Imago lacus

The picture above was taken by a dear friend, the American poet Debra Kang Dean (please do not use it without permission). I met Debra three years before, when I went to Walden to work with his late husband Brad, a great Thoreau scholar. Once we spent hours tracking this quotation: "Some men go fishing all their lives without ever realizing it's not fish they are after." We concluded that Thoreau never wrote it, but si non è vero...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tolkien y Thoreau

Aunque hace tiempo que no regresaba a sus páginas, creo haber leído toda la obra de creación de Tolkien. Lo que apenas conocía eran sus trabajos filológicos; al leer estos días El camino a la Tierra Media, de T. A. Shippey, comienzo a entender la trabazón entre ambas facetas de su vida, lo mucho que le debe el mundo del Hobbit y del Señor de los Anillos a la literatura medieval europea, en particular a la Inglaterra prenormanda y a las sagas islandesas. Las biografías de Tolkien no me habían tocado tanto como este otro libro, tal vez porque al ser escrito por un filólogo comparte con Tolkien la pasión por las lenguas y las peculiares angustias de la vida académica inglesa. Está siendo como hablar con alguien que conociese mejor que uno mismo a un amigo de ambos, y disfrutar así el doble aprendiendo del segundo a través del primero. De entre los muchos pasajes interesantes, copio aquí uno que me ha recordado a las otras dos T de mi vida en este blog.

Like a goldfish in a weedy pool, the theme that flashes from much of Tolkien's work is that of the identity of man and nature, of namer and named. It was probably his strongest belief, stronger even than his Catholicism (though of course he hoped the two were at some level reconciled). It was what drove Tolkien to write; he created Middle-earth before he had a plot to put in it, and at every delay or failure of 'inspiration' he went back to the map and to the landscape, for Bombadil and the Shire, the Mark and the ents. Through all his work moreover there runs an obsessive interest in plants and scenery, pipeweed and athelas, the crown of stonecrop round the overthrown king's head in Ithilien, the staffs of lebethron-wood with a 'virtue' on them of finding and returning, given by Faramir to Sam and Frodo, theholly-tree outside Moria that marks the frontier of 'Hollin' as the White Horse of Uffington shows the boundary of the Mark, and over all the closely visualised images of dells and dingles and Wellinghalls, hollow trees and clumps of bracken and bramble-coverts for the hobbits to creep into. The simbelmynë, as has been said, is a kind of symbol for the Riders, and the mallorn does the same for Galadriel's elves. The hobbits are only just separable from the Shire, and Tom Bombadil not at all from the Withy-windle. Fangorn is a name for both character and forest, and as character he voices more strongly than anybody else the identity of name and namer and thing. 'Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language', he says, but it seems unlikely that anyone but an ent could learn Old Entish. With Bombadil the identity of name and thing gives the namer a kind of magic. With the hobbits much the same effect is created by simple harmony. They don't in fact practise magic, says the 'Prologue', but the impression that they do is derived from 'close friendship with the earth'. Earth and magic and non-human species are all in differing proportions very closely combined. The voices that explain this to us, Fangorn's and the narrator's, are authoritative and indeed, especially Fangorn, 'professorial'. They admit no denial. 

T. A. Shippey 
The Road to Middle-Earth (Allen & Unwin, 1982), 119-120

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