". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Death of Tolkien's Smaug Inspired By Longfellow's "Hiawatha"

From the UK Guardian, in the Books section:

Hiawatha faces Megissogwon, manito (spirit) of wealth, who is impervious in his shirt of wampum, the hard shell beads once used as currency. After a day-long battle, Hiawatha has only three arrows left. Victory appears impossible until --

Suddenly from the boughs above him
Sang the Mama, the woodpecker:
‘Aim your arrows, Hiawatha,
At the head of Megissogwon,
Strike the tuft of hair upon it,
At their roots the long black tresses;
There alone can he be wounded!’

And so, thanks to a bird’s revelation of his fatal vulnerability, another monstrous symbol of material wealth is brought down by a bowman almost at the end of his arrows.

There is much more background to this, and how it was discovered, here. The discussion in the article of the relationships among Hiawatha, the Kalevala and Tolkien's epic are illuminating.

Guttenberg "Hiawatha" here.

Jeff Thompson's National Geographic illustrations of Hiawatha and Megissogwon here.

I love this convergence of the Eddas, The KalavalaHiawatha and The Hobbit's Smaug so much -- particularly, as the article's author notes, that both Longfellow and Tolkien were language professors.

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