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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: December ::
Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2441  Thursday, 19 December 2002

[1]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 12:37:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2429 Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 11:13:39 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2429 Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 12:37:52 -0500
Subject: 13.2429 Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2429 Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare

It is hardly remarkable that Tolkien should have disliked Shakespeare as
a fantasist and world builder, for Shakespeare was poor at the one job
(though "The Tempest" suggests otherwise unrealized possibilities) and
never even attempted the other, for world building, apart from
occasional attempts by utopians and satirists, is a development of the
20th century.  (Indeed, before the Enlightenment, the same mindset that
had Joseph of Arimathea encounter Saracens in 1st-century Britain, made
Old-Testament characters swear by Christ -- and put striking clocks in
Caesar's Rome -- made world building for its own sake an inconceivable
endeavor.)

But Tolkien's distaste for Shakespeare when Shakespeare was doing what
Tolkien did far better need not imply that he did not appreciate what
Shakespeare could do.

I daresay he didn't think much of Choughish (in "All's Well"), either.

None of this addresses the direct question as to whether he ever
lectured on Shakespeare, of course.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 11:13:39 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.2429 Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2429 Re: Tolkien and Shakespeare

Having also seen the first showing of The Two Towers, I must echo
comments stated here and add one of my own. The Ents surely are a much
more sophisticated (and truer) version of Birnam Wood actually moving.
Saruman, like Macbeth, turns on his own people and I love how he looks
down from on Isengard helpless as the Ents attack his Orc breeding
grounds.

I also couldn't help but think of Gollum as a Caliban character. He even
forages for Frodo and Sam.  I had the fortune to meet Andy Serkis, who
plays Gollum, at the screening and discussed with him his Shakespearean
roles in London.

The Battle of Helm's Deep might also echo the battle of Agincourt. The
humans are vastly outnumbered by the orcs (300 against 100,000, at least
at first).  Perhaps a coincidence or maybe Tolkien wanted his readers to
identify with a historical battle in a popular play.

Brian Willis

P.S. The film is spectacular in the purest sense of the word...

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