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Tying Tolkien to Rowling – Or at Least, Their Universes - RonO's Ramblings

Dec. 17th, 2010 10:29 am Tying Tolkien to Rowling – Or at Least, Their Universes

This is a semi-serious attempt to tie two book series that are among the relatively few read or listen regularly books for me: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (and to some extent The Simarillon) to the Harry Potter books.  Of course this won’t be perfect since I doubt either author had any plans to make them part of the same universe.  Obviously Tolkien died before Rowling ever picked up a pen (or touched a keyboard), and there is no evidence that Rowling was borrowing from Tolkien.  But there is still room to make such a connection.

First, one must keep in mind that Tolkien considered his tales of Middle-Earth to be sort of an alternate pre-history of our world, with his settings somewhat distant future coinciding with the beginnings of our recorded history.  So there are several thousand years of gap between the two stories, and some clear differences in how the universes seem to work.

As an aside before going forward, I have to speculate that Tolkien may, but may not, have found that Rowling did the same kinds of things that he felt that C.S. Lewis did in The Chronicles of Narnia.  Clearly Rowling borrows from common mythology for the creatures, but then again so did Tolkien.  And I don’t think she is doing so in quite as random of a way as Lewis was accused of.

When I first started speculating on this, during a brief drive from the bus stop to home the other day, I ended up tying through The Bible, but I’m going to refrain from that here; at least explicitly.

One of the first stumbling blocks in this connection is the lack of any sign of hobbits in the Harry Potter stories.  Both from some of the early lines in The Hobbit and from Tolkien’s other writings, he considers that Hobbits are still around, but much harder to find.  So, I’m going to assume that, in spite of a lifestyle well suited to the British countryside. Hobbits have mostly moved to more isolated areas as they’ve become astringed from the rest of mankind.  {It is fairly clear throughout Tolkien’s writings that Hobbits are more closely related to men than any other pair of races, so I’m including them that way in my notes.}  Further, hobbits had the least magical aspect of any of the major Middle-Earth races.  So, the fact that they aren’t seen isn’t too surprising.

Another big stumbling block is that, at least on stage (or would it be “on page”), the only spell-like magic we see performed in Tolkien’s works is done by Gandalf, who was one of the Istari – and thus also Maiar.  But there were 5 Istari, and only the fates of two of them, Galdalf and Saruman, are revealed in Tolkien’s writings.  That leaves the other three, Radagast who is mentioned but off stage in The Lord of The Rings and two or more who dwelt far in the east.  It is from these latter Istari I’m speculating that magic entered into a subset of humanity.  Exactly how this occurred and how much it would have corrupted the Istari involved, I’m not going to speculate.  One other source for magic would be some unseen workings of either Sauron or Morgoth.  Perhaps both were involved and the two strains merged leading to the “dark arts” and the “light arts” as portrayed in Harry Potter.

So, my idea is that after The Fourth Age of Mankind, the true elves left the world completely, the hobbits moved well away from mankind, and the dwarves diminished.  Similarly, orcs either died out or were wiped out.  Perhaps through some dark art, dwarves were corrupted in a manner not entirely unlike how elves were corrupted into orcs, resulting in the creatures known by the late twentieth centaury as house elves.

During the earlier parts of the era of recorded history, the friction between the magically humans and the non-magical humans grew, and the magical humans began to isolate themselves and protect the more magical creatures that existed.  They also grew more powerful and adept in magic over time.  Eventually, during the AD era, they separated themselves completely.

So, while not perfect, I’ve tried to show that both Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and Rowling’s late twentieth centaury Britain could be part of the same greater history and, almost, could also be our “real” world as we know it.

Originally published at RonO's Random Rambling

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