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Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby Cuinn » 02 May 2006, 17:24

I realize that this is a thread meant for homework leads, so it may eventually be placed elsewhere. (Sorry, Sven!)

Alright, this has been driving me batty. I've previously learned in my Inklings class this past semester that Lewis and Tolkien shared at least five "influential texts" (as I remember) which eventually helped bring them together as friends. The professor used a model so that we can remember more easily, but, being the klutz that I am, have forgotten already a bit of it.

There's an Old Norse influence, an Old English, a Middle English, a Victorian work, and a 19th century work. Old Norse would be Beowulf, of course--that I remember. The Victorian work can either be Pilgrim's Progress or Grimm's Tales, and the the 19th century work is the Kalevala. However, it's the Old and Middle English works that I've forgotten.

I want to say that the Middle English is Spenser's "Faerie Queene", but I'm not sure that they both enjoyed that piece (at the least Tolkien), and the Old English being Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" or Dante's "Paradise Lost". I'd rather not have left the Inklings class already forgetting the major influences of both Tolkien and Lewis, so if anyone knows these two for sure, then I'd be most grateful. Thanks!
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby Theo » 02 May 2006, 17:28

Well, Chaucer is Middle English and Spenser is... what do you call it? Elizabethan English? By this time it's clearly recognizable as English, which isn't always the case with Middle English (particularly audially).

Beowulf is Old English, not Old Norse (although it's set in southern Sweden, it's written in Anglo-Saxon). So I'd say the Old English is Beowulf and the Middle English is Chaucer. The Old Norse stuff is probably something from the Edda - The Voluspá (The Prophecy of the Vala), perhaps? It's the most archetypical of the Edda poem, telling of the creation and end of the world.
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby Cuinn » 02 May 2006, 17:37

I was wondering about the Edda, and I wasn't to sure if it was something that only Tolkien appreciated (and he may have indeed had more of a liking to it than Lewis, seeing how it greatly influenced his fashioning of Middle-Earth).

Beowulf and Chaucer both seem the fit in your suggestions--I just now realized that Beowulf wasn't in Norse, but Old English (eegads, how much I forget when school's out!).

However, where did Faerie Queene fit in? I know both made plenty of references to it, so it had to fit somewhere. Perhaps Tolkien wasn't kidding when he said he disliked it?

Thanks, Theo! I'll try to remember where they all fit from now on.
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Re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby carol » 07 May 2006, 09:15

Cuinn wrote:There's an Old Norse influence, an Old English, a Middle English, a Victorian work, and a 19th century work. Old Norse would be Beowulf, of course--that I remember. The Victorian work can either be Pilgrim's Progress or Grimm's Tales, and the the 19th century work is the Kalevala. However, it's the Old and Middle English works that I've forgotten.

I want to say that the Middle English is Spenser's "Faerie Queene", but I'm not sure that they both enjoyed that piece (at the least Tolkien), and the Old English being Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" or Dante's "Paradise Lost". I'd rather not have left the Inklings class already forgetting the major influences of both Tolkien and Lewis, so if anyone knows these two for sure, then I'd be most grateful. Thanks!


Spenser wasn't Middle English, he was early Modern English. Chaucer was Middle English, and Beowulf was Old English.

Pardon my giggling a bit, but Pilgrim's Progress, being 18th century, cannot be Victorian. Furthermore, how did Dante (an Italian) ever write Paradise Lost in Old English? I thought John Milton wrote it in the 16th century? I don't know the Kalevala, but it wasn't 19th century English to my knowledge.... I think Grimms were probably 19th century in their collection...
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Re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby Cuinn » 08 May 2006, 04:06

carol wrote:Spenser wasn't Middle English, he was early Modern English. Chaucer was Middle English, and Beowulf was Old English.

Pardon my giggling a bit, but Pilgrim's Progress, being 18th century, cannot be Victorian. Furthermore, how did Dante (an Italian) ever write Paradise Lost in Old English? I thought John Milton wrote it in the 16th century? I don't know the Kalevala, but it wasn't 19th century English to my knowledge.... I think Grimms were probably 19th century in their collection...


Correction taken with humility. :)

And no, I wasn't thinking fully about Dante and the "Old English" bit--I was more just thinking of influencial writings of theirs, rather than what language it was spoken in. >.> And I usually do get confused with Paradise Lost and Divine Comedy (which would be easy since I haven't read either of them), so apologies for the mistake.

As for the Kalevala, no, it wasn't written in English. However, I didn't ask for 19th century English works--just 19th century works. :)
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Re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby carol » 08 May 2006, 08:59

Cuinn wrote:Correction taken with humility. :)

Thanks for not telling me how rude I am! :)

And I usually do get confused with Paradise Lost and Divine Comedy (which would be easy since I haven't read either of them), so apologies for the mistake.
I have only read "tales from Dante" for kiddies... so I had to think hard to remember the name.

As for the Kalevala, no, it wasn't written in English. However, I didn't ask for 19th century English works--just 19th century works.


Now it's my turn to be humble, cos I've heard of the Kalevala but really don't know what it is (and I'm sure someone has already explained it to me once!).
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby bekados » 08 May 2006, 11:38

The Kalevala is Norse! NPR (National Public Radio) here did an episode on LOTR and its Norse influence. If you ever read any of the Kalevala (or hear any of it) you can spot the influence right away.
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby carol » 08 May 2006, 20:44

Oh! right!

I remember once reading part of the Elder Edda (in translation, not the Norse) and discovering the source of most of the "Hobbit" dwarf names. Must try to read the Kalevala too.
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Re: re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby Cuinn » 10 May 2006, 05:00

bekados wrote:The Kalevala is Norse!


Norse? I was of the belief that it was Finnish. Another title for it, translated by John Martin Crawford, was The National Epic of Finland.

But yes, it highly inspired Tolkien in his fashioning of Middle-Earth, and it's really awesome once you see the connections. :)
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby bekados » 10 May 2006, 11:53

Ah, but you said Norse to begin and I knew that the Kalevala deeply inspired Tolkien. However, I looked it up on Wiki just to be sure:

"Norse is an adjective relating things to Scandinavia and may be used in a number of ways..."
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby carol » 10 May 2006, 20:52

That's interesting! There is a big difference between Finnish and the other Scandinavian languages (they are all Indo-European languages). I would call them Nordic rather than Norse.
I thought when you said Norse that you meant "Old Norse" - some of those who loved Tolkien in the 60s and 70s were students of Old English and also studied Old Norse (usually as part of M.A. in English).
The one hitch-hiker I ever picked up was an expert in it, and in spite of being a kiwi he had worked in Iceland translating an old document out of Old Norse. (he was very much into the environment, and loved Tolkien's focus on trees, the countryside etc).
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re: Works of Inspiration for both Lewis and Tolkien

Postby Lorna » 13 Jul 2006, 10:12

Hello! This is a bit late, but I think the Victorian work you are looking for is Phantastes by George MacDonald. I hope this helps!
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