Notes on Entries - The East

Text in italics is squire's commentary


  'Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth' - The Debate of Finrod & Andreth, Morgoth’s Ring

Finrod tells Andreth of his brother’s love for her:

"If his heart ruled, he would have wished to take thee and flee far away, east or south, forsaking his kin, and thine."

Here "east or south" represent an indefinite "Away" from the events taking place in the Silmarillion, in the north-west of Middle-earth.


  Oromë is the Vala particularly associated with the East, since he hunts there, and so discovers the Elves when they awake. This association lasts into the Third Age and is mentioned in LotR, particularly in connection with the Rohirrim. His name means "Horn-blower" (stem rom- "used of the sound of trumpets and horns"). The Rohirrim believe he brought the mearas horses from Valinor to Middle-earth. They call him Béma in their language as "translated" into Anglo-Saxon (LotR Appendix A.II, p. 346): Anglo-Saxon bēme is "trumpet". (The Silmarillion, Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names, p. 363).

Theoden charging at the Pelennor is compared to Oromë, and the Rohirrim are an northern offshoot of an Eastern Tribe originally of Rhovanion (LotR, Appendix A.II, p 345.)

Boromir’s hunting horn of the Stewards of Gondor is made from the horn of the "Kine of Araw" in Rhûn, Kine being cattle and Araw being Oromë.

Romen = "east" in Quenya, as seen in Numenor’s eastern haven, Romenna. (Sil, ibid.)

Rhûn = "east" in Sindarin, as in the Talath Rhûnen "East Vale" aka Thargelion, where Caranthir dwelt (Sil, p. 124), and in amrûn. (Sil, ibid.)

King Tarostar of Gondor defeated the first incursion of "wild men out of the East" and took the name Rómendacil ‘East-victor’, c. T.A. 500. (LotR, Appendix A.I.iv, p. 324) Later King Minalcar again defeated the renewed attack of the Easterlings (T.A. 1248) and took the name Rómendacil II. (Ibid., pp. 326-7)

Further Vocabulary

   RŌ- (form of oro, q.v.) rise. Q rómen (see men) east, rómenya eastern; róna east; contrast ndū ‘down’. ON [Old Noldorin] róna east, N rhûn, amrûn (cf. dûn, annûn); †rhûfen east. (The Lost Road, The Etymologies, p. 428)

MEN- Q men, place, spot; mena region. Cf. Númen, Rómen, Harmen [see khyar], Tormen [which is the form in the Ambarkanta, IV. 244-5, 248-9, changed later to Fromen (phor)].

ORO- up; rise; high; etc. (cf rō). Q óre rising, anaróre sunrise; orta- rise, raise. N or prep. above; prefix or- as in orchall, orchel superior, eminent (see khal2); ON ortie, orie rise, ortobe raise; N ortho raise (orthant); erio rise (oronte arose).

Here we see that the derivation of East is Sunrise-place.


Orcs are not particularly associated with the East; Evil Men are, due to Sauron’s influence.


   The World of Tolkien, by David Day, Gramercy Books, NY, 2003,

p. 173. (notes taken 6/25/05, in Borders)

He sees parallels between Aragorn and Charlemagne.

He equates the Seljuk Turks of Rhum in Asia Minor as being Rhun.

Other Easterlings are like the Odin-worshippers the pagan Lombards, Avars, Vandals.

He equates the Variags of Khand with the Variangians of the Khanate of Kiev of the former Khazar Empire, also Odin-worshippers (the one-eyed god, whom Day suggests is Sauron)

The Norse raiders drove the Khazars from Kiev and enslaved the Slavs, who referred to them as the Rhos or Rus, thus Russians.

    Splintered Light, by Verlyn Flieger, revised edition, Kent State U. Press, Ohio, 2002.

Chapter 14 "Light out of Darkness", p. 119

She conceives of West and East as representing Light and Darkness according to her central thesis that Light and its Breaking is a unifying image throughout Tolkien’s work. In this chapter, she explores the meaning of the movement of the Elves following the loss of the Silmarils, away from the light of Valinor, toward the darkness; and the simultaneous appearance in the tale of a second race of Children, the Men.

"Another value obtrudes here, for at the metaphorical level both darkness and light acquire directional value, beginning with the westward source of light in Valinor and developing as Morgoth flees eastward into darkness, followed by the Noldor. Two great tides of movement surge and countersurge across the landscape. These are, in broadest terms, the movement of Elves from west to east, and the corresponding movement of Men from east to west." (p. 121)

She cites the Germanic folk concept of "widdershins": to go in the opposite direction. It connotes splitting, separation in the context of a journey. Folk belief is that this is bad luck.

In detail, she cites the contrary moves of Maeglin, the half-light, half-dark elf who was born in the far East. He is the son of Eöl, the "Dark Elf" of the Sindar of Doriath and Aredhel the "White Lady" of the Noldor of Gondolin. Maeglin is fated to love Idril in vain, and then betray Gondolin to Morgoth. "Maeglin’s example is the most negative, least hopeful outcome of the elven impulse toward the east." (p. 124)

She contrasts to this the tale of Finrod, who wanders east on a hunting trip and first discovers the Atani (Men) moving west over the mountains led by Bëor. Unlike the Elves, who were summoned, the Men are drawn by their hearts to the Light in the West. They are fleeing the blackness of Morgoth who has corrupted most of their kind at the time of their awakening. Finrod instructs them, and guides them back west. (p. 124)

Finally she cites the journey of the man Tuor in search of Gondolin to the west. The elf Gelmir discovers him, and instructs him that "‘through darkness one may come to the light.’" Flieger comments, "With the primary light removed [the death of the Trees], the only way to the light is through the darkness – a darkness at once physical, mental, and spiritual." (p. 125)

She concludes of these encounters: "both together are as explicit a statement as can be found in his fiction of Tolkien’s intended use of the two races. Elves moving counter to the light meet Men making their way toward it." She shows that the addition of direction (east and west) to the basic split between the races of Elf and Man help highlight Tolkien’s presentation of the contrast between two "powerful forces" in the human spirit: seeking the light and turning away from it. (p. 126)

   Nicholas Bonnal's Tolkien, les univers d'un magicien (Tolkien, the Worlds of a Magician) is the first book-length study of Tolkien written in French for a French audience.

But in conclusion, Bonnal wants to suggest that in The Silmarillion, Tolkien has created a pre-Adamic world whose inhabitants are not touched by Original Sin. But The Silmarillion states the Men arrived in the West, glad to have "come at last to a land without fear" and that "a darkness lay upon the hearts of Men" (140, 141), although it is never explained what this might be. In his letter to Milton Waldman, Tolkien makes it clear that Men are fallen, although the "first fall of Men, for reasons explained, nowhere appears" (Letters 147). He reaffirms this on other occasions, in particular when he states "the Fall of Man is in the past and off stage" (Letters 387). Bonnal will have Middle-earth to be some sort of earthly paradise, the locus amoenus (pleasant place) of classical and medieval writers (Curtius 196-202), even though Middle-earth is too complicated a concept to be so easily categorized.

-- Reviewed in TOLKIEN WORLDWIDE by Shaun F D Hughes. Modern Fiction Studies. West Lafayette: Winter 2004.Vol.50, Iss. 4; pg. 980, 35 pgs

    Jungfrauen im Nachthemd-Blonde Krieger aus dem Western (Maidens in Nightgowns-Blond Warriors out of the West) is an attempt to challenge Tolkien's substantial following in Germany to reconsider what the author regards as an uncritical reception of Middle-earth and its politics.11 Written by Guido Schwarz

A much more serious charge is that Tolkien is a racist, serious because racism is again a problem in Europe with hostility focused on foreign workers and asylum seekers, particularly those from the Third World and Eastern Europe. Schwarz's claim is that Tolkien fosters a hatred of people from the East and in particular people of Slavic origin, a continuation in effect of Nazi racist ideology. It is certainly the case in The Lord of the Rings that Easterlings and the Haradrim from the southern regions of Middle-earth are presented as long-time enemies of Gondor. They have also come under the sway of Sauron, as might be expected, as their lands lie closest to Mordor. But they are more a threat in the abstract in the sense that while their armies are seen marching up the road to the Morannon and their forces take part in the Battle of Pelennor Fields, none of the characters in the novel has ever met one of these people. In fact, the closest anyone gets is when Sam encounters the dead body of a Haradrim and he is immediately filled with compassion (667; bk. 4, ch. 4). After the fall of Sauron the Easterlings return to their own lands and leave the West alone (Appendix B, 1105). None of the Haradrim who came to fight for Sauron ever makes it back to his own country (859; bk. 5, ch. 6), and there is no tale of people from the South coming north again. The people from the East and the South are a threat for as long as Sauron is a threat. Besides, the real danger is from the unexpected, and when the West is threatened, it is threatened not from the East or the South, but from the West. Rohan is attacked from the West by the Dunlendings who have been aroused and armed by Saruman (531; bk. 3, ch. 7). But Schwarz puts it this way: "Tolkien hat offensichtlich eine sehr stark von gewissen Einflüssen geprägte Geschichte erfunden und trifft damit diejenigen Bereiche in uns allen, die an den guten Westen und an den bösen Osten glauben, die hellhäutige, blonde, muskelbepackte und reinrassig-arische Menschen für besser halten als kleine, dunkelhaarige mit schlechten Zähnen" (Tolkien has obviously constructed a very strong story characterized by various influences and hit with it those spots in all of us that believe in the good West and the bad East, that consider fair-skinned, muscle-bound and pure racial-aryan people better than small, dark-haired ones with bad teeth) (17). The book is full of comments of this kind, setting up a binary that certainly exists in the world for some people, but does not exist in the work of Tolkien, unless it is read inattentively. This sometimes leads to absurd conclusions, as when Schwarz claims that the word "ore" (which is Old English) "klingt nicht angenehm und erinnert vor allem an slawische Sprache" (doesn't sound pleasant, and calls to mind more than anything the Slavic languages) (62).

-- Reviewed in TOLKIEN WORLDWIDE by Shaun F D Hughes. Modern Fiction Studies. West Lafayette: Winter 2004.Vol.50, Iss. 4; pg. 980, 35 pgs

From Wikipedia: article on Land of the Sun ( accessed 7/7/05

In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Land of the Sun or "Sun-Lands" is an empty land east of Middle-earth where the sun rises at dawn. Nothing is known of its geography except that there was a curve-shaped mountain range called the Wall of the Sun that corresponds to the Pelóri Mountains of Aman.

In the Ambarkanta it is called the Dark land of the Sun. There is a possibility the Númenóreans visited it.

In the game Middle Earth Role Play by Iron Crown Enterprises, a Sindarin name for the land — Romenor (Easternesse) — was given, although it does not appear in any of Tolkien's writings.

From Wikipedia: article on Land of the Sun ( accessed 7/7/05

In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Blue Wizards (or the Ithryn Luin) are two notoriously mysterious characters of Middle-earth. They are only hinted at in The Lord of the Rings, where Saruman says there are five Wizards. However, other writings of Tolkien have more to say. In a writing found in Unfinished Tales, Tolkien writes that the two Wizards were sent to the East. Their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and they are Maiar of the Vala Oromë.

In a letter, Tolkien says that the two wizards went into the East, and likely failed their mission, perhaps having started magical cults. However, all of this changes in a text written in the last year or two of Tolkien's life. The names they used in Middle-earth are now given - Morinehtar and Rómestámo (Darkness-slayer and East-helper). They are said to have arrived not in the Third Age, but in the Second, around the year 1600, the time of the Forging of the One Ring. Their mission though is still to the east, to weaken the forces of Sauron. And it is here said that the Wizards far from failed; rather, they had a pivotal role in the victories of the West at the end of both the Second and the Third Ages.

Like most names in Tolkien's works, the names of the Blue Wizards are significant. The name Romestamo means East-helper, coming from the Quenya word romen, meaning uprising, sunrise, east. Here, Rómestámo incorporates not only his relation to the East of Middle-earth, but also his mission there: to encourage uprising and rebellion against Sauron. Similarly, Pallando may include the Quenyan palan meaning far and wide.

From Opentopia article on Mordor: ( accessed 7/7/05.

In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumed that the lands of Mordor, Khand, and Rhûn lied where the inland Sea of Helcar had been, and that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were its remnants. The atlas was however published before The Peoples of Middle-earth, where it turned out that the Sea of Rhûn and Mordor existed already in the First Age.

    Tolkien and the Rhetoric of Childhood, by Lois R. Kuznets, in "Tolkien: New Critical Perspectives", Neil D. Isaacs and Rose A Zimbardo, eds., U. Press of Kentucky, 1981. (Quote taken from excerpt published in "Readings on J. R. R. Tolkien", ed. Katie de Koster, San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000, "Literary Companion to British Authors" series for young adults.)

Again in contrast to the trilogy, Tolkien’s landscape in The Hobbit is a circumscribed bifurcated one with lowlands to the west and forested lands to the east of the central and longitudinal mountains and river. This spatial representation quite neatly divides the world into safe and dangerous sides. Grahame’s geography in The Wind in the Willows is roughly similar, if less graphic; there the safe field and rich river cultures oppose the Wild Wood, which lies on the other side of The River. Such simple geography not only emblematically indicates outside good and evil but also represents inner states and relative psychic disturbances. (Kuznets, p. 33)

   The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien

But partly as a development of my own thoughts on my lines and work (technical and literary), partly in contact with C.S.L., and in various ways not least the firm guiding hand of Alma Mater Ecclesia, I do not now feel either ashamed or dubious on the Eden ‘myth’. It has not, of course, historicity of the same kind as the NT, which are virtually contemporary documents, while Genesis is separated by we do not know how many sad exiled generations from the Fall, but certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’. . . . We shall never recover it, for that is not the way of repentance, which works spirally and not in a closed circle; we may recover something like it, but on a higher plane. (pp. 109-110, Letter 96 to Christopher Tolkien, 30 January 1945)

The Downfall [i.e., Akallabeth, the fall of Numenor] is partly the result of an inner weakness in Men—consequent, if you will, upon the first Fall (unrecorded in these tales), repented but not finally healed. Reward on earth is more dangerous for men than punishment! The Fall is achieved by the cunning of Sauron in exploiting this weakness. Its central theme is (inevitably, I think, in a story of Men) a Ban, or Prohibition. (p. 154, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman, c. late 1951)

To turn [to the] matter of when I started . . . It has always been with me, the deep response to legends that have what I would call the North-western temper and temperature. In any case if you want to write a tale of this sort you must consult your roots, and a man of the North-west of the Old World will set his heart and the action of his tale in an imaginary world of that air, and that situation: with the Shoreless Sea of his innumerable ancestors to the West, and the endless lands (out of which enemies mostly come) to the East. Though, in addition, his heart may remember, even if he has been cut off from all oral tradition, the rumour all along the coasts of the Men out of the Sea. (p. 212, Letter 163 to W. H. Auden, 7 June 1955)


   Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien, printed in A Tolkien Compass, ed. Lobdell, 1975. pp. 151 et. seq.

Easterlings. Translate, as ‘Easterners, men from the East’ (in the story men from the little-known regions beyond the Sea of Rhûn).

Middle-earth. Not a special land, or world, or ‘planet’, as is too often supposed, though it is made plain in the prologue, text, and appendices that the story takes place on this earth and under skies in general the same as now visible. The sense is ‘the inhabited lands of (Elves and) Men’, envisaged as lying between the Western Sea and that of the Far East (only known in the West by rumour). Middle-earth is a modern alteration of medieval middel-erde from Old English middan-geard (see Isengard). The Dutch and Swedish versions correctly used the old mythological name assimilated to the modern languages: Dutch Midden-aarde, Swedish Midgård.

Wilderland. An invention (not actually found in English), based on wilderness (originally meaning country of wild creatures, not inhabited by Men), but with a side-reference to the verbs wilder ‘wander astray’ and bewilder. It is supposed to be the Common Speech name of Rhovanion (on the map, not in the text), the lands east of the Misty Mountains (including Mirkwood) as far as the River Running. The Dutch version has Wilderland: Dutch has wildernis, but German or the Scandinavian languages (German wildnis, Danish vildnis).

   "Narrative Pattern in The Fellowship of the Ring" by David M. Miller, in A Tolkien Compass, ed. Jared Lobdell, 1st ed. 1975.

"Unlike most authors, Tolkien provides a special tool for examining narrative structure -- one at the back of each volume. If a straight line is drawn on Tolkien's map from Hobbiton to Mt Doom, and if the actual path of the ring is plotted on the same map, we have at once a graphic illustration of what might be called the narrative texture of

The Lord of the Rings." (pp. 97-98)

Miller goes on to analyze the problem in depth from this point of view, always returning to the Map as the normative base of the problem of destroying the Ring. Very interesting.

One thing I'm banking in my notes from reading this article: Frodo seems always to be going either East or South, although his direction is South-East, by Miller's analysis. That is, Tolkien emphasizes the cardinal directions in describing his characters' travels. This is partly realistic (most people refuse to think in any terms other than N, E, S, W when thinking of compass directions in real life), but also reinforces whatever symbolism he has laid onto those four points of the compass.

  When Philology Becomes Ideology: The Russian Perspective of J. R. R. Tolkien by Olgo Markova, trans. M. T. Hooker., in Tolkien Studies, Vol. I., 2000

The danger of The Lord of the Rings that was noted by some [Soviet] commentators was the hidden allegory "of the conflict between the individualist West and the totalitarian, Communist East." In a newspaper article entitled "Tolkien’s Cosmos," the social order instituted by Saruman is termed communistic, because the description of the lands under his sway could have easily been applied to the Soviet Union. Everything that the farmers grew was collected (think "collective farm"). Prohibitive rules and regulations were posted everywhere. All travelers from other countries were controlled. Defenders of justice and freethinkers were punished. The commentators’ conclusion being that "The Lord of the Rings is—among other things—a political pamphlet in which Tolkien included an encoded description of the conflict of the political darkness of the East and the freedom of the West, and a prediction of the inevitable

fall of Mordor and its analog on the real earth, the Soviet Union."3 It is interesting to notice that modern Communists think differently about this. They view the anti-industrial ideas of Tolkien’s works as a return to primordial Communism, and discuss the possibility of creating a type of "Red," Communist fantasy, whose father could be considered Tolkien.4

The Individuated Hobbit: Jung, Tolkien, and the Archetypes of Middle-earth, Timothy O’Neil, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

The Numenoreans’ conquests and colonies in Middle-earth are a Drang nach Osten. (pp. 47-48) -- This is an ironic comment by O’Neil comparing the Numenoreans to Hitler’s Germany. The bad joke is that since Sauron was so much a worse tyrant, as was Stalin, the folk of the coasts of Middle-earth, like the small nations of Eastern Europe in the 1930s, are "hardly in a position to complain" of domination by their betters to the West.

The original name for Minas Tirith was Minas Anor, Tower of the Sun; for it stood in the West, where the sun set, and was the stronghold of Anárion. Balancing it in the East was Minas Ithil, Tower of the Moon, which was raised by the heirs of Elendil on the far borders of Ithilien, on the very slopes of the Mountains of Shadow; it was occupied by Isildur. This was an arrangement which made elegant psychological sense: the sun (conscious) counterbalancing the moon (unconscious). (p. 78)

Cirdan is the guardian of the Grey Havens, the port of entry and exit in Middle-earth for those privileged to visit the Undying Lands. He is the boatman and guide of souls, the link (like Hermes, Anubis, and Charon) between life and death, West and East. (p. 92)

Faërie itself is the embodiment of the creative aspects of both conscious and unconscious. The wholesome unconscious parts of Man lie to the West; the destructive, moribund beast of the unconscious lurks in the East. The one refreshes, binds together; the other tears asunder, decays. And both aspects, alas, are seen in the behavior of Man. (pp. 94-95)

If we organize the whole of Tolkien’s world, including hints of the physical geography of the Undying Lands, and reduce them to a very general map, we begin to glimpse – as we might expect – an odd and compelling symmetry. It is reminiscent of the Taoist concept of reintegration of the soul’s disparate parts after death. The spirit of Man divides into yin and yang, the male and female principles. They are personified as "Mistress of the West" [Varda] and "Lord of the East" [Sauron] (the latter identified with the "Dark City"). (p. 105)

[At the end] Indeed, Doom is near at hand, and the fate of East and West hangs in the balance. (p. 135)

[regarding Frodo’s song at the end] The metaphorical reference "West of the Moon, East of the Sun" refers to two concepts at once: centrality in the sense of movement to the midpoint, and balance and compensation by the opposition of symbols (albedo and negredo, conscious + unconscious). This is a pretty unambiguous reference to the Self. (p. 137)

A glance at the map will disclose the Silvertine occupying the geographic center of the known world, a vantage from which Gandalf could hear "the gathered rumour of all lands: the springing and dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." (p. 145)

Jung writes: "The quaternity is an archetype of almost universal occurrence. It forms the logical basis for any whole judgement. . . . Three is not a natural coefficient of order, but an artificial one. There are always four elements, four prime qualities, four colors, four castes, four ways of spiritual development, etc. So, too, there are four aspects of the psychological orientation . . . "

And Aniela Jaffe clarifies: "A quaternity or quaternion often has a 3+1 structure, in that one of the terms composing it occupies an exceptional position or has a nature unlike the others . . . This is the "Fourth", which, added to the other three, makes them "One", symbolizing totality." (pp. 148-149)

The northern myths have only an antiquarian fascination for most readers, little of the marvelous potency that once resided in their telling beside the hearth or under the stars. For one thing, sources such as the Eddic sagas sprang from a mentality quite different from the modern one which so readily embraces Middle-earth; Midgard would not be so appealing. The heroes struggle against a grim, contradictory fate, which finally gobbles them up on the day of Ragnarokk. Had the War of the Ring followed that line of imagery, East and West would have fought to the death, resulting in the devastation of the world, the annihilation of the Valar and the minions of Sauron, and the rebirth of Middle-earth under the gentle ministrations of the One. Tolkien’s mythology, in short, borrows from the past, from the psychological heritage of Northern Europe; but the telling is a far cry from the those sources." (pp. 158-59)


   J. R. R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality and Religion, by Richard Purtill, New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

Discussion of Tolkien’s creation of a world that has evil inherent in it from the creation, rather than introduced to it by Satan at the time of the Fall of Adam and the Expulsion from Eden. Reference Letters p. 286-87.

Still, the Lewis suggestion or the Tolkien myth does go against a certain picture we have of the original state of the human race before the Fall as completely innocent and happy: ‘Eden’ and ‘paradise’ carry these associations for us. But perhaps it is our picture at fault, not the Lewis/Tolkien suggestion. Tolkien once said that ‘a safe Fairyland is false to all worlds.’ (note 11) Perhaps a safe paradise, a safe Eden is false to reality too. Perhaps even a safe haven is also; it may be that in any situation fitted for finite creatures like ourselves, there must be challenge and therefore danger. The speculation would lead us into some rather deep theological waters, but Tolkien’s world in which Elves and Men must struggle and survive in a world already made dangerous by Melkor’s rebellion has an emotional validity: it seems to have the ‘taste of primary truth.’ (p. 96)

Use this to back up the observation that the Elves’ and Men’s Eden, or place of origin, in the East of Middle-earth holds no happy memory for these races, removing one of the prime positives that East holds in the real medieval imagination.


   Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon, by Brian Rosebury, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.

An immediate problem with this classificatory strategy [calling LotR a romance because it is not ‘realistic’] is that a number of works which are non-realistic in this sense are in fact usually counted as novels: The Castle, The Glass Bead Game, Vathek, The Time Machine, The Inheritors. All of these, it is true, maintain at least a notional relation to the historical world; but so, as a matter of fact, does The Lord of the Rings, representing as it does not some distant planet but our geomorphically recognizable earth: its setting is ‘the North-West of the Old World, east of the sea’ (FR, 11). ‘The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary’, Tolkien affirmed. [note 3 = Letters, p. 239] The extra-chronological past of The Lord of the Rings is no more imaginatively remote from us than the pseudo-chronological future of Wells’s Eloi and Morlocks . . . And, as we shall shortly see, in many cultural respects the society of the Hobbits, with its small towns, farms, inns, parties, letter-writing and clannishness, is closer to the experience of modern, even ‘bourgeois’ Western man than that glimpsed by Wells’s Time-Traveller.

The significant feature of the imaginative displacement from reality in The Lord of the Rings is not so much its distance as its systematic realization (to use a word which is tellingly paradoxical in this context). Novels, it might be said, diverge from historical reality for specific and local effect, while The Lord of the Rings systematically shuts it out in favour of the construction of an alternative universe. But the temporal and spatial order, the historico-geographical extension and density, of the alternative universe represented in The Lord of the Rings are attributes of the real universe too: indeed, in so far as these structural aspects of reality are concerned, The Lord of the Rings might actually be called unusually mimetic. The structural relation of imaginary universe to real one is not, moreover, the kind of symbolic or allegorical relation in which the invented world is texturally quite alien to the actual (as in, say, Voltaire’s Micromégas): on the contrary, there is a degree of naturalism in the narrative of The Lord of the Rings which is much closer to the realistic novel than to the simplifying, or encapsulating, procedures of allegory. (pp. 14-15)

Possibly use this to talk about how The East and The South can justifiably be identified by Tolkien with the real places in our world without insisting that the identification then must become literal or allegorical?

Moreover, countless details of the episode at the Prancing Pony implicitly direct our attention to the rest of the huge world on which it is a tiny speck. If we are continually aware (as we are when visiting a real inn) of its geographical location, this is not simply a question of its appearing on a map in the endpapers . . . We have already been told that the inn was built ‘long ago when the traffic on the roads had been far greater’, and that ‘Strange as News from Bree was still a saying in the Eastfarthing, descending from those days, when news from North, South and East could be heard in the inn . . . ‘ (FR, 162).

. . . All this should begin both to suggest Tolkien’s skill in planning ‘novelistic’ complexities of narrative, and to confirm at least one sense in which The Lord of the Rings is exceptionally realistic: its Middle-earth, like our world, is a complicated place, full of banal mischances, full of surprises which bring home the limits of our knowledge, full of space and multiplicity. (pp. 17-19)

In this reading, the existence of an unknown East and South are part of a novelistic construct that make Middle-earth more realistic.

That Frodo’s eastward journey is delayed [by the rain at Bombadil’s] is no blunder in narrative construction, for it is just the kind of happiness encapsulated in this episode [FR, pp. 139-40], the happiness of grateful contemplation of beauty, and of unforced, unhurried activity, practical and creative, which the work opposes to the nihilistic spirit of Mordor. We need to feel its allure, not only in order to sustain our interest in the fulfillment of Frodo’s mission, but also because the imagining of such happiness (which like any object of desire is most compelling when transient or imperiled) is central to the purposes of The Lord of the Rings. (p. 55)

Rosebury contrasts the happiness of everyday life as captured by the Bombadil interlude, with Mordor to the East, saying it is necessary now for the horror of Mordor to make sense later.

And there are one or two attempts, in the early chapters, to force the dramatic and emotional pace with assertive rhetoric instead of allowing the tension to build naturally. ‘Fear seemed to stretch out a vast hand, like a dark cloud rising in the East and looming up to engulf [Frodo]’, we are told at quite an early stage in Gandalf’s first narration at Bag End (FR, 60). But with Mordor still a thousand miles distant, this is psychologically incredible as well as aesthetically premature, and the imagery of the dark cloud looks merely trite because nothing has happened yet to substantiate it concretely: it will be precisely the achievement of much later chapters to give renewed life to this, and other, metaphors for fear and evil which are in themselves apt but have become staled by casual, imaginatively undeveloped use. (pp. 77-8)

Seems to highlight the necessity of letting the East become evil naturally as part of the development of the story, rather than dictate it from the beginning.


The literary-critical equivalent of this confusion [Eomer’s question as to the principles of right conduct in ‘such times’] is the attempt to deny the imaginative autonomy of Middle-earth by translating Sauron as Hitler or Stalin, the Nazgul as the Nazis, the Shire under Saruman as the post-war Labour government, and so on: interpretations which infuriated Tolkien, the more justifiably since these are essentially conjectures about covert intentions on the author’s part. His narrative is not a kind of coded satire or polemic: its aim is to present certain essentially desirable and undesirable forms of life with maximum imaginative lucidity for a modern readership. In particular, the war against Sauron is not intended to represent any real war, least of all those against Germany in which Tolkien and his country were engaged during his lifetime. To spell out a necessary distinction which many critics ignore: influence by X is one thing; representation of X is another. (pp 159-60)

Tolkien’s placement of Mordor to the East promotes critics’ identification of it with Germany (or later Russia), but Tolkien’s choice of East as the direction of darkness stemmed from his desire to place his stories in the familiar ground of an imaginary Europe. The resulting geography does not correlate with any actual geopolitics, certainly not modern geopolitics.

There is also an important political element to Garbowski’s commentary. Unlike Patrick Curry . . . he avoids any explicit ‘application’ of the conflict in The Lord of the Rings to the impact of Soviet communism in Eastern Europe, and focuses instead on the general characteristics of Tolkien’s vision of the good social life.

The geographical distances may be reminiscent of Europe . . . but the social geography is based on what the Germans call Heimat . . . Large as the Kingdom of Gondor is, it actually constitutes a federation of small states rather than a uniform one. The only large state can be said to be Mordor, which is centralist to say the least . . . .Milosz writes that ‘in comparison with the state, the homeland is organic, rooted in the past, always small, it warms the heart, it is as close as one’s own body’ . . . Different homelands introduce genuine diversity, while the large state, whether benign or threatening imposes uniformity. (p. 172-173) [Chapter 5, note 34: ref. C. Garbowski, Recovery and Transcendence for the Contemporary Mythmaker, pp. 180-1]

An example of how an Eastern European critic is not seduced by the Russian analogy.


   The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth, Ralph C. Wood, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003)

The hobbits’ problem is, ironically, that they have no problems. They enjoy a virtually Edenic existence – so peaceful are their relations, so delightful are their pleasures, so just are their laws. The life of the Shire constitutes, in fact, Tolkien’s vision of life as it is supposed to be lived. Hobbits were not meant to bear the burdens of the world, but rather to preserve a last unspoiled corner of Middle-earth as a haven of modest and exemplary life. Yet the hobbits have lived in safety and comfort for so long that they are threatened by complacency and self-satisfaction. . . . Inward complacency and decay, Tolkien suggests, is altogether as threatening as outward assault. . . . Though the Shire is immediately threatened by the lurking presence of Saruman’s and Sauron’s agents, the perennial temptation of the hobbits arises from their own fallen nature. The Company’s commitment to justice requires them to combat their own injustice – especially the anti-communal sin of greed. (pp. 90-91)

Wood seems to ignore the idea of an eastern Eden entirely in his book, since it doesn’t exist in Tolkien. Here he comes up with a substitute: the Shire as Eden. Not particularly good, I think.


England and Always: Tolkien’s World of the Rings, Jared Lobdell, Grand Rapids, Mi: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1981

The whole world of The Lord of the Rings as we know perceive it is an English world, indeed a medieval English world, where Elves are Welsh and Dwarves are Norse, both being proper neighbors for this England. (It is true that the Elvish language has Finnish analogues as well, and Dwarvish sounds middle eastern, but the point holds nonetheless.) Professor Tolkien himself, as we have noted, referred to The Lord of the Rings as a work in which he had incorporated much of what he had personally learned from the study of things Welsh: this "Welshness" of the Elves, like the "Northernness" of the Dwarves and the "Old Englishness" of the Rohirrim, is not imaginary. The Northwest of the Old World in the Third Age is clearly the Northwest of the Old World today – the British Isles.

But much of this, according to the author, is a matter of translation . . . We may be reading about England, if by England we mean a geographic area, but it is not England in any other sense: the illusion that this is "really" England, as we know it now or in our history, is an illusion of translation, as I noted. But as I also noted, the illusion is more real than what underlies it, or is feigned to underlie it.

There is an explanation for this – indeed, two explanations. One is found in the passage I quoted from Sjera Tomas Saemundsson: "Languages are the chief distinguishing marks of peoples." The language, that is, defines the nature of its speakers. Thus the "Welshness" of the Elvish language means that the Elves themselves take on Welsh characteristics. The fact that the names of the Dwarves are taken from the Elder Edda provides a Northernness for the character of the Dwarves. . . . In short, the use of Old English, or Welsh, or Norse necessarily gives an Old English or Welsh or Norse character to the people involved.

This is, however, only one answer, or one part of the answer: it explains the appeal of the world-in-translation (so to speak), but it does not justify it. The other – or justifying – part of the answer has to do, I believe, with the fact that languages behave in the same ways, whatever the language, whatever the time—and with one other point . . . .There is, in a sense, nothing new under the sun in even a new language. It is thus perfectly within keeping for a philologist, conscious of all this, to use one language in a given state of its development to represent another language at the same state, and to have the connotations of the one carry over quite properly into the other. This is what Tolkien has done, as he himself noted. If we assume that there resides some kind of genius in a land—a hardness in the Northern spirit, a kind of sanctity perhaps in the West—then we could expect, as languages rise and fall within that land, that the peoples who speak them will be not unlike each other. There will always—under whatever guise and in whatever time—be an England. (pp. 32-33)

Lewis writes in pictures. Indeed, most of his books begin with pictures, and his approach is essentially visual. Tolkien’s is not. One can draw pictures from his words, but the pictures are one’s own, not his. That is, of course, part of the use of language as a correlative for action, which is one of the four ways in which the world of The Lord of the Rings is a philologist’s world . . . .

[In his description of the conclusion of the Pelennor battle], Not only do the auditory images precede the visual, but the visual images are of a particular and unusual kind. Tolkien is not always describing so much as "connoting." It is the approach of an author peculiarly conscious of words as words. It is also an approach that virtually precludes the description of anything outside the reader’s experience (whether actual or, perhaps, Jungian), which means that Middle Earth in the Third Age cannot be much different from middle-earth in the second millennium A.D. (p. 45)

Perhaps another way in which the East and the South are made to evoke our Asia and Africa without any actual points of geographic identity? Tolkien’s visual images of the tribes and soldiers replace any actual descriptions of the lands themselves. The Easterlings and the Southrons are Rhun and Harad in LotR

Here we should pause to consider what is "middle" about Middle Earth.

Heaven and Hell, according to the medieval English lyric, are eating into merry middle-earth—Heaven from above, Hell from below. Middle-earth is not permanent in its present incarnation, neither in Tolkien’s world nor in ours. We can expect, some day, a new heaven and a new earth . . . [quote Galadriel and Fangorn’s conversation about reincarnation].

In fact, Tolkien’s Middle Earth is not three-tiered so much as three-directional. If the West is Heaven (or Paradise), then the East in some sense approaches Hell, even though the symmetry is incomplete, and Middle Earth is middle because betwixt West and East. This reading fits in with the land under the wave and Middle Earth as separate entities: by it, the Undying Lands remain forever beyond the circles of the world, reachable only by the Old Straight Track. By it, Numenor (or, rather, the Isle of Elenna) will be raised up, the world—Middle Earth included—will be changed, and the dead will be raised (III, 428). The distinction between Elenna and Middle Earth holds (III, 303, 390), and we may, provisionally, accept the view that Tolkien has shifted the "middleness" from a three-tiered to a three-directional universe.

At this point we are confronted with another theological question. If we put Tolkien’s Uttermost West and all his West-Middle-East cosmogony into the same figurative category as the three-tiered universe, with the same kind of mythological truth, can we reconcile the truths behind (or within) the two? The myth—the cosmogony—is different, but the truth should be the same. (pp. 54-55)

Lobdell goes on to speculate on the nature of original sin, God, and Eden in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

The Hobbits seem thus to be without original sin as they are without God. By our own standards, their theological status is very odd—as odd as the idea of a yet unfallen world, upon which, indeed, that theological status is based . . . .The progress of the Hobbits . . . can be seen as a progress toward spiritual awareness, toward the gift of knowledge if you will, indeed toward the gifts of the Holy Spirit generally. (p. 56)

Lobdell posits that some in LotR are destined to be saved, and some, such as Boromir, are not, despite his high rank and status. He says that only Christ, who has not yet come to Middle-earth, is the great leveler who can save everyone.

It is only the knowledge of Christ (and therefore of the Holy Spirit) that does not exist in pre-Christian times. But Christ exists, and the Spirit also.

This lack of knowledge . . . has led some observers to think The Lord of the Rings an irreligious book. It is not irreligious: it merely, and necessarily, portrays a world in which religion is not practiced as we practice it. Let me now return to a different and more debatable characteristic of the world: the fact that it is (or may be) prelapsarian, that there is not inherent tendency toward evil.

Granted, this seems to be the case—but there is no inherent tendency toward good, either, at least in most places. . . . There are Easterlings and Southrons deep and long in evil servitude (III, 280), but there are those who are not. In short, so far as outward appearances are concerned, it is a world much like ours (these Easterlings and Southrons might even worship pagan gods in the way discussed above). But the closer we look . . . there is a kind of epic certainty about, and epic gulf between, good and evil . . . .If this is a fallen world, the fall is assuredly incomplete.

What then? Is this an unfallen world? With Morgoth in its history . . . that too seems questionable. I am driven to conclude that this turns out to be in keeping with a three-directional universe. Middle-earth [the real-world Medieval model] betwixt Heaven and Hell can be fallen, to all the round world’s four corners. But when Middle Earth is middle betwixt West and East, the whole round world cannot be fallen (and in any case, we have noted there is no Uttermost East, no Hell on earth). Moreover, we cannot draw a simple progression from West (Heaven) to East across the map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Lothlórien is, after all, east of the Barrow Downs. (pp. 59-60)

Lobdell concludes that with Paradise on earth in the West, and its opposite area the East also on earth, that is not actually a Hell, it is impossible to condemn Middle-earth to a pre-Christian state of original sin – rather it is the site of a constant battle between those who have fallen and those who have not.

This captures some of Flieger’s argument about Light and Shadow, but by applying medieval cosmic geography instead.

In both Arguments, the East represents a state of relative sin, not absolute sin; and all creatures in Middle-earth must choose how to respond to its presence in their world.

But perhaps this is not a fair example, since neither the Barrow Wights nor the Elves of Lothlorien are men, and it is with men that we are here concerned . . . At least within The Lord of the Rings it is only Men and Hobbits (and trees) who are mixed good and evil, and even for Men the West-to-East progression from Good to Evil is not complete, while for Hobbits (and trees) it does not hold at all. We must reject that supposition and conclude (despite some signs of this West-to-East progression) that the whole of Middle Earth is poised on the brink of the fall. It is angelic presences who have fallen, and some of mankind with them. It is as though Mankind, collectively . . . is Adam—the old Adam, though not in the colloquial sense: ‘Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam’ (Genesis 5:2). And if mankind is Adam—which is what the Hebrew word signifies—then the One Ring, besides all other things it may be, is the apple of the tree—though an apple of power, not of knowledge. (pp. 60-61)

This ignores the material in the Silmarillion and elsewhere that Men originated in the East, and were almost entirely corrupted by Morgoth – only the most Western tribes of edain escaped, having fallen and then repented. [n.b. Lobdell grants that he ignores the Silmarillion at the end of his book].

The temptation in The Lord of the Rings is multiple: the Adam, as we observed, is collective . . . .The more we draw the comparisons between Tolkien’s world and ours—its temptation, the nature of its timeless moment, its prelapsarian (or its fallen) state—the more we see that Tolkien’s theology is that of the Catholic church, as we would expect. But the shutter has been clicked—the exposure taken—at a different point in the process. Indeed, in the end, the Adam does not fall, at least not in the Third Age. Almost, but not quite. (pp. 61-62)

Lobdell here explains the missing Eden in the East: it is instead Middle-earth itself, the beautiful, natural surrounding environment that Tolkien’s readers so respond to. All of Middle-earth is an Eden, and all of it’s inhabitants are collectively being tempted by the Ring instead of an apple.

But suppose, just suppose, a world in which Eden, though it must be striven for to be maintained, has never been lost. Suppose we have a myth of anti-progress recognizing that change may be ill, but not that it is inevitable. Suppose the contending forces are the machines and the countryside, Eden not at the confluence of the four rivers, nor whose gate is guarded by the angel with a flaming sword, but Eden in an English shire. . . . But is England’s green and pleasant land so powerful a myth within itself that it refreshes us? . . . The question is whether another land could serve the purpose. Could the intersection of the timeless moment be France or Germany? Or must it be England? . . . Tolkien’s ancestry was English, as was Kipling’s. Ours may not be.

But languages are the chief distinguishing marks of peoples. . . . It is not merely a key to Tolkien’s critical doctrines or day-to-day belief. It is true, and The Lord of the Rings is evidence of its truth . . . .We who read it in English are, as English-speakers, the inheritors of Tolkien’s English mythology, heirs through that grace of his kingdom. By the fact of our language, whatever our ancestry, we are native to that northwest corner of Europe that is the scene of The Lord of the Rings. (pp. 87-88)

Here he centers the Eden even more specifically, in the Shire, and claims that the English language, or rather Tolkien’s use of it in composing his story, fits his readers to accept an alien part of the world (rural England) as their Edenic homeland.

   The Hobbit: A Journey into Maturity, William H. Green (New York: Twayne, 1995)

To mature, Bilbo must leave his ancestral home, the womblike hobbit-hole, and pass uncorrupted through the tomblike dragon lair, the mountain tomb that becomes the womb of heroic rebirth. This is, by the way, his third dangerous underground journey from east to west, the night sea journey of the archetypal solar hero, and in each case Bilbo must make important parts of the journey alone and in darkness. (p. 43)

Green is making a strong contrast between the beginning and ending places of Bilbo’s journey, drawing on Jungian archetypes and the "solar hero" theme for good measure. I believe the "solar hero" interpretation is somewhat discredited, but here it has a resonance due to Tolkien’s orientation of the quest along east-west lines.

Given Tolkien’s professional specialization in Old Norse and northern English literature, giant trolls are obvious folks to encounter on a perilous road east. Snorri Sturlson’s Old Norse Edda tells of two occasions when Thor is away from Asgard because he has gone to the east to fight trolls; and in an older poem, Loki teases Thor about his encounter with a giant "on the East-road." At the end of the world, the giants will attack from the east.3 (p. 50) [3. Henry Adams Bellows trans., The Poetic Edda, (London: Oxford U. Press, 1923), 170, 21.]

This is the only reference I have seen so far linking the East to danger in Norse sources.

The same basic structural elements are here [in the Goblin adventure as in the Troll adventure], but doubled or tripled . . . .There is water again at crucial points of the story—the lake just before Bilbo meets Gollum and the Great River at the Carrock just before Beorn’s hall. Again Bilbo and the others are trapped and bound, if not bagged. And here, for the first time, we have a solar night-sea journey, a passage through darkness under the earth from west to east, symbol of the cosmic cycle of death and rebirth at a higher plane. (p. 65)

We need only recall themes of death and rebirth in Christian Baptism to glimpse the powerful symbolism that Tolkien invokes in Bilbo’s watery underground escape into the sunrise. (p. 93)

Escape into the sunrise is used at the end of the Barrow-wight adventure in LotR, but how often is sunrise used compared to sunset in Tolkien?

Naming by capitalization immerses us in a worldview where home is the center of the universe, and we are ignorant of larger landscapes that would require our hill to be anything but The Hill. This is Bilbo’s initial worldview, an Edenic one to which we can all return in imagination. (p. 109)

Noted because of Tolkien’s use of the East, the South, etc. Interesting connection to the idea of the Shire as Eden in Lobdell.

   Tolkien and the Silmarillion, Clyde Kilby (Berkamsted, UK: Lion Publishing, 1977).

But if England is indeed Shire country, then what of the rest of Middle-earth? In a telephone conversation with Tolkien, Mr. Henry Resnick asked what was east of Rhûn and south of Harad, to which Tolkien replied, "Rhûn is the Elvish word for east. Asia, China, Japan and all the things which people in the West regard as far away. And south of Harad is Africa, the hot countries." Then Mr. Resnick asked, "That makes Middle-earth Europe, doesn’t it?" To which Tolkien replied, "Yes, of course—Northwestern Europe . . . where my imagination comes from."[17] Not long afterwards, when I mentioned this interview to Tolkien, he denied ever having said these things. Yet later, when in my own efforts to get the geography of The Silmarillion straight I asked Tolkien where Numenor was, he promptly responded, "In the middle of the Atlantic." Is this another instance of the Professor’s "contrasistency," or is there a logical explanation? He is reported to have said specifically that Mordor "would be roughly in the Balkans."[18]

All this thrusts upon us not simply geography but European history, and the allegorical framework which Tolkien so vociferously denied. For instance, shall we not under these circumstances take a new look at the degradation of the Shire during the absence of the four Hobbits and the cleansing and rehabilitation that became necessary? To localize a story geographically or temporally is always at least a threat which undercuts any larger meaning, certainly a mythic one. (pp. 51-52)

[17] Niekas, 18:43.

[18] "The Man Who Understands Hobbits," Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, London Daily Telegraph Magazine, March 22, 1968.

East Wind References?


From: "AnchisesGhost"  Date: Thu Aug 18, 2005 6:48 am

Subject: Re: Modtheow ... (South) anchisesghost


Of possible note also is Christopher Tolkien's speculation in War of the Jewels that during Tolkien's post-LOTR tinkering with his mythology he may have come to associate Cuivienen, a 'bay in the inland sea of Helkar', with the sea of Rhun. If so, this would surely be of interest, would it not? The awakening-place of the Elves actually mentioned in LOTR as a den of evil and/or slavery? If you're piqued I'll type out some quotes with page numbers etc.



From: "N E Brigand" Date: Thu Aug 18, 2005 12:43 pm

Subject: Re: Helkar / Rhun; & dwarves in the East?



Interestingly I think Karen Fonstad's maps of Middle-earth in different ages actually show the sea of Rhun as having the same outline as part of the inland sea of Helkar. I had taken this as speculation on her part, but perhaps WJ was her source. Also, squire, in your draft for "The East" you say that dwarves awoke in the East--is there a citation for that? I haven't got PoME here, but I thought the dwarves awoke in four groups, roughly in the Blue Mountains, Misty Mountains, Iron Hills, and somewhere farther east.

-N. E. Brigand


The Song of Middle-earth, by David Harvey, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985

Death has been seen in myth as a punishment for some transgression against Divine law. When Man is in the Golden Age he is without sin and beloved of God (or the Gods). He does not die but lives in a state of bliss. As a result of sin, tragedy or foolishness, but usually the first, the perfection of the Golden Age comes to an end. Man learns the meaning of death, and his life becomes a brutal struggle for survival, dedicated to avoiding death for as long as possible.

Was there such a Fall in Arda? Not for Men, for death was not intended as a curse, but was the Gift of Ilúvatar. Why was it a gift? Because upon a man dying, his soul would return to Ilúvatar. This happens regardless of any error into which Man may have fallen. Thus, Ilúvatar can be seen as totally benevolent and totally forgiving. It was within the Plan of Ilúvatar that the desires and fate of Men should extend beyond the pre-ordained pattern of the Ainulindale. The Elves are not aware of where Men go after death. ‘Mandos has no powers to withhold the spirits of Men that were dead within the confines of the World, after their time of waiting.’45 The ultimate End is the return to the loving Creator. Clearly, death was not appointed as a punishment.

. . . [quote Messenger of Valar to Men of Numenor in Akallabeth]

It was only after the corruption by Morgoth that Men themselves decided that death was a burden. But that was not Ilúvatar’s reasoning. Within the Tolkien myth, Man has already fallen. In the early days, Men were befriended by both Elves and Morgoth. In the First Age there is mention only of the Edain and the Easterlings. The Edain were the Elf-friends who knew Ilúvatar and the Valar (in the religious sense) and thus appreciated the true nature of Morgoth. Apart from the Edain, the Race of Men lived in darkness, fearing or worshipping Morgoth.46 (pp. 36-37)

45. Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978, p. 254.

46. Carpenter, J. R. R. Tolkien, a Biography, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1977, p. 93.

Harvey points out the difference between mainstream myth of the Golden Age and the Fall, as epitomized by the Eden story, and Tolkien’s myth, where Men have fallen to their own fears, not by breaking God’s edict.

Of Aragorn’s acts during his withdrawal we know little. Five years after leaving Imladris he met Gandalf. He then traveled east and south, learning of Men and their ways, acquiring that knowledge of the world that would enable him to become a good ruler if and when that time should arrive. At all times he was directing his energies against the servants of Sauron and of Evil. (p. 85)

Harvey points out that East and South are the realms of Men, both the good men of Rohan and Gondor, and the evil men further south and east.


   "Middle-earth, the Middle Ages, and the Aryan nation: Myth and History in World War II", by Christine Chism, in Tolkien the Medievalist, ed. Jane Chance, London: Routledge, 2003.

And in his lecture "English and Welsh," delivered in October 1955 as the last volume of The Lord of the Rings was being published, Tolkien furiously dismantles the whole mythology of racialism in successive steps that correspond closely to [Nazi ideologist Alfred] Rosenberg’s discursive categories for assembling his definition of the Nordic: race, blood, soil, and unchanging essence . . . Tolkien ends this peroration – which is actually beside the point in an essay meant to inaugurate a lecture series about Celtic language influences on English – by half apologizing and half insisting upon its relevance. (p. 74)

And more generally throughout Tolkien’s war and postwar writings, shadowy repudiations of Wagner’s Ring lend a contentious vigor to his narratives. (p. 76)

This entire essay on Tolkien’s defense of Nordic mythological ideals against the assault from the Nazi regime is an effective demonstration that to Tolkien the German nation was an intrinsic part of the "Nordic" European culture, not of The East. This is perhaps helpful in repudiating criticism of his Mordor, and the East in general, as referring to Nazi or Wilhelmine Germany in relation to England and "the West".

   "The anthropology of Arda: Creation, theology, and the race of Men", by Jonathan Evans, in Tolkien the Medievalist, ed. Jane Chance, London: Routledge, 2003.

Tolkien’s conception of all the races with which he populates the world of Arda stipulates on central unifying theological theme – all are fallen. More than an incidental affectation conducive to greater verisimilitude in relation to our world, however, the manner and the consequences of the fall of Men are connected deeply with Tolkien’s anthropological conceptions, with his views concerning the powers and limits of human and divine creativity, and in particular with the nature of creative art exercised in the invention of myth and the making of literature. (p. 200)

There [in the 1915 poem "Kortirion among the Trees"] we first meet Men as westward-travelers from an eastern home, curious and eager for adventure but at the same time by nature faint-hearted and treasonous. When they make their initial appearance much later in The Silmarillion, the chapter titled "Of Men" retains this essential definition: "Men feared the Valar rather than loved them, and have not understood the purposes of the Powers, being at variance with them and at strife with the world." (p. 201)

The essential definition of the moral fallibility of the human race that Eriol represents would remain unchanged throughout all the writings, serving as the impetus and the driving force for the many complex narratives that would emerge. The fraility of the human spirit is one of the primary facts around which the vast narrative of all of Tolkien’s imaginative work—not only The Silmarillion but also The Lord of the Rings and many of the shorter stories and poems—is spun. In Tol Eressëa, Eriol encounters Lindo and Vairë—two Elves, storytellers—who propose to relate to their mortal visitor tales

of the Great Lands, and of the dwellings of Men; of the Valar and Valinor; of the West and its mysteries, of the East and its glory, of the South and its untrodden wilds, of the North and its power and strength; or of this island and its folk, or of the old days of Kôr where our folk once dwelt. (BLT1, 18) (Evans, p. 201)

When we meet Men, then, they are already fallen, even in this earliest of narrative compositions from which Tolkien generated the rest of the mythology and history of Arda—of Aman and Middle-earth, the west and the east—and the stories that grew out of it. (p. 202)

In Tolkien’s secondary world, in Arda, this human impulse (to remake the world as if it were our own) is represented in the legendarium in a number of ways through the diverse characteristics of the various races found within it—which, earlier, we said represent particular facets of fallen human character. The theological sources of this understanding of human nature are found in the Old Testament passages describing the Fall, expanded in the New Testament, and developed into Christian doctrine in patristic and medieval exegesis; narratively an important source for Tolkien, as for much of English-speaking Christendom, is probably not the Bible itself but John Milton’s imaginative retelling in Paradise Lost. . . . For Tolkien, the artistic implications of the fallen definition of humanity were thematically central, both inside and outside his imaginary universe. . . . Like Milton also, Tolkien portrays evil as originating not within the human world but in a time before time, in the fall of angelic beings. (p. 205)

[Cites Shippey on omitting the Fall from the narrative in Silmarillion, see Road, p. 236 in pb edition]

Evans develops the argument that fallen Man is central to the legendarium by attracting the sympathies of his readers into the otherworldly moral universe whose primary inhabitants are the immortal Elves.


   The Road to Middle-earth, by Tom Shippey, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003, 3rd edition.

[on Rohan:] Maybe the infantry-fixation of historical periods was the result of living on an island. Maybe the Anglo-Saxons before they migrated to England were different. What would have happened had they turned East, not West, to the German plains and the steppes beyond?...For all this there is, once more, a visual correlative, and it is the first flash of individuality Éomer is given: he is (p. 421) ‘taller than all the rest; from his helm as a crest a white horsetail flowed’. A horsetail plume is the traditional prerogative of the Huns and the Tartars and the steppe-folk, a most un-English decoration, at least by tradition. (pp. 126-7)

Shippey’s analysis highlights that Tolkien drew elements from East and West of Europe without discrimination in creating his imaginary European-like cultures – he does not regard the East as ‘evil’ when he is outside his story.

To go back to ‘Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics’: if this makes one thing clear, it is that the literary quality Tolkien valued above all was the ‘impression of depth . . . effect of antiquity . . . illusion of historical truth and perspective’ which he found in Beowulf, in the Aeneid or for that matter in Macbeth, Sir Orfeo or the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. In all these works there was a sense that the author knew more than he was telling, that behind his immediate story there was a coherent, consistent, deeply fascinating world about which he had no time (then) to speak. Of course this sense, as Tolkien kept repeating, was largely an illusion, even a provocation to which a wise man should not respond. (p. 228-9)

This talks about depth in time, but can certainly be applied to Tolkien’s use of The East and The South to give depth in space to Middle-earth. The lack of detail about those lands is imperative to keeping the story grounded in a specific but believable imaginary world.

Significantly, he left a gap in The Silmarillion, or designed a dovetail, for the Fall of Man as described in the Old Testament. In his work the human race does not originate ‘on stage’ in Beleriand, but drifts into it, already sundered in speech, from the East. There something terrible has happened to them of which they will not speak: ‘A darkness lies behind us . . . and we have turned our backs on it’ (p. 141). Furthermore, they have met ‘the Lord of the Dark’ before they meet the Elves; Morgoth went to them as soon as they were created, ‘to corrupt or destroy’. Clearly one can, if one wishes, assume that the exploit of Morgoth of which the Eldar never learnt was the traditional seduction of Adam and Eve by the serpent, while the incoming Edain and Easterlings are all descendants of Adam flying from Eden and subject to the curse of Babel. The Silmarillion, then, tells the story of the fall and partial redemption of the elves, without contradicting the story of the Fall and Redemption of Man. (p. 236)

Paradise Lost, one might say, exists to tell us that death is a just punishment, and anyway (see Paradise Regained) not final. The Silmarillion by contrast seems to be trying to persuade us to see death potentially as a gift or reward—an attitude to which other authors in this skeptical age have felt drawn. [note 8] While the legends of the First Age are a ‘calque’, then, their resemblance to a known pattern directs us primarily to difference from that pattern; the elvishness of the elves is meant to reflect back on the humanity of man. (p. 237)

Shippey begins to touch on the distinction between Christianity and Tolkien’s world, where death is a reward for Men, and there is no Hell or Heaven for the Elves or Men.

‘Earendel’ is the old name of a star or planet. Grimm [in Teutonic Mythology] also referred, though, to the German poem of Orendel, written about 1200. In this Orendel is a king’s son shipwrecked in the Holy Land, but rescued naked by a fisherman. He retrieves a grey robe from a whale they catch, and in it returns to his own land to convert his heathen countrymen . . . What this may have suggested to Tolkien is that if the Old English and Old Norse sources agreed that ‘Earendel’ was a star, the Old English and medieval German ones agreed he was a messenger of hope to the heathens . . . The notes in Cook’s edition [Christ, 1900] would meanwhile have told Tolkien that the Old English lines were based on a Latin antiphon, ‘O Oriens . . .’ (‘O Rising Light, splendour of eternal light and sun of justice: come and shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death’). In a Christian context this appeal is to Christ; in a pre-Christian context they could be a pagan’s appeal, to a forerunner of Christ, to a Saviour whose nature he did not know. (p. 246)

Connection between Earendil the Morning Star, and the Dawn he proclaims. As such, he rises in the East, and has a Christian association and a pre-Christian association. Tolkien went with the pre-Christian version.


   Tolkien’s Art: A Mythology for England, by Jane Chance, Lexington: U. Press of Kentucky, 2001, rev. ed.

In defining the parameters of the work’s structure, [note 8] Tolkien declares that "[t]he only units of any structural significance are the books. These originally had each its title."[note 9] . . . book 2, "The Ring Goes South"; book 3, "The Treason of Isengard"; book 4, "The Ring Goes East"; . . . the title of each thematically and symbolically supports the crowning title, "The Lord of the Rings," by revealing some aspect of the adversary or the hero through a related but subordinate title that fixes on the Ring’s movements and the ambiguity of its "owner" or "bearer," . . . (p. 145)

[note 8]: For other views of structure in the trilogy, see, for example, Helms, "Tolkien’s World: The Structure and Aesthetic of The Lord of the Rings," chap. 5 of Tolkien’s World.

[note 9]: Quoted from a letter by J. R. R. Tolkien appended to Everett, p. 87.


"In the Far Northwest of the Old World", by Jared Lobdell, in The World of the Rings: Language, Religion and Adventure in Tolkien, Chicago: Open Court, 2004; rev. ed. from England and Always (1981), but this chapter is new.

We should begin with the dominant myth of the West . . . If the West is Heaven (or Paradise), then the East in some sense approaches Hell, even though the symmetry is incomplete, and Middle-earth is middle because betwixt West and East . . . We are introduced to this, as to much else in the background of The Lord of the Rings, by hints and slight mentions, over the three volumes. It is certainly part of Tolkien’s mythology for England, and his desire for the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic. It is unquestionably based on the Celtic Islands of the Blest, on Hy Bréasail, on the drowned lands of Lyonesse, on all the westering motion of the sacred in Celtic lore, on the imramm (and he himself published an "Imram" in 1955). But he does not here tell much of the myth (until he gets to the appendices): it is almost as though, by knowing the myth (if we do), we discover it here, underlying and informing the story, until we reach the appendices. (p. 72-73)

When we get into book 4 we can expect fewer references to the West or the west, for this is Sam and Frodo going into the Land of Mordor. But we can expect references to the East (or east), which may, after all, be taken as implicit references to the West (or west). (p. 76)

After the storm has passed, clear sky "was growing in the East once more" (II, 273). What that clear sky presages just then we do not know, but even in the East there may be a signal of hope. (p. 76)

If this is indeed the mythology for England of which Tolkien spoke—and it is—then the Celtic ambiguity by which the land of death is the land of youth, by which one voyages West in a stone coffin or a coracle or a ship of the sun, by which the immortal Elven ships and cloaks are grey with invisibility, is at its heart. (p. 91)

It is at the great set pieces in the narrative of the Great Days, the coming of Aragorn (III, 150), the overthrow of Sauron (III, 279-80), the coming of Arwen on Midsummer Eve (III, 309-10), that we see North and East and South and West laid out before us, in full—I might even say almost heraldic—significance. And we know that they are not accidental directions, but inherent in the very nature of the world’s four corners. Perhaps from the boat that sailed the sun, perhaps from the ice of the north, perhaps from the hot blood of the south, but from whatever root, each has its sacral, if not its sacred, value. We need not go further into that—except perhaps to say that we who are the English-speaking inheritors of the World of the Rings will find our West going westward from England (and Ireland), our South going southward from England, our East going eastward from England. For the mind of this world is an English mind, the tongue our English tongue, the tale an English tale, and the trees are English trees. (p. 93)

Trees? WTF? This conclusion just says: The four directions in LotR each have a sacral value, and are perceived from an English center point.

A large amount of Lobdell’s essay is simply various citations of the occurrence of the words "West" and "west", etc., without analysis!


Note that the Ring goes South until it crosses the Anduin; then it goes East.

Encyclopedia References: Misty Mountains, Easterlings, Rhovanion, Mordor, Rhun, Wainriders, Cuivenen(?), Atani, Orome, . . .