Google+ Bolgeri - il Gruppo Tolkieniano di Milano: Convegno a Jena

venerdì, maggio 04, 2007

Convegno a Jena

Mi prendo una pausa dalla pubblicazione degli atti del festival per segnalare il convegno di Jena, che inizia oggi e finisce il 6 maggio. Non è questa la sede per segnalare eventi tolkieniani a caso: mi ci soffermo semplicemente perché il bolgero onorario Raffaella "the cult of personality" Benvenuto vi terrà un intervento. Non trovandosi da nessuna parte (nemmeno sul sito ufficiale), pubblico in formato html un po' di materiale sul convegno. L'argomento di quest'anno riguarda le opere minori di Tolkien, un ambito senz'altro stimolante e quasi inesplorato (almeno in Italia, alle solite).

Indice degli interventi
  • Alliot Bertrand, The meaning of Leaf, by Niggle (Il Significato di Foglia di Niggle).
  • Maria Raffaella Benvenuto, Smith of Wootton Major, The Sea-Bell and Lothlórien: Tolkien and the Perils of Faërie (Fabbro di Wootton Major, "La campana del mare" e Lothlórien: i pericoli di Faeria).
  • Patrick Brückner, „...bis dass der Drache kommt.“ Das Drachenmotiv bei Tolkien als
    poetisches Konzept – Zur Genese des Episch-Historischen.
  • Marcel Bülles, ‘Draco audax’: Tolkien’s mythological concept of dragons.
  • Vincent Ferré, Tolkien, the return and the detour of the king: Arthurian readings on kingship (Farmer Giles of Ham).
  • Thomas Fornet-Ponse, Vom Sinn und Unsinn einer theologischen Lektüre der Kleinen Werke.
  • Fabian Geier, Leaf by Tolkien? Allegorie und Biographie in Tolkiens kleineren Schriften.
  • Margaret Hiley, Journeys in the Dark [Smith und Sea-Bell].
  • Judith Klinger, Shifting Realms of Faërie and the Language of Trees: Smith of Wootton Major.
  • Heidi Krüger, Eine literaturkritische Deutung von Blatt von Tüftler.
  • Marek Oziewicz, Setting Things Right in Farmer Giles of Ham and the Lord of the Rings: On Tolkien’s Conception of Justice.
  • Friedhelm Schneidewind, Farmer Giles of Ham: eine prototypische Drachengeschichte in humorvoller Tradition.
  • Eduardo Segura, Art as Gift in Tolkien’s Leaf by Niggle.
  • Martin Simonson, Redefining the Romantic Hero: A reading of Smith of Wootton Major in the Light of Ludwig Tieck’s Runenberg.
  • Anna Slack, A Star Above My Mast: Faerie and Farewells in Tolkien’s Minor Works.
  • Guglielmo Spirito, Speaking with animals: a “‘desire’ that lies near the heart of Faerie.”
  • Heidi Steimel, The Autobiographical Tolkien: Finding the Author in His Works.
  • Martin Sternberg, Faery revisited - Smith of Wootton Major als religiöser Test.
  • Allan Turner, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil – a juvenile folly?
  • Christian Weichmann, Natur, Kunst und Technik in Tolkiens kleineren Werken.
  • Frank Weinreich, Zur Metaphysik der Zweitschöpfung. Die Ontologie von Mythopoeia.
Qualche abstract...

Alliot, Bertrand, The meaning of Leaf, by Niggle.
J.R.R. Tolkien did not really like seeing his work being made the object of academic studies, notably because he thought his stories had merely been written for literary pleasure. Nothing from his shorter tales is really suitable for any kind of academic work because they were created from very simple and naïve materials. In a sense, he was right, of course. Most of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works (apart from his academic achievements) have to be appreciated for what they are: fascinating, funny or dramatic stories... But one, according to us, is an exception: Leaf, by Niggle.
Considering his usual creating process, the first part of this paper will be dedicated to understanding what make this story so unique. In fact, we will see that Tolkien used allegory as the main structural element. For once, the tale is not self-sufficient: in writing Leaf, by Niggle, Tolkien not only wanted to tell a story that has to be enjoyed as a “mere story” (Letters, p.144), but wanted to say something behind the story.
Therefore, Leaf, by Niggle gives us the opportunity to study what Tolkien “meant” whereas usually we have to be content with what his stories may mean through or despite himself. It is precisely and mainly the second aim of this paper: going beyond the words and trying to understand the “meaning” of Leaf, by Niggle.
We will see that through his tale, Tolkien explained what had been his main duty during a significant part of his life but also what kind of difficulties he encountered in his endeavour to fulfil it. This duty is the respect of what, in the story, the “voices” call the “laws” that in fact represent the tangible and vital realities or necessities. In fact, two types of men appear in the story, each with a very different attitude towards these laws: Niggle personifies modern and sophisticated man, and Parish the simple country man. Niggle (representing the author himself) encounters significant difficulties to remain plainly aware of these laws, being obsessed with his artistic creativity, whereas Parish has no difficulties to take them into account and we can even say that the laws are all that he is aware of. In the light of the modern context of the 20th century, of Tolkien’s life and of the words of the voices, we will try to understand why being aware of the laws had been so important and almost a question of survival for a “sophisticated” man (in comparison with Parish) like Tolkien. Then, we will try to point out why Tolkien thought his own artistic creativity was incompatible with the perception of the laws but also by which means and processes he still tried to take on both.
Finally, in light of the conclusion of the tale, we will examine which aim Niggle/Tolkien has taken by his “leaves” and his attitude towards the obligation to finish his work. We will see that this aim has been shared by the modern painting movement from the 1860s and more generally by all modern men. Nevertheless, through this little story, Tolkien tried to warn his contemporaries that we cannot reach this aim, at least, during our terrestrial sojourn…

Benvenuto, Maria Raffaela, Smith of Wootton Major, The Sea-Bell and Lothlórien: Tolkien and the Perils of Faërie
Tolkien’s shorter fiction is often thought of as mainly aimed at children; the same applies to his collection of poems, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. However, as Tom Shippey aptly pointed out in his seminal work The Road to Middle-earth, there is much more to Tolkien’s minor works than meets the eye. Interestingly, the chapter devoted to the topic of the ‘perils of Faërie’ bears the title “On the cold hill’s side” - a line from a famous poem about a mortal trapped in Faërie, John Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. Tolkien’s fascination with the subject is further borne out by two of his Anglo-Saxon poems about ‘trapped mortals’, included by Shippey in one of the appendixes to his book.
In this paper I aim to explore the topic as it is presented in Smith of Wootton Major, the poem “The Sea-Bell” and the Lothlórien episode of The Lord of the Rings. Although vastly different, these three texts share their treatment of the motif of mortals who manage to enter Faërie and experience its ‘otherness’ in different ways. The narrator of “The Sea-Bell” (often identified with Frodo) feels estranged and ultimately rejected by it; his return to his own land is so traumatic that he will feel alienated from his fellow men until the end of his days. On the other hand, though Smith goes also through rejection, it is only on a temporary basis, and is able to go on with his normal life even after giving up his visits to Faërie for good.
In the Lothlórien episode of LotR, the Fellowship’s stayin the land of the Elves proves to have positive effects for most of the people involved, though it is a life-changing experience in a number of ways. Gimli falls literally under Galadriel’s spell, while Boromir, when forced to reveal his innermost thoughts to her, reacts with distrust and hostility. Most importantly, the members of the Fellowship experience that feeling of being ‘out of time’ that seems to be one of the most common, distinctive features of Faërie. I will also draw upon my studies on ballads and folktales in order to deal with various sources of this intriguing literary motif.

Bülles, Marcel, ‘Draco audax’: Tolkien’s mythological concept of dragons.
As with other areas of his own research Tolkien obviously chose ‘draco nobilis’ of Central Europe’s Middle Ages as another topic to adapt, change and evolve. As Anglo-Saxon was not simply a one-to-one copy to Rohan’s language and culture Middle-earth’s dragons are far more evolved than the generally accepted idea of a dragon’s behaviour and looks. Tolkien manages not only to present prototypical images of dragons in Glaurung and Ancalagon, the Black, but deviates strongly with the arrival of the machines at Gondolin.
However, his treatment of this most powerful of mythological creatures transcends accepted central-European boundaries of its depiction. In his minor works, too, dragons are to be found that defy the usual hierarchies in dragon lore, among them Chrysophylax and the Great White Dragon. This talk aims at presenting the concept of ‘draco audax’ in its fullness, pointing out again the many-layered quality of Tolkien’s style of writing.

Hiley, Margaret, Journeys in the Dark [Smith und Sea-Bell]
This paper will focus on two of Tolkien’s shorter texts: the story Smith of Wootton Major and the poem ‘The Sea-bell’. Both story and poem can be interpreted as belonging to a genre typical of fantasy literature: the quest. However, they are not traditional quest tales, but rather serve to illustrate a statement Tolkien makes in On Fairy-Stories: their heroes are “hardly more than wandering explorer[s] in the land, full of wonder but not of information.” As their journeys progress, they fail to gain knowledge of the perilous realms they have entered, remaining always strangers and outsiders. While this same condition of strangeness and alienation can also be seen in Tolkien’s longer works such as The Lord of the Rings, it is particularly marked in these two texts.
Here, Tolkien can be seen as starting an innovation that was to become typical of modern fantasy: the hero sets out not to discover and master a new world, but to realise that the fantastic world is and will always remain unknowable. As the quest tale is also traditionally seen as constituting self through the gaining of knowledge, the failure to do so results in a fundamental questioning of identity and can end in its utter collapse. We can see this in both poem and story, which each show a different way of how the journey into the unknown can end: Smith returns to his home and family after giving up the star, his passport to Faërie, saddened by its loss but content to know that it will pass on to a worthy successor; the speaker of ‘The Sea-Bell’, by contrast, through his journey has become an outsider in his own world too, and the result is disorientation and madness. Both Smith and ‘The Sea-Bell’ conclude (again like The Lord of the Rings)with the loss of the strange and wonderful fantastic world.
Thus both texts give different and to a certain extent complementary answers to the question of what happens when one reality is exchanged for another, and how one can cope with the loss of the fantastic. While these themes are also central in Tolkien’s longer works, both poem and story necessarily focus on them more directly and thus they can be read as representative of his oeuvre as a whole in this regard.

Klinger, Judith, Shifting Realms of Faërie and the Language of Trees: Smith of Wootton Major
In Smith of Wootton Major, Tolkien explores a vision of ‘Faery’ placed in close vicinity to the realm of the familiar: The setting is reminiscent of pre-industrialized Britain, the tone of the narrative echoes that of fairy-tales. Comparison with the conception of Elven ‘Otherworlds’ in Tolkien’s tales of Arda also shows that Faery in Smith is presented with significantly less spatial and temporal definition. Its boundaries and general topography remain as vague as the distances Smith crosses, or the time spent on his journeys. This vagueness appears to be part of a conscious literary strategy, however: In On Fairy-Stories, Tolkien described “Faerie” as “the realm or state in which fairies have their being”. One may then conclude that Smith’s entries into Faery illustrate the state of enchantment rather than a physical journey.
At the same time, the uncertainty of temporal/spatial boundaries that characterizes Faery in Smith points to a subtly developed theme. Only after years of journeying back and forth between worlds does it dawn on Smith that his access to the other reality is by no means without bounds. Crucial for the discovery of boundaries is his ambivalent encounter with the birch. While the birch warns Smith “you do not belong here”, the unsettling incident also initiates communication between the visitor and the inhabitants of Faery. Prior to this point, Smith had been a silent observer; when he returns, he will meet the – yet unrecognised – Queen of Faery and eventually becomes her messenger. The encounter with the speaking tree then functions as a hinge, connecting two major aspects of Faery: the crossing of (forbidden) boundaries and the most unlikely communication made possible by ‘enchantment’.
My presentation will draw on the additional materials made available in Verlyn Flieger’s new edition of Smith (2005): Tolkien’s drafts, essay and notes that accompany the development of the story as well as his unfinished introduction to George McDonald’s The Golden Key. Based on an analysis of the four episodes that describe Smith’s experiences within Faery, I will focus on the significance of forest and birch, and the ‘language of trees’ as an important theme in Tolkien’s different conceptions of “Faerie” and his understanding of ‘enchantment’.

Schneidewind, Friedhelm, Farmer Giles of Ham: eine prototypische Drachengeschichte in humorvoller Tradition
Drachen haben Tolkien seit seiner Kindheit interessiert, wie ich u. a. in Hither Shore II ausgeführt habe (S. 56, Fußnote 31). In Mittelerde spielen sie eine eher untergeordnete Rolle, in anderen Werken Tolkiens tauchen sie öfter auf – so in »Roverandom« und den »Briefen vom Weihnachtsmann«. Für »Beowulf« sind Drachen natürlich wesentlich, und in zwei kleineren Werken Tolkiens sind sie Hauptfiguren: In der wunderschönen Ballade »Der Hort« und im »Farmer Giles of Ham«.
Nach einer kurzen Einführung in die Mythologie und Geschichte der Drachen im westlichen Kulturkreis (auf die sich Tolkien hauptsächlich bezieht), einem Überblick über die Bedeutung der Drachen in Tolkiens Werk (s. o.) und einer Inhaltsangabe der Geschichte möchte ich insbesondere drei Aspekte herausarbeiten und darstellen:
  • Die Geschichte ist in vieler Hinsicht prototypisch: Tolkien verwendet klassische literarische und mythologische Topoi, aus Mythen, Sagen und Legenden, und gestaltet sie um. Ich werde diese und ihre Verwendung aufzeigen.
  • Die Geschichte weist viele Besonderheiten auf, u. a. was die humorvolle Gestaltung betrifft. Damit steht Tolkien in einer Traditionslinie, die u. a. von Edith Nesbit bis zu Joanne K. Rowling reicht. Ich werde diese Tradition aufzeigen, Tolkiens Spiel damit und die Besonderheiten.
Die Geschichte sagt einiges über Tolkien als Mensch und Autor aus: über seine Leidenschaft dafür, realwirkliche Phänomene zu erklären mit literarischen, erfundenen Gegebenheiten, und über seinen ausgeprägten Humor (auch hierin ein Vorbild für Rowling). Ich will dies verdeutlichen und zeigen, wie stark dieses Werk von Tolkien moderne Drachengeschichten beeinflusst hat.

Spirito, William, Speaking with animals: a “‘desire’ that lies near the heart of Faerie”
Beasts and birds often talk like men in fairy-stories. To some extent, this marvel derives from one of the primal ‘desires’ that lie near the heart of Faerie: the desire of men to hold communion with other living things. But our language has little to do with that desire, and is often wholly oblivious of it. We desire instead the understanding of the proper languages of birds and beasts as such, and that is much nearer to the true purpose of Fearie.
Fairy-stories are plainly not primarily concerned with possibility, but with desirability. This desire, as ancient as the Fall, reveals a sense of separation – or even severance – of ourselves from beasts. Man has broken off relations, and looks now only from the outside ... with a few who are privileged to travel abroad a little; others must be content with travellers’ tales – “even about frogs” (Tolkien added in On Fairy-Stories).
What is this desire, this ‘desirability’ or even ‘possibility’ to us?
We’ll try to find an answer through the dynamics that underlie a couple of the sub-creational Tales from the Perilous Realm, i.e., The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (I and II) and Farmer Giles of Ham (or rather Garm of Ham).

Weichmann, Christian, Natur, Kunst und Technik in Tolkiens kleineren Werken.
Gerade in den kleineren Werken hat Tolkien die Möglichkeiten auch moderne Technik zu thematisieren. Daher kann er hier auch den Gegensatz zwischen der unbeeinflussten wilden Natur und der durch den Menschen beeinflussten und zwar im positiven Sinne durch Kunst oder im aus Tolkiens Sicht eher negativen durch Technik. Diese unterschiedlichen Sichten werden in diesem Vortrag dargestellt und gegenübergestellt.

Qui è possibile scaricare in pdf il calendario degli interventi.
Qui è possibile scaricare in pdf il documento con tutti gli abstract.

Confidiamo che i nostri due italiani tengano alta la bandiera e speriamo di poter mettere presto le mani sugli atti.

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At 07 maggio, 2007 16:53, Anonymous Anonimo said...

Ti ringrazio moltissimo della pubblicità e dei commenti positivi. Il convegno è stato una splendida esperienza, che sarebbe meraviglioso poter ripetere in Italia... anche se per ora sembra solo un sogno destinato a non realizzarsi. Comunque, a più tardi per i resoconti!

At 08 maggio, 2007 23:08, Blogger Shelidon said...

Non pensare di cavartela con i ringraziamenti: vogliamo il resoconto! :-p


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