Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Blog Post 1: The Land of Faery

In today's class discussion, we talked about Tolkien's conception of "faery" as a place where sub-creation takes place. Sub-creation is a difficult concept: briefly, it is the idea that, as beings "created" in God's image (in a Christian theological world view), people have an instinctive desire to create. This instinct toward creation is not just a desire to create things, like inlaid tables or hand-carved salad bowls, but is a desire to create worlds, and beings, on our own.

This view of sub-creation, then, influences his understanding of how faerie stories work. Tolkien laid out a few guidelines for the development of faerie stories:
  1. Fairy stories depend on belief. If the author of a fairy story is not taking his material seriously, the audience will detect his lack of belief and the story will cease to work as a true fairy story.
  2. Fairy stories must be presented as real and true. They can't be illusions, or dreams.
  3. Fairy stories are about humanity. There may be elves and dwarves and wizards and dragons. But fairy stories are grounded in their attention to humanity, and human concerns give them their depth and meaning.
  4. Fairy stories can be jovial and less than serious about almost anything. But one aspect must always be taken seriously: magic. If the magic of a fairy story is treated with anything less than respect, the fairy story will not function as a fairy story.
  5. Finally, Tolkien tells us that fairy stories have two main purposes. First, they respond to a human desire to "survey the depths of time and space." Second, they respond to a human desire to "hold communion with other living things."
With all of this in mind, you should comment on how these concepts seem to play out in Tolkien's own work. Do these principals apply to his stories about Middle Earth? Do they apply to the shorter, smaller tales about Farmer Giles, Smith of Wooten Major, or Niggle?

You don't need to respond to all of those questions, but you need to clearly comment in response to the preceding concepts. I look forward to what you have to say . . .


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  3. In class today, we discussed how Tolkien disagreed with talking animals being a major part of fairy stories, and that they are more included in fables. Yet, in Farmer Giles, the dog often talks and is portrayed as an ordinary house dog. This was something that confused me, while as there were fantastical giants and dragons that certainly made Farmer Giles a fairy story, he originally contradicts his own definition by including a more fable-like animal. Smith of Wooten Major followed these points very well, in my opinion. When Alf reveals himself as the king of Faerie, it became evident that magic was to be taken very seriously in this world. However, like with Farmer Giles, Tolkien seemed to have contradicted one of his own problems with the Disney-fied version of fairy stories in that he didn't like the idea of travelling from one land to a Faerie land, yet the village in which Smith of Wooten Major actually takes places seems to be rather ordinary. Overall, Tolkien goes along with the "rules" listed above, yet always seems to break another of the unlisted ones that we discussed in class today.
    Lauren Miller

  4. Tolkien's distaste for the simplification of fairy stories seems evident in "Smith of Wootton Major." The character of Alf seems disdainful of Nokes's casual treatment of fairies in his portrayal of the Fairy Queen as a tiny doll-like creature on top of a cake. Likewise, when the Smith is given the star, or the "passport" to the fairy realm, the magic of the world is portrayed in vast, sweeping imagery, not "dumbed down" the way that Nokes treated the subject. Therefore, in this story, Tolkien adheres to the rules listed above, however not as closely as he does with the Middle Earth mythology. In this case, the entire foundation must be based on these rules; with a short story there is room for leeway in order to prove a point (such as the satirical elements of "Farmer Giles of Ham").

  5. These concepts do indeed play out in Tolkien's work. All of them deal with humans, first and foremost. They all have other non-human creatures, like fairies, giants, dwarves, elves, and so forth, but they all deal with humans and their emotions, decisions and interactions. There's always significance associated with the human action (such as Boromir's dynamic interaction with Frodo and the One Ring, Giles' interaction with the dragon, townsfolk and the king, and Niggle's interaction with his neighbor, the voices and the shepherd) in each story. The human element is prevalent in Tolkien's work, always finding a way back to addressing the audience, who we can safely presume is human. This not only makes the stories more personal and significant, but also holds true to his own tenant of Faerie Stories.
    Magic is also all throughout Tolkien's work. True to his own, again, it is always taken with the utmost seriousness, and never questioned. For example, when Niggle is presented with his masterpiece in the flesh, realized as a physical environment, he is more surprised and happy than incredulous. He takes it in stride, and starts to live in his world rather than question its origin. Also, Smith experiences quite a bit of magical things in the land of Fairy, such as the Wind, the talking birch, and a solid lake with fire beings beneath, among other wonders. It just is. Magic is treated as a normal, common occurrence in Tolkien's works, and is never cast in a negative or questioning light. This would support that Tolkien follows two of his tenants in this quality: that concerning Magic, and belief. The moment things are unbelievable, the story loses its aspect of Faerie Tale. Never do any characters doubt what is happening around them to be impossible, or is a concept so far-fetched that would discourage readers' belief.
    These aspects keep the tales a wonderful adventure for the reader, one that is believable, enjoyable, and packed with relational meaning. Tolkien holds true to these and other tenants in his own writing, setting a prime example.

  6. When Tolkien wrote LotR, he took it VERY seriously. probably more so than any author previous, and perhaps even more than any author since. I mean, he wrote a history book about Middle Earth: the silmarillion. That can't be said about many other works. He even wrote the silmarillion prior to the popularity of the other books, and desired them to be viewed alongside the main story. There is no doubt that he believes wholeheartedly in the world that he created. It is as if all Middle Earth was already there, and he just managed to stop by and record its history. This mentality of the writing lends it to be very believable, and it is easy to become immersed in the fiction, and then forget that it is fiction at all.

    I am not sure if "Leaf by Niggle" is a fairy story, by Tolkien's definition. It seems very pedestrian, with a lot of vague things that are just understood. Such as the 'Journey.' To me it seemed like an allegory for death. His life being before he went on the journey, and death as a journey itself. He goes to a sort of purgatory, and then once he has worked hard and well, and paid his dues, he goes to a veritable paradise of creativity. His creative capacity in this place was unbridled. eventually, the 'shepherd' came and took him on one last journey to a very final-seeming high up place: the mountains. I may be wrong, and please tell me if I am, but arent allegorical stories like Niggle outside the realm of the fairy story? this story in particular isnt too didactic, but it seems to be lacking some key elements.

    To respond to the previous posts, In Smith of Wooten Major I like the Idea of the star being a 'passport' into faery for the bearer, however again isnt this a kind of travelers story? We transport the character into Faery, and out again having learned something or with some kind of trinket to show for his walking. I like the idea of being lucky enough to be chosen by somebody to be the star-bearer and gain the passport into the faery realm. The smith doesnt seem to take much advantage of the gift he was given however, he just walks about, not really interacting with many people (except for he few times with important elves) and when he comes back he doesnt share his tales of wonder and travel, he just sits down with his family and goes through another day.

    Danny Parker

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  9. All of Tolkien's concepts of "farey" are thoroughly focused in all of his major works. A midst all the mythological creatures and along with non-human mythical races, human emotions are very prominent in Tolkien's work. For instance, in Leaf by Niggle, the relationship between Niggle and his neighbor Mr. Parish is highly emotive throughout the entire story. By putting this emotions into play, Tolkien captures the reader's attention and the reader is able relate to what the characters are feeling. In other words, humanity is present in both fairy tales and reality. Another element is the concept of magic along with the idea of the world of fairy tales being real. This is shown in Leaf by Niggle, where the world for which is depicted in his painting becomes physically and ends up living in this world of his for which he created.

  10. In my opinion, J.R.R. Tolkien follows all the rules that he has set down for what a fairy-story is. But the two rules that I see the most in his writing are the first two rules: the author must take his story seriously and believe n it, and that the author must present it as real. Tolkien takes these ideas to a new level. The Lord of the Rings does not read like a story, it reads like someone is talking about a historical event. He takes LotR very seriously and presents it as real. That is one of the things that fascinates me about the Lord of the Rings. It is so well written and taken so seriously that it is hard to tell that it is just a story sometimes. Tolkien even does this with his other stories. In Smith of Wooten Major, Tolkien writes it as if he was just telling a story about this guy he knew from the other town. It is taken very seriously. The one image I get from all of his stories is that they seem real. And that is a major component of a fairy-story, according to Tolkien. So I think that these concepts that Tolkien espoused to be an integral part of a fairy-story are all things that Tolkien himself used in his work.

  11. Reading the Lord of the Rings, the concepts of "farey" are clearly there. The dialogue between the hobbits and Gandalf clearly illustrate the need for a great respect of magic and how serious it really is. The clearest example of this comes from when the Fellowship crosses over the Red Horn Gate, even though the company is almost about to freeze Gandalf is reluctant to conjure up any fire to keep them warm except at the most dire of need.

    Also these ideas are demonstrated in Smith of Wootton Major. The clearest examples are demonstrated between the contrast of Alf and Nokes. Alf is respectful of the land of farey and of the silver star that he puts into the cake, where Nokes simply dismissed it all together as trickery. Alf becomes an excellent master chef and is well loved, where Nokes career and life seem to indicate that he didn't have much success since he grows extremely fat and is all alone in his old age. The final seen then between Alf and Nokes seems to show the difference between respecting and believing the magic and not.

  12. Nokes from "The Smith of Wootton Major" seems to embody what Tolkien thinks should not go into faery stories. First off, Nokes is a misanthrope with inflated ideas of his own self importance, which is a major clue that we are not supposed to agree with his ideas. We are shown a bit of his world view with his memories of how the children ate his cake, which are much harsher than Alf's and appear to be more from his expectations of children than what actually happened. Along with his low view of children comes his association of faeries with children, which then shows his low opinion of faeries. Nokes whittles down the faeries to a tiny, sparkly, laughing doll on top of a cake for children. Tolkien reacts with horror to the practice of dumbing things down for children and reducing the full splendor of faery. However, Nokes believes faeries are suitable entertainment for children, but laughs at Alf's warning that the silver star is out of fairy. That is Nokes's greatest "sin": his lack of belief in the magic. From my memory, he is one of the few of Tolkien's characters who don't naturally accept magic and fantastical things as part of their world. Nokes continues mocking Alf all the way up to when Alf reveals himself as the King of Faery. What could have been a large character development moment is lost when Nokes decides it was all just a dream (see point 2). Despite being an unpleasant man with unpleasant view, nothing bad happens to Nokes as punishment. He just lives out the rest of his uneventful life, which perhaps is the punishment. He is presented with a world far beyond his own and rejects it and is never able to grasp anything beyond himself. He misses out and doesn't even know it.

  13. Tolkien's work consistently adheres to his definition of what it means to be a true fairy-story. On a few minor points I would question the tenacity of the adherence because it seems that Farmer Giles of Ham has elements of a fable, and Smith of Wootton Major has elements of a travelers tale. Once inside Faery Smith acts out exactly what it means to be in a fairy-story. However, the fact that he has to get there, travel to Faery, makes me question how perfectly Tolkien minds his own rules. I believe it's saved, though, by the king's presence in Wootton Major as Alf. The two worlds are not so far apart after all.
    It's obvious that Tolkien truly believes his work, at least within the subframe of his created secondary imagining. In this way, perhaps more than any other (sane) author, Tolkien meets his standard of belief in one's own work so that it might be believed by the reader. Tolkien never loses sight of humanity in his work, and magic is always taken seriously. In LotR, while it's Frodo's heroism that seems to be the primary driving force of the plot, it's also Aragorn's return to the throne of Gondor that is eagerly awaited.
    These ideas are easy to see in Middle Earth and obvious on most fronts in Tolkien's short stories. I think the most powerful idea that transcends all Tolkien's work is his desire to write about things that humans desire to experience. We desire the accounting of time and to hold communion with other living things. These ideas permeate Tolkien's work, and his success in crafting them is evident in his work's wild popularity.

    John Taylor

  14. Throughout his works, Tolkein follows the basic rules he has set out for Faery. As the author, he comes off as believing what he wrote has happened and this attitude causes the readers to want to believe the same thing. He also attempts to make his stories seem real by focusing on humans, but adding pieces of faery to them, such as in the Farmer Giles of Ham and in the Smith of Wootton Major. In these stories, the humans are the main characters and the plot largely incorporates pieces of faery as shown by the dragons and giants or the star as a passport to faery.
    In his major works such as the Lord of the Rings, these rules are even more embodied throughout his writing. In the Lord of the Rings, it becomes obvious that Tolkein does believe in what he is writing and that human characteristsc are important as they are seen in even non-human characters. Magic is taken seriousy as shown by Gandolf and the books are written in a way that to readers it seems like a story out of history. Tolkein attempts to follow the guidelines that he obviously believes in as shown by his works.

  15. These concepts do come out in Tolkien's work. While I find that there are some holes in his earlier works, as he wrote more, he seemed to follow every guideline that he considers a fairy story. I would say this is because he was still contemplating his thoughts on the subject of fairy storied as he developed as a writer.

    One story that seemed to be one a little out of the outline he gives for fairy stories was the story of Niggle. The story to me seemed almost unbelievable because we are left with little background of the world in which Niggle lives. He's there for a while, and then goes off on a journey, but I feel we aren't told much about it or why there are voices that determine if he's ready for the next stage or not.

  16. I would like to focus mostly on the story of the Smith of Wootten Major and how it relates to the adult’s view of Fairy stories. The adult view, largely represented by Nokes, is a simplistic view in which Fairy stories are watered down, silly things, and meant for children only. When Nokes “makes” his first Great Cake (for it really was not him, but Alf that did most of the work), he decides to model it after fairies and sweets which “two of the very few notions he had about the tastes of children. Fairies he thought one grew out of; but of sweets he remained very fond.” If Nokes is the viewpoint of an adult, then the Great Cake is like a story shared to children, their first introduction to the realm of Faery. But Nokes himself does not believe in the realm of Faery, and the Great Cake he presents to the children, which was inspired by fairies and contains just a small element from Faery (the fay), is quite literally sugar coated. Most children were awed by his presentation of the cake, but soon forgot about the cake as they grew older. Only one child, Smithson, who ate the fay, did not grow out of fairies, but rather learned more of Faery and explored the realm as he aged.

    In Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories”, he insists that Fairy stories are not for children only, but adults as well. He states “only some children, and some adults, have any special taste for them [fairy stories]; … It is a taste, too, that would not appear, I think, very early in childhood without artificial stimulus; it is certainly one that does not decrease but increases with age, if it is innate.” And for some children who are like Smith, they wander about in the land of Faery and bring back many wonderful things on their adventures. Often times it is in some skills or lessons, but the greatest thing that seems to be brought back from Faery is a fay embedded in the Great Cake, the essence of Faery embedded in a masterfully crafted story. And so in the story of the Smith of Wootten Major, Tolkien outlines the way he believes stories are meant to be told. Adults who walk into the realm of Faery are to come back as messengers and, when the time is right, they must choose who to pass on this essence of Faery to. Not all children are ready at the same time, and not all children have the innate desire to be discoverers in the realm of Faery. But the children who do possess this desire should not be presented with a watered down, dumbed down, sugar coated version which has been “cut off from a full adult art” “banished” from the realm of Faery, and “ruined” from its former glory.

    Hannah Cruze

  17. Tolkien follows his rules to the letter. He takes magic in all forms very seriously, the ancient magic of the dragon in farmer Giles, and the star magic in the Smith of Wooten Major. He even takes the magic of a painting seriously with Niggle. He obviously believes his stories and takes his material very seriously. Each story I have read thus far is grounded in humanity. Farmer Giles deals with the idea of classes. How the knights, in all of their splendor would not and could not slay the dragon, but a lowly farmer from a small outlying village was called upon to take up the task and conquer the dragon.
    Though the thing that confused me was that in class we discussed how Tolkien disliked the idea of faery existing in place you had to travel to get to. That traveling between one world and faery was not to be encouraged in his stories or faery stories of any kind. In both the Smith of Wooten Major and Leaf by Niggle they appear to travel from their established world and into another. In the Smith of Wooten Major, It blatantly says Smith takes long journeys into Faery, and in leaf by Niggle he travels to an unknown undeveloped magical world. These stories confused me, as we discussed his dislike for the traveler story.

    Maggie Meiners

  18. In "Farmer Giles of Ham", Tolkien does indeed seem to follow the guidlines that he himself lays out for a successfuly developed fairy story. If it is necessary for a creator of a fiary story to believe in the material, then it can be said that Tolkien does so very much. The beginnings of the story serve to present to the reader the notion that this story is an entirely factual account of history which he is presenting a translation of. He presents ignorance of geography as the reason why the bounds of the fairy story do not extend beyond a very confined space, giving the reader the opportunity to better immerse themselves into a world that is represnted as "real and true".

    The sotry centers around what can be conidered a human concern. Following the rise of the hero, the cretor of this fairy story depcits the wants, needs, and concerns of Farmer Giles. He follows Giles' emotions as a chance encounter brings him fame but demnads from his much more than he is willing to give, ultimately pushing him to become the hero that everyone thinks him to be.

    "Farmer Giles of Ham" is nothing less than jovial and comedic. Hilarity abounds in the story as more and more ridiculous scenarios are presneted to the reader without detracting from the tale as a whole. From the descritption of the excuses of knights unwilling to go forth and slay a dragon, to a scene in which two unwilling combatants are thrown into battle by the whims of a sword with a mind of its own the creator of this fairy story pokes fun at most everything except the enchantments that are present in the land be it the presence of dragons or runic swords or cowardly talking canine companions.

    Lastly, the fairy story satisfies the need for people to hold commumion with other living things. The hero, Giles, communes with creatures of all sorts: his dog, a dragon, his wife. Surely communicating, taming, and establishing an uneasy rapport with a dragon of all things satisifes this need. As far as the need to survey the depths of time and space, however, as i am not quite sure what that entails, i cannot say whether or not it is satisfied.

  19. Tolkien's "Farmer Giles of Ham" is an exact representation of what he thinks a fairy-story really is. First of all he takes the magic very seriously. The dragon is as real in the story as is Farmer Giles and a magical sword is given a very real and important place in the story. In his story Tolkien never explains away or doubts such magic but treats it as fact. Though Tolkien does bring elements of satire in with the ridiculousness of the farmer's actions and through the satirical eye of the horse that mockery and humor is never in regard to the magic itself. The story also fits Tolkien's description of a fairy-story in that it deals primarily with humanity. It is mostly the story of Farmer Giles even the non-humans such as the horse, dog, giant, and dragon, have human elements and characteristics. Tolkien makes the story believable and shows his seriousness by choosing to depict the story as a historical event in the Little Kingdom. He does this by starting with a historical background for the tale and talking about the tale as if it were a legend past down and actual depiction of historical events,Most importantly to Tolkiens idea of a fairy-story "Father Giles of Ham" fits the purpose that Tolkien sees for fairy-stories. In the tale there is a communion between Farmer Giles and the dragon in the form of a treaty and because Tolkien takes it in a historical there is also an element of surveying the depths of time. Altogether "Farmer Giles of Ham" is an exact depiction of Tolkien's idea of what a fairy-story ought to be.

  20. In all of his stories, Tolkien exemplifies the concepts that he thinks should be in fairy stories. One of the main ways that he does this is in his ability to make each one of his stories beleiveable to himself and to his auidience. Because Tolkien believes so strongly in each story and the world that it creates, it makes the audience able to almost lose themselves in the story, transporting them to the other world which Tolkien has wrote into existence. This is especially shown in LotR, where Tolkien has created whole other languages, cultures, and myths for Middle-Earth that make it real for his readers.
    However, he also displays this in other stories, such as Farmer Giles of Ham. In this story as well, the culture and landscape of the entire world seem so real to Tolkien that one cannot even question the fact that it may not have ever existed! Tolkien also does this story slightly different from the other ones we have read, using a real place in England as the place to launch his world from. Although at first I disliked Tolkien's use of a real place in this story, I believe now that he simply used a real place to make some sort of mythology for his country and not out of any desire to try to change one of his rules. Farmer Giles of Ham is set in the past, which could even make it more real for the reader. Yet only if they strongly beleive in the world that is placed before them, as Tolkien did with each one of his stories.

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  22. For me the most interesting aspect of Tolkien's definition of a faery story is his inclusion of "the need to hold communion with other living things." As an animal lover I immediately thought of connecting with animals and the relationships to be found there, especially as they hold more similarity to us than vegetation. But for Tolkien the need to commune with other living things seems to be fulfilled more completely when that communion takes place with living things in nature such as plants and trees. We see this quite literally in his Middle-Earth tales with the Ents who can actually talk and hold council. However conversation does seem to be the only mode of communion in Tolkien's eye. In all his stories, especially Niggle and The Smith of Wooten Major, trees are held in high regard without the need for literal communication. Niggle holds his communion with them by painting them in such detail that they almost seem to come to life (notice how there were no animals in the painting). The Smith of Wooten Major also seems to hold communion with trees when he enters faery and finds the fruit tree which holds him in fascination and drives him to look for it again and again (once again the stress is put on the vegetation of faery, not its animal inhabitants).
    My one question of The Smith of Wooten Major would be the one that Lauren brought up earlier. Tolkien professes to despise traveler stories that dismiss faery as something separate from our own world, yet the Smith must travel to get to faery, which he can only get to because of his star. Is Tolkien intending faery in this story to be an actual place? Or is the star the gift of imagination and faery a simple wood close to home that he sees differently now that he has the gift of imagination (in which case faery would act as Tolkien outlined in his essay)?
    -Chelsea Mueller

  23. I have already discovered that J.R.R. Tolkien takes his stories very seriously. Of the stories we have already read for class, he stays true to the five components needed to write a fairy story. However, the one that stuck out as most obvious, was Tolkien's commitment to believability and his presentation of each story as true.
    In order to make the reader believe in his works, he is so incredibly descriptive that his characters, landscape, creatures and realms come to life. In “ Farmer Giles of Ham” he has created each character so that each one has their own distinct voice that is almost audible with different accents or mannerism. Giles at times uses improper grammar especially when he is upset, Garm demonstrates the vernacular for dogs, the dragon has a slick and silky way of speaking and the giant is dumb and simple minded when he speaks. This solidifies the natural and raw traits of each character so that it seems to be fact not something made up. It is almost as if the reader stands in and experiences each of his adventures. Even though they are stories, they are written as first hand accounts of something that truly happened.
    -Erica Ramos-Thompson

  24. It seems that Tolkien did indeed follow the guidelines he set for a true faerie story in his works. His stories feel real and when readers are wrapped up in them they never question the validity of the new laws of the land. In Smith of Wooten Major, after the smith was blown by the wind as he holds onto the birch tree, he talks to the tree and his ability to converse with a tree is accepted. This is a result of Tolkien working seriously on this world that he has created. Magic is accepted and revered as it should be in his stories. In the tale of Farmer Giles, the sword he is given by the king, Tailbiter, had magic of some sort associated with it. It jumped from the scabbard when in close proximity to a dragon, and it seemed to have a mind of its own when it came to slashing at dragons. Further more, Chrysophylax feared the sword showing his respect the magic of it. All of these stories do focus on humanity, despite the presence of other races or species. We can relate to the human characters in a way we couldn't with, for example, a dragon character. All of these points follow exactly what Tolkien said was to be expected from a true faerie story.

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  26. I feel as though Tolkien is consistent with his belief in fairy stories in his writings of Middle Earth and his shorter stories of Niggle, Wooten Major, and Farmer Giles. Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth treat magic with the utmost respect, especially considering how much power wizards and magic items exert on middle earth and its inhabitants. His Middle Earth stories also seem to be primarily human stories. Tolkien’s short stories also seem to respect magic, as seen in Farmer Giles.

    Giles’ strength emanates from Tailbiter and through the magic sword’s strength he manages to subdue the dragon and form his own kingdom. Furthermore, the fantastic magical creatures inhabiting the world are presented as both very real and very powerful. The dragon is seen to lay waste to many knights and is only afraid of the magic from the sword, and the giant who wanders into Ham early in the story is barely scratched by the worldly Blunderbuss. This demonstrates the elevated status of magic in the story, and despite the humor apparent in the story, magic is never joked about. Farmer Giles also seems to end with the implication that this story is a lost history or myth that explains the world we live in today – this both cements the story as real and true and it also serves to tell a story that “surveys the depths of time and space” by exploring the past. The story does feature a talking dog which at first glance seems to be out of place given Tolkien’s dislike of the beast fables and his insistence that they are not fairy stories. The dog, however, does not appear to be merely a human with a beast’s body – the dog does very doglike things and his manner of speech is not like that of humans. The dog seems to bark “help!” constantly. It’s because of this that I think Tolkien accepts his creation of a talking dog – because the dog is a dog and not simply a proxy for a human.

    Smith of Wooten Major is a tale which seems very magical but at the same time it does somewhat undermine Tolkien’s statements about fairy stories not being traveler’s tales or stories for children. The story very much has a child-centric view it seems, since the manner of passing the silver star along is through a cake for children, though I think the fact that Smith retains the star into his adulthood and the fact that the old Master Cook (who says one can grow out of fairy tales) is treated as a fool helps to minimize this aspect of the story. The traveling portion of the tale is also somewhat concerning, but perhaps it could be said that he did not indeed need to “travel” to faerie and return as if it were a distant land, since the King of the faerie visited the “normal” world – this implies perhaps that there is no separation or at least less of a separation than we think. Regardless, I do think that this story is still a fairy story because the magic is treated as absolutely true (and evidence is given to several characters of this truth), it is treated with respect and seriousness by the characters, and the story seems to be very human in nature since I noted some kind of vague theme of mortality present in the story and the story regarding the passing of the generations and of knowledge.

    Niggle also seems to be a traveler’s story in a way because of the way in which Niggle is transported by train to the land he imagined in his picture, though the travelling itself is a minor aspect of the story and the focus is really on the picture and Niggle’s creation and growth. Niggle definitely treats the magic as real and respects it because of Niggle’s strong focus on his picture and on his creation, and through the witness of others including the Parson. The story also seems to be a story which responds to the desire of humans to “sub-create” and also to “hold communion with other living things”, as Niggle and Parson go on tending to the land and also becoming friends.

  27. One thing that nearly all fans of Lord of the Rings say about it is how real it seems. Indeed this is Tolkien's greatest strength as an author of fantasy: his ability to make his audience believe in the characters and their struggles. This first criteria of a work of fantasy is present in all his works, from those of Middle Earth to his other works of fiction, such as Farmer Giles and Wooten Major. This ability to make the audience believe in the created world stems from the way he approaches the writing itself. For himself, Tolkien, approached his fantasy writing not as he were an author but rather as if he were a historian, recording events that have already taken place.
    Another example of this is his essay "On Fairy Stories". Anyone who reads "On Fairy Stories" can tell that Tolkien takes fantasy seriously. The passion Tolkien obviously has for works of fantasy also contributes to the reality of his works. This helps the audience trust in the reality of his world and affirms what already is known: that the places created by Tolkien are real, at least to Tolkien himself.
    John Hope

  28. I do not think that Tolkien wrote all of his works as fairy stories, but the ones that he did write as such, follow his rules for them. He seems like a meticulous man bent one giving detail and above all honesty to his work. In the The Smith of Wooten Major he clearly presents the story from the point of view where everything that that is said is clearly true and not just a made up story. It is as if I was telling my friend about a birthday party that I went to and happened to stumble upon a cool trinket that happened to have some sort of supernatural powers. The story is real to whoever is telling it. The concern for humans in the story comes I believe from the aspect of the elves almost watching over the affairs of humans. At least they play some part and for that reason there is a story worth telling. even though it is the elves who are the main reason for the story the humans are the ones who carry it. The smith really was under the influence of this star thing and it changed who he was. we can see though Tolkien use of the star in the story that he respect for magic in the end when at the end they give the star to a new person and they do it with great care. The main desire of these characters is mainly with themselves except for the main characters who give what they have freely. It corresponds with our desires as a model of how we could be.