Buku Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Volume II by Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

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Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Volume II by Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

Author:Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

Language: eng

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Publisher: West Virginia University Press

Published: 2005-03-31T16:00:00+00:00

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Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Volume II by Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

A Definitive Identification of Tolkien’s “Borgil”: An Astronomical and Literary Approach

Kristine Larsen

As the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring passes, it is especially appropriate that academics and fans alike reflect on the singular richness of the mythology encompassed in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In his role of “sub-creator,” Tolkien crafted a “Secondary World which your mind can enter.” While immersed in this other place, the reader believes in the truth of it “while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed” (MC 132). Tolkien’s unsurpassed ability to invent such a self-contained universe was a reflection of his own widely varied interests. Science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp noted that Tolkien was “one of those people who has literally read everything, and can converse intelligently on just about any subject” (Carter 25).

 

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Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Volume II by Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

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Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Volume II by Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

Author:Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger , Date: June 6, 2019

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Author:Douglas A. Anderson & Michael D. C. Drout & Verlyn Flieger

Language: eng

Format: azw3

Publisher: West Virginia University Press

Published: 2005-03-31T16:00:00+00:00
A Definitive Identification of Tolkien’s “Borgil”: An Astronomical and Literary Approach

Kristine Larsen

As the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring passes, it is especially appropriate that academics and fans alike reflect on the singular richness of the mythology encompassed in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In his role of “sub-creator,” Tolkien crafted a “Secondary World which your mind can enter.” While immersed in this other place, the reader believes in the truth of it “while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed” (MC 132). Tolkien’s unsurpassed ability to invent such a self-contained universe was a reflection of his own widely varied interests. Science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp noted that Tolkien was “one of those people who has literally read everything, and can converse intelligently on just about any subject” (Carter 25).

Among the subjects which interested Tolkien, and thus helped shaped Middle-earth, was astronomy. His daughter, Priscilla, verified that her father “had a general interest in” astronomy (Quiñonez and Raggett 5). Several authors1 have summarized the remarkable breadth of astronomical allusions contained in Tolkien’s work, but a sufficient taste may be found in Tolkien’s published letters. For example, in a 24 April 1944 letter to his son, Christopher, Tolkien recounted how he “struggled with recalcitrant passage in ‘The Ring.’ At this point I require to know how much later the moon gets up each night when nearing full, and how to stew a rabbit!” (Letters 74). In another letter to Christopher dated 14 May 1944, he further explained that his writing was being “hindered by… trouble with the moon. By which I mean that I found my moons in the crucial days between Frodo’s flight and the present situation (arrival at Minas Morghul) were doing impossible things, rising in one part of the country and setting simultaneously in another” (Letters 80). In a letter to Naomi Mitchison dated 25 September 1954, Tolkien explained the Númenorean story of the rounding of the world by the fact that “So deep was the impression made by ‘astronomy’ on me that I do not think I could deal with or imaginatively conceive a flat world….” (Letters 197).

It is in the context of these and numerous other examples from Tolkien’s own notes and letters that the following passage from the chapter “Three’s Company” in The Fellowship of the Ring should be understood:

The night grew on, and the lights in the valley went out. Pippin fell asleep, pillowed on a green hillock.

Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt. (FR, I, iii, 91)

Tolkien’s own description of the history of Middle-earth as

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