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Children of Hurin Reading Group

Plato to MacDonald to Chesterton, Tolkien and the Boys in the Pub.

Postby nomad » 28 Jul 2007, 08:00

A#minor wrote:Well, yes, perhaps the Skywalker/Vader analogy is not so great, but I didn't really intend it to be an exact match with Turin. That was just the first example of someone becoming the thing they used to hate that came to mind.


Oh, I know. I used that analogy earlier in the thread. It is a good one because they are both addressing the good vs evil question and they both 'go over to the dark side', as it were. I was just digging a little deeper into the comparison because the ways in which they contrast helped me to think about Turin. But Turin's reaction to Saeros did remind me a lot of the tormented young Anakin.

I guess the difference is that Anakin went completely over, becoming more machine than human. So much so that many people even forgot that he ever was Anakin Skywalker and he became just Darth Vader. Turin remained eminently human in both dark and light, and was never wholly one or the other. And the same may have been true of Saeros, though we only see his darker side. I wonder if Tokien meant us to make that connection - as a sort of warning about judging people by one action at one time in their life?
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Postby A#minor » 28 Jul 2007, 13:48

nomad wrote: Turin remained eminently human in both dark and light, and was never wholly one or the other.

Back to the will vs. destiny thing... I'm still caught up in wondering how much of that was really his own internal darkness (and stupidity) and how much of it was the influence of the curse of Morgoth. Much like Anakin once again, who was destined to fulfill a prophecy to bring balance to the Force, but how much of his situation was the result of a destiny he had no control over and how much was his own rash decisions?

I'm beginning to think that George Lucas stole the entire Star Wars story from Tolkien. :lol:

But you are right that Vader was more of a machine, and Turin never succumbs to that point. There's always that struggle inside of him; which is more realistic (and Biblical) for a human than being completely evil or completely good. The flesh and the spirit are always at war against one another.
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Postby nomad » 29 Jul 2007, 13:00

Ah, yes, that is the great philosophical question. How much choice do we really have? I'm sure Tolkien made this aspect of Turin's story ambiguous on purpose. I wonder what he would say about it if asked directly? In the end it's impossible to know what results from the curse and what is Turin's personality or decisions. Hmmm... borrowing an idea from Lewis, that evil cannot exist independently as its own entity but can only deform good things... perhaps it is so difficult because the curse on Turin takes on a sort of symbiotic relationship. What is curse and what is Turin- they have become intertwined. Although there may still be bits identifiable as Turin, there is nothing identifiable as uniquely the curse because it has taken over large parts of Turin himself. Merged with him and fed off him.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Postby contra mundum » 30 Jul 2007, 12:39

This weekend I was reading "Of Beren and Luthien" in The Silmarillion and came across this passage concerning the change in Nargothrond after Finrod left to help Beren:

And after Celegorm Curufin spoke, more softly but with no less power, conjuring in the minds of the Elves a vision of war and the ruin of Nargothrond. So great a fear did he set in their hearts that never after until the time of Turin would any Elf of that realm go into open battle; but with stealth and ambush, with wizardry and venomed dart, they pursued all strangers, forgetting the bonds of kinship. Thus they fell from the valour and freedom of the Elves of old, and their land was darkened.


So if Turin came to Nargothrond and had no liking for their manner of fighting, it would seem that he was not alone in that respect--Tolkien himself doesn't seem to care much for it, either.

Now the question for discussion: Granted that Turin's arrogance rose to its peak during his years in Nargothrond, and that his pride in first building the great bridge and then (much worse) refusing to destroy it at the bidding of Ulmo, does Tolkien's description of the darkening of Nargothrond during Beren's time cast Turin's course of action there in a somewhat different light?
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Postby A#minor » 30 Jul 2007, 18:27

I'm torn in the discussion of which style of fighting is better: open warfare vs. stealthy guerilla warfare. Not that I know anything about fighting, but both seem to have their advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on what you know about your enemy, and what you think your enemy knows about you.

If Morgoth already knows where they are, then an open march against him is probably their best bet. Scare him off for awhile with a show of numbers. Make him think they are stronger than they are. Then again, if Morgoth is uncertain of their exact whereabouts, stealth for as long as possible is safest and wisest, especially until they have some idea of Morgoth's movements and forces.
So both Turin and Gwindor are right, I think.

Sounds like Tolkien, as a romantic, would rather have everyone die gloriously than show some fear and live another day. To a point, I agree with him. Also, I think when he mentions in the passage in the Sil that their land was darkened, that seems to me to be more from "forgetting the bonds of kinship" than from hiding out and losing their "freedom". I could be wrong.

Still, there's no denying that Turin was a needed catalyst to get those elves moving against Morgoth again.
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Postby contra mundum » 30 Jul 2007, 20:40

I don't know a lot about battle and strategy, but from a purely prudential standpoint, if you're outnumbered and outgunned, going secret and stealthy would probably be better. But I can see how defending exclusively with such tactics would tend to lessen your valor and freedom, and pursuing all strangers, regardless of kinship, would darken your land.

Interesting too that Orodreth's abdication of leadership did not begin in Turin's days. He was king of Nargothrond in title only while the fell sons of Feanor lived there. The sons of Feanor pushed Nargothrond into shadow and stealth, darkening the kingdom; Turin reversed their counsel and persuaded Nargothrond to take to the open, unwittingly detroying the kingdom. Turin's foolhardiness brought a fulfillment of Curufin's vision, however ill-intentioned Curufin may have been in proclaiming it.
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Postby nomad » 06 Aug 2007, 20:23

contra mundum wrote:But I can see how defending exclusively with such tactics would tend to lessen your valor and freedom, and pursuing all strangers, regardless of kinship, would darken your land.


I don't think using stealth tactics necessarily lessens one's valor and freedom... it's the enemy's presence that lessens your freedom. There have been many valorous individuals and groups who fought this way. The French and Polish resistances in WWII, for instance. Though often this approach gets you into difficult situations where you must do or allow things you normally wouldn't simply because the alternative is worse. That might leave you scarred for life, but not, I think, lacking in valor. But when you start pursuing all strangers, regardless of their need or affiliation, or whether or not they present a danger to you, then I think you would begin to loose your grip on yourself and your valor.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Postby Lioba » 16 Apr 2008, 14:23

:??: Why did the readinggroup stop here? I just reread the story-got it in german last year and I´m again fascinated how carefully Tolkien worked on this character. Is their accidently someone,who is still interested in the stuff?
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Postby A#minor » 18 Apr 2008, 03:32

Hmmmmm..... we seem to have lost interest, or run out of things to say, or something. :thinking: I can't even remember if I finished the book or not. I mean, of course, I've read the whole thing before, but I was re-reading it for this group, I think.
(Ah, my last post was in July and that was a hectic time for me.... searching for an apartment, job interviews, packing and moving. No wonder I didn't have time to post in here.)
Shall we start it up again?
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Postby Lioba » 18 Apr 2008, 07:47

:smile: That woul be nice- but I must confess, that I me times of working are a bit difficult (working late/early and on weekends, so I sometimes can not reply immediatly)
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Postby Lioba » 19 Apr 2008, 07:43

:read: Theri is one thing, that really moves me- it is Morwen´s strange character, I think you mentioned it to .Although the story is mostly about Turin, Morwen´s personality has some influence on the whole story- her pride, her reluctance to accept help from others or good advice.
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