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Thread: Was Tolkien Prejudiced or What?

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Grondmaster posted on 10/8/2002 at 22:39
I have noticed in my reading that the only race name Tolkien always capitalized was 'Elves'. He also usually capitalized 'Orcs' and 'Ents'; however, I don't think he ever capitalized 'Dwarves', 'Humans', or 'Hobbits' except when they occurred at the beginning of a sentence. Was there a conscious reason for this, or am I all wet in my thinking?

Actually, Grondmaster, I have found this to be one of the inconsistancies of Tolkien. There are times he does capitalize Dwarves and Men (does he use the term human?) and Hobbits. I think you may be stretching it a bit here. Any racism displayed by Tolkien would most likely be a commentary on the social situation as he saw it. Read Smilie
Maybe it was a height thing, you get to a certain point and get a capital letter or something....

How tall was Tolkien?

Wink Smilie
I'm not sure 42, but from the photos that I have seen, he looks fairly tall.
Besides not all Orcs were tall so why do they get a capital "O"? Interesting theory, however. Big Laugh Smilie
Very Big Grin Smilie
While re-re-re-reading LOTR, I did spot some inconsistencies yeah... I for my part always tend to write the whole lot with a capital letter. It's easier. Big Smile Smilie
Capitalisation (an editing point of view):

"Sentances should always start with a capital letter. Initial capitals should also be used for proper nouns and for proper names (the names of specific people, places and organisations)....Initial capitals should always be given to names that identify nationalities, races, tribes, clans, the inhabitants of a particular region, the adherents of a particular religion, and the speakers of a particular language....In contrast, common words derived from geographical names of regions are often presented without an initial capital." - The Australian Style Manual

Tolkien - or rather his editor - was probably adhering to a style. Dwarf needs a capital at the start of a sentance, or when speaking about a particular Dwarf or group of Dwarves, but if he said a sword was "dwarf-make" that would probably be acceptable.

But that aside, Tolkien and racism is an intersting debate. LOTRs was actually banned at one stage, because it was thought to be sympathetic to Nazism. Ever notice that the "good" races of ME are always white? and the bad guys ie: orcs, haradrim, easterlings, are of other races?

Elves, who T. considered to be the ultimate beings, were also white.

I dont think there was any intentional rascism from Tolkien, it merely reflected an Englishman's perspective and attitude of the times.
I only meant between Dwarves, Elves, Men, and Hobbits; and not in real life situations. And even if he was, he lived in different times when such things were the norm in many societies. We can no longer afford that luxury(?) as we have found it breeds hate and discontent.

Tolkien never capitalized Hobbit or Hobbits, but someone said recently that he considered them to be just a side branch of diminutive men, so that may be his reasoning. Today I did find more examples of Men than men, but also more dwarves than Dwarves. So I guess it depends on whether it is a dwarf, the Dwarf, that dwarf (inferiority implied), some dwarves, Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, or all Dwarves. It is always Elf and Elves just because they were the superior race (in their eyes anyway because they are longer lasting). Orc and Orcs just because they started out as Elves, or more probably, so as to be in compliance with the editor's style book. Animated Wink Smilie

As Rednell said, not a whole lot of consistency here. Very Big Grin Smilie Sure glad it doesn't add up to a hill of beans: meaning it doesn't matter in the least and I only mentioned it because I found it odd when I was trying to quote verbatim from Tolkien's text and I had to double check my capitalization because I often typed it according to the rules, rather than what he actually wrote, requiring me go back and do it Tolkien's way.
That's probably it, yeah... Very Big Grin Smilie
Sounds more like a speciest than a racist to me, Grondy.

As for Tolkien & racism, well, most whites - especially Englishmen (is JRRT an Englishman or SAfrican?) - back in the colonial days were racists anyway. But there's nothing sensitive or offensive in LotR, unless your dermal & epidermal layer is particularly thin.

[Edited on 15/8/2002 by Ungoliant]
I certainly didn't want to bend the conversation by playing "the race card", which on this side of the pond (Atlantic Ocean) almost always results in a lose-lose situation. Got The Blues Smilie
Sounds more like a speciest than a racist to me, Grondy.
Yes, speciest is the word I would have used, had I been a better linguist. (Is that a coined word added since Star Trek?) I think Tolkien was a speciest and only as applies to his writing. His esteem for the Elves led him to figuratively, place them on a pedestal or in an ivory tower; thus, he decided to always capitalize all non-adjective forms of the word 'Elf'. That I can understand; I think Allyssa also shares Tolkien's healthy sentiment about the Elves. Very Big Grin Smilie
No, I know you didn't mean to play the race card G - I was responding to Allyssa's post about Tolkien & racism.

And I didn't mean anything offensive by my previous post either - it's just from my point of view, as a brown-ish person, most of our ex-colonial masters were racists & bigots. Even the ones with 'good' intentions - missionaries & the like, hell-bent on converting the 'savages', when we savages were perfectly content living naked on trees and the like. Animated Wink Smilie Patronising sods, they were. But they're much better now, and we've both come a long way since then.

So surrounded with that kind of mentality, it's only natural that Tolkien had certain views or prejudices which may piss off today's thought police. But as I said, there's nothing particularly sensitive or offensive in LotR.

As for speciest - didn't know that Star Trek coined that one up. Eeek! Thought I got it from a Star Wars novel...maybe.
Whoops, found the word elves with a small e. In FOTR, Book II, Chapter6, Lothlorien.
He could dimly see the grey forms of two elves sitting motionlesswith their arms about their knees, speaking in whispers.

I have no doubt this was unintentional and I am surprised the editor never picked up on it.
BTW, it is just kismit that I came across this. I really have not been scouring the books looking for a lowercase elf.
Speciest...I like that! Big Laugh Smilie
BTW, it is just kismit that I came across this

what does 'kismet' mean?
what does 'kismet' mean?
It means doom, fate, appointed lot, predetermined fortune.

Or was it just serendipity? Cool Smilie
I thought he was a Frog from the Muppets.... Wink Smilie
what does 'kismet' mean?

kismet (-s- -z-) n. destiny, fate. - The Concise Oxford Dictionary

What a delightful word!! I am definately putting it in my "interesting words" note-book.
Whoops bad spelling! I knew it didn't look right but was too lazy to look it up.

Or was it just serendipity

Actually, you are right Grondmaster, serendipity is a much more appropritate word. Cool Smilie
swampfaye, I agree with Grondy here. I don't like stereo-types. However, I do suggest that you read the Post of the Week. It was very well written and discusses Tolkien's lack of racism. I found it quite interesting and informative.
I think, "We don't want to go there!!" Lighening Smilie We have enough stereotyping in this world without pulling it also into Tolkien's world. Wary Smilie
I'm going to take a different road here, but still stay on topic - how's that for intelligence?

I have been thinking about which races Tolkien infused with what qualities from races that we know now - I feel as if Elves were definitely oriental in their sage/ sorrow qualities, Dwarves remind me of Semitic people, creating, delving greedily into mountains and conquests/treasure, Humans.. I'd have to say Caucasians (because they seemed so impossibly divided!) and Hobbits a mix of minority races like Latin/African in their love of food, family and fun.

what do you think?
Me too, me too. Read Smilie
I agree with you inderjitsanghera!!! That is why I do not like stereotypes. When you start lumping people into catagories you start hurting feelings and insulting people. I don't like to do that. There are so many talented and creative intelligent and wonderful people out there of all races, creeds and nationalities. It is very frustrating to me when the ones that are not nice, cause people to say that everyone in that category is the same way. It gives the rest of the good people a bad name. It is even hard to classify good and bad these days, because there are so many grey areas, and that goes back to a persons belief system. I believe the best thing for everyone to do is just take each person as an individual and decide whether or not you like that person and want to associate with him/her, and go on. Don' try to change the person or impart your beliefs on them. Learn what each person is like and what each believes. If you agree, great! If you don't then agree to disagree and go on. A lot less wars and arguments would insue that way. IF you go through life like that you will find good and hope and maybe even love anywhere, and everywhere you look. You may even discover a love of a friendship that crosses all stereotypes and boundries.

So let's not stereotype Tolkien's world. After reading your post, inderjitsanghera, that made it to the post of the week, I believe that you proved that Professor Tolkien was not a racist.

[Edited on 11/11/2002 by MelliotSandybanks]
Stereotypes are fundamentally flawed because, in most cases, they mistake cultural upbringing (language, quirks, mannersisms, etc.) for genetic predisposition. I don't believe that someones racial background predisposes them for certain behavioral traits, 'good' or 'bad'. In this respect, we are a product of our environment rather than our DNA.

We only need to look around us within our own cultures (where we can see more clearly) to see that there's infinite variety in peoples personalities and that stereotypes don't apply. It can be difficult to see this in cultures outside your own but it stands to reason that the same also applies, whether it is apparent or not.

Therefore, neither stereotype ('greed' or 'talent') is necessarily true of semetic peoples. Take a look at yourself...can you place yourself into a stereotype? I doubt it. The only people you can easily fit into a stereotype are people you don't know...

Look at Tolkien's races. You could easily present each one as a stereotype. If I were to say to you "oh, he's your typical Hobbit," you would likely know precisely what I meant.

But many of Tolkien's main characters don't fit very neatly into a stereotype. And if you think about it, the reason for that is because we know them so well.
Thank you Prog, that was what I was trying to say. You put it much better than I did. I do appreciate it.

We are a product of our environments. I really have to agree with that. With the beliefs that my husband and I have, it is interesting to watch our son grow up. When he first went to pre-school, his class had 17 children. There was a mix of Asian, Mexican, Black, and white children. The first day he came home and was describing them to me.
There was a little boy with brown hair and brown eyes. He looks kinda like me Mommy. There was another boy with red hair, I don't remember what color eyes he had. And a boy that had black hair and really dark eyes, and brown skin, but not dark brown kinda light brown. And a boy that also had black hair and dark eyes and brown skin. Why was his hair different from ours though? It felt different and looked different.
This from the mouth of a 3 yr old. I asked if everyone was nice to him and he said yes, and really liked the kids in his class. Then I told him that there were many different types of people in the world and that we are all different. I want him to be nice to everyone no matter what they looked like. He is still friends with almost everyone that was in that class, that continued on with that school. He formed some very lasting friendships that won't be broken over stereotypes and prejudices because we have taught him not to judge people by appearance.

I also have to agree that placing Tolkien's characters in stereotypes is difficult to do because each character breaks the stereotype in some way or manner. None fit exactly into tiny little catagories.
The only people you can easily fit into a stereotype are people you don't know...

Very nicely put Prog.

We only need to look around us within our own cultures (where we can see more clearly) to see that there's infinite variety in peoples personalities and that stereotypes don't apply

Our world would surely be a better place if we could only embrace the unique qualities we all have as individuals.

Big Smile Smilie
OMG.........You people are pretty cool. You all seem to notice all the itsy-bitsy details of the books. It's unbelievable!!!

I've gotta many times have all of you re-read the books????


Not telling (mostly cos I've lost count)
Of course, we are cool, Inder. We are wonderful, intelligent, and friendly people. Didn't you know that. I personally have only read The Hobbit 2 times and Lord of the Rings only once, the Silmarillion once, Unfinished tales once, Book of Lost Tales I am still reading, Book of Lost Tales II once. and others not related to ME.

However I have read several chapters in each of the Lord of the Rings books multiple times, and skimmed though so many times looking for answers to trivia questions and quizzes on this and other sites that I feel like I have read the LotR and Sil many many times.
I've read LotR cover to cover three times but like Mellie, I've skimmed through it and read specific chapters enough to count for a least a fourth time.
Hi Rinfacwen. In reply to your question I have read cover to cover the Hobbit twice, LotR five times (the Fellowship eight times), The Silmarillion four times and UT just the once. In addition to this, however, I have also used the books to research Rolemaster worlds as well as for setting quizzes etc on this site. By doing this, they have become well thumbed text books, and certain sections of each book I must have read dozens of times. I am currently running a Silmarillion reading/discussion group on this site and by the time I have finished that, I expect to have read the Silmarillion at least another three times (I can almost recite the opening chapters at the moment)

My next ambition is to read the History of Middle Earth series.
As for me, I have absolutely no idea how many times I have read Tolkien books, but I think that I may safely say tens of times for LOTR, Silmarillion, UT (these are my preferred...) But no idea, really! Wink Smilie
I think I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings about thirteen times but I have had 35 years in which to make those readings. I have listened to tapes of the BBC Radio versions of each about fifteen times, and tapes of The Mind's Eye versions of each about ten times. I have read HoMe, Pt. 1 & 2 once, and have read the Silmarillion twice and am in the process of reading it again.

Like Mellie, I thumb through the books almost daily, looking for textual references to support the forum and towards posting our current trivia question.
Why? So do I.
I don't know what to make of the capitalization and skin colors of certain races but I think that Tolkien's inclusion of so many different types of beings and their need to work together far overrides any grammar aspects.

Also wanted to bring up here that RACISM may not apply to this conversation. Racism is an economic term by which one race of people is economically capable of controlling the market and culture of a certain area in a way that systematically keeps another race in the lesser position. This would infer three things: One, that a person is inherently advantaged or disadvantaged by things they cannot control or change about himself. Two, a person's ethnicity/skin color/race/heritage will continue to affect them after these variables are placed on a person at their conception. And three, that one person can be the perpetrator of racism in one society and move to another society where he is the victim of it. Racism usually spills over into politics, religion, education, employment, media, etc because if you think about it, these are all controlled by whoever has the most money, because the takeover of these institutions is so difficult, and because these things ultimately dictate the culture within their reach. That's why so much of our race relations between Blacks and Whites here in the US these days is geared toward gaining control of a segment of such Black people putting their own wealth into these areas, they are getting a say in how these industries operate, thereby slowly getting out from under economic and cultural control of a White majority. The difference between being a racist and merely being a bigot, is that the racist hates and CAN do something about it (almost always in groups to assume more economic power), whereas the bigot just hates but is powerless to alter anything on a wide scale. So...if we are discussing a murder...a white man shooting a black man out of hate for his race is a crime (today we call them exactly that. Hate crimes.)...hideous and horrible, yes, but racist, not yet. When the situation become racist is when the white officer does a shoddy investigation, the white doctor fudges the autopsy report, the white jury lets the white defendant go...and the white society does nothing to help the black family in the dead man's absence...all this especially magnified if the same thing happens again and again, and even further under the guise of righteousness by the White society. Please understand that I don't condone anything like any of this no matter what you call it, I am simply challenging the use of the word racism. The word gets misused entirely too often, when maybe stereotypes, prejudice, or bigotry are more appropriate words to use. Racism really has nothing to do with not liking each other.

To reflect on what Proghead77 said, stereotypes are the tendency to lump certain things together in a way that makes sense to you. I tend to agree that it is easier to place a person in a certain stereotypes when you don't know them and all the things that differ from that stereotype. There is nothing wrong with stereotyping in and of itself as long as you remain flexible in the shaping of your ideas. For example, if I learn what a dog is like only by studying small dogs, and then I am faced with a St. Bernard, I must change my idea of what a dog is to include it, or else my learning will suffer. As long as I can do that, it's ok. I happen to believe that stereotyping is a very effective teaching tool...we learn by contrasting and comparing a new thing to something we already know...Some people think this is really the only way to build on any kind of knowledge at all. For example, it helps me to know what a dog is in general, so that I don't have to process all that information from scratch every time I encounter one. It would be mentally exhausting to do that for every thing we see, but some things are worth letting your brain be challenged about. The concept of prejudice is taking that a step futher by assigning a better or worse quality on a thing or a person based on a stereotype, but the difference may or may not be substantial, just a preference that has no bearing on anything except taste. Fords and Chevys. Coke and Pepsi. Paper and plastic. McDonalds and Burger King. And racism, classism, sexism, all the discriminatory ism's, are a step beyond that to become an institutionalized collective effort to keep control from, or to exert control upon, someone based on the prejudices we have. So...let's talk about...I don't know. Pencils. Stereotype: I know a red pencil from a blue pencil when I see one. If given a box of red and blue pencils, I can sort them. Prejudice: I know a red pencil from a blue pencil and I can sort them. I think that red pencils are prettier and write better than blue pencils. Pencilism: I know a red pencil from a blue pencil and I can sort them, and since I think red pencils are better, I will put my red pencils in a gold and velvet box and I will put my blue pencils in a cardboard box.

Does this make sense?

Back to Tolkien, all the races in ME seem to have their own cultures which could in most aspects stand alone from all the others. They all have their share of wealth based on what they feel is valuable...simply put, none of the races really have domination over things that the other races would want, and if there is economic trade, such as mithrail used for mail or swords, etc it is not altered based on hatred or the goal of destroying another race. The only thing in ME that would constitute racism in my opinion (but this didn't happen), and it would be a stretch, would be if the Shire was left to be pillaged by outsiders instead of being protected by the Rangers, which would result in the ruin of the Shire's culture and economy...presuming that the Rangers did this out of animosity toward hobbits and their desire to see them destroyed. Actually, even that would be more of a terrorist tactic than a racist one but would result in pretty much the same thing. See, the hobbits are the only race that really wouldn't stand a chance in battle or hostile takeover against another race. The others could hold their own, in their own way, but Tolkien very overtly stated that the hobbits needed help in maintaining the safety of the Shire when it came to outsiders. Yet this is not necessarily a bad thing, the weakness balances itself as a strength...Tolkien placed value on the powerlessness of the hobbits by making them the only ones who could possibly deal with the Ring and save all of Middle Earth from destruction!

The way I see it, the races that Tolkien gives us are all endowed with both strengths and weaknesses, such that none are really better than the others, and there seems to be appreciation for other beings by most of Tolkien's characters. The different races seem to embrace their differences and live harmoniously, learning from each other, and mainly this may have to do with what the different races are good at and what they value. The elves are wise and have some seeing beyond the others, so everyone seeks counsel from them. The dwarves are good miners, so the best metal products in anyone's possession were made by them, the hobbits are good at growing lots of food and weed, presumably which gets sold out of the shire as well as within it...not to mention being good at living life, so when they are in need of protection, they receive it willingly and deliberately.

The most evident race conflict in ME that we can relate to is probably the strain between dwarves and elves (I didn't capitalize either because I'm lazy...I can be bothered to write all this extra but I cannot be bothered to press the shift key twice.) But we learn from Gimli and Legolas, two members of races with a history of conflict, that it is usually necessary to get along for the common good, and that if you learn about individuals you usually can find good in anyone. And the whole War of the Ring was won by everyone doing their best in a collective effort against evil, according to their strengths, and by compensating for each others' weaknesses, to get the job done.

But back to Tolkien being a racist, I would tend to think NOT, for all of these reasons. But another thing to remember is that Tolkien disliked allegory, so any assumptions like this that we are likely to make about him or the social climate of his time, would be really frowned upon by him. I think we must assume no matter what we are inclined to pull from the story and apply from it, that Tolkien wasn't really trying to say something else. In particular, WW 2 had a lot of racial elements in it, especially against the Japanese and the Jews, and Tolkien flatly denied that anything about LOTR had anything to do with the war.

PS, if anyone is interested, I started a new thread here tonight and ironically enough, I mentioned some of these things in another context. Doubly ironic is that I think with this post, I am contradicting myself. Look for a thread in the postAuthorID section called "A New Twist on Some Old Ideas" or something like that and I hope you will tell me what you think! If you think I am not being consistent, what can you expect? I'm just your typical blabbermouth WOMAN...hahaha. ROFLMAO~~

[Edited on 3/3/2003 by musicimprovedme]
uuuuuummmmm M I M, all I have to say is WOW! That was amazing.

Thanks MelliotSandybanks! I wondered if that topic would be a little sensitive for this thread and this website...but I suppose if I have the blessing of a moderator I can make one more thought. Not a new point but a clarification of the whole stereotype/prejudice/racism thing:

The way I see it, stereotypes are not something we can do much about because they are based on sensory information. All we can hope to do is be more openminded and challenge our vision of what we let a certain thing be in our minds. But it's still largely a mental exercise. Prejudice is a function of emotion or preference so it can be more dangerous and we need to be careful what we spread around as truth based on them. But ism's are rooted in actions, things we do that can really hurt others and keep them down (either in groups or by an individual's passive benefit alone from something already in place).
Well,I think the whole idea of The grand Tolkien being called racist is stupid,cause he wasnt!
I do know how many times I have read LoTR,cause I have only read it once;though I do often read a story or two,before I go to bed.
Not Much To Say, Big Laugh Smilie
Lady Feawen.
Stereotypes are fundamentally flawed because, in most cases, they mistake cultural upbringing (language, quirks, mannersisms, etc.) for genetic predisposition.

Amen to that Proggy!! I would add affluence to the list of cultural criteria we stack up in a stereotype.

I will never forget a discussion in one of my race relations classes in college where my prof asked us to define "soul food" and list examples of it. It took a while before anyone answered because we all knew we were being set for a trap but finally people started talking...and we heard such things as: beans, collards, biscuits, chitlins, watermelon...etc and then somebody just out with it and said, "Soul food is the stuff that Black people eat."

My professor repeated the phrase. "There it IS! Soul food is what Black folks eat. How many of you agree with that?" (Almost every hand went up.) Then my teacher...GOD BLESS HIM because it changed my life when he did this...went up to the desk and banged his fist on it and said "NO!!!!!!!! Those aren't things that Black people eat. THOSE ARE THINGS THAT POOR PEOPLE EAT!" He went on to explain that much of the food that we assume has always been enjoyed and willingly chosen by Blacks are foods that are cheap, big to feed lots of people, lesser cuts of meat, parts of the vegetable or animal like a turnip leave or a pig's foot that would otherwise be thrown away, plentiful in a certain area or easy to grow at home, or are otherwise easy to come by for people who have to watch the food budget or people who had nothing else TO eat and couldn't waste anything of the food they acquired...and things that a more affluent person in slave days would have never eaten. He reminded us that in fact, these were the very foods that sustained most of the Depression era American South, both Black and White people. He very graciously pointed out that when we assume that a behavior rooted in poverty is a racial thing, then something is wrong with that culture as a whole. The hair on my neck stood up that day and I have never looked at things the same way again.

Now, in this day and age, particularly in the US South, you can find soul food restaurants...and you can guess what they serve just as surely as you can guess the menu at an Italian or Mexican place. But I'm guessing that this is mostly a nod back to a time we cannot afford to forget, a reclaiming of the term, so to speak, in order to devaluate it, much the way gays and lesbians have reclaimed the word "queer".

[Edited on 12/3/2003 by musicimprovedme]
MIM, I wish I'd taken your race relation class! That is really an excellent, mind widening thing your professer said. Thank you for sharing it with us. Big Smile Smilie
Prog I agree with you. This arguement can also work for the term 'human nature'. We can't really say anything is human nature because it all depends on the societies people were raised in and their own individual personalities. I think that the only generalizations we can make are biologic (I don't know if this is the right word...) ones, like: it is human nature to eat. It is human nature to sleep...etc.
And about Tolkien: I think the inconsistency is more of an editor thing. His editors were constantly changing things, like Elves to Elfs, and Tolkien was constantly having to correct them, so I imagine he must have gotten tired and just let some things slide.
It's pretty harsh to accuse Tolkien - or anyone - or racism on the basis of their typography. Also harsh to read LotR as racist. Yes the haradrim and southrons are - for want of a better phrase - 'non-caucasian'. But they come from the south and east of Middle Earth and since ME is our earth it makes geographic sense for them to be like that. Why did Tolkien choose the south and east for evil to come from? He said somewhere - probably in one of his letters - that, since the West was Elvenhome and he'd already used the far north for Melkor/Morgoth's (sorry can't remember name) realm in The Silmarillion, he didn't really have too much choice.

You could argue that his portrayal of the peoples is racist because they are more or less faceless and characterless - but then again, this is war and that is how enemies are (sadly) percieved in war. A racist wouldn't have included this thought from Sam about the dead Southron in "of Herbs and stewed rabbit":

"he wondered what the man's name was and where hecame from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace..."

Racism is ascribing (negative) qualities to whole peoples and condemning them en masse for those alleged qualities. That is precisely what Sam questions here.

Anyway, I dare say Tolkien himself wasn't particularly PC - but I'd guess he was more multi-cultural in his outlook than many of his peers. As an expert in languages he resented the growing (American-led) homogeneity of the world because it meant that many different languages and cultures would die out. This is in his Letters. Also, if you read his Letters there is a fantastic one to the German pubblishers of The Hobbit in 1938 who had written to ask if he was JEwish. (They didn't phrase it like that but that's what they meant as Tolkien knew full well.) He replied:

"I regret I am not clear as to what you intend by 'arisch'. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great grandfather came to England in the Eighteenth century from Germany; the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an Englsih subject - which should be sufficient..."

There's more, but you get the idea.

NB Someone on this thread refers to Semitic people as 'greedy' - hate to say it, but that is a racist comment. No doubt unintentional, but nonetheless offensive
I had never, until I read this site, thought about Tolkien being racist. It simply never occurred to me. He was writing about a world different from ours where travel was not easy and races rarely mixed. I would be most surprised to see a black elf in Lothlorien. The races would be of one kind and colour. White (or caucasion) for those races the story centred on, which is reasonable bearing in mind Tolkiens life and location, and darker for other races. It would be like denying that people of Mediterranean descent are usually darker skinned than Anglo-Saxon. We may live in a multi racial culture now and contemporary media reflects that but it wasn't the case in Tolkien's time.

A racist wouldn't have included this thought from Sam about the dead Southron in "of Herbs and stewed rabbit":

"he wondered what the man's name was and where hecame from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace..."

I have always loved that quote. Thanks for putting it in perspective for me.
Rather than racist or prejudiced, the word "biased" would have been a better fit in the subject of this thread, but the council no longer can edit thread subjects, so we are stuck with my poor choice of words. Sorry. Sad Smilie
I would like to point out something a little blatant and perhaps obvious that may also sound stupid :P

lol.. anywayz.. what i was going to say is that i doubt very much that Tolkien had a personal computer to type all his beutfiul writing into Smile Smilie

so what i AM saying is that he probably wrote it onto a piece of paper and all the editions we read have been modified by the typist, it may be an error on the typist's behalf, it may be a modification done on purpose in relation to the typist's gramatical beliefs..

and even if he did use a typewriter (no idea when they were invented) the same would still apply.... i doubt very much that the books we read today are exact to every word of what tolkien wrote himself. They would be on basics the same thing, but there is always the middle man who might change a word or two without even realising it......

Also he cannot be a racist person beacause he "pretty much" invented these beings, sure he would have read of elves and orcs in other books, but the way he moulded the charectors in his book was his way - in simple terms if he was "racist" it wouldnt be racisit beacause he made the whole thing.. its like saying god invented human beings but he was racist in the fact that he made everyone different. you cant question god because he made us (this applies to pretty much every religion so i hope im not being contradictory to anyones beliefs :P) in the same way you cant say tolkien is racist because he created LOTR and whatever he says is how it is...... yeah.... Smile Smilie

so yeah basically this conversation is pointless Smile Smilie lool.. oh well its fun talkin anyway Smile Smilie
But that aside, Tolkien and racism is an intersting debate. LOTRs was actually banned at one stage, because it was thought to be sympathetic to Nazism. Ever notice that the "good" races of ME are always white? and the bad guys ie: orcs, haradrim, easterlings, are of other races?

Hey, I didn't know TLOTR was banned! When? What country? But I have a good defence for Tolkien for this point. MIddle-earth is Europe, as we all know. And the place where Middle-earth is, just happens to be where all the indigenous whites lived. And as you go down, (Harad, Corsairs and that) you get to AFrica and all the indigenous blacks countries. See what I mean? I'm sure he never meant to be racist.
As I said in an intervening post the word "biased" would have been a better term than "racist" or "prejudiced" for my usage in this thread. Sorry.
Poor Grondy is trying to get the discussion back on track. Yes, 'biased' would have helped.
Hey, I didn't know TLOTR was banned! When? What country? But I have a good defence for Tolkien for this point. MIddle-earth is Europe, as we all know.

It is not. Middle-Earth is not an allegory for Europe. Read the LOTR prologue : professor Tolkien clearly stated LOTR was NOT an allegory.

As far as i know, LOTR only got banned in Iran and Afghanistan a while back. Don't know if it's still the case.
I know it's not an allegory. I heard a Tolkien interview yesterday, and he said "no. I dislike allegory wherever i smell it." I've known that for ages. But does that mean it's not Europe? You know how Tolkien always defended LOTR as true to kiddies ( In On Fairy-Stories he says fairy-stories aren't fairy-stories unless they're presented as true) and he had this little defence that TLOTR was really translated from the Red Book and all that? Isn't it logical for him to say that Middle-earth was Europe, 5000 years ago? Just like him saying Turin is Orion.
and even if he did use a typewriter (no idea when they were invented

Tolkien used a typewriter, to type out LOTR at least. He complained that he didn't have 'ten fingers' meaning that he couldn't type properly using the home keys and all, and yet he wasn't rich enough to pay someone to type it for him. He typed it out twice. Imagine!!! Using only one or two fingers!!!!
Later on in his life J.R.R.Tolkien also typed many of his long letters, because the arthritis in his right hand would make writing longhand ever so squiggly and thus illegible before he got near the end.
I'm with Loni on this one, Vir. The Professor himself said that the English region where he lived as a kid could be considered Hobbiton. And, yes, he did say he ONLY translated from the Red Book, not invented this world! Of course, we could ruin it all by saying it was just his imagination or his plan, but why spoil it? Wink Smilie
In his early drafts of what eventually became the Silmarillion (and are now part of Lost Tales), Tolkien's world does seem to have closer ties to an origin in the Real world than it eventually became. Tolkien wanted to write an English mythology comparable to the Norse and Danish myths. To do this, it is natural that his early works would fit a world that resembled ancient Britain. Aelfwine was of the real world, and somehow he managed to sail West into Tolkien's original tale.
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