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Fantastic Elements in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit

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This slide analyses Tolkien's the Hobbit. It examines the fantastic elements Todorov and Tolkien defines. A brief history of Fantasy literature and theories of fantasy from Tolkien and Todorov. …

This slide analyses Tolkien's the Hobbit. It examines the fantastic elements Todorov and Tolkien defines. A brief history of Fantasy literature and theories of fantasy from Tolkien and Todorov.

ps: look into slide notes for comments on quotations.

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  • 1. Fantastic Elements in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit Ahmet Mesut Ateş Supervisor: Asst. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Zeki Çıraklı May 13, 2014 KTU Department of English Language and Literature
  • 2. Outline of the Presentation 1. Fantasy Literature, An Introduction 2. Fantastic Theories of Literature – J.R.R. Tolkien – Tzvetan Todorov 3. Fantastic Elements in Tolkien’s the Hobbit 4. Conclusion 5. Works Cited 6. Further Reading Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 3. Considering Tolkien’s debated idea that in human art Fantasy is best left to true literature, this study aims • to focus on fantasy as discussed in theories of Tolkien and Todorov and • to pave the way for a critical analysis of Tolkien’s the Hobbit Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Abstract Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 4. Fantasy, in literature, employs supernatural, unreal and imaginary elements to create a secondary world consistent both within itself. Works of fantasy voice the child within and men’s desire to be careless and free as a child again is what derives us to that kind of literary works. Earlier forms of fantasy employed folklore, legends and myth intricately. This interwoven relationship precluded the commendation of the genre which is why still today the border between fantasy and myth is not completely clarified. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantasy Literature, An Introduction Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 5. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantasy Literature, An Introduction Some of the outstanding works of modern fantasy are Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland; Dracula; The Wonderful Wizard of OZ and Peter Pan. Before Tolkien and Todorov, fantasy literature was evaluated according to Alexander Baumgarten ideas of aesthetics (Stableford, XLV). J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft and T.H. White popularized the genre and pushed literary critics to acknowledge the genre. Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 6. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit The 'fairy-story' is really an adult genre, and one for which a starving audience exists. JRR Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories
  • 7. On Fairy-Stories (Tolkien’s Ars Mythopoetica) Tolkien treats fairy-stories as the descendants of storytelling tradition and it embodies a wide range of literary applications. He tries to define terms such as Fairy, Faërie, and Fantasy repudiating attitudes towards fantastic characters such as Elves, Dwarves and fairies. His ars myhtopoetica is indeed an arden “defence of the power of imagination” (Makai 35). Theory of Sub-Creation Tolkien had an acute belief in the “generalization and the abstraction” power of the language: The mind that thought of light, heavy, … swift, also conceived of magic that would make heavy things light and able to fly... (Tolkien 22) For Tolkien, It is humanity's very divinity—our status as inexorable sub-creators because we have been divinely created. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Theories of Literature Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 8. Fantasy is derived notions of unreality, Fantasy is “a higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure [and] the most potent” (Tolkien 47). Recovery: seeing the things in a way that enables us not only to appreciate the thing but also its parts, things that make it a whole. Escape is the primary function of fairy stories. Escape is not from the reality or the primary world but rather more serious things such as “hunger, poverty, and death” (Tolkien 66-7). Consolation is the sudden and unpredictable turn of events. It is the joyous turn of events at the end of the tale. All fairy stories should have consolation. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Elements of Fantasy Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 9. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit The literature of fantastic leaves us with two notions – reality and literature – each one as unsatisfactory as the other. Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic
  • 10. Tzvetan Todorov’s Theory of Fantastic The work of analysing literature is fundamentally the analysis of human, his relationship with himself and the surrounding society and all works of art “stimulate reflection on that;” and what literature provides the reader with is the “capacity for compassion with beings different from ourselves” (Todorov 27- 31). Todorov’s conception of “fantastic” text obscures the distinction between the factual and fictional worlds (Rabkin 1). The more fictional beings represent us, the more they become repetitive and vain. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Theories of Literature Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 11. Todorov postulates three requirements for Pure fantastic: 1. The work should sustain the reader’s hesitation between natural and supernatural to the end. 2. The characters should share the hesitation and enable the reader to identify himself with the character 3. The reader should be aware that the work is a fantastic one and should not attempt to read it as an allegory. Todorov suggests the first and the third rule constitute the genre but the second rule, as well, is mostly fulfilled. Both the second and the third rule depend on the first rule: reader’s hesitation. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Elements of Fantasy Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • 12. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
  • 13. The Hobbit The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo's journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into more sinister territory – over the Misty Mountains and in the black forest of Mirkwood. After a journey woven with mishaps and encounters with trolls, Elves, goblins, wargs and giant spiders they finally reach the desolation of Smaug and Bilbo helps the dwarves to get their mountain back. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 14. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole … it was hobbit- hole, and that means comfort. … one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green… The Hobbit 3-5
  • 15. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit Warriors are busy fighting one another in distant land. … Swords in these parts are mostly blunt, and axes are used for trees, and shields as cradles or dish-covers; dragons are comfortably far-off… The Hobbit 26
  • 16. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit … they came to lands where people spoke strangely, [e]ven Bilbo… could see that: from their size, and the shape of their legs, not to mention their language, which was not drawing-room fashion at all, at all. The Hobbit 37-41
  • 17. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit Tolkien’s fantastic realm, the Middle-earth, consists of hobbits, elves, dwarves wizards, goblins, trolls, eagles and noble men.
  • 18. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit His name is Beorn … and he is a skin-changer. …He changes his skin: sometimes … a huge black bear, sometimes … a great strong … man with huge arms. Some say that he is a man descended from the first men. … He is under no enchantment but his own. He keeps cattle and horses which … work for him and talk to him. He does not eat them… The Hobbit 135-6
  • 19. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit Does it guess easy? It must have a competition with us, my preciouss! If preciouss asks, and it doesn’t answer, we eats it, my preciouss. If it asks us, and we doesn’t answer, then we does what it wants, eh? We shows it the way out, yes! The Hobbit 87
  • 20. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit [Bilbo] must stab the foul thing [Gollum], put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. … Gollum had no sword… And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, walled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without the light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. The Hobbit 102
  • 21. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit Out went all light. The fires leaped up in black smokes. … the cries of the others got steadily further and fainter… all noise at last died right away, and hew was left alone in complete silence and darkness. That was the most miserable moments. The Hobbit 179-80
  • 22. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit Wisps of vapour floated up and past him and he began to sweat. A sound, too, began to throb in his ears ... the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring … It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. … He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in it. The Hobbit 249
  • 23. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit Flames unquenchable sprang high into the night. Another swoop and another, … still no arrow hindered Smaug or hurt him more than a fly from the marshes. Out of dark something fluttered to [Bard’s] shoulder … it perched by his ear and it brought him the news [Smaug’s weakness in its armour]. … Bard drew his bow … the great bow twanged. The black arrow sped straight from the string, straight for the hollow… In it smote and vanished, barb, shaft and feather, so fierce was its flight. With a shriek that deafened men … Smaug … crashed down from high in ruin. … and the silence. And that was the end of Smaug. The Hobbit 288-90
  • 24. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit There is nothing like looking. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after. The Hobbit 69
  • 25. Conclusion J.R.R. Tolkien has managed to create an artful work of literature in his book, the Hobbit. The work exhibits fantastic elements as categorized by Tolkien himself in “On Fairy-Stories” and Tzvetan Todorov in The Fantastic. Fantasy, in 20th century became a wide-spread mode of literature and works of writers such JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, HP Lovecraft and TH White paved the way for its acknowledgement in literary circles. Works of fantasy literature try to compensate for the failures of the factual world and improve the readers’ experience through their utilization of magical, supernatural and unreal events and images. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 26. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey Fantastic Elements in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit If more of us valued food and cheer and songs above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
  • 27. Works Cited Aichele, G. "Literary Fantasy and Postmodern Theology." Journal Of The American Academy Of Religion 59.2 (1991): 323-337. Scopus®. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Baker, Daniel. "Why We Need Dragons: The Progressive Potential of Fantasy." Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 23.3 (2012). Bassham, Gregory, and Eric Bronson. The Hobbit and Philosophy: For When You've Lost Your Dwarves, Your Wizard, and Your Way. Vol. 10. John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Bechtel, Greg. "“There and Back Again”: Progress in the Discourse of Todorovian, Tolkienian and Mystic Fantasy Theory." ESC: English Studies in Canada 30.4 (2007): 139-166. Birns, Nicholas. "'The Inner Consistency Of Reality': Intermediacy In The Hobbit." Mythlore 3-4 (2013): 15. General OneFile. Web. 10 May 2014. Brooke-Rose, Christine. "Historical Genres/Theoretical Genres: A Discussion Of Todorov On The Fantastic." New Literary History 1 (1976): 145. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 27 Dec.2013. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 28. Works Cited Bruce, Alexander M. "Maldon and Moria: On Byrhtnoth, Gandalf, and Heroism in The Lord of the Rings." Mythlore 26.1/2 (2007): 149. Carpenter, Humphrey. The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Vol. 144. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981. Cooper, Susan. "There and Back Again: Tolkien Reconsidered." Horn Book Magazine 78.2 (2002): 143-150. Croft, J.B. "Beyond the Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkiens Other Works For Children." World Literature Today 78.1 (2004): 67. Scopus®. Web. 10 May 2014. Djikic, Maja, et al. "On being moved by art: How reading fiction transforms the self." Creativity Research Journal 21.1 (2009): 24- 29. Drout, Michael DC, and Hilary Wynne. "Tom Shippey's JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century and a look back at Tolkien criticism since 1982." Envoi 9.2 (2000): 102. Eaton, Anne T. (13 March 1938). "A Delightfully Imaginative Journey". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1938/03/13/movies/LOTR-HOBBIT.html. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 29. Works Cited Firchow, Peter E. "The Politics of Fantasy: The Hobbit and Fascism." Midwest Quarterly – A Journal of Contemporary Thought 50.1 (2008): 15-31. Foster, Mike. "The History Of the Hobbit: One Volume Edition." Mythprint 49.10 (2012): 8. Supplemental Index. Web. 10 May 2014. Golsan, Richard J. "Tzvetan Todorov, the ‘Responsible Intellectual’, and the new world disorder." Modern & Contemporary France 12.3 (2004): 299-311. Green, William H. "King Thorin's mines: The'Hobbit'as Victorian adventure novel." Extrapolation 42.1 (2001): 53-64. Honegger, Thomas. "Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (review)." Tolkien Studies 6.1 (2009): 289-294. Hunt III, Arthur W. "Back to the Shire: From English Village to Global Village and Back Again." Modern Age 51.3 (2009): 211. Jackson, Aaron Isaac. "Authoring the Century: JRR Tolkien, the Great War and Modernism." English 59.224 (2010): 44-69. Jackson, Rosemary. Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion. Routledge, 2002.PDF. Jones, Christine A. "On Fairy Tales, Their Sensitive Characters, and The Sensible Readers They Create." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature (2006): 13-30. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 30. Works Cited Le Guin, Ursula K. The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. Ultramarine Publishing, 1979. Le Guin, Ursula. "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie." Sandner, D. Fantastic Literature: A Critical Reader. Westport (2004): 144-155. Lem, Stainslaw. "Todorov's Fantastic Theory of Literature." Science Fiction Studies 1.4 (1974):227-237. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Lewis, P. W. "Beorn and Tom Bombadil: A Tale of Two Heroes." Mythlore 25.3/4 (2007): 145. Livingston, Michael. "The Myths Of The Author: Tolkien And The Medieval Origins Of The Word Hobbit." Mythlore 3-4 (2012): 129. General OneFile. Web. 10 May 2014. Louinet, Patrice. "Robert E. Howard, Founding Father of Modern Fantasy for the first time again." Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 15.2 (2011): 163-170. Makai, Péter Kristóf. "Faërian Cyberdrama: When Fantasy becomes Virtual Reality." Tolkien Studies 7.1 (2010): 35-53. Milburn, Michael. "Coleridge's Definition of Imagination and Tolkien's Definition (s) of Faery." Tolkien Studies 7.1 (2010): 55-66. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 31. Works Cited Perkins, J. "Finding Todorov In Russian Literary Criticism: The Struggle To Define The Fantastic." Forum For Modern Language Studies 44.4 (2008): 363-378. British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Rabkin, Eric S., ed. Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales, and Stories. Oxford University Press, 1979. Rateliff, John D. "" A Kind of Elvish Craft": Tolkien as Literary Craftsman."Tolkien Studies 6.1 (2009): 1-21. Reeder , Roberta . “The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre by Tzvetan Todorov; Richard Howard.” The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Summer, 1976), pp. 186-189.Jstor.Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Ross, Smith. "Tolkien The Storyteller." English Today 22.1 (2006): 45-50. Education Research Complete. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Sandor, Andras. "Myths and the Fantastic." New Literary History (1991): 339-358. Simpson, Jacqueline. "Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits." (2010):106-107. Stableford, Brian. The A to Z of Fantasy Literature. Scarecrow Press, 2009.PDF. Stephens, John. "On Fantasy." Journal Of Children's Literature 39.1 (2013): 42. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 10 May 2014. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey
  • 32. Works Cited Swank, Kris. "The Hobbit And The Father Christmas Letters." Mythlore 1 (2013): 129. General OneFile. Web. 10 May 2014. Thomas, Paul Edmund. "Smith of Wootton Major: Extended Edition (review)." Tolkien Studies 3.1 (2006): 160-165. Todorov, Tzvetan, and John Lyons. "What Is Literature For?" New Literary History 1 (2007): 13. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Todorov, Tzvetan. Edebiyat Kavramı ve öteki denemeler. Translated by Nurettin Sevil), Sel Yay (2011), 9-61. Todorov, Tzvetan. The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Cornell University Press, 1975.PDF. Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. "On Fairy-stories." Tree and Leaf (1964): 11-70. Wilson, Ruth. The Fantastic World of the Lord of the Rings: Tolkien and the Definition of Literature. Diss. University of St Andrews, 1997. Wood, Ralph C. "Following The Many Roads Of Recent Tolkien Scholarship." Christianity & Literature 54.4 (2005): 587-608. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Yaggi, Miranda Maney. "Harry Potter's Heritage: Tolkien As Rowling's Patronus Against The Critics." Topic: The Washington & Jefferson College Review 54.(2004): 33-45. Humanities International Complete. Web. 27 Dec. 2013. Ahmet Mesut Ateş, KTU Department of English Language and Literature, Turkey