10.08.2009

Currently Reading: Lord of the Rings

Currently Reading is a new feature I plan on including regularly. Of course, nine times out of ten "Currently Re-reading" would be a more accurate title, but I don't think I'll bother with the distinction.

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"Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?"1

Actually, I finished my second full-length read of Lord of the Rings last Friday night, down on the couch with a bad cold. Technically, however, I can still claim to be in the middle of it since I'd like to read the appendices.

I've decided that full appreciation of Lord of the Rings absolutely depends on reading it more than once. It made far more sense on a second trip through; I found myself rooting for minor characters like Beregond this time around, people (and other sentient creatures) whom I barely noticed in the first read because there was so much to keep track of.

It still didn't appeal much to my girly side. I had less sympathy for Eowyn than I did at first, and her shift from Aragorn to Faramir was still too sudden for believability. Galadriel, however, intrigued me more than before, and the Lothlórien scenes--utterly destroyed in the movies--were among my favorites.

Without a lot of female characters and the requisite emotions to empathize with, I had to lean on Sam for that interest. Which leads to the thing I noticed most clearly during this read: that Tolkien flavored his story with much love of the sort shared by, say, David king of Israel and Saul's son Jonathan--as David eulogized his friend,

"I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan ...
Your love to me was more wonderful
Than the love of women."


The passion of Sam for Frodo is a beautiful thing, and I can understand why some interpret it as a sexual relationship: that's the only reference point our culture has for such an emotion. Post-Freud, we tend to think of passionate love as erotic at root. But Sam's love for Frodo, that of Legolas for Gimli, and, for that matter, that of Gimli for Galadriel, is something we could stand to admire without our Freudian blinders. It is also something we could use more of nowadays.

I think I'll make another go of reading The Silmarillion. Last time I tried, I got about two pages in; if I can survive Dante's Inferno, however, I should be able to get through Tolkien's history book.

1 Tolkien, J.R.R., Return of the King (New York: The Ballantine Publishing Group), 246

5 comments:

  1. Jenna said, "The passion of Sam for Frodo is a beautiful thing, and I can understand why some interpret it as a sexual relationship: that's the only reference point our culture has for such an emotion. Post-Freud, we tend to think of passionate love as erotic at root. But Sam's love for Frodo, that of Legolas for Gimli, and, for that matter, that of Gimli for Galadriel, is something we could stand to admire without our Freudian blinders. It is also something we could use more of nowadays."

    Yes, yes, yes!! Exactly!! The problem is Post-Freud we tend to read everything in an overly sexualized way. And then we impose that reading back into the past & think everyone else must've thought exactly like us.

    And exactly right in that our culture sees romantic, erotic love as the standard for love. Which is a terribly recent way of looking at love. To the ancients & for most of history, eros was not thought of as highly or as exclusively as we think of it nowadays. Phileo, or friendship or companionship, in a much deeper way than we think of friendship today, was the standard of love.

    Which is why David could say of Jonathan, "Your love was better than that of women." Because back in those days, this companionly, brotherly love was considered to be the one of the highest & deepest loves.

    Sorry for the rant, Jenna. Just still simmering over some things I heard at Azkatraz this summer & over some things we discussed in the not too distant past on The Hogshead. :)

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  2. Jenna said, "...the Lothlórien scenes--utterly destroyed in the movies..."

    And you were criticizing us over at The Hogshead for arguing over the worth of the Jackson movies! ;)

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  3. Revgeorge, feel free to rant like that any time. I like rants that agree with my own frustrations. :) And yes, those certain recent pub discussions affected me the same way.

    Don't think I was criticizing, though! I came very near complaining about the Lothlórien scenes in a comment last night, but I ran out of time. Plus I think I already did that once recently. But if you want me to come over there and back you up, I'll be happy to. :P

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  4. No, you're okay not backing us up. Matthew kept pretty quiet on that particular post, but if he gets going on the Jackson movies, he'll tear the house down. :)

    Very happy you're part of the Blogengamot now. I've enjoyed your insights very much, probably 'cause they're generally in alignment with my thoughts. ;) You've also got a nice blog here.

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  5. Thank you! It's great working with you and the other Blogengamot members, and I enjoy your perspective as well. Aligned thoughts are nice in this divided and divisive world. :)

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