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Main => Art & Fiction => Topic started by: Felix Faustus on May 10, 2006, 04:23:11 PM

Title: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Felix Faustus on May 10, 2006, 04:23:11 PM
OK, my last thread got locked(mainly due to me) because of spamming(mostly me again), last time it was an online bookclub kind of setup, however most people wanted to discuss the political ideas within the books, this was ok but after a while it got very OT so this time I want people to disscuss the political statements within literature. this time lets stay on topic(slaps self).

*I just realised I put this in the wrong forum, will a friendly mod please move this to Fiction? :-[*
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: -Makenshi- on May 10, 2006, 09:47:39 PM
*kicks it over to Fiction*

Since the last one degenerated I will be watching this one carefully, as will Asreus I imagine.

~MTWC
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Brother Asreus on May 11, 2006, 10:56:28 AM
Very carefully...Keep it clean, keep it on topic and keep it nice and there will be no problems. To start it off, how about we discuss something I think we've all read. The Lord of the Rings. Back in highschool, we debated over the correlation between Tolkien's fantasy tale and WW2.

What do you guys think? Do you think yes there's a link or no, since the nazis dress much better than Orks?  :P

Seriously though,opinions, arguments for\against?
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 11, 2006, 11:02:48 AM
I don't know about World War II, but I do know that Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings to have a Christian message (without being a exact allegory like his friend C.S Lewis' narnia series) so there are some definite parallels you can draw there. The Return of the King is about as obvious you can get on that matter I think.

As for World War II, who would Gondor be? Great Britain, and Mordor as the Third Reich? I'm not sure it fits without more players in the tale.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Brother Asreus on May 11, 2006, 11:11:15 AM
You could argue that Isengard was Italy. A small place with a lot of ambition, willing to deal with the devil in an effort to expand it's power and once glorious rule.

Morder would be Germany. Kept at bay and resting for many years, gathering it's strength until a time it was confident it could crush all opposition.

Gondor would be Britain. The one great power with enough resolve to stand up and defy the evil on it's doorstep. A shining beacon for people to rally to and a pillar of strength despite constant attacks.

Rohan would be Russia. They tried to stay out of the fight, but when it was revealed they were tricked, they rose up against their common foe and smote them. (lol ..smote)

I personally didn't see the Christian message in the book, but maybe because I wasn't looking for it. The Chronicles of Narnia however, was quite obvious.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Felix Faustus on May 11, 2006, 11:13:50 AM
Well there are some definate differences, as I don't know who Rohan or the Army of the dead would be as I can't see either of them being America or in Rohan's case being russia though I think the latter is more likely. I would like to know if anyone thought the Silmarilian related to anything exept loosely tying in with some Christian belief, when I was reading it I felt that a point was trying to made but I couldn't quite make it out.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Killing Time on May 11, 2006, 11:21:14 AM
It's well documented that Tolkien disliked allegory and tried to avoid it at all times.
It's actually written in a forward of later editions of the LotR.
There were no direct links to the real world at all.....
......what he tried to deal in was applicability.
And in this it was very successful. The idea is that successive generations can all derive new meanings from the work without having their ideas molded by the realities of history....or the intent of the Author.


In direct comparison I will cite the Belgariad and Malloreon of David Eddings.
These are stuffed full of clumsy allegorical notions.
Riva = Britain
Drasnia = Germany
Tolnedra = Italy
The Angarak kingdoms = USSR and China.
The whole series is an anti communist rant of the highest order....not very subtly disguised as a fantasy story.

And of course Narnia is the classic example of Christian allegory.

Dizzy
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 11, 2006, 11:25:49 AM
Right. I said that he wrote it to have a Christian message and not to be a direct allegory. There are some loose Christian overtones without any direct allegory. Gandalf's sacrifice of himself to save his friends and his return as a greater being than before, Aragorn being a lost king returning to a people that are in dire need, etc, etc, etc. Nothing direct, but overtones.

I never knew that the Belgariad was anti-communist, but I read the first two books as a child and never moved on from there. Will have to check it out again.

In my opinion the best work of "Ideal conservative society" vs. "Ideal Marxist society" is Starship Troopers.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Killing Time on May 11, 2006, 11:33:00 AM
Perhaps.
Certainly Aragorn and Gandalf make good candidates as surrogate Christ figures. But they are both flawed in Unchristian ways that leads me to beleive that Tolkien was merely using a timeless device to help tell the story.
I don't think the message is really any more specific than one of hope.
The book just gets darker and darker, and seemingly more and more hopeless. But the charcters all bare uncommonly heroic amounts of hope and perseverence.
A Christian virtue, for sure, but not specifically so.

Dizzy
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 11, 2006, 11:40:11 AM
http://www.aslan.demon.co.uk/allegory.htm cool article on the whole matter.

this article illustrates what I mean;

Quote
Tolkien did not at any point say, "Gandalf equals Jesus" in the sense that Lewis said, and ÔÇťAslan equals Jesus". It would completely mess up the story if you tried to read it that way. But when Gandalf gives up his life in battle with the Balrog, and subsequently rises again in a more obviously divine form, it is impossible for a Christian reader not to think of Jesus. But then, when Frodo is climbing Mount Doom, almost in despair but absolutely committed to completing his mission; with the Ring becoming heavier and heavier, it is hard not to think of Christ's journey to Calvary. And we could also mention Aragorn marching into his City as King and laying hands on people in the Houses of Healing. ("Sing and rejoice for the black gate is broken and your king has passed through and he is victorious.") I don't think that this proves that Tolkien was writing allegory, only that a when a Christian writer tries to imagine a Top Good Guy he necessarily comes up with something Christ like. I'd guess that there were a lot of serene, enlightened heroes in Buddhist fiction.

The only reason I say there were probably some Christian messages is because of Tolkien's devout Catholicism. I find it hard to believe he didn't think of some of these parallels himself.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Killing Time on May 11, 2006, 11:54:55 AM
A good point, well made :)

But I stand firm that it is applicability rather than allegory.
We can see Christ in Sam as he carries Frodo up the last slopes of Mount Doom.
We can see him in Merry and Pippin as they sacrifice themselves to facilitate Frodo and Sam's escape from the Uruk Hai.
We can see Psalm 23 in Aragorn's journey through the paths of the dead.

But what Tolkien was doing was making his good characters behave in a good way. And for a devout Christian this would necessarily have them behave in a Christian manner....all very noble and self sacrificing.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Felix Faustus on May 11, 2006, 11:57:58 AM
I too think that it is applicability as Tolkien may have wanted people to derive a message from it but it tied in with some christian beliefs a little too far so now people only relate it too the Christian message while I don't think that this was intended.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 11, 2006, 12:09:51 PM
I would certainly agree it's going too far to say it's an exact Christian message or only a Christian message. There are probably some overtones of World War Two there as well, without saying THIS STORY IS WORLD WAR TWO
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Razyus on May 11, 2006, 12:26:43 PM
Well actually....

The fact that it was written whilst he was posted on the front lines suggests quite a few things, but then again there are a few christian references. On the note of WWII I always thought that the hobbits were the British something along the lines of the brave few who soldiered on despite and were also quite obsessed with the internal affairs of their Island/Shire.

Oh and Asreus, congrats never got round to saying that.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Felix Faustus on May 11, 2006, 12:35:27 PM
I think that People have forgot that durring world war II Tolkien was a slightly insane, incredibly short and weak, proffesor at a university AND was sent to sit in the back of a tank for a couple of years. I mean if someone is messed up already then that is certainly not going to help, so his ideas may be Christian, well I mean he had some faith and that was the only thing he had out there on the battlefields, that and a pen and paper. but he certainly didn't intend only for Christians to find the message in the books
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Corpsman on May 11, 2006, 01:52:57 PM
Of course authors views and politics affect the literature. No question about it.

But most stories meaning has changed over time. When you read a novel today, you see completely different ideas and politics in them than author meant. Basically views have changed and politics linked to them have changed.

Here is good example: Joe Haldeman's; The Forever War.
It didn't get a publisher at first as it was seen a Sci-Fi version of Anti-War Vietnam novel.

But if you read it today? Would you see it as anti-Vietnam? No you wouldn't. Mostly it could be seen as pro-gay or pro globalisation or anti-both, what ever way you look at it. Or possibly anti-American, anti-imperialism and so on, what ever your own political values you label on it. And then you could go through Haldeman and find some aspect on him to support your view and you end a conclusion like; C.S Lewis wasn't writing a children's book, it was just rewrite of The Bible.

Trying to decode Haldeman's ideas and then finding some deeper truth is very futile enterprise. Besides, everyone who reads The Forever War knows what it is: A Imperial Guard fluff handbook!
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Killing Time on May 11, 2006, 02:13:12 PM
1984 is another prime example of a book written with strong political message but based on applicability rather than allegory.
Ironically, Orwell's other great work, Animal Farm, is pure allegory.

Dizzy
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 11, 2006, 02:43:25 PM
Actually 1984 was written explicitly about Soviet Russia.

It just happens to have wide applicability.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Brother Asreus on May 11, 2006, 02:56:12 PM
I think the hallmark of a great book is that over the years it still remains relevant. Despite the author being influenced by current events of their time, the message and the ideas are just as easy to relate to 50 years down the road. 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings etc...
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Felix Faustus on May 11, 2006, 02:59:37 PM
Lord of the flies is truly great, I loved it and found the way the children created a very raw society interesting in comparison to how I would speculate a society of children would be formed in more modern times.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Razyus on May 11, 2006, 03:12:58 PM
Just a quick question in order to guage something. Who present has read and/or liked either f the following:

A Catcher in the Rhye by JD Salinger

OR

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Felix Faustus on May 11, 2006, 03:14:02 PM
I have read niether as I am a stupid uneducated delinquent :P
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Brother Asreus on May 11, 2006, 03:17:22 PM
I read the Catcher in the Rye but not On the Road. What does On the Road explore as a theme Razyus?
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Killing Time on May 11, 2006, 03:18:53 PM
Actually 1984 was written explicitly about Soviet Russia.

No it wasn't
It was Orwell's vision of a distopian world caused by the unchecked expansion of all three superpowers.
Animal Farm was specifically Soviet Russia.

I think the hallmark of a great book is that over the years it still remains relevant. Despite the author being influenced by current events of their time, the message and the ideas are just as easy to relate to 50 years down the road. 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings etc...

Indeed

Lord of the flies is truly great, I loved it and found the way the children created a very raw society interesting in comparison to how I would speculate a society of children would be formed in more modern times.

As much as it pains me to admit it, I haven't read it.
I must, I think.
Everyone keeps talking about it and I just hate not knowing. ;)

Just a quick question in order to guage something. Who present has read and/or liked either f the following:
A Catcher in the Rhye by JD Salinger
OR
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Damn. Ditto. >:(

Dizzy
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Razyus on May 11, 2006, 04:00:36 PM
You like them Dizzy Dinosaur?

On the Road explores the aging and movement into maturity of two people and the bond that many would describe as love I'd guess between those people. The way there can be some force bringing you apart. Did that book club idea ever get started Asreus? Just because we seem to have side tracked the thread. :-*
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 11, 2006, 04:58:37 PM
Quote
No it wasn't
It was Orwell's vision of a distopian world caused by the unchecked expansion of all three superpowers.
Animal Farm was specifically Soviet Russia.

I'm not sure if the target was explicitly Stalin's Russia, but I know that Stalin's Russia more or less formed the basis for Oceania

Wiki:

Quote
Orwell based many aspects of Oceanian society on the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The "Two Minutes' Hate", for instance, being based on Stalinism's habitual demonization of their enemies and rivals, and big brother himself bears a resemblance to Stalin. The motif of "2+2=5" is taken directly from a Soviet propaganda poster during Stalin's industrialization drive

However ever since Stalin his tactics have essentially formed the basis for dictatorial societies, which leads to it's wide applicability.
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Killing Time on May 12, 2006, 04:15:15 AM
[quote author=Commissar-General link=topic=114076.msg1345398#msg1345398
.........However ever since Stalin his tactics have essentially formed the basis for dictatorial societies, which leads to it's wide applicability.
[/quote]

Fair enough.
Stalin makes a very easy charcter to model dictators on. He's kind of the 20th Centuries achetype. :)

You like them Dizzy Dinosaur?


Sorry. Misunderstanding. I didn't read them. I tried to read On the Road once but just couldn't get into it. I shall have to try agian.....but it's quite far down on the list. There aren't any spaceships, aliens or laser guns in it as far as I know. ;)

I'm not sure the thread is getting so side tracked. We still have quite a lot of politics floating around here. Kerouac was highly political (at least he caused a lot of controversy, which is just as good).
OK, it's maybe not the sledgehammer politics of Orwell, but like I said, I didn't read so I can't really comment.

Asreus.
The book club idea is an excellent one.

Dizzy
Title: Re: Political ideas within literature
Post by: Mud Man! on May 12, 2006, 04:23:37 AM
I read Catcher in the Rye. Didn't like it. That whole disaffected youth thing really doesn't resonate with me. I'm youtful, but remain steadfastly...affec ted?