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A super abundance of unfair weapons has led to the lack of chivalry
In a recent post I explained Rivers' 'conversion' from evolutionary to diffusionist models of social change. Before returning to psychology – and articulating a particular thesis about Cambridge moral science in my next post – I highlight some salient features of the two models by way of a ...
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On Hobbits. Part III.

The third and final part of my series Concerning Hobbits...

Today I'm going to use the two previous posts in this series to suggest an answer. These earlier posts presented facts - that is, claims easily verifiable by looking at original texts. Today I'm going to move from the fact to an interpretation - a Hobbit hypothesis, if you will. 

Let's quickly rehearse the facts:

(1) Like most British scholars since the 1880s, Tolkien took it for granted that the British Isles had been inhabited by a succession of peoples, each of whom had interbred with and mixed with the older inhabitants, and - furthermore - that the first settlers predated the Celts.

(2) Tolkien's earliest stories (c.1917) refer to this background of invasions but posit the original settlers not to have been humans but Elves - who have a special connection with the Anglo-Saxons.

Now my first suggestion (which I think pretty clear from the early stories) is that Tolkien felt uneasy with the idea of the English taking their present land from others (i.e. Celtic-speakers) and wished to strengthen the tie between the English (people and culture) and the land (of modern day England).

This seems certainly to be going on with the early stories of the Elves fading in the face of the Celtic and Roman invasions - and then perking up again when the English arrive.

But it is also clear that Tolkien was unhappy with this early idea of England as the last refuge of the Elves. His early stories chop and change and, by the late 1920s, the idea was pretty much abandoned.

Now let me add another fact. Around 1930 Tolkien was researching Celtic folklore in an attempt to comment on the name Nodens found on some inscriptions on the Welsh border. From the essay that resulted we know this research led him to read carefully the writings of John Rhys, the first Oxford Professor of Celtic (whose lectures Tolkien probably attended as an undergraduate).

And here is my Hobbit hypothesis: Tolkien found in Rhys a new solution to his old problem. More concretely, in reading Rhys, Tolkien discovered Hobbits.

Rhys believed that Welsh fairy tales contained dim memories of a 'little people' who had inhabited the British Isles before the coming of the Celtic-speakers. From the tales he inferred that these first settlers were: 

“a small swarthy population of mound-dwellers, of an unwarlike disposition… and living underground.”

And turning to archaeology, Rhys pointed to the remains of “certain underground – or partially underground – habitations.” He connected these dwellings with Britain’s native settlers, and observed that some of their homes:

“appear from the outside like hillocks covered with grass, so as presumably not to attract attention… But one of the most remarkable things about them is the fact that the cells or apartments into which they are divided are frequently so small that their inmates must have been of very short stature…”

Here is a Hobbit hole. 

Indeed, Tolkien's essay on ‘The Name “Nodens”’ - which reveals a deep engagement with Rhys' scholarship - was published in 1932 – the same year that Tolkien first wrote down in manuscript form the story that would be published five years later as The Hobbit.

How did this provide Tolkien with a new solution to his old problem?

The key is found in Tolkien's 1955 lecture 'English and Welsh' (delivered the day after publication of 'The Return of the King').

Here Tolkien distinguishes between our linguistic and cultural inheritance, on the one side, and our biological inheritance, on the other. 

What this means is that the modern English have inherited a language and culture with roots in the land between the North Sea and the Baltic - the original homeland of the English.

But what this also means is that many of the modern English have inherited inner dispositions and predilections - a consuming passion for mushrooms, for example - from Rhys' small and peaceful population of mound-dwellers.

If my hypothesis is correct we are now in a position to answer that most delicious of questions: what is a Hobbit?

Hobbits are (a somewhat tongue-in-cheek) representation of the little people that back in 1900 Rhys had identified as Britain’s first farmers. But because this original population has never been driven from the land, Hobbits are at the same time a depiction of the inherited ‘inner selves’ of many who live in England today.

Hobbits are that part of the English people that is native to the land; they are Tolkien’s way of explaining why the modern English truly belong to the land now called England.

And 'The Hobbit' is a story of how this native part of us comes to terms with its English cultural inheritance: the tale of a peaceful bachelor, with a penchant for bacon and eggs, who rediscovers himself by venturing out into the perilous world of ancient English tradition; there, and back again.

You can disagree with the interpretation, but if you do the onus is on you to explain the facts in a better way!

#Hobbits   #TheHobbit   #Tolkien  
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On Tolkien's Hobbits

I want to set out here - in posts today and tomorrow - a couple of keys to understanding the origin of Hobbits. These are offered as G+ trailers to the release of my History Vault essay on Hobbits later in the week.

Today's key unlocks Tolkien's idea of the racial identity of the population of modern Britain.

In a nutshell, Tolkien believed that Britain was populated by pre-Celtic farmers, and that this population had survived all invasions and mingled its blood with each wave of invaders.

In my essay I argue that Tolkien's Hobbits are (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) representations of these original settlers of the British Isles. One reason why this is a novel claim is because of an enduring myth that Tolkien held to 'an old fashioned Anglo-Saxon invasion theory' such that the English tribes who migrated to Britain from the 5th century AD killed or drove from the land all the native Britons. 

This particular misconception about Tolkien is actually part of a much more widespread and strangely enduring myth that the idea of the intermingling and mixture of incomers and natives is somehow new- a product of very recent post-modernist scholarship.

For example, in his book Tolkien and Wales (2011), Carl Phelpstead, the Cardiff Professor of English Literature asserts that a the model of total displacement of population “held the field from c.1849 to the second half of the twentieth century”.

In my online essay I point to statements by Tolkien that show that he did not hold to this model (and I should say that Phelpstead agrees with this point - where he gets it wrong is in his suggestion that Tolkien was making a novel claim).

So now let me simply offer a few quotations culled from the history of scholarship that point to the fact that, since the 1870s, English scholars have taken it as given that the modern population of England is of mixed race.

Let us start with Canon William Greenwell’s British Barrows (1877), an archaeological survey of prehistoric sepulchral mounds. From the evidence – most notably skulls – that he unearthed, Greenwell constructed the following narrative concerning Briton's original settlers and the incoming Celtic-speakers:

A small indigenous people, Greenwell concluded, had been “intruded upon and conquered by [a] more powerfully made round-headed folk”. But over time, the intruding people "were gradually absorbed by the earlier and more numerous race”, and, “as time went on,” so “intermixture between the peoples became common” and, in the end, “they would become identified as one people.”

Let us jump ten years, to 1887 and the Oxford Assyriologist Archibald Sayce on the English invasion of a Britain occupied by Celtic-speakers:

“A few years ago”, Sayce observed, “it was the fashion to assert that the English people were mainly Teutonic in origin, and that the British population had been exterminated”. But the consensus now was that “the British population, instead of being exterminated, lived under and by the side of their Teutonic invaders.”

And finally, let us jump to 1928 and note Tolkien's friend and Oxford colleague, R.G. Collingwood, observing in the Journal of Roman Studies that the fact of mixture of population is:

“the unanimous verdict of modern English students. The ‘clean sweep’ theory of an earlier generation is nowadays never mentioned by any historian, archaeologist, or linguistic scholar, except in order to criticise or even to ridicule it. We are all agreed that the Anglo-Saxon settlers found a considerable Romano-British population in England, and that, in the main, they absorbed this population.”

In short, from the late 1870s onward scholars had agreed that the history of the British Isles was one of mixture of population, not ethnic cleaning.

Which is to say that Tolkien took it for granted that the blood of the original pre-Celtic settlers of the British Isles flowed in the veins of the population of modern England.

Why this mattered so much to him I shall explain tomorrow.
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All I'm saying is he matches the criteria
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Why Socrates Chose Hemlock
It's a sad fact that written words remain as they are on the paper or wherever
it is the technical device keeps them. They do not move around, they do not
rearrange themselves. They just sit where a person puts them. Yet over time
their meaning changes. ...
It's a sad fact that written words remain as they are on the paper or wherever it is the technical device keeps them. They do not move around, they do not rearrange themselves. They just sit where a person puts them. Yet over...
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Some time in the next few hours there'll be a battle between your correspondent and a whole series of technical devices, many of which are prone to asking totally incomprehensible questions. Window 98, second edition is still a mysterious alien super power with very little user friendliness to me, so god knows what's going to happen.

If successful you might hear a clunking sound as A Derailment hits the ether. If not, this could be farewell because odds are there'll be bloodhounds and zoo keepers with nets hunting the woodlands for a deranged writer of pulp. All the same, go ahead be brave Contact Me for a free copy of either Tim Candler's, A Derailment or for updates from Tim Candler's Competency Hearing.
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Face aux "peurs", Hollande vante l'apport de l'immigration à la République http://u.afp.com/ERJ #AFP
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Pour son premier grand discours sur l'immigration, deux ans et demi après son élection, François Hollande a fustigé lundi ceux qui agitent la peur d'une "dislocation" de la France ou des accords de Schengen pour vanter au contraire l'apport des immigrés à la République.
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On Tolkien’s Hobbits. Part II

Today I hand over the second key required to unlock the nature of Hobbits. Yesterday I wrote about scholarly ideas of the history of the peoples of the British Isles. Today I turn to the history of Tolkien’s own imagination.

First, a question: before Tolkien had the idea of Hobbits living in a Britain of long ago, when there was less noise and more green, what magical race did he conceive to dwell on this island?

The answer: Elves.

English Elves (or as he also called them back then, Fairies) appear in ‘The Book of Lost Tales’ – the seed out of which grew 'The Silmarillion' and which a young Tolkien began to write back in 1917 after the Battle of the Somme. 

Back in 1917 there was no Second and Third Age - the ‘lost tales’ tell of a period of time not so long before the first recorded history. They are stories of great and terrible deeds “in the Northern regions of the Western World” – that is, in the regions that later became the first homeland of the English. 

But Tolkien imagines the tales being told long after these events.

Their telling is set in a period after the great wars between the Elves and Morgoth when most Elves have already departed from Middle-earth, sailing over the western ocean. But this is a time before the migration of the English to their new homes on the British Isles. One Englishman sails from his native Angle in the east and arrives at the island of Britain where he encounters the last Elves still dwelling on the edge of Middle-earth.

These Elves tell the traveler their stories of an earlier age in the history of the world and, because he passes these stories on to his sons, and they to theirs,  writes the young Tolkien, so today the English “have the true traditions of the fairies, of whom the Íras and the  _Wéalas_ (the Irish and Welsh) tell garbled things.”

Very interesting. But what has any of this got to do with Hobbits?

Well, these English Elves are absolutely not Hobbits by another name. They are Elves as we know them from the later writings. 

Except, in these very early writings, Tolkien plays with the idea of the Elves being small, or at least diminishing in size. In this way he connects these English Elves - as he would later do with Hobbits - to traditional folktales of 'the little people'.

These Elves are also caught up with the history of migrations and incursions into Britain that I wrote about yesterday. In fact Tolkien suggests that in the face of the invasion of each new Celtic tribe or Roman legion so the Elves grow smaller and more ethereal - they still exist but become almost invisible to the 'Big People'.

But things are different when the English arrive. The Elves feel a special connection with the newcomers, even speaking to them in their own language - Old English.

So these Elves are absolutely not the same race as Hobbits; but they do play a vaguely similar role in Tolkien's wider imagination. Specifically they serve to connect the incoming English to an original population settled in the British Isles.

Can all this be stated more simply and more clearly?

Absolutely. 

But don't be hasty. I promised to give you the keys to unlock the meaning of Hobbits. But to use the keys you must first find the keyhole! 

Tomorrow will shine the last light of Durin’s Day and, Inshallah, we can unlock the door and even descend down the passage to glimpse Smaug's stolen treasure.
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who would wish it?
 
Hongrie: un chef d'oeuvre de la peinture retrouvé grâce à "Stuart Little" http://u.afp.com/E7P #AFP
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"A frenzy of vicious barking and growling exploded from the pit bull across the hall. David jumped, his heart racing as the noise blasted up and down the corridor. Claws digging at metal made his teeth ache. He’d love to get the hideous monster into the lab and perform a laryngectomy. He gave the dog the finger."

View the latest book bubble from The Organ Takers: A Novel of Surgical Suspense: http://bit.ly/1xaWfuc

Go here to read the opening chapters and watch the trailer: http://bit.ly/1kRQfjb

#thriller   #suspense    #books    #novel  
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I too have often wished to perform a laryngectomy on a number of domestic pets. Do you give lessons?
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A Manifestation of Wrong Words
There may have to be a pogrom, or a potlatch if you prefer. The trouble I
suspect is not they who have offended the gods, it is I who have offended the
gods. And as one who at root is deeply superstitious, or a sufferer from
imagination if you prefer, I ...
There may have to be a pogrom, or a potlatch if you prefer. The trouble I suspect is not they who have offended the gods, it is I who have offended the gods. And as one who at root is deeply superstitious, or a sufferer from ...
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