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12

Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New

Oct 26
2021/10/26 3:37:45 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

The title of this post is also the title of an article that appears in the February 1922 issue of The Gryphon (Vol. 3, no. 3). At this time, JRR Tolkien was in his second year of his appointment as Reader in English Language at the University, and Hammond and Scull list a variety of lectures or classes that Tolkien may have had responsibility for: History of the English Language to the Close of the Fourteenth Century, Old English Verse with a special study of Beowulf, The History of English, Old and Middle English Texts, Old and Middle English Dialects, and a handful of others.

Someone (credited as "Glackso" at the end of the article), writes the following article:

"Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New"


We understand that during the War, students were permitted to take Military Science, etc., as aids to the career which they would afterwards be required to follow. The majority of our academic subjects being - to the student mind - quite useless, we do not see why an arrangement similar to that adhered to during the War, should not characterise peace conditions, and why something like the following should not make its appearance in June.
Honours School of English Language and Literature.
Examination for the Degree of B.A.
Colours Men Only.

Try and Answer at least two questions.
Section A to be attempted only by Candidates aiming at high honours.


A.

  • "No serving-man he." (Clark-Hall, 249).
    In view of the above, contrast briefly Beowulf and Tilden.
  • Can you support the theory that "The Wanderer" belongs to the West-Midland or North-West-Midland areas, and specifically to either Wolverhampton or Bolton?
  • Is the modern Army diversion played under strictly "Ancren Riwle"?
  • Describe the device known as "the wheel."
    or
    Write a short critique of "The Passing of Arthur."

Section B goes on to ask questions on topics around Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, Wordsworth, Kubla Khan and Charles Dickens, among others.

There is absolutely no indication that Tolkien had anything to do with this article, either as inspiration or authorship, but I found it tantalizing that someone felt this subject matter would be an "aid to the career" of the Leeds University students, and that all four questions are so closely related to work (and pursuits of pleasure) that so interested Tolkien.

It is also hard to avoid associating the title with future writings of Tolkien as well.

1_617776cbee51b.jpg 800X1067 px
Oct 26
2021/10/26 16:44:03 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Some further research reveals some of the double-entendres in these questions.

1. John Garth notes that "Tilden is a reference to the American tennis player, W.T. (Bill) Tilden – truly 'a serving man' – who was the world no.1 at the time and had won Wimbledon in 1920 and 1921."

2. The Wolverhamption Wanderers are a Premier League football club founded in 1877, now commonly referred to as the Wolves. The Bolton Wanderers are also a football club (EFL League One), founded in 1874 and adopting the "Wanderers" name also in 1877.
Oct 26
2021/10/26 16:48:11 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Urulókë wrote:

The Bolton Wanderers are also a football club (EFL League One), founded in 1874 and adopting the "Wanderers" name also in 1877.

The nickname for Bolton Wanderer's fans are 'The Trotters'
Oct 26
2021/10/26 16:56:42 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Trotter wrote:

The nickname for Bolton Wanderer's fans are 'The Trotters'

I had found that in searching this morning, I found it quite amusing as well - thanks for bringing it up!

The Wolves and Wanderers have played each other quite often over the years - I am sure there was more than a bit of friendly rivalry between the teams.

Any ideas on what the humour/slyness is for the third and fourth questions? I don't know offhand what "modern Army diversion" play is referring to, but there are vague mentions of armies in the Ancrene Riwle which seem like a red herring to me.

There are some mentions of wheels in Tennyson's "The Passing of Arthur" that seem superfluous relative to this "exam" but that's all I can think of so far.

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
And, leaping down the ridges, lightly, plunged
Among the bulrush beds, and clutch'd the sword,
And strongly wheel'd and threw it. The great brand
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon,
And flashing round and round, and whirl'd in an arch,
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn,
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
By night, with noises of the Northern Sea.
So flash'd and fell the brand Excalibur:
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.
And lightly went the other to the King.

Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath:
"Now see I by thine eyes that this is done.
Speak out: what is it thou hast heard, or seen?"

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
"Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems
Should blind my purpose, for I never saw,
Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die,
Not tho' I live three lives of mortal men,
So great a miracle as yonder hilt.
Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him;
But when I look'd again, behold an arm,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
That caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere."
Oct 26
2021/10/26 17:01:44 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Also, I've re-read the excellent article "J.R.R. Tolkien and The Wanderer: From Edition to Application" by Stuart D. Lee (Tolkien Stuidies Vol. VI, 2009) which dates Tolkien's earliest documented interactions with The Wanderer to 1926-7. As Tolkien was Reading for a year before this Gryphon article brings up The Wanderer, I wonder if this is a tantalizing hint that perhaps Tolkien had taught this poem in 1920 or 1921 at Leeds.
Oct 26
2021/10/26 17:07:52 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
My guess on "The Wheel." is to do with mechanization in the War.

The war started with a huge reliance on horses, but this changed to bicycles, cars, lorries and even buses during the war.
Oct 26
2021/10/26 17:48:36 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Excellent detective work on this...I wonder if it is possible to nail down what Tolkien's pseudonym was in these volumes or if he even had one?
Oct 26
2021/10/26 18:04:53 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Trotter wrote:

My guess on "The Wheel." is to do with mechanization in the War.

The war started with a huge reliance on horses, but this changed to bicycles, cars, lorries and even buses during the war.

Apropos not at all about Tolkien, I was tickled to see in the University Union Accounts ledger in the December 1921 issue listing the various insurance that the Union spent on insurance:
  • Fire: £0 16s 0d
  • Accident: £3 19s 3d
  • Horse: £1 6s 3d

(They also paid out over £14 in horse feed for the year, but earned back £5 in grazing receipts)
Oct 26
2021/10/26 18:09:59 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Another possible connection between "the wheel" and "The Passing of Arthur" (see especially the latter's fourth stanza):

http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/sechard/fortune.htm
Oct 26
2021/10/26 18:13:13 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Aelfwine wrote:

Another possible connection between "the wheel" and "The Passing of Arthur" (see especially the latter's fourth stanza):

http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/sechard/fortune.htm

Great link, thanks for that!
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