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“Jewish” Dwarves: Tolkien and Anti-Semitic Stereotyping

“Jewish” Dwarves: Tolkien and Anti-Semitic Stereotyping Renée Vink n an article that appeared in Mythlore in 2010 and subsequently in a revised version on the Internet, Rebecca Brackmann claimed that (possibly unconscious) anti-Semitic stereotyping went into Tolkien's depiction of Dwarves in the early stages of his legendarium and in The Hobbit. The Nazi treatment of Jews before and during the Second World War made Tolkien realize that such stereotyping could have horrifying consequences, causing him to drastically alter the image of Dwarves in the works he wrote after The Hobbit, notably The Lord of the Rings. But, according to Brackmann, this change merely served to turn negative into positive stereotyping without solving the underlying problem that thinking in stereotypes is wrong to begin with. In this essay I hope to show that a closer look at the evidence in both Tolkien's Middle-earth writings and his letters suggests a different story, undermining Brackmann's thesis and exonerating Tolkien from being a (closet) anti-Semite. Tolkien's Dwarves as Jews In a BBC radio interview with Dennis Gueroult, recorded in 1964 and broadcast the next year, Tolkien connected his Dwarves with the Jewish people, stating: "The Dwarves of course are quite obviously-- wouldn't you say that in many ways http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Tolkien Studies West Virginia University Press

“Jewish” Dwarves: Tolkien and Anti-Semitic Stereotyping

Tolkien Studies , Volume 10 (1) – Jul 18, 2013

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West Virginia University Press
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Copyright © 2013 West Virginia University Press.
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1547-3163
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Abstract

Renée Vink n an article that appeared in Mythlore in 2010 and subsequently in a revised version on the Internet, Rebecca Brackmann claimed that (possibly unconscious) anti-Semitic stereotyping went into Tolkien's depiction of Dwarves in the early stages of his legendarium and in The Hobbit. The Nazi treatment of Jews before and during the Second World War made Tolkien realize that such stereotyping could have horrifying consequences, causing him to drastically alter the image of Dwarves in the works he wrote after The Hobbit, notably The Lord of the Rings. But, according to Brackmann, this change merely served to turn negative into positive stereotyping without solving the underlying problem that thinking in stereotypes is wrong to begin with. In this essay I hope to show that a closer look at the evidence in both Tolkien's Middle-earth writings and his letters suggests a different story, undermining Brackmann's thesis and exonerating Tolkien from being a (closet) anti-Semite. Tolkien's Dwarves as Jews In a BBC radio interview with Dennis Gueroult, recorded in 1964 and broadcast the next year, Tolkien connected his Dwarves with the Jewish people, stating: "The Dwarves of course are quite obviously-- wouldn't you say that in many ways

Journal

Tolkien StudiesWest Virginia University Press

Published: Jul 18, 2013

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