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Thread: Tolkien and Wagner

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Hello inhabitants of the colorful world "Planet-Tolkien". I`m Hai_Men, a 25 years old student from Hamburg, Germany and - as you might see - a newbie in this forum. For many years my fascination for "Lord of the Rings" wasn`t more than a childhood memory - this fascination has recently been revived by the movies of Peter Jackson. But at the same time I reaIized that I m not an innocent child anymore !! During my studies I have had to do some researches about the ( ridicilous ) political writings of Richard Wagner. So I started to ask myself if there are any traces of the POLITICAL Wagner in the work of Tolkien. The ARTISTICAL simularities between "Lord of the Rings" and "The Ring of the Nibelungen" seem to be overwhelming - although we all know the offical statement of Tolkien about the camparsion of this two Ring-Tales :"Both rings were round, and there the resemblance eases" Really? Here is a list of simularities figured out by the Asia-Times:
Asia Times
( very interesting is the comparsion-tab at the end of the article )
Tolkien as well as Wagner were influenced by the Volsung Saga and the Nibelungenlied but a lot of things - for example the "The Power-Ring" - goes directly back to Wagner, it does not appear in both legends. So what do you think, does the "Lord of the Rings" contain some problematic political implications or is not allegorical at all and an innocent fairytale?

BTW: An interesting article in "The New Yorker"
The New Yorker
Hmmm, i'm not sure but i think JRRT loathed Wagner, because of his blatant antisemitism. I think i read it in Letters somewhere but i can't check it right now, srry. More later, perhaps.

Anyway, LOTR is not an allegory; JRRT himself stresses this in the prologue of LOTR. Like with everything, there's only applicability - one sees a biblical theme in it, other sees a description of WWII or WWI in it, other sees Cold War elements in it, etc.

And if JRRT himself says that there's no resemblance, well then that's just that.

Anyway, as you're from Hamburg i'm wondering : is a Hamburger called an inhabitant of Hamburg? "Ich bin ein Hamburger?". I've always wondered.
First: Yes an inhabitant of Hamburg is called a Hamburger Big Smile Smilie

I think you are right, the perception of a story ( or any event ) always includes the projections/rewards of the beholder/listener/reader - this could be the reason why there are so many interpretations about TLOTR around.
Hi Hai-men. Welcome to PT!

I had started a conversation on this in the "Tolkien's 'hidden' influences" thread. Here's a little of what I said. I agree with you:

I think it's difficult not to compare the two. Critics often disregard the authors point of view when comparing and contrasting works anyway. Not that I say it's a good practice, but Tolkien obviously used Nordic traditions in his works, so comparing it to other works influenced by Norse mythology is not unusual. Besides the fact that Ring des Nibelungen, a work completed more than 40 years before Tolkien's work that involved giants and dwarves and a struggle for a ring of power is not an uncalled for comparison.

Just to expand on this a bit...once an author publishes a work many interpretations can be conjured, for the work is no longer a part of the author's mind, but a part of the mind of the collective community. People will make of works what they will. As for Wagner and Tolkien, there are many similarities and Tolkien may have been annoyed, but due to historical and reader criticism, these interpretations of the work are going to exist whether Tolkien intended them to or not. Author intention is often expelled from modern literary theory and criticism.

So...what I am saying is, thank you for the interesting articles, and yes, in my mind, if you can find the evidence directly in the text of the work to support your views, then feel free to interpret it that way! The author himself, whether he intends it or not, often has a difficult time extricating himself from his surrounding historical context and political views, which means he is often influenced in spite of himself.