Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be damn b

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Túrin Turambar
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

Post by Túrin Turambar »

Yes, that quote crossed my mind as well. To say a little more (and only a little, because I could probably write an essay on this given the time) you can see this pop up in English literature contemporary to Tolkien. Take Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford's modernist novel about the destruction of the old English social order in the First World War. The main character, Christopher Tietjens, "the last Tory", who is a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire, keeps trying to live up to his understanding of how a man in his position should act through the chaos of the world around him. When another character asks him what his toryism (i.e. conservatism) is, he replies "Duty. Duty and service to above and below. Frugality. Keeping your word. Honouring the past. Looking after your people. And beggaring yourself if need be before letting duty go hang. If we'd have stayed out of it I'd have gone to France to fight for France. For agriculture against industrialism. For the 18th Century against the 20th, if you like." It's a sentiment I think Tolkien would have approved of, or at least been sympathetic to.

As a side note, for those who don't find fat modernist novels all that accessible or enjoyable, the BBC made an excellent adaptation of Parade's End a few years ago staring Benedict Cumberbatch as Tietjens.
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

Post by TolkienJRR »

Túrin Turambar wrote:Yes, that quote crossed my mind as well. To say a little more (and only a little, because I could probably write an essay on this given the time) you can see this pop up in English literature contemporary to Tolkien. Take Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford's modernist novel about the destruction of the old English social order in the First World War. The main character, Christopher Tietjens, "the last Tory", who is a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire, keeps trying to live up to his understanding of how a man in his position should act through the chaos of the world around him. When another character asks him what his toryism (i.e. conservatism) is, he replies "Duty. Duty and service to above and below. Frugality. Keeping your word. Honouring the past. Looking after your people. And beggaring yourself if need be before letting duty go hang. If we'd have stayed out of it I'd have gone to France to fight for France. For agriculture against industrialism. For the 18th Century against the 20th, if you like." It's a sentiment I think Tolkien would have approved of, or at least been sympathetic to.

As a side note, for those who don't find fat modernist novels all that accessible or enjoyable, the BBC made an excellent adaptation of Parade's End a few years ago staring Benedict Cumberbatch as Tietjens.

Thank you, I think you hit the nail on the head it seems.
“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
-J.R.R Tolkien
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

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It occurs to me that it is that awareness of his proper place in the world that saves Sam from the influence of the Ring. He knows he only wants his one small garden.

Still, there's some upward mobility in the Shire, and Sam becomes a mayor despite not being really a gentlehobbit. And his daughter goes to Queen Arwen's court.
There should be a word for the microscopic spark of hope that you dare not entertain in case the mere act of acknowledging it will cause it to vanish, like trying to look at a photon. You can only sidle up to it, looking past it, walking past it, waiting for it to get big enough to face the world.
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

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I don’t think knowing what you want, and that is your “small garden” is “knowing your place”. I know what I want - my current small job - but if you told me that was “my place” I would be on you like a ton of rectangular things.
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

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I think 'knowing your place' can be an unfortunate phrasing because of what it usually denotes, but there is something to be said for knowing within yourself where you fit in and that you do fit just there and that is what makes you perfectly happy. Not in a derogatory being told "know your place" kind of way but in a peaceful, self-assured, freeing kind of way.
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

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Yes, of course. But the preceding discussion was in terms of social hierarchy, and I answered in those terms.
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

Post by elengil »

Inanna wrote:Yes, of course. But the preceding discussion was in terms of social hierarchy, and I answered in those terms.
Yes, I meant in context of Frelga mentioning that Sam knew his place in the world. I think the term can be used as a positive in some situations.
The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF
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Túrin Turambar
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Re: Tolkien Quote “Touching your cap to the squire may be da

Post by Túrin Turambar »

Frelga wrote:It occurs to me that it is that awareness of his proper place in the world that saves Sam from the influence of the Ring. He knows he only wants his one small garden.

Still, there's some upward mobility in the Shire, and Sam becomes a mayor despite not being really a gentlehobbit. And his daughter goes to Queen Arwen's court.
That little scene is a good example of the same sentiment. Tolkien's villains are basically people who do not "know their place" and seek to rule and dominate others when they have no entitlement to do so, or to undo, corrupt or re-work God's natural order for the cosmos. Tolkien may have seen the real-world villains of his own time in similar terms (Hitler's place was not to rule Europe, the Bolsheviks' place was not to break and re-build Russia in their own fashion).
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