bourgeois smugness

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bourgeois smugness

Postby redrobot » Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:41 pm

heliona quotes JRT -

Babbitt has the same bourgeois smugness that hobbits do.


i'm not really sure where JRT is coming from in this quote. usually it's the left wing working class who criticise the comfortable habits of the bourgeoisie not someone who constructs a whole universe celebrating the aristocratic way of life. maybe i just dont know enough people of the aristo mindset and in actuality they spend their times behind roccocco doors slating their lessers.
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Re: bourgeois smugness

Postby White Shadow » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:32 pm

This topic is probably more suited to Books (well, it definitely isn't a Movie topic), so I'll move it there.

Welcome to TORC, redrobot.

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Re: bourgeois smugness

Postby wilko185 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:33 pm

Where Tolkien was "coming from" isn't that straightforward .. certainly not the leftie working class, though he was something of an anarchist, and had deep sympathies with the "lower" classes (having been a bit low class himself). I don't think it fair to characterise Middle-earth as made merely to celebrate the aristocracy. In Letter #246 Tolkien detected a trait in Sam, the proto-typical hobbit:
a vulgarity — by which I do not mean a mere 'down-to-earthiness' — a mental myopia which is proud of itself, a smugness (in varying degrees) and cocksureness, and a readiness to measure and sum up all things from a limited experience, largely enshrined in sententious traditional 'wisdom'

but then in #281:
The story and its sequel are not about 'types' or the cure of bourgeois smugness by wider experience, but about the achievements of specially graced and gifted individuals.

This is not supercilious sneering, it is a comment on a specific trait, which is not central to the themes of the book, but which Tolkien clearly felt was part of the general English character, and not entirely to its credit.
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Re: bourgeois smugness

Postby Denethor » Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:37 pm

Tolkien was comfortably middle-class himself, but having a bit of an idiosyncratic background, I think he liked to take pokes at classism a bit. The Baggins' "respectability" obsession is code for the middle-class values that Bilbo, et al, try to escape. Never mind the Sackville-Bagginses, of course, who are not only middle-class but are bourgeois social climbers that could easily slot into Keeping Up Appearances.

Note also that the true upper class doesn't care about respectability. Why would they? They're born elite. Thus you get the Bertie Wooster of Middle-earth - Peregrin Took.
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Re: bourgeois smugness

Postby Morwenna » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:55 pm

Denethor wrote:Thus you get the Bertie Wooster of Middle-earth - Peregrin Took.


Oh that's brilliant! :D
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