суббота, 29 марта 2008 г.

Tolkien: Allegory and Applicability

From the foreword to The Lord of the Rings. Here are some parts containing interesting ideas.

"I should like to say something here with reference to the many opinions or guesses that I have received or have read concerning the motives and meaning of the tale. The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them. As a guide I had only my own feelings for what is appealing or moving, (...)"
Deeply move! That's an essential point about the epic.
"As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical. As the story grew it put down roots (into the past) and threw out unexpected branches (...)" -- Then the author justifies there was no allegory of the war implied.

Allegory and Applicability
"Other arrangements could be devised according to the tastes or views of those who like allegory or topical reference. But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous."

In this passage the writer attempts to draw the line between 'allegory' and 'applicability' as a means of expression, also clarifying why he dislikes 'allegory'.
"The purposed domination of the author", that's what Tolkien dislikes about allegory. As I gather, the man disliked any imposing, concerning his Christian faith, too he did speak about Christian values in his works, but, say, through through the characters' actions and situation, not through declaring the ideas.
As it seems, if the question of allegory and applicability is looked on and developed from the above mentioned positions, 'allegory' in this sense is often mixed up with 'applicability', because if there's an image in the story (a symbolic image), it can mean several things, from which is for the reader (and the author) to choose (or not to choose).
If anyone has something to say about the topic, feel free.

7 комментариев:

Lady Ciriel комментирует...

I respect Tolkien very much. That man surely knew what he was talking about.

Liza комментирует...

Hello, Annie! I appreciate you comments! ^^^)))

Angus комментирует...

Wonderful! These are great Tolkien quotes.

greenywood436364 комментирует...

I'm not a catholic and personally I don't agree with some of their beliefs and principles.However I like the lord of the rings books but I didn't want to read them if they had catholic symbols within the story,but it is nice to realise that the books don't have any hidden messages,symbolic meanings or catholic beliefs.Therefore I now understand that it is written in a manner that allows the reader to derive their own opinions.I believe very much that mr.Tolkien is a legend.

Derek Hachey комментирует...

This is very good, very few people know about Tolkien's disaffection for allegory, but I think that we need to also keep the following in mind. Tolkien may not have intended to hide symbols or messages in his writings, but an author so steeped in his Catholic Faith will likely implicitly express this Faith in his writings. This is very apparent in the Lord of the Rings.

“An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous.”

Liza комментирует...

Thank you for new comments.
To Greenwood. Tolkien was a Christian and he had faith. To me this is important. Maybe he thought allegory too imposing (as far as I can judge).
Tolkien would not mean -- catholic symbols, but in a way? as I read somewhere -- talking to a non-religious modern world about Christian moral values, values in life through the whole story.
Read Carpenter's book or Tolkien's personal letters to learn more

Liza комментирует...

To Derek. Thanks for your comment.
Of course there was message. There are some symbols that can be understood by some as hinting to his faith (I will not write here which), but symbol is free as means: one may see something, the other may not.
There were not allegories, but symbols there could be.
Allegory often implies certain concepts, ideas which are easily identified. Examples can be easily found. Symbol is ricer, maybe, and more complicated, gives more freedom of perception.
As I remember from reading something, when talking about allegory, Tolkien, for instance, said that by Mordor and the war he did not mean World War II -- like that.