggard pronounced the name of the woman who fell in love with Leo in Haggard's She. When I first read the book around age 14, I probably heard Ustane as "you stain." For a long time, though, I have heard it as "oo STAH nee," which I at least like a lot better.
 
As far as I know, he was particularly inspired by the image of the Norse god Odin in his "wanderer" garb, as well as Vaïnamoïnen, a magician from Finnish mythology (in the Kalevala).
 
Yeah! The fascination of Kalevala for Tolkien is one of the best-attested facts about the Professor's reading!

Vaïnamoïnen likely influenced Tolkien's presentation of Tom Bombadil as a power who can "sing" his enemies into defeat.

If anyone wants to dig into that great book, we have a thread --

 
Yeah! The fascination of Kalevala for Tolkien is one of the best-attested facts about the Professor's reading!

Vaïnamoïnen likely influenced Tolkien's presentation of Tom Bombadil as a power who can "sing" his enemies into defeat.

If anyone wants to dig into that great book, we have a thread --


Fascinating , ive never read this before .:unsure::)
 

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