NOTES and DOCUMENTS "The tree took me up from the ground and carried me off ": A Source for Tolkien's Ents in Ludvig Holberg's Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground JAMES I. MCNELIS III hen I recently proposed to the University of Nebraska Press the reissue of my father's 1960 edition of Ludvig Holberg's The Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground, it was far from my mind to think it would have any bearing on my study of Tolkien. NK is of great interest to students of early science fiction and political satires based on other worlds (such as Gulliver's Travels, to which NK is greatly indebted). But because the reissue (and the informative preface by Peter Fitting) caused me to look into the text, something I had not previously done at any length, I found something quite unexpected: it appears that the kingdom of sentient trees presented in NK has such strong specific parallels to the Ents that some unconscious inspiration, based on a memory of having read NK, was at work in Tolkien's process--pace the consensus that "[w]hat came entirely from his own mind was the connection [of ents] with trees" (Shippey
Tolkien Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: May 9, 2006
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