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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Reading Group meeting 9/4/05

On this day.....

Having honoured the Frodo and Sam on the field Cormallen on thier safe return and the destruction of the ring, the remainder of the Fellowship and the Captains of the West stay in Ithilien before preparing to return to Minas Tirith

Reading Day 2005


Blogger Rymenhild said...

We began by discussing our BookCrossing plans and decided to go with doing it through the official BookCrossing website, just adding a small sticker to say a member of the Tolkien Reading Group had ‘released’ the book.
In keeping with the Anglo-Saxon/Old English aspect to Tolkien’s work, Laura remarked that she had looked up the names of the 2 Lymington ferries and had discovered the significance of ‘Cynewulf’ and ‘Caedmon’ – two of the most interesting poets of the Anglo-Saxon period.
We discussed the reading we had done on Reading Day. We had agreed that this should concentrate on our favourite bits of The Simarillion, or any section we chose. Some of us read several chapters. Claire was in at the deep end, having only taken up reading Tolkien last year, she bravely took on the opening chapters of TS, and found, as many of us do, that the names of the Valar were hard to remember in association with their special areas of responsibility. She also remarked on the biblical tone of the Creation sequence.
We also discussed images of paradise and rebellion in the passages we had read or already knew.
There was quite a lot to say about biblical echoes in TS and Ian pointed out that the actions of Melkor and Ungoliant were relevant in this context, and he drew out the parallel between Melkor stabbing the Two Trees and the actions of the Roman soldier Longinus at the Crucifixion. The imagery of Ungoliant drinking the sap that flowed from the Trees is, of course, a perversion of the Christian belief in the salvific power of the blood that flowed from the wound made in Christ’s side.
It might be remarked also that the descriptions of the grotesque female gluttony of both Ungoliant and Shelob raise the Jungian (?) spectre of the ‘swallowing womb’.
Our reading generally provided themes of tragedy, especially tragic male/female relationships, so it was a relief when Diane said she had been reading the story of Beren and Luthien. This took us away from biblical echoes to reflections of folk and fairy story. Luthien’s very long hair, though grown by a spell for her own purposes, recalled the story of Rapunzel, although Tolkien uses the motifs of imprisonment and escape differently. We all joined in commenting on the gothic horror of the hand-with-the-Silmaril which burns its way out of Carcharoth. This name too caused some comment when I managed to invert the pronunciation! But when we got back to the story, Diane remarked that the wolf swallowing the simaril reminded her of the Norse myth of Fenrir the wolf who swallows the Sun.
Laura and I had both read the tale of Eol the Dark Elf and Laura drew to our attention the interesting execution of Eol. When he is thrown down a cliff, his death is reminiscent of the death sentence passed on traitors in ancient Rome who were thrown down onto the Tarpeian Rocks.
The story of Eol, Maeglin, and some of the chapters that follow this story prompted me to suggest that for our next meeting we should continue to read TS, but with a particular eye for ‘pre-echoes’ of The Lord of the Rings’.
The next meeting is on 30th May as the Tolkien Society AGM takes place in Southampton on 23rd May (St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday). Seems rather appropriate!

12:20 PM  

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