John Garth

Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth

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    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    But high diction, which sets Tolkien so far apart from the classic trench writers, expresses perfectly a psychological truth of war they tend to neglect. In all its enormity and strangeness, combat could induce what Carrington calls the ‘exaltation of battle…an elevated state of mind which a doctor might have defined as neurosis’; he says he was ‘uplifted in spirit’.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    The more they differ from the dragons of mythology, however, the more these monsters resemble the tanks of the Somme. One wartime diarist noted with amusement how the newspapers compared these new armoured vehicles with ‘the icthyosaurus, jabberwocks, mastodons, Leviathans, boojums, snarks, and other antediluvian and mythical monsters’.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    Tolkien later insisted there was no parallel between the Goblins he had invented and the Germans he had fought, declaring, ‘I’ve never had those sort of feelings about the Germans. I’m very anti that kind of thing.’
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    The book recounts the piteous predicament of the soldier down in the battlefield mud, but it also tackles the themes that Wilfred Owen ruled off-limits: deeds, lands, glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, power.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    Yet how similar this is to a visionary moment in Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, where Sassoon recalls the shock of witnessing the return of his men to rest after eleven days in the Somme trenches:
    I had seen something that night which overawed me. It was all in the day’s work – an exhausted Division returning from the Somme Offensive – but for me it was as though I had watched an army of ghosts. It was as though I had seen the War as it might be envisioned by the mind of some epic poet a hundred years hence.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    tackles the themes that Wilfred Owen ruled off-limits: deeds, lands, glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, power.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    previously unseen airborne killers,
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    Tolkien ‘the disillusionment of the returned veteran’.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    failure of the Shire to fête Frodo Baggins on his return reflects in
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    This war has the very quality of the war my generation knew.
    Jennifer Leonorahas quoted2 years ago
    Tolkien’s description of the Dead Marshes, a scene of morbid desolation that has become, in effect, a shorthand symbol for the trenches. C. S. Lewis leaned strongly towards the view that the war of their generation had cast its shadow on his friend’s story.
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