Thread: Rereading The Silmarillion
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To my mind, that offers much insight into the character of Manwe (symbolic of Michael,) Varda (symbolic of Mary) and Eonwe (symbolic of Gabriel, and these are just the ones clear to my non-Catholic eyes.)
In my opinion, the Istari are like angels in a way, they were guiding figures in ME(or they were supposed to be, but things don't always turn out as planned). Orome is very much like Raphael, in the fact that he was a guide. He guides the Elves to Valinor, just as Raphael guides Tobias to his kinsman. But I am a practising Catholic, and I can tell you that most of the Sil, while some of it reflects Catholic views, he got, not from his religion, but from pagan myths and folklore, particularly Norse. The Gods, the Valar, are just the ME counterparts of mythological gods and spirits who intervene in affairs of the physical world. The One Ring he took from a Norse legend, a favorite of mine, concerning the Ring of the Nibelungs. Turin is based upon Siegfried, a mighty warrior who was under a curse by means of a hoard. Upon slaying a dragon, Fafnir, he took its vast hoard, even after being warned that it belonged to the Nibelungs, and that any mortals who took it would be cursed.
For those of you who get the Sci-fi channel on tv and are interested, there is a mini-series that premiered on the 28th called Dark Kingdom: Dragon King , telling all about Siegfried, a bit off the mark, but for the most part it sticks to the legend. It will be on again sometime today, here in the midwest timezone in the U.S., it will be on at 6:00 or 7:00 P.M.
The One Ring he took from a Norse legend, a favorite of mine, concerning the Ring of the Nibelungs.
Der Ring des Nibelungen is not part of Norse mythology; it is a story invented by Richard Wagner, putting various elements of Norse and Old German legends (primarily the Nibelungenlied, which is about Burgundian kings) together, for his series of operas called Der Ring des Nibelungen, consisting of four parts : Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.
...it is a story invented by Richard Wagner, putting various elements of Norse and Old German legends...
In origin it is Norse, however, as the story passed through the years, like all legends, it changed, becoming mingled with elements from other legends of different cultures as it spread. People putting things in, taking stuff out, changing this, leaving that. Legends, myths, whatever you want to call them, they change over time, passed by word of mouth.
As for it being written by this Richard Wagner, if he lived any time withinin the past thousand years, he didn't write it. He may have come up with the most recent form of the tale for his operas, but it is impossible that he "invented" it.
Nowhere in Norse mythology does such a magic Ring which grants power over the world, appear. There's only Odin's ring Draupnir, but that was an arm ring that grants unlimited wealth, and the Ring in the myth of Sigurd merely put a curse on its bearer.
That said, the particular story of Der Ring des Nibelungen was indeed written by Richard Wagner, it is the first time that a Ring that grants power over the world and ultimately destroys the Gods, appears in any story.
Now what was the topic from which we have strayed so far afield?
I didn't want to again see Brunhilda poke Siegfried in his achilies heel
In the Opera Hagen kills Siegfried.
So, yes, there's many influences such as Celtic and Norse Elves, the Neibelunglieds dragons and dwarves and even the country squires of Nineteenth Century Britain who gave us Hobbits. And it was also only natural for Tolkien to be VERY subtle in his use of his own religions influence; he can't run down the Golden Legend like he did with the Dwarves and Gandalv (indeed, in the case of the latter he Anglicizes the spelling but retains the original pronunciation.) That said, I agree the Istari, all the Maiar, in fact, were more like angels, but a particular order: cherubim, with the Valar more akin to the more powerful seraphim. That's actually why I equated Michael and Manwe, after all, though it would seem to involve a demotion from seraph to cherub for Gabriel. ;-p
Like the fellow I think of as "the American Tolkien, " Robert Jordan
No, that would be Terry Brooks.
And I've read Terry Brooks. No comparison to Tolkien. Eddings is closer, too close in places (I like Belgarath, but he seems a tad... familiar.) Granted, Sword of Shannara is an even more thinly veiled... we'll be polite and call it an homage. But after that it's his own deal, one in which I lost interest by about book four. The Dark One reminds me a whole lot more of Morgoth than anything in any Brooks works. No one TRULY compares to Tolkien, but Jordan is the closest I've found. Of course, I haven't read Lewis' adult fiction, but it's more Science Fantasy if I understand correctly, so would be difficult to compare anyway. The scale and realism, as well as the impact on not just the world, but the universe, of the story, combined with the various diverse influences (even more disparate in Jordan, involving folks like American Indians and the Orient absent from Tolkien) is the closest I've found to compare to Tolkien. And, perhaps most significantly, of all the fantasy novels and series into which I dove after my discovery of Tolkien in the mid-eighties, it's the only one I might consider in the same class of high art rather than entertaining reading. Though Piers Anthonys Incarnations of Immortality gets philosophical and addresses important themes at times; his other work is firmly in the entertainment category as far as I'm concerned.
Sorry to spend so much time on non-Tolkien books, but I felt obliged to defend my comparison. Jordan's not the Professor; no one is (maybe Mallory, but in a different way with a story he didn't write.) But Jordan's come closer than anyone I've seen so far, certainly in the States.
I am currently reading Knife of Dreams and am skipping most of the terminally boring repeated descriptions of clothing that accompanies every character.
The scale and realism, as well as the impact on not just the world, but the universe, of the story, combined with the various diverse influences
I don't consider it realistic at all. Or rather, as realistic as the stuff from Eddings, Feist & Goodkind. Those books to me are exactly just entertainment, nothing more.
Qua realism & scale though, to me Guy Gavriel Kay is closest to Tolkien. And at least he's able to write solid standalone books.
I'd even put Stephen King forward, for his Dark Tower series can be considered to be fantasy.
And of course, there's Tolkein.
I concur with Vee
Now the universe will implode.
Now the universe will implode.
You mean it's the time of 'The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief' as feared by Douglas Adams's Jatravartids?
C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy has angel-like entities on each planet and a fallen-one who is the Dark Lord of Earth. An alternate Adam and Eve myth comes into fruition on Venus, where the viper gets his comeuppance.