Tolkien and Ireland April 8, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
By the by, a great post here by An Sionnach Fionn on Tolkien and Ireland. It’s difficult reading it not to get the sense that as Tolkien grew more familiar with Ireland his feelings towards it became more positive so that by the end perhaps a penny dropped and he realised that the Shire was in a sense closer to Ireland than anywhere else.
Something the map here sort of suggests! Though that was unintentional and he made it clear that the Shire was, if anywhere most likely positioned close to the heart of England.
“The action of the story takes place in the North-west of ‘Middle-earth’, equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean. … If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence. The Mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about the latitude of ancient Troy.”
Having read a lot of Irish myth, legend and fairy stories, I’m not entirely hostile to Tolkien’s description of them as ‘mad’. Certainly the ones towards the end of this volume mentioned here have some of those characteristics. Yet the same is true to an extent of many of the stories in the companion volume of English stories too. I think that that might be a function of an oral tradition (in both instances).
The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by enchantment of distance in time.(Letters, no. 183)