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An attempt to re-examine the dialectic of the East and the West in Tolkien’s selected works

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

Paper given 4 July 2022 at IMC 2022 Session 141

Tolkien privileges the West, and the North-West, among the cardinal points. He places the country of his hobbits in the North-West of the Old World, east of the Sea’. The common language of the Free Peoples is called Westron, the language of the West, Elrond talks even about the western world’. Their enemy, Sauron, is defined as a Shadow in the East, and his human supporters are called Easterlings. On the other hand, both the action of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings consists in an eastward movement, there the adventure and salvation lie. Unlike in the case of the North and South, there is a clear borderline between the East and the West, it is the Great River Anduin. The symbolism of the East and West seems different from that of the North and South, which I already dealt with, but no less important. The tentative conclusion of my argument would be that Tolkien’s privileging of the West is indissolubly and paradoxically connected with the persistent motif of the fall of the West.

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date recorded 📅2022-01-24
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