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oooh! I was just reading an essay on this last night, now where did I put it....?

Actuallly, it was mostly from the Norse, and a few Germanic tales and the old Atlantean legend as wel, oh and the Arthurian myths too. Anyone who says the Bible needs their head read. Will post again when I can remember the rest of it.
Thank you Plastic, I will be looking forward to the rest of Tolkien's basis of his works. Smile Smilie
David Day wrote a book on the very subject: "Tolkien's Ring".
It is also illustrated by Allan Lee. ISBN 0-261-10298-2

This book covers: Norse Mythology, The Volsunga Saga, Arthurian Legends, Celtic and Saxon myths, German romance, The Nibelungelied, Greek and Roman myths, Biblical legends, Oriental myths and a various other discussion.

[Edited on 29/10/2002 by Allyssa]
Don't forget the Finnish mythology, the "Kalevala"! The story of Turin is largely ispired by the Finnish legend about Kullervo son of Kalervo (I'm not sure about the spelling...). And Quenya is also influenced by Finnish!
Thank you all!! I have learned very much in the last few days.
Good question, Princess_Luthien! In one of his letter, Tolkien says, 'I am a philologist, and all my work is philological'. A philologist is someone who studies old texts, like Beowulf and the Kalevala, and when Tolkien says his work is philological, I take that to mean that he is stating the fact that he uses ideas from other old writings to make his own writing. Some of these are:
Beowulf: Some of the names, such as Folcwald and Hama, come from this poem which Tolkien studied and wrote numerous essays on. There was also a scene in Beowulf when a slave steals a cup from a dragon hoard, like Bilbo and Smaug.
Kalevala: Kullervo, as Eryan said. Also there is an old man in the Kalevala who uses magic and is reminiscent of Gandalf. And there is a magical object which gives its owner great wealth but is destroyed in the end to ensure peace...and Norse mythology influenced him as well.

[Edited on 2/11/2002 by Samwisegamgee]
I really like the story about beowulf. My Global Awareness teacher, Mr. Herman, told us that it is a poem. But someonme made it into a story. It was very good.
Have you ever read Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, Luthien? It is really good. Plus a dashing introduction.
Don't forget Ragnorock, there will be war in the heavens and that men shall venture from Odins feating hall and fight with him against Loki. All shall be killedapart from one of Loki's fire deamons who shall burn the earth. However the sun will rise after the seven years of winter and things will grow anew. It's sort of reminsant of Almaren being burned by the lamps, the fall of Utmno, the slaying of the tree's and the fall of Angbad, the sinking of Numenor and even the rebirth of the realms of Gondor and Arnor.
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Actuallly, it was mostly from the Norse, and a few Germanic tales and the old Atlantean legend as wel, oh and the Arthurian myths too.


Plastic are you sure???!!!! I thought Tolkien was particularly uninspired by the athurian legends. He had a characteristic dislike of Christian asscociated myth stories. Theres a definate influence of stories like Beowulf, germanic and finnish folk tales (in the language construction as well) but I'd heard that he was creating a myth FOR England due to its lack of anything he considered cohesive and unaffected by later sensibities and beliefs(such as christianty)
aaaggh, just re-read this and it sounds condemning...not intentional! What essay did you get this from by the way?
just found a good quote from Tolkiens letter that bears on this topic,
Quote:
I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its own tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands. There was Greek and Celtic and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly affected me); but nothing English save impoverished chap book stuff. Of course there was, and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, asscociated with the soil of Britain but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing its Fairie is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherant and repetative. For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.

This is from a letter written in 1951

Sorry Samwise! at the risk of sounding completely pedantic, when you said,
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when Tolkien says his work is philologixal, I take that to mean that he is stating the fact that he uses ideas from other old writings to make his own writing.

is not quite true (or so I believe) His work is philological because the language he uses in it comes from his own created languages drawn from old north European languages. The similarites to tales and myths are entirely incidental (or so I have been led to believe)
Tolkien was influenced by old stories and myth but did not create his books on that influence. It was a philological work because it (the story) gave a framework for his created languages (Quenya, Sindarin etc) The influence from tales such as Beowulf are present in the Silmarillion in the same way that his christianity is, through subconciousness. They are there but I doubt whether he was giving them serious thought at the time of writing

[Edited on 2/11/2002 by Cirdan]

[Edited on 2/11/2002 by Cirdan]
That is a good point, Cirdan, and not pendantic at all. A good argument against what people (especially David Day, postAuthorID of 'Tolkien's Ring') think is Tolkien's 'plagiarism'.
Regarding Christian myths, the quote from 'Letters' was a good one. Apparently Tolkien wrote an essay about this, which I am trying to track down.
Hey, thanks Sam! Quite intrigued to read "Tolkiens ring" Myself now! Only problem is finding a copy out here in Japan Tongue Smilie doh!
It seems to me that in the case of Ainulindale and Valaquenta from The Silmarillion, there is definitely some small influence from Genesis. I certainly wouldn't call it plagiarism though. Not at all! All of the details are very different. But I have to admit that Genesis was definitely on my mind while I was reading those two chapters, and I don't think I was stretching my imagination. I can hardly believe that a Tolkien himself was not aware of the parallels when he was writing this. Especially concerning Melkor, who totally reeks of Lucifer, at least, early on.
Thank you!! I love this website it's the best one I've been a part of so far. You all are so nice and helpful!! Big Smile Smilie
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It seems to me that in the case of Ainulindale and Valaquenta from The Silmarillion, there is definitely some small influence from Genesis. I certainly wouldn't call it plagiarism though. Not at all! All of the details are very different. But I have to admit that Genesis was definitely on my mind while I was reading those two chapters,
And as I read it I thought about the beginning of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Cool Elf Smilie
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Plastic are you sure???!!!!What essay did you get this from by the way?


Heh, I got it from "What I was thinking at the time I wrote this post" by Plastic Squirrel. And it was mostly just what I thought it might well be off the top of my head. And though JRR thought the Arthurian Myths were a bit poor, he certainly took them on board when he wrote his own stuff.
Tongue Smilie I dunno if he did. I mean as in "taking them on board" I cant see any relation with the Arthurian legend (the theme of a returned king is there, but thats a fairly weak supposition) He did write seperate works about Arthur (The Fall of Arthur-poem)but these legends did not gel with his created world.Tolkien was friends with C.S.Lewis right? and constantly picked apart the Arthurian influence (that came from his friendship with Charles Williams) in his books. I think he was writing to give us a myth, something that he felt the arthurian legend was not actually giving us.
I feel the Arthurian legends were too Christian and medieaval to fit. The idea of high adventure and myth could be attributed to Arthur and influence Tolkien, but that could be said for a number of other works beside.
I guess it comes down to our own opinions and interpretations, which at the end, leaves us all "right" as long as it feels right and fits the way we imagine it to be Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie
oh by the way happy Guy Fawkes day! So Angry Smilie Birthday Smilie Jumping Flame Smilie Happy Elf Smilie hope everyones celebrating with style!
I was just recently explaining to a friend why Gandalf came back as "white" when he was formerly "grey", how he sort of died? or at least had a near-death experience and was "sent back" to finish a job.... She immediately recognized (whether truly or falsely) the idea of dying and coming back as an allusion to the Christian theme of death & resurrection. People will see what is on their minds, what they are familiar with, whether or not it's what the author was influenced by.

For the record, I don't think it's inconcievable that christian themes are found in his works. Note I said Christian THEMES but not christianity; the whole ME myth is obviously set in a pre-pre-christian era. (unlike Arthurian legends, which seem to be right on the first wave of the christian era in Britain). However, I did hear that Tolkien was a devout member of the Catholic Church (correct me if I'm wrong). He was definitely a practicing Christian himself as well as one of the people who was instrumental in influencing C.S. Lewis to convert from atheism to christianity. It seems logical that if he was so devout, his christian worldview would shine through a major work such as the creation of ME.