So I'm doing a paper on the works of Tolkien, and we just had a lecture todday on how The Lord of the Rings is essentially racist because of its Eurocentrism.
Is this really a valid criticism? Is it wrong for a man to write a story that takes inspiration from his own ancestry and culture? I feel like this is something that only a white man could be criticized for.
>It is a racist culture which it's taking inspiration from
That is debatable.
And even if it was, are we supposed to re-write history now and just omit certain cultures that arent modernized? Should this be extended to all cultures or only whites?
Well all the heroes are white and many of the enemies are dark-skinned. On the other hand, it takes place in prehistoric Europe, so that makes sense, I suppose. Also there are plenty of shitty white people, too.
You could do a post-colonial reading of LotR and come up with a argument for racism. You could also make an case for the "races" seen the narratives are in actuality an ideology. Men, elves, and orcs are all capable of interbreeding. The orcs were just corrupted elves. Hobbits are related to men.
The only issues would be the longevity of the elves and the presence of the dwarves. The first could explained due to the extensive use of magic by the elves, and how they are forced to leave Middle Earth after the destruction of the One Ring. As their own rings are no longer preserving the magic around their lands. Not sure about the dwarves though.
Yeah, the dwarves are meant to be Jews, I forgot about them.
I've always thought it was a pretty flattering portrayal of the Jewish people, honestly, though I can see how someone could take it as an insult.
>book that is very openly inspired by Christianity and Norse myth
>surprised that it centralizes European values
Criticizing LotR for Eurocentrism is like criticizing the Iliad for Hellas-centricism
I never got the Jewish connection from the dwarves. They seemed more like the traditional dwarves from Viking folklore. Yes they were greedy, but so were the dwarves in the Sagas. It was the influence of the rings that made it especially bad.
As a black guy its the white people who call Tolkien's work racist that make me sleep a little better at night after I see blacks do stupid shit..
Wanna know my favourite(Not really, but for the point's sake) little detail about the LotR? It's that he calls the far Southrons 'Half Trolls' iirc.
That shit immersed me so much. It made the place feel real that the Westrons would have rarely, if ever, seen a black guy and would have simply assumed they were another one of the worlds fantastical creatures. This was something done by white Europeans way before any concept of racial superiority came along, back when they viewed images of blacks with outright fascination.
So no, it is not a valid criticism, fight tooth and nail in your essay to make clear that it's not.
No he’s not, he’s the same race as Gandalf and Saruman; they don’t have fixed form.
How can it be racist (classifing ppl into different races) if there really are species in his book? it's not like elves and dwarfs ever mate or elves and orks or men and orks or anything.
the only thing that happens rarely is an elvish-men progeny and the scholars debate wether this would be kind of a mule, infertile and so on. lets assume in tolkiens world they are not infertile but all children of men and elves are defenitely mortal so elves might have a higher number of chromosomes than men and the ones that cause immortality cant link but also don't cause trouble in the offspring. this is impossible if they have regular additional chromosomes cause the child would always end up with a number of unpaired chromosomes causing it to be infertile.
however there are also organisms that have circular chromosomes that do not need to be paired to be heird to their offspring, in an interbred species they would just not have an effect cause they can't be interpreted and would be discarded a generation down.
so in conclusion: if the author for whatever reason made up different species that have distinct individual features and can't or dont interbreed it is an actual depiction of world with more than one concious species. (like star-trek)
if however one assumes he meant all of it as a metaphor to war and race in his time one can clearly take his later remarks into account that he didn't. he never meant it to be a metaphor and stated that. he menat to write a story, a fairytale. and he hardly opposed any over-interpretation of that. (see the appendicies to the simmarillion by his son or the radio-interview on the extras to the extended edition movie)
so by asking this question your teacher is racist by attributing characteristics of fictional species to people. he's basically assuming one can call one part of the population inferior, anotherone superior by attributing their characterisitcs to real people. tolkien didn't do that, the one asking the question does in the moment he asks the question.
>wah include us!!!
>guh ANOTHER white male trying to write about a world and culture he doesnt know for his own profits
considering that both tolkien and his son were incredibly adamant to people trying to find allegories in the lord of the rings, calling it an exercise in futility, I don't see how or even why you could criticize the novel on its 'eurocentrism'. in fact, what kind of nonsense is it to call a work racist because just because its author just so happens to be a scholar an expert on old european languages and cultures? It's as seemingly random as chiding Gogol for not including any American characters in his oeuvre
see the cgp-grey video on that. dwarves, ents, trolls and dragons (and also the eagles) are all offspring of different valar while men and elves are directly connected to eru illuvatar, so the only species to possibly interbreed are men and elves (and also trolls and dagons cause they are both offspring of melkor, wonder how that would work) however, since they just have a close common ancestor they can basically interbreed like tiger and lion creating ligers and tigons or like horses and donkeys creating mules and hinnies. irl those would be infertile but i've posted here >>7676827
a way around. hobbits however are related to men but i see very little evidence of racial diskrimination between men and hobbits.
orcs on the other hand are related to elves so they could possibly interbreed. interestingly orks seem to be incredibly mortal.
orks are breed for a purpose just like poodles have been bread from wolves for a rather dubious reason. so one could say orcs really are a race in the strongest meaning of the word. they are a race of elves wich have a few sub-races on their own.
however. tolkien actually strongly opposed any over-interpretation and didn't mean all that as a metaphor.
so you can say:
a) there are real species like in startrek
b) there are races actually purposefully bred to be races
c) none of that matters because its a fairytale and the author stated that it was not meant to be a metaphor for anything
Gandalf and Saruman are of the Istari, which are spirit forms that emigrated from the Undying Lands. There are only five.
Sauron is one of the Maiar, much higher beings. Sauron existed before Middle Earth or the Undying Lands.
istari are a subset of the maiar and sauron is a maiar, the istari are the maiars send to middle earth later while sauron was already the leutenant of morgoth but the istari, the ballrog, and sauron are all maiar. the much higher beings are the valar and morgoth was one of them
We were talking about this last week in class. The Hobbit was a fairy story for his kids. LotR was just a continuation of that project.
The thing is, if you look hard enough you can find almost anything in a narrative.
The man consciously avoided any and all direct parallels to the modern world while writing it (with the exception of Sarumon=industry) because he thought allegory was a shit-tier form of writing.
So no, it is not a valid criticism.
Fuck no it's not racist to write about your own culture.
I never understand why people get so worked up about eurocentrism. Like yeah, things made in Europe by europeans (or America by european descendants) are going to be eurocentric.
This is a valid point but it doesn't necessarily mean tolkien is racist, just that the ancient european myths and legends he based LOTR off of are.
That's a pretty dull criticism honestly. It's incredibly hard to read the mind of a dead man. One could claim racism based on the cultural design of your story. But that would be a very silly criticism to me personally considering there is no moral obligation to toss all cultures into a fantasy story.
Alright guys, be real with me here. The LotR movies never really grabbed me, but I see Tolkien on every list that this place makes.
As someone who really isn't into fantasy novels, is it really worth the read?
It spawned Modern Fantasy. All mythologies are fantasy; medieval romances are fantasy; many epics are fantasy.
The difference is hard to narrow down: for a moment, I wanted to say that Modern Fantasy differentiates from Old Fantasy because Modern Fantasy does not take place in our world. However, I remember reading a few YA fantasy novels that took place in 'our world', which invalidates that.
>Massive and indolent power squatting go on traditional home
>Secret language and names ( a la medieval Spanish Jews)
>Craftsmen and jewelers
>have badass warrior ancestors who fought against EVERY single empire of import.
Like others have said, start with the Hobbit.
If you have a love for archaic language and poetry, like I do, you'll love it and go back to it every time you want to get a bit of inspiration. It's a Romance in the medieval sense. Perhaps the greatest and last of them. The devout love and sincere effort Tollers put into it is truly awe-inspiring.
I've been thinking about this lately, and unfortunately the mainstream politically correct of today would absolutely consider LOTR to be racist.
Aragorn's speech at the Black Gate and his appeal to the "Men of the West" would never make into a movie today.
who ever is forcing you to write that novel hasn't even read Tolkien. Or have any understanding of the world for that matter.
Was there meant to be blacks everywhere all the time or something? Black men come from the east which happened to be ruled by Melkor, Melkor corrupted them from a very young age and few were able to escape his grasp and they served out of fear.
Anyone who says Tolkien is a racist is retarded. Evil doesn't even exist in his world once you read deeper. You should write your essay as condescending as possible.
>It was the influence of the rings that made it especially bad.
No, they were created by Aule, and cursed by Eru to love their creations above everything. There were evil dwarves before the rings creations, see Mim.
That being said there is no allegory in Tolkiens work.
If it's about European things, it's racist because of eurocentrism. If it includes a part of other cultures, it's racist because of cultural appropriation.
If you interpret enough you will find "racism" in every book.
By the logic that Tolkien is racist you could make the same argument for EVERY other book that doesn't equally feature all cultures equally without discrimination.
A simple test for seeing made up racism is if you imagine a black or an Asian instead of Tolkien.
Would a book by an native African Author about a fictional story inspired by his culture be seen as racists? Most certainly not.
>You should write your essay as condescending as possible
In theory OP is trying to get good grades, not take a stand against his professor so he never gets good grades again
Anyways I think the OP is bait who the fuck would give an assignment like that
>The Lord of the Rings is essentially racist because of its Eurocentrism
Is The Odyssey racist because of its Graeco-centrism? Is Journey to the West racist because of its Sinocentrism?
>Is it wrong for a man to write a story that takes inspiration from his own ancestry and culture?
>I feel like this is something that only a white man could be criticized for.
You're correct. However, when white men write about other cultures, that's "cultural appropriation", which is already bad. (A generation ago it would have been "Orientalism", but that word isn't used anymore because today's progressive commissars don't know who Edward Said is.)
For these people, anything white men do or have done is bad and dumb. If you are a white man, they are your enemy--they hate you and want you to not exist. You don't have to listen to them, and you don't have to let them speak unopposed.
it's not about giving the right or wrong answer but to explain why you came to that conclusion. the best paper would be the one were the professor actually learns something when reading it. so it's totally fine to say the question is bullshit if you explain why.
It was always racist you just have to remember everything is racist, the definition of what's racist is subjective and changes by individual, but no individuals subjective definition is wrong, so they're all right all the time and therefore everything is racist and since the Lord of the Rings is a part of everything, it's therefore racist as hell and problematic also.
Now I know you're gonna say, "but if no definitions can be wrong, then what if one definition is completely contradictory to the other one? How can they both be right if neither one is wrong?"
The answer is very simple: You're acting really racist right now and you need to check your privilege. Okay? Seriously.
>In the last interview before his death, Tolkien, after discussing the nature of Elves, briefly says of his Dwarves: "The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic, obviously, constructed to be Semitic."
Also kick your libtard professor in the ass for me.
the correct answer is that racism doesn't exist any more than sin exists. the concept of it is meaningless to all who aren't believers in the worldview/ideology that created and uses it. important to remember that racism doesn't equal wrong. if someone says something is sinful and i disagree, i'm not going to try changing their whole system. i just shrug and say i don't care. more often than not, this type of stuff is not criticism, it's a complaint.
It's not racist because of its Eurocentrism, it's racist because it assigns thought and behaviour to sentient beings en masse based entirely on their race. It's racist in a very literal way.
I'm pretty sure they are species, I might be wrong though
Also don't the individual characters strictly defy the stereotypes that are laid out?
Gimli and Legolas become friends, as the main character Frodo isn't a content "no adventures allowed" britbong with hairy feet that smokes pipes and drinks tea all day but instead carries the ring around the map and plays an essential part in winning the whole ring war thing and all
That's sort of a central point of the books isn't it?
I'm sure he refers to 'the race of men' at some point, and elves and men can interbreed at the very least.
But he doesn't necessarily make one inferior to the other, even orcs are capable of salvation from evil (because he was hella christy).
Fuck this bullshit. If he had included inspiration of other cultures they'd be calling it cultural appropriation. There's no fucking way to win with these people. Why can't they just read and enjoy a book for what it is?
>Also don't the individual characters strictly defy the stereotypes that are laid out?
Maybe, but I'm not sure they overturn the stereotypes- IIRC they feel like exceptions to otherwise valid generalisations. But I don't remember all that well.
>even orcs are capable of salvation from evil
Huh, really? I remembered them having no redeeming features.
>grow up with fairy tales
>hear of elves, trolls, dwarves, goblins and all
>study old literature intensely
>incorporate these racial characteristics into magnum opus
>after all, why veer from millenia old fairytale tradition?
>years later some cunt holds a lecture calling my work racist for not forcing different cultures into my work even though it's supposed to be a european style epic fantasy
MFW these people exist and are serious
And yet it is still one of the objectively best scenes in cinematic history.
It was a timely movie, I daresay. America, by the time the last two LOTR movies came out, was reeling from the most blatant act of war in national history sans Pearl Harbor.
>This was something done by white Europeans way before any concept of racial superiority came along, back when they viewed images of blacks with outright fascination
I think people knew what black people looked like in the 1950s dude
The "could orcs be saved" stuff comes from notes and letters.
Tolkien thought about it, but not a lot. It depended on the nature and extent of Morgoth's corruption, which he never really explicitly outlined. Basically whether or not orcs were completely "remade" into something else (irredeemable) or were just really bad examples of their original form (in which case salvation was theoretically possible, even if it had never actually happened). Given other examples of evil in the legendarium, the latter is probably the most likely actually.
I hope you're not paying for that class, why bother when you can just browse tumblr instead? Too many schools these days teach modern intellectual fashion rather than anything of substance.
Tolkien was a mild Catholic man, who repeatedly expressed his was not an allegory. Only contemporary retards fishing for relevance and edginess among fellow retards look back to the LotR ready to see racism.
>writing about your own culture
wut? your professor is racist for suggesting that. it is not the job of "white people" whatever the fuck that means, to document the culture of niggers. such a statement denigrates those niggers by suggesting that they are unable to do so themselves.
here is some reductio ad absurdum
>joyce is racist because he only writes about dublin in Ulysses. he should write about Madagascan basket weaving rituals.