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Old 07-17-2002, 03:43 AM   #1
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Ring Tolkiens Ring

I was just wondering if anyone else has read the Book “Tolkiens Ring” By David Day.
In the book David Day tries through “literary detective work” to look into Tolkiens mind and find the sources of inspiration for the novels. The book also explains “The Ring has been an ever present symbol in world mythologies and religions”.
David retells many old stories’, which have a Ring as a central source of power.

The Book also has some great illustrations by Alan Lee.

If anyone has read the book, what were your thoughts on it.

[ July 17, 2002: Message edited by: Alkanoonion ]
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Old 07-17-2002, 05:22 AM   #2
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Unfortunately for me i haven't read it or seen it anywhere to buy it. I heard about it a few years ago, then again when my Religious Education teacher told me i could write about Tolkien and his world for my essay.
I thought it a brilliant idea, so you can probably guess what i chose to do it on. (Star Wars was another option). I'm sure there are a lot of B'Downer's out there, especially you Alkanoonion that could write a longer and more imaginative essay than i.
I'm grateful of this thread Alkanoonion, and i will have to find that book somewhere so i can join in with the discussion...
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Old 07-17-2002, 05:38 AM   #3
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I am reading it right now, and really enjoying it. It´s interesting to read about old sagas and see similarities between them and Tolkien´s writings (as he got inspired by them). I like old sagas and mythologies. The illustrations are great and so on...I really like that book. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] Anyone knows where I can get it?
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Old 04-24-2003, 06:18 PM   #4
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I read it, and thought it was awesome. At any local borders bookstore, you can get it.

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Old 04-25-2003, 11:28 AM   #5
Bill Ferny
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The Eye

My wife gave me this book as a present the day before yesterday, and I found it so interesting that I read it in one sitting. David Day is a good a writer, and he has written other books such as A Tolkien Bestiary and the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Middle Earth. Alan Lee’s illustrations in this book are excellent, and this alone makes the book worth the purchase!

The biggest problem with this book is a complete lack of annotation and a bibliography, raising the question in my mind as to where Mr. Day got his information and what his primary sources were. As I’m no expert in mythology, I have no way of critically evaluating Mr. Day’s facts or conclusions. There are some errors in Mr. Day’s other books, which brings me to wonder if there are errors in his treatment of other mythologies.

However, I recently helped a colleague research for an article about medieval alchemy, and many of the facts in this regard are fresh in my mind. In regards to chapter 14, I found some of Mr. Day’s facts and comments spurious. For example:

By the first century AD, Gnostic religion and Western alchemical doctrine were largely indistinguishable. This eventually proved to be unfortunate for the older tradition of alchemy.
Quite simply there was no such thing as Western alchemical doctrine in the first century AD. The Romans had a low regard for alchemy in general. The bronze and iron production industry was “de-mystified” by the Romans, and the notion of transmutation of metals was disseminated to the west only at a latter date. His connection between Chinese and Persian alchemy to Christian Gnosticism is extremely far fetched, anyway. The only real connection is similar imagery used by some Gnostic cults, but not in actual doctrine. There were no Gnostic cults that doctrinally practiced alchemy.


A cornerstone of Western alchemical belief is the teaching of the third-century scholar and visionary, Zosimos of Panopolis.
This is not true. There is no indication from my research of medieval alchemy that Zosimos of Panopolis’ writings played any significant role in the dissemination of alchemical technology or practice in the west. If anything, his writings are a post-Renaissance discovery.

On the other hand, I was impressed with the misnamed chapter 12. Other than the fact that the chapter should have been named “Hebrew Legends” instead of “Biblical Legends” (because there was very little biblical information in this chapter), it was done very well, and as far as I know, very accurately.

All in all, this was a great book, and provides an excellent introduction to ancient mythologies while at the same time giving a lot of insight into Tolkien’s mythology. For those of you who are more inquisitive, though, this book will only wet the appetite.

[ April 25, 2003: Message edited by: Bill Ferny ]
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Old 04-25-2003, 12:19 PM   #6
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While I have not read the book in question, I am quite wary of secondary sources without reference to original sources. Any book that makes connections between ancient mythologies MUST, in my opinion, reference the mythologies themselves. There are hundreds of versions of some ancient myths, often with disparate meanings. To make reference to a general myth without specific notes on version and original source is, to my mind, the same as saying something like, "To Americans rings mean love." While this may be true to some people, and even in general, I need to see what this is based on to be able to make a decision about its validity.

Tolkien, in his letters, denies the connection to the Wagnerian ring and states that any connection to ancient mythologies not Anglo-Saxon in nature are the product of either coincidence or unconscious memory. To try to analyse something as personal as Tolkien's unconscious seems to me to be folly. So, if you want a review of ring mythologies and a comparison to a created mythology, that's fine and interesting. If you're interested in the real thought process behind the creation of that mythology, then I suggest reading the Letters or other primary sources.
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Old 04-26-2003, 03:28 PM   #7
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Quite simply there was no such thing as Western alchemical doctrine in the first century AD.
Anything like that happening in the first century is prety rediculous (I have to confess I went and look up your quote to make sure Day said first century [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] ).

I have read bits and pieces of the book (so much to read, so little time! [img]smilies/frown.gif[/img] ) and have liked it overall, especially the retellings of norse myths, but the conclutions are based on such shakey facts and congectures, I take most of it with a grain of salt. It is always hard to read anothers mind, and Tolkien's is so complex it would be imposible to reasonably deduce more than a handfull of his sources. An example of something I find hard to swallow is on p.150 were he compares the power of Narya and the One Ring to the fires of good and evil alchemy. First of all, the two rings are not even comparable in any way (powers, potency, etc.). Secondly, I think he is trying to hard to tie everything into alchemy. Well thats my view on it.
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