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That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

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That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

Postby Solomons Song » 25 Aug 2008, 20:40

Lewis mentions Middle-Earth in THS on numerous occasions. Of course, this concurs with his mentioning Numenor, a prominent place in Tolkien's myth. How does this book correspond with Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Is Tolkien's Middle-Earth the same Middle-Earth being spoken about in THS?

I guess I am asking for a good summary of the apparent correlation.
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Postby repectabiggle » 25 Aug 2008, 21:19

I think Lewis's use has reference to Tolkien's work, but doesn't Tolkien's Middle Earth come from the Germanic Midgard?
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Postby moogdroog » 25 Aug 2008, 23:18

repectabiggle wrote:I think Lewis's use has reference to Tolkien's work, but doesn't Tolkien's Middle Earth come from the Germanic Midgard?


Middan-geard is indeed Old English/Germanic and refers to our earth, our world. So in terms of reference, it could be referring to the LOTR 'middle-earth' as an in-reference or in-joke betwen Tolkien and Lewis, or perhaps be referring to our own world? I can't remember all that many references in THS to be honest...are there lots?
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Postby A#minor » 25 Aug 2008, 23:23

Per Wikipedia:

In ancient Germanic myths, the world of Men (known by several names, such as Midgard, Middenheim, and Middengeard) lay in the centre of the universe, while Bifröst, the rainbow bridge, extended from Middle-earth to Asgard, the land of the gods. Beneath Middle-earth lay Hel, the land of the Dead.


Tolkien first encountered the term "middangeard" in an Old English fragment he studied in 1914:

éala éarendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended.
Hail Earendel, brightest of angels / above the middle-earth sent unto men.


This quote is from the second of the fragmentary remnants of the Crist poems by Cynewulf.


"Middle-earth is ... not my own invention. It is a modernization or alteration ... of an old word for the inhabited world of Men, the oikoumene(Greek): middle because thought of vaguely as set amidst the encircling Seas and (in the northern-imagination) between ice of the North and the fire of the South. Many reviewers seem to assume that Middle-earth is another planet!"-Tolkien (Letters, no. 211)


I wonder if Lewis just used his own translation of the Germanic or Greek origins of the idea, not really intending to take it from Tolkien.
Just as the idea of Numinor comes from a translation of Atlantis. It would have been a common enough idea among scholars, I think.

Can you tell me where exactly in THS Middle Earth is mentioned? I can't seem to find the quote. I found somewhere that it's in Chapter 14, but I can't find it.
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Postby moogdroog » 25 Aug 2008, 23:34

Lovely Cynewulf extract, A#Minor!

Midden-geard pops up in lots of Anglo-Saxon/Old English. I'm sure Lewis would have had exposure to Anglo-Saxon/Old English, but from what I have read, he tends to go for High-Late Medieval texts (i.e. things after the 12th century. Could be completely off the mark though...perhaps I am missing out a seminal Old English paper Lewis wrote? :tongue:)

My point is, if Lewis isn't big on using Old English references, he is perhaps using Midden-geard as a reference to Tolkien? Then again, I really can't remember the references in THS, apart from a 'Numinor' in-joke in the introduction.
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Postby repectabiggle » 25 Aug 2008, 23:50

And I"m almost certain Lewis used Middle Earth in a non-Tolkien reference a couple of other places in his works/letters. I suppose I'll have to see what I can find, but nothing springs to mind just now.
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Postby Solomons Song » 02 Sep 2008, 01:28

So the simple answer is that Lewis' Middle Earth in THS bears no relation to Tolkien's? If I am incorrect in contriving this from all your answers, then please explain the correlation between the two.

Lewis, in THS, refers to Tolkien's work if one wishes to learn more of Numenor, suggesting Tolkien's Numenor is the same one Lewis is speaking of in THS. I find it odd that there would be a correlation between Lewis' and Tolkien's use of Numenor, and not be a correlation about their use of Middle Earth.
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Postby a_hnau » 23 Nov 2008, 14:07

Solomons Song wrote:So the simple answer is that Lewis' Middle Earth in THS bears no relation to Tolkien's? If I am incorrect in contriving this from all your answers, then please explain the correlation between the two.

Lewis, in THS, refers to Tolkien's work if one wishes to learn more of Numenor, suggesting Tolkien's Numenor is the same one Lewis is speaking of in THS. I find it odd that there would be a correlation between Lewis' and Tolkien's use of Numenor, and not be a correlation about their use of Middle Earth.
Both Tolkien and Lewis shared a large amount of common background in their study of Western literature and mythology (Germanic, Norse, ...) and general world myth. I would suggest that a major reason why they both frequently mention both Middle Earth and Atlantis, is that they were relying on a certain existing 'latent' knowledge of these myths in their readers and wanted to evoke a certain response, rather like mentioning Robin Hood - all of us have a certain idea in our minds, built up piecemeal out of Disney, Michael Praedd, whatever, which may not be very accurate or consistent but makes us feel a certain way. Plus as some have mentioned, Lewis and Tolkien were fond of making explicit references to one anothers' work, as part of a shared 'supposal' that all of what they were writing about was in fact real (this is particularly apparent in the prefaces and postscripts Lewis wrote to the books of the Trilogy).
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Re: That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

Postby galion » 12 Dec 2008, 19:14

Well, I don't think Tolkien ever made any reference in his own work to works by Lewis. Lewis was famously a great supporter of Tolkien, but Tolkien didn't care (for example) for Narnia. But Lewis certainly knew Old English and its literature. In Perelandra at one point (the fight with the Unman) we are told obliquely that Ransom spoke the following verse from "The Battle of Maldon":

Hige sceal the heardra
heorte the cenre
mod sceal the mare
the ure maegen lytlath
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Re: That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

Postby moogdroog » 13 Dec 2008, 09:00

galion wrote:Well, I don't think Tolkien ever made any reference in his own work to works by Lewis. Lewis was famously a great supporter of Tolkien, but Tolkien didn't care (for example) for Narnia. But Lewis certainly knew Old English and its literature. In Perelandra at one point (the fight with the Unman) we are told obliquely that Ransom spoke the following verse from "The Battle of Maldon":

Hige sceal the heardra
heorte the cenre
mod sceal the mare
the ure maegen lytlath


*tries not to be really pedantic in wanting to substitute 'þe' and 'ð' for 'th'* :snow-wink:
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Re: That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

Postby galion » 13 Dec 2008, 09:26

Oh joy! Moogdroog, where do you find those chraracters?
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Re: That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

Postby moogdroog » 13 Dec 2008, 10:43

galion wrote:Oh joy! Moogdroog, where do you find those chraracters?


You can find all the medieval font characters you can shake a stick at the University of Virginia's Old English page here. Microsoft word also has versions of the thorn, but they have a straight backed 'ð' which I'm not keen on. Okay...okay...that is a bit sad, isn't it? :snow-laugh:

If you don't want to download font packs, you can also check out the Old English Poetry collection here, and copy and paste any characters you want. The Old English is accurate, as they copied it from Krapp and Dobbie's Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (ASPR), so it's a very good and accessible resource for things in the original OE.
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Re: That Hideous Strength - Middle Earth

Postby galion » 13 Dec 2008, 10:57

Many thanks! I shall be off to those sites post-haste.
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