The importance of geographical directions in the construction of Tolkien’s Middle-earth

— Andrzej Wicher, Zakład Angielskiego Dramatu, Teatru i Filmu, Uniwersytet Łódzki

Paper given 9 July 2021 at Medieval climates, cosmologies, & ecosystems in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien I

Tolkien places the country of his hobbits in the North-West of the Old World, east of the Sea’ [The Lord of the Rings §0.4.07]. The action of The Lord of the Rings takes place in the north-west of Middle-earth. The Shire is in the north-west of that north-west. The events described in The Silmarillion take place on the continent of Beleriand, later lost beneath the sea, which extended to the north-west of Middle-earth. We can observe something bordering on obsession with this northwesterly direction in Tolkien’s legendarium. It reflects no doubt the northwesterly situation of Britain, Tolkien’s mother country, in the context of Europe. Also the writer’s vivid Scandinavian interests meant that he privileged the north-west, or simply north, of Europe. But if we want to reach Scandinavia from Britain we have usually to move eastward. Both the action of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings largely consists in an eastward movement. In the east lies danger and adventure. Indeed, the symbolism of compass bearings in Tolkien seems a relatively unexplored territory that requires more attention.

Authoritative information may be found here.

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source URL 🌐Institute for Medieval Studies - Faculty of Arts - University of Leeds
date recorded 📅2021-07-26
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