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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: December ::
Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2429  Wednesday, 18 December 2002

[1]     From:   James McNelis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Dec 2002 17:41:59 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2418 Tolkien and Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Edward Gero <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 09:11:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2418 Tolkien and Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James McNelis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Dec 2002 17:41:59 EST
Subject: 13.2418 Tolkien and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2418 Tolkien and Shakespeare

Dear Bruce,

Tolkien "disliked cordially" (letter, June 6 1955, to Auden) the reading
of Shakespeare when in school--in particular, he was aggravated by
Macbeth (the Ents are his reaction to Birnam Wood--which denouement he
viewed as a cheat--and Eowyn perhaps his take on "no man of woman
born"). In a letter of July 28, 1944, he emphasized that he viewed the
reading of Shakespeare as 'folly" except in the context of watching the
plays themselves. He also felt Shakespeare had played "an unforgiveable
part" in the "debasement" of elves, which, in medieval texts such as
SGGK, are awe-inspiring and powerful beings rather than garden-variety
sprites (the GK is "an elvish man"). At the same time, he likened the
relationship he drew between Sam and Gollum to that of Ariel and
Caliban, so Shakespeare was not entirely out of his thoughts. I expect
Humphrey Carpenter's biography, or his _Inklings_, may have information
on which courses he taught (my library's copy is out of reach today, on
reserve for the Tolkien course I have begun to teach; Carpenter's
_Letters of JRR Tolkien_ provided the details above, but does not seem
to address his teaching of Shakespeare as such).

James McNelis
English, Wilmington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Gero <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 09:11:41 -0500
Subject: 13.2418 Tolkien and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2418 Tolkien and Shakespeare

Having seen the opening performance of Two Towers at midnight last
night, I was struck by the "Lear like" reconciliation scene between the
debile King of the Rohirrim and his daughter Eowyn just after Gandalf
releases him from Saruman's spell.  I, too, enjoyed the re-read last
year and am pleased to say the second film is a visual and acting treat.

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