2024.05.10 Thesis Theatre: Shannon Choudhari

Date & Time

Start: May 10, 2024, 5:00 pm

End: May 10, 2024, 6:00 pm

Address

on Zoom

“I wonder what you’ve been up to?”: The Notion Club Papers and Tolkien’s Vision of Creative Mysticism

Since it’s publication in 1992, Tolkien’s unfinished time-travel story The Notion Club Papers has received relatively infrequent critical attention for its depiction of time and time-travel, as well as for its representation of Tolkien’s Númenor legend. This thesis seeks to counter the dominant view – that the tale’s intricate plot, narrative complexity, and unfinished state overshadow the “real” story of Númenor, resulting in a work that is both difficult and ultimately unsatisfying. Beginning with a reconsideration of the story as written (rather than as it might have been), this study explores how narrative and stylistic strategies work together to convey a distinctive portrait of the sub-creative artist that is defined by the very techniques that make the story itself uniquely effective. It begins with a consideration of the tale’s climax and thematic focus, arguing for the threshold of creative mystic experience, rather than Númenor, as the crux of the story. Further examining the unique meeting of structure and theme, the study then moves into an analysis of narrative form, demonstrating how the metafictional interface and complex embedding of narrative layers engage in a carefully balanced rhetoric of authentication, while also working to simultaneously destabilize assumptions about reality. Further entanglement of the Papers and its vision with the Primary World through elements of metacommentary and biographical allegory are seen to break through narrative boundaries, resulting in a unique vehicle that is perhaps best suited to deliver Tolkien’s radical vision of creative mysticism – a vision that is consistent, if somewhat obscured, within his larger body of fictional and personal writings. The complexity of these features which others have perceived as failings are here reinterpreted as the “essentials” of the tale, themselves revelatory of a sweeping assertion of visionary power and overlapping realities, where personalities are subsumed and the Primary World itself transformed.

Register here for the Zoom which will be 5:00 PM Eastern.

Update: this event has passed. You may watch the Thesis Theatre here.

Lord of the Rings on Amazon, Númenor

“I wonder what you’ve been up to?”: The Notion Club Papers and Tolkien’s Vision of Creative Mysticism Since it’s publication in 1992, Tolkien’s unfinished time-travel story The Notion Club Papers has received relatively infrequent critical attention for its depiction of time and time-travel, as well as for its representation of Tolkien’s Númenor legend. This thesis…