Thread: Earth as middle earth
we all hopefully know that jRR based his books on the world war
It was written long before the foreshadow of 1939 had yet become a threat of inevitable disaster, and from that point the story would have developed along essentially the same lines, if that disaster had been averted. Its sources are things long before in mind, or in some cases already written, and little or nothing in it was modified by the war that began in 1939 or its sequels.
- from the Forward to LotR
If tolkien based middle earth geographically its possible that america is Valinor.
But the land of Aman and Eressëa of the Eldar were taken away and removed beyond the reach of Men for ever. - from near the end of the 'Akallabêth' in The Silmarillion.
This URL works so do you mind to have a look at it?
America cannot be Aman for the reasons Grondy gave. Aman would lie somewhere far above America in some outer plain like the thermosphere or exosphere (perhaps the equivelent of Ilmen or Vaiya).
America cannot be the Gates of Morning (also called Lands of Sun) either becuase they lie in the furthest East of Arda, not the furthest west.
America would be the 'New lands' that were formed after Valinor was taken away. The lands that took the place of Valinor on Earth but were uninhabited.
'... May I say that all this is 'mythical', and not any kind of new religion or vision. As far as I know it is merely an imaginative invention, to express, in the only way I can, some of my (dim) apprehensions of the world. All I can say is that, if it were 'history' it would be difficult to fit the lands and events (or 'cultures') into such evidence as we possess, archaeological or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what is now called Europe; though the Shire, for instance, is expressly stated to have been in this region (I p. 12)*. I could have fitted things in with greater verisimilitude, if the story had not become too far developed, before the question ever occurred to me. I doubt if there would have been much gain; and I hope the evidently long but undefined gap* in time between the Fall of Barad-dûr and our Days is sufficient for 'literary credibility', even for readers acquainted with what is known or surmised of 'pre-history'.
I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary time, but kept my feet on my own mother-earth for place. I prefer that to the contemporary mode of seeking remote globes in 'space'. However curious, they are alien, and not lovable with the love of blood-kin.'
JRRT 1958, Letters
As I said in the thread I linked to, I believe that many ages may have passede between the time of Tolkien's tale and ours. The Valar may have changed the shape of the lands many times.
(Of course I don't *really* believe Tolkien's world was real, but it is nice to pretend.)
This is not all that impossible. Look what the Ancient Egyptians did 5000 years ago, and the Ancient Greeks. And Stone henge itself is a marvelously complex contruction. Its more than just something to look at. If memory serves it was some kind of device for telling time/date etc. But its very complicated and scientists are amazed how people from 5000 years ago could come up with something like that.
What I am saying is that various People in this world have had there own mini-evolutions (like the Egyptians) and created great things and then disappeared. Perhaps its not so incredible that there could be a slot allocated in our history where Middle-earth could have fitted without dispute and then fell afterwards.
Perhaps our own world began just like Arda 4 billion years or so ago and sinse then the continetal plates have changed many times and since the Elves left Middle-earth (our world as we know it) its so long ago that the stars have changed.
Perhaps I am letting my imagination get the better of me...
No harm in dreaming. Those who have both feet firmly planted on the ground, stand still.
Tolkien said that America was once the Landof the Gates of Morning and on the west coast stood the Rockies.
Please back up your statements with quotes and sources, otherwise they're just worthless.
How did the ancients in England and Peru know how to make their giant pictures on the ground that are much more understandable when viewed from the air?
Because they were standing on the shoulders of giants.
However its not impossible that being the true Humans started to be perhaps Human-like races existed prior to now and then there evoluationary lined failed and is wholly seperate from Ours. Another words perhaps this isn't the first time Human-like creatures evolved.
perhaps this isn't the first time Human-like creatures evolved.
as in Elves I take it... My idea is that it depended on the "solidity" of the Earth.. or the fullness of the reality of it. In other words, the species is the same but the condition of their perception of the world around them was different... but that should be for another thread.
I think that the Undying Lands are clearly in another Dimension... My impression was that rather than Aman being "taken up" like a flying saucer... That the flat span of the Western Ocean was wrapped around backwards to the Eastern Ocean and the world was made round.... so some kind of large time/space phenomenon apparently took place that altered the geography to a larger degree than before. Did not the Valar lose a bit of their direct influence as well after that?
I remember something about the "Sun Lands" .. maybe that was a fan fiction map.. but it looked remarkably like the Americas.
This map is wonderful
A very clever map, The Shire is directly where I live... I get all the Pipeweed!
I'm astounded with the Northern inversion on the Map that puts a lot of the action around the Scandinavian/Germanic regions which makes sense.
I'm ready to go to Iceland and find the Ruins of Gondolin.
Numenor is kind of like Atlantis. Both having been swallowed up by the sea, or some such thing? But I'm not sure I'd call Atlantis a part of "our" geography.
about an Englishman who has dreams of a lost island kingdom far West that had an evil downfall and he starts waking up and interpreting his dreams and learning these strange languages from them... He eventually ages and passes the knowledge onto his son. hehe
Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt.
Menelvagor sounds suspiciously like the constellation we call Orion....
Peering out, Frodo saw that the night was still clear. The Sickle* was swinging bright above the shoulders of Bree-hill.
and in a footnote
*The Hobbits' name for the Plough or Great Bear
From "the ring goes south" (ch. 3 of book 2 in FotR):
"The Hunter's Moon waxed round in the night sky, and put to flight all the lesser stars. But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley."
Could this be Mars, or Jupiter, or another planet? It is certainly low enough to be in the Zodiac, and bright enough to be seen even with a full moon. If Frodo had been gazing at this from, say, the top of Orthanc, I might credit it as some evil fire of Sauron. (In fact, could this passage mistakenly be the inspiration for PJ's physical depiction of a giant glowing red eye on the top of a high tower in Mordor ?)
Tolkien was undoubtedly using whatever the red thingy was (whether Mars, a star, or Prince John's India rubber ball) simply to foreshadow Sauron's bloodshot fiery eyeball, which of course was impossible to see from Imladris due to the curvature of the earth and the intervening Misty Mountains.
----The following poetry brought to my attention by poem-a-day, which is a gem (dare I say a Silmaril?) of an email subscription in a world of SPAM----
A Curse On Geographers
by Dana Gioia
We want an earth to walk upon,
Not reasons to remain at home.
Shall we make journeys only to see
The same stars circiling at night?
Eat the same fish in foreign harbors?
Breathe the same air? Sail across
These oceans only to discover
Our own island's other shore?
Let oceans spill their green from off
The edges of the earth, and let
The curving plain unbend itself
Behind the mountains. Put wind back
Into the cheeks of demons. Voice,
Pronounce your unreasonable desire
And sing the round earth flat again!
I think we need to remember that Tolkien always insisted that the LOTR was not an allegory on WWII, and it was certainly not an allegory on his own war, WWI. However, he also said that while it was not an allegory, applicability was quite another matter - and he certainly drew some of his characters and peoples and speech from his own experience in WWI - his Orcs are so close in some respects to the Tommies, Diggers, Poilus, Landsers etc. I don't think he necessarily realised that it made them in a way both pitiable and forgiveable. He was not alone in his evident shock at soldier language and behaviour - many other officers, Wilfred Owen included, reacted similarly (and, incidentally, so did I, to a degree, just over fifty years later.)
However - the geography of Middle Earth. The fact that Tolkien's maps vaguely resemble France to the South of the Norman coast, and points East, certainly as far as the Alps and maybe as far as the Balkans, ties in neatly with the legends of Atlantis or Lyonesse, where the map of Western Europe would have been altered forever by their inundation in the Atlantic. In this way, Middle Earth might be understood as a pre-inundation France and Europe, whch does beg the question of whether the Southrons came from what we would understand as Spain - and certainly, we can recognise some of Sauron's forces as Africans, both North Africans and sub-Saharan, complete with elephants.
And beyond the Havens, which I imagine as rather like Douarnenez or maybe La Rochelle? The New World, and when we look at its successor, we can only pity the ultimate fate of the Elves - although I always found something rather Elvish in Joan Baez - don't you?
The north-west of the Middle-Earth (which is what drawn on the map) can roughly be equated to Europe, Mediterranian and North Africa. Keep in mind that the distances on the published map are huge; Britain will fit comfortably into Eriador. The Shire corresponds to England, and Gondor is like the Mediterranean coast (Italy, Greece). Mordor could be Turkey or more Easterly parts. Mirkwood could be thought of as the primaeval forests of Easter Europe and Russia.
America is definitely _not_ Valinor, since Valinor was removed from Earth.
Incidentally (since it's come up) I think Tolkien ultimately saw the flat earth story as a Mannish myth. Very briefly:
Mannish version: Sun and Moon created from the Two Trees (with Men essentially awakening with the creation of the Sun). Much later, originally flat earth made round by God when the Isle of Numenor (an Isle made for certain Men) is destroyed.
Elvish version: Sun exists before the Elves awake (they still awake in starlight). The world was always round. Two Trees give light in Valinor under the Dome of Varda (star-imagines on Dome), Melkor attempts to blot out the Sun in Middle-earth. Much later, Numenor destroyed, Aman and Eressea taken away.
As a lover of maps and landscape history I have been interested in the geographical settings of the Lord of the Rings, and since moving house a few years ago I have noticed that I am living in the setting of these books. I haven't done any particular research in this, just stumble across another name or location on my local patch of the UK. I am sure that Tolkien mixed history, myths and locations to suit his stories and used his knowledge of war and personal experiences. Does anyone know if he lived in Wales/English borders at all?
True Galin however the new Moon rising as the betrayed Noldor set foot bac on Middle Earh and Men awakened by the first Sun rise is so much more romantic, dramatic and wonderful. And a flat Arda has always fascinated me.
I like the flat world (and older cosmology) too Brego, and I like to think Tolkien retained the flat world version by making Quenta Silmarillion a largely Mannish affair. Some seem to think Myths Transformed wholly supersedes earlier versions... and maybe these ideas were meant to at first... but I think JRRT ultimately realized the potential answer noted by Christopher Tolkien: alter the authorship and transmission of the work, not certain fundamental concepts...
... while (in my opinion) saving certain texts like the Awakening of the Quendi, for instance, to provide an Elvish perspective.
I should add that I'm not positive that in his later years JRRT necessarily retained every latest detail that can be found in the papers comprising Myths Transformed, but I do feel fairly confident that he re-imagined the Silmarillion as largely Mannish in authorship so that, in part, these notions (the original shape of the world and the creation of the Sun) could be dealt with in a way an older Tolkien felt more comfortable with.
Here's something I made: an overlay of the maps of the Middle-Earth and Europe, to scale. With the Shire placed in England (West Midlands, to be precise, roughly over Warwickshire where Tolkien spent his early years), this gives you an idea of distances and climate regions in the Lord of the Rings.
Here's a wider map of our world, with the above "middle-earth" part in the box.
Makes me wonder what was the rest of Tolkien's world was like; what landscapes, countries, people there were. LotR mentions apes in the "dark forests of the South", meaning the jungle of course. It's incredible to think that so much important history concerning Arda happened only in that little north-west corner of the lands. I wonder if there were any wild elves east or south of Mirkwood.
Like your map overlay. I guess any European person 'making up' mythical lands is bound to use his/her own knowledge of maps as a basis. I also think north and mid Wales would 'fit' fairly well on such an overlay.
So far I have found Osgiliath, Minis Tirith, Black Gate, Mordor, Bag End, Bree, Dead Marshes, The eye and Rivendell in this area.
I believe that the names Tolkien used and invented could find its likeliness in many places in Englad, as Old English was one of his inspirations. Its a nice super imposition but I would think it would not be realistic to try to set ME in Europe as while it may have been a source when making ME, it would not really reflect the end product.
Also one thing we should bear in mind is that Beleriand was once part of ME and if we add that to the map then everything else would probably get pushed further to the east.
Inclusion of Beleriand doesn't push everything more to the east; the Shire stays firmly in England. Hobbiton was inspired by Sarehole near Birmingham, where Tolkien spent his early childhood. There's even the old Mill still there: http://www.bmag.org.uk/sarehole-mill
I suggest all Tolkien fans to read The Atlas of Middle-Earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atlas_of_Middle-earth
Apart from the excellent maps, it describes the landscape, climate, vegetation, etc. and draws parallels with the known world.