Παρασκευή, 5 Σεπτεμβρίου 2008

TOLKIEN'S INFLUENCES - PART 3 - NIBELUNGENLIED

The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. It tells the story of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, his murder, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge.
The Nibelungenlied is based on pre-Christian
Germanic heroic motifs (the "Nibelungensaga"), which include oral traditions and reports based on historic events and individuals of the 5th and 6th centuries.
In this poem, everything turns around the Ring of The Nibelungs. This Ring, among all the other treasures the Nibelungs possess, is the most important to them, the most loved. They warn Siegfried, that, as he is the slayer of the Dragon, he can legally claim all their treasure apart from the ring. But he thinks that the ring may have some supernatural powers, and as being blind by his greed, he takes it as well. He did not listen to the Nibelungs' warning and the ring doomed him. His fate was from now on doomed to a bad and quick end.
The similarity with Tolkien's masterpiece: the Lord of The Rings is, apparently, very obvious. In the First Days, in The Great Battle where Elves and Men were allies (the Days of The Last Alliance), when Isildur, son of Elendil, took revenge for his father's death and cut the finger of Sauron which had the Ring of Power, he managed to almost destroy the evil spirit of Sauron. He would have totally vanished evil from Middle-Earth, but he was greed, and the power of the ring made him blind. So, when he and Elrond, the Half-Elven, reached the depths of Mount Orodruin, regardless all the urges from Elrond, Isildur did not throw the ring into the roaring fires of the mountain, the only place where it could be destroyed. Thus, Isildur found a tragic end because he kept the Ring. His fate was also doomed by a ring and by the desire to possess something he shouldn't have.
The Nibelungenlied is the main axon upon which Tolkien based The Lord of the Rings. The Ring of the Nibelungs gave him the inspiration for the Rings of Power made by Sauron and the Elves and eventually lead to the creation of one of the best works of authorship of his era!

Πέμπτη, 4 Σεπτεμβρίου 2008

TOLKIEN'S INFLUENCES - PART 2 - BEOWULF

Beowulf is an Old English,heroic,epic poem of anonymous authorship, dated between the 8th and 11th century A.C.,and relates events described as having occurred in what is now Denmark and Sweden. Commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature, Beowulf has been the subject of much scholarly study, theory, speculation, discourse, and, at 3183 lines, it has been noted for its length!
Tolkien has been strongly influenced by this Saxonic poem. He himself used to say through his letters: "Beowulf is among my most valued sources..." It seems that Tolkien has been influenced in two levels by this poem.
Firstly, in the level of hero-lines and basic characteristics. Beowulf was for him an endless source of elements as to how to build his heroes. Thus, many of the heroic achievments and acts of chivalry in Beowulf are quite similar with those of the heroes of Tolkien especially in the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings.
The second level of influence is this of language. Many names Tolkien invented, are based to the origins of the names of Beowulf. Some examples are the following:
Beorn-Warrior, hero-Beorn
Beor-Bright,shining-Beor the Old
Eotenas-giant-Ent
Fródan -The wise one/old-Frodo
Grimmon-Mask-Grima
‘him wæs géomeor sefa murnende mód’-‘sad was their heart and mourning in their soul’-‘has pity in her heart and mourning in her soul’.
These are some examples of names that are similar to those of Tolkien's names. First comes the name in Beowulf, secondly the meaning and third comes the similar name in Tolkien. There is also a verse that is used both in Beowulf and Tolkien as well. It is a stereotypic verse and quite often used by Tolkien.
Beowulf has definitely contributed to the shape of Tolkien's work. It has been a guide for him, a valuable linguistic tool and source of many useful elements. Tolkien had the perfect base upon which he could start his work and eventually, Beowulf helped him in maturing the ideas he had in mind while adding precious elements from the saxonic poem!

Τετάρτη, 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 2008

TOLKIEN'S INFLUENCES - PART 1 - KALEVALA

The Kalevala is a Finnish epic poem.It is held to be the national epic of Finland and is traditionally thought as one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. Kalevala seems to have played a very significant role to the way Tolkien displayed the tragic fate of Turin Turumbar in the "Silmarillion". In fact, Turin reminds a lot of Kullervo, son of Kallervo of the finnish poem. Kullervo is doomed and has a really ill fate since he happens to seduce his sister without knowing the relationship between them and, when she found out the truth, she was so full of shame that she jumped into rapids and drown herself. Kullervo, after commiting some murders upon his embarassement, rage and sorrow, talks to his sword and tells that after it has drunk too much innocent blood it is finally time to split the blood of a really guilty man. After saying that, he thrusts himself upon the blade.
His counterpart in "Silmarillion", Turin Turumbar has a very doomed life as well. It happens that he has a long-gone sister of whom he knew the existence but not the appearance or any other details. So, one day he met a woman, involved with her and was in love with her as she was in love with him. She did not recognise him becasue she was under a spell and was deprived of all her memories. When her memory returned, she was so ashamed of what had happened and she finally jumped into a river and drown. Turin, after a burst of sorrow and fury, talks to his sword telling how, by really malicious means, it had taken innocent people's life. He said it was time for it to extinguish a really troublesome existence and kills himself with the sword.
The similarity is very obvious although Tolkien adds his personal tone and works things out with greater detail and art. He was aware of his influence by this Finnish masterpiece and the influence was obvious in his work though he did not just copy a hero-model. He was just based on a character and structured his hero including some clues from the Kalevala.Nevertheless,Kalevala offers to the eager reader a better understanding of Tolkien's work!