What Would Peoples of Earlier Eras have Thought Of Tolkien's Works ?

BAYLOR

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What would people of from 18th Century all the way up to the early 20th century have likely have thought of The Hobbit, LOTR, The Silmarillion etc? What would they have though It's themes and style of writing story telling , and characters and world building ? Would they have been able grasp any of it? And what's would the great literary figured of those era have likely made of Tolkiens works ?
 
What would writers like Henry Fielding or Charles Dickens , William Morris, mark Twain have likely thought of Tolkien's works?
 
I think it has a timeless quality. Based on existing ancient stories (Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Beowulf), I think those older civilizations would have lapped it up. However, it would be difficult to write and distribute such a lengthy and complex work by marking a clay tablet, scratching on a tree trunk or scrawling on papyrus.
 
What would people of from 18th Century all the way up to the early 20th century have likely have thought of The Hobbit, LOTR, The Silmarillion etc? What would they have though It's themes and style of writing story telling , and characters and world building ? Would they have been able grasp any of it? And what's would the great literary figured of those era have likely made of Tolkiens works ?
It's as good an idea as adding zombies to the various books. But it's a very complicated subject.

However, I think the Brontë sisters would love Tolkien's books. After all, they made up stories about Gondal and Angria themselves when they were little girls. Theoretically, one of them might even have been inspired by his work, and it would have influenced her own books. For example, Charlotte Brontë could have written a book about a poor orphan who gets hired as a governess to a cool elf lord, or something like that. :giggle:

Perhaps Dickens would have liked Tolkien's books too, and he would have written a story about an evil old orc who, on the eve of the winter solstice, suddenly remembers that he was once an elf and becomes a good guy and stops killing people. :giggle:

On a more serious note, reading The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings could have influenced Oscar Wilde's writing. Some of his short stories are very close to fantasy. Perhaps he himself would have wanted to write a novel in the style of Lord of the Rings, but more peculiar and decadent. And I would love to read such a book!
I think it has a timeless quality. Based on existing ancient stories (Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Beowulf), I think those older civilizations would have lapped it up. However, it would be difficult to write and distribute such a lengthy and complex work by marking a clay tablet, scratching on a tree trunk or scrawling on papyrus.
I suppose it is possible to write on papyrus in the same way as on paper. In ancient Rome, there were bookstores that were also centres for the copying of books. The owners of such shops would buy literate slaves and have them copy popular books, then sell the scrolls to anyone who wanted to buy them.

But scratching out the text of LOTR on clay tablets, bamboo planks (used in ancient China before paper was invented) or pieces of birch bark (used in Kievan Rus' because parchment was too expensive for most people) would have been a real challenge.:lol:
 
From what I remember, until the nineteeth century several saw the medieval world as a dark hole, which is probably why they referred to it as medieval, i.e., it's in the middle of the classical world and the rebirth of the same, or the Renaissance. In short, it wasn't seen as important.

Later, Romanticism revived it, together with Gothic writers. Decades later, Tolkien encouraged more to read works from the medieval pediod because he was a medievalist (He based LOTR, etc., from the same, and wanted children who read his books to read those works as they grew up), while translating of medieval works continued.

In which case, those until the nineteenth century would have not taken Tolkien's books seriously, while those from the nineteenth century would have seen him as a pastiche artist, preferring instead Romanticists from various media (e.g., Shelley, Goethe, Wagner). Finally, Tolkien's contemporaries would have looked forward to the medieval works themselves (like Beowulf) plus the works of the Romantics instead of Tolkien's stories.

I think it was only by the 1960s that Tolkien gained ascendancy, and the works that inspired him (i.e., medieval literature) became less important for most, together with the artists who revived an interest in the medieval world, like the Romantics.
 
It's as good an idea as adding zombies to the various books. But it's a very complicated subject.

However, I think the Brontë sisters would love Tolkien's books. After all, they made up stories about Gondal and Angria themselves when they were little girls. Theoretically, one of them might even have been inspired by his work, and it would have influenced her own books.
Peppa, I think your idea of Emily and Charlotte taking LotR to heart is a good one. Not sure Anne or Branwell would've.
 
I wonder if Samuel Taylor Coleridge wouldn't have been fascinated by The Silmarillion and LotR. William Blake, creator of his own mythology, might have thought Tolkien was a spiritual genius. Thomas de Quincey, given to imagination of the Sublime, might have been captivated. Among American authors, Hawthorne and Melville might've been intrigued. But who knows?
 
I wonder if Samuel Taylor Coleridge wouldn't have been fascinated by The Silmarillion and LotR. William Blake, creator of his own mythology, might have thought Tolkien was a spiritual genius. Thomas de Quincey, given to imagination of the Sublime, might have been captivated. Among American authors, Hawthorne and Melville might've been intrigued. But who knows?

I think it would have had a very profound effect on all of them.
 
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I think the Romanticists were captivated by the medieval world, like Tolkien.

Meanwhile,

If we examine Tolkien research since the 1960s, we may conclude that the notion of Tolkien as a Romanticist is not a popular approach of interpretation: “When referring to Tolkien’s works, Romanticism is hardly the first genre that comes to mind” (Birks 28). His work has instead been largely interpreted within the context of his professional background as philologist and expert of medieval literature. The connection between Tolkien and the Middle Ages has thus become a commonplace of Tolkien scholarship: “Tolkien and the Middle Ages: a connection that seems self-evident and has frequently been dealt with by Tolkien scholars over the last years” (Brückner et al. 6). But as important as these studies grounded in history and philology may be, their dominance makes it difficult for other aspects of Tolkien’s complete works to become visible.

While Tolkien research has started to widen its scope with the aim of enlightening readers of Tolkien’s wider literary interests, the Romantic tradition has remained predominantly overshadowed. Scholars have repeatedly identified that the ‘Romantic Gothic opened imaginative spaces for fantasy in the broader sense’ (Roberts 29), but until Julian Eilmann’s extensive study J.R.R. Tolkien – Romanticist and Poet (2016) and Will Sherwood’s Master’s thesis “The ‘Romantic Faëry’: Keats, Tolkien, and the Perilous Realm” (2020), research has only sporadically acknowledged the Romantic motifs in Tolkien’s texts. Exceptions include R. J. Reilly’s Romantic Religion: A Study of Owen Barfield, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien (1971), Meredith Veldman’s Fantasy, the Bomb and the Greening of Britain (1994), and Michael Tomko’s Beyond the Willing Suspension of Disbelief (2015), all of whom understand Tolkien’s roots in the Romanticist tradition as a key to his literary work. The interest in the Romantic aspects in Tolkien’s work was furthermore intensified in 2010 by the papers written for the Tolkien Seminar of the German Tolkien Society on the topic “Tolkien and Romanticism”.
 
I would be curious what Jonathan Swift would think of it.
Or better yet--to see him write it.
That would an interesting pastiche--try to envision how an earlier writer would do it.

I wonder if earlier writers would consider it too far removed from the real world for them to relate. Even for a fantasy work, since it is world-building, maybe they would find that too esoteric.
Paradise Lost has an eccentric style but it is grounded in story concepts that everyone knows (maybe not so much when he wrote it but later).

Especially the focus on nonhuman or non-traditional Earth fauna protagonists might throw them for a loop.


No doubt Mark Twain would be irreverent.

He would probably say the one Ring could be used to string some keys that public figures would rather have misplaced.
 
I think Swift was from a Neo-Classical Age. That means he would have been critical of Romanticism (which means he would have also been critical of medievalism), and would use fantasy for didactic purposes and as part of rationalism (as seen in works like Gulliver's Travels), like Thomas More (e.g., Utopia) from an earlier age.

In contrast to that, Romanticism looked at medievalism, emotion, and even political views like revolution as a counter to rationalism. One can probably see this in Tolkien, who romanticized England/Avalon in light of the Shire, and Mordor as the modern world/industrialization/mechanized warfare.

It's like LOTR as the books vs. LOTR the blockbuster Hollywood tent-pole flicks.
 
Peppa, I think your idea of Emily and Charlotte taking LotR to heart is a good one. Not sure Anne or Branwell would've.
After all, Branwell was Brontë brother, not one of the sisters. Unless, of course, we're considering a version in which Brontë's father decided to raise one of his daughters as a boy and gave her a male name.:rolleyes:
But that would be mostly an Emily and Charlotte thing, of course.
I would be curious what Jonathan Swift would think of it.
Or better yet--to see him write it.
That would an interesting pastiche--try to envision how an earlier writer would do it.

I wonder if earlier writers would consider it too far removed from the real world for them to relate. Even for a fantasy work, since it is world-building, maybe they would find that too esoteric.
Paradise Lost has an eccentric style but it is grounded in story concepts that everyone knows (maybe not so much when he wrote it but later).

Especially the focus on nonhuman or non-traditional Earth fauna protagonists might throw them for a loop.


No doubt Mark Twain would be irreverent.

He would probably say the one Ring could be used to string some keys that public figures would rather have misplaced.
He'd probably write some kind of parody. And I would want to read it!
Seriously, I think William Morris and Christina Rossetti would have very loved Tolkien's books.
 
Seriously, I think William Morris and Christina Rossetti would have very loved Tolkien's books.
Also Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Burne-Jones, Sandys, and some of the other Pre-Raphaelites, who probably would have found many inspirations for their paintings and poetry in Tolkien's stories.

Of course Morris was one of Tolkien's influences, so that's a bit circular.
 
I mentioned Christina Rossetti specifically because she wrote a poem about the Goblin Market. :lol:
More seriously, the Pre-Raphaelites might have really enjoyed Tolkien's books.
Even more seriously, it was not just the Pre-Raphaelites who could enjoy Tolkien's books. If I understand correctly, fairy tales were very popular in France in the XVIIth century. They were read by children as well as grown-up men and women at the royal court. Writers who collected folk tales and wrote their own, such as Charles Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy, were very popular. Theoretically, they could have enjoyed Tolkien's books.
 
Our intelligence hasn't evolved much for the past few tens of thousands of years. LOTR told around any camp fire for that period of time would captivate, I hope.
 
That's probably how Homer's epics were told. Reminds me of the Postman movie.
 
Sir Thomas Malory would have have The Hobbit and would marveled at LOTR perhaps it influences him to change certain aspects of Le Mort D'Arthur?
 

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892–1973) was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English. Twice Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford, he also wrote a number of stories, including most famously The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955), which are set in a pre-historic era in an invented version of our world which he called by the Middle English name of Middle-earth.

In short, he taught and was likely inspired by works whose authors are mentioned in the thread.

Tolkien produced a small number of scholarly writings, one of which was the lecture “Beowulf, Monsters, and the Critics“, a major work that changed the way people looked at the poem. This is probably the most influential thing he wrote at Oxford 0 the rest of his work became more popular as his popularity increased due to LotR. There have been a few other instances where Tolkien’s statements have revolutionized acemics’ understanding of a specific topic, such as in his essay “English and Welsh,” where he explains where the term “Welsh” comes from and cites phonaesthetics.


 
Chaucer would have enjoyed the descriptions and the journey, and decried the lack of bawdiness and humour.

One wonders , if it would it have inspired Chaucer to do a Prose version of his Canterbury tales resembling modern story telling with dialogue and chapter development It's possible that the modern novel would have come into being sooner then it did.
 

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