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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reading Group meeting 22/3/08


Blogger Dr. Lynn Forest-Hill said...

Apologies for this late and very contracted report on what was a very deep and thoughtful afternoon's deliberations. I will write up a fuller version when time permits.

Julie got us started with her list of significant dates associated with 25th March. Some of us only knew this in its Tolkien significance - Ring into the Fire, Reading Day. Julie gave us the Christian refernces - Annunciation, Crucifixion, as well as this being an ancient date for New Year. This generated discussion of which calendar these dates came from - the Julian or Gregorian.

Pat was interested in the transference of persona (Elvish) names from The Silmarillion to Men and Elves in LotR.

Tim noted that Dwarf names were 'anglicised'- translated in the language of Men.

Diane noted that this passage was in the present tense - showing the 'now' use of these names.

Ian remarked that The Girdle of Melian is associated with Shadow as good rather than as threat.

Laura noted the qualification of the power of the Girlde 'until a greater power should come, and that Morgoth and Ungoliant are now in the east.

Ian added the danger that Feanor now represents to those who remained in the east.

Anne asked about the immortality of the Elves as this seems inconsistent at times.

Pat picked up the process of Morgoth diminishing as his desire for power and the Silmarils increases, as well as his 'diffusion' of power into other evil creatures.

Laura noted that all the 'bad guys' shut themselves away.

Pat and Anne both picked up the beautiful and impressive sequence of the creation of the Sun and Moon.

Mark asked about the 'process' that seems to be established as the waxing Sun and Moon signal the coming of Men and the subsequent diminishing of the Elves. He asked if Men signalled destruction as far as Tolkien was concerned.

Pat asked about the stature of the Elves and we all said 'they are taller than Men and different. More like the Sidhe of Celtic legend.

Mark noted that Men have a sense of urgency that the Elves lack. Several of us remarked on the connection with elvish immortality.

Laura noted theat there seems to be a predetermined sense of mistrust between Men and Elves.

Ian introduced the topic of elvish named for Men, and we all picked this us, commenting on the various descriptive names.

At this point I managed to bring the flow of discussion to a grinding halt when I asked whether, as everything created seems to 'contain' a fragment of the 'secret fire' this implied that the later creations included less of it, or that it diminished in pwer as more things were created.

Fortunately Diane and Pat rescued the conversation by turning our attention to poetry. (More on this at a later date as it deserves expansion.)

Tim remarked on the complex syntax of the passage describing the 'marring of Feanor.'

Mark wondered at how much 'the End' was being foreseen'. But Laura thought there was possibly as positive element in 'assuaging'.

Diane and Pat remarked on the connection between the description of the environment surrounding the Lonely Isle, and the Odyssey.

Mark asked about Men not knowing about the Valar, and Laura pointed out that Ulmo informs them.

Chris and Angela commented on the neglect of the Valar - this is a topic that has cropped up before and Laura suggested that there is a limited watchfulness. We keep coming back to trying to understand the detached attitude of the Valar.

Diane offered a helpful suggestion when she proposed that Elves and Men are 'left to grow'.

We touched on the possible effect of the Silmarils in Angband, wondering if they were darkened or the Pit was lightened. We found the answer, but note before Tim had treated us to the observation that maybe Angband acted as a dwimmer-switch.

On that note it only remains for me to pass on the next session's reading, which will be chapters 13 and 14.

3:35 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Calendar change. Julian/Gregorian does not really signify absolutely when it comes to dates. It just means that there is an 11-day difference between Mediaeval and Modern same date. What was old-style 25 March is now new-style 5 April. This is why the tax year now begins where it begins, i.e. 5 April, New Year's Day. If the calendar had not changed in 1752 it would still be 25 March. (This is about 200 years after the calendar changed in Italy at instigation of the Pope c. 1580-something.) The change from 25 March to 1 January for New Year's Day is another matter entirely.

3:18 PM  

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