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Re: Entwives

Post by David H on Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:14 pm

A good arguement Elthir, but let me answer your question:
Elthir wrote: Can even the tallest of Ents have a seven yard stride?

I think it's possible. I'm 6 feet tall, and when I'm trying to get somewhere my walking stride is about 3.5 feet. At a bounding run I can easily average over 6 feet per stride, or a little more than my own height.

So, if we assume that the 7 yard stride is a running stride and that Ents are proportioned about like humans, then even if there were no exaggeration in the 7-yard figure (and that's something that needs to be considered), it's probable that an 18 foot Ent could easily maintain a 7 yard stride.

'an Ent would take nearly nine hours to do 70,000 strides and presumably in that time would go 70,000 yards at least, probably 4 ft a stride.'

Hammond and Scull, Reader's Companion to The Lord of the Rings

I could run circles around this Ent! Basketball
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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:46 pm

I would like to add another mention here. The tale revisits, although very briefly, the matter of astonishing news and 'tales' heard in both the Ivy Bush and the Green Dragon, as in the next chaper (Three Is Company):

'Giants and other portents on the borders of the Shire were forgotten for more important matters: Mr. Frodo...'

Not Tree-men here but giants again, because (I think) size was the main thing, and thus trees, being large, get drawn into the conversation. Admittedly not proof that there were no 'tree-men' of any kind, but just another reference to note, like this:

'(...) it thus became a jesting idiom in the Shire to speak of 'on Friday the first' when referring to a day that did not exist, or to a day on which very unlikely events such as the flying of pigs or (in the Shire) the walking of trees might occur.'

The Return of the King, Appendix D, footnote

Walking trees: a 'tall' tale? Very Happy

Pettytyrant101 wrote: I think an entwife because whilst Tolkien likes to write about loss he never does so without a hint of the promise of hope- and the sighting of an 'entlike' personage in the Shire does for that me.

Hmm, some may want to get out their buckie reserves for the following...

'I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441) when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin...'

JRRT, letter 144

'As for the Entwives: I do not know. I have written nothing beyond the first few years of the Fourth Age. (…) But I think in Vol. II pp. 80-81 it is plain that there would be for Ents no re-union in 'history' — but Ents and their wives being rational creatures would find some 'earthly paradise' until the end of this world: beyond which the wisdom neither of Elves nor Ents could see. Though maybe they shared the hope of Aragorn that they were 'not bound for ever to the circles of the world and beyond them is more than memory.'

JRRT, letter 338

Now I wouldn't say this is an opinion without 'hope' obviously, I mean Tolkien speaks of it specifically, but it is of a hope beyond the notion that an Entwife was spotted in the Shire -- to suggest that there would be reunions, and Entings, anytime soon. Sad as it is, Tolkien accepted his world as a fading one, with respect to 'creatures of legend' leaving and 'fading', leaving mortal Men to inherit the Earth.

There was hope for Ents, but in a larger sense I think, also perhaps illustrated in Galadriel's words to Treebeard.

'... until the lands that lie under the wave are lifted up again. Then in the willow-meads of Tasarinan we may meet in the Spring.'

Perhaps Crying or Very sad plus Smile
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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:32 pm

David H wrote:A good arguement Elthir, but let me answer your question: I think it's possible. I'm 6 feet tall, and when I'm trying to get somewhere my walking stride is about 3.5 feet. At a bounding run I can easily average over 6 feet per stride, or a little more than my own height. So, if we assume that the 7 yard stride is a running stride and that Ents are proportioned about like humans, then even if there were no exaggeration in the 7-yard figure (and that's something that needs to be considered), it's probable that an 18 foot Ent could easily maintain a 7 yard stride.

I don't think Ents are as bendable as we Big Folk, in general, although obviously I can't describe how they should run (do they run? I can't recall at the moment if this is ever described). But running is one thing, noting that Sam says walking (three times even)...

... and still that's only part of the consideration, as the description already quoted very arguably intends to suggest great height, significantly taller than Treebeard -- and was The Ent meant to be considered short for an Ent? I've been pushing heights so far, but actually, a being but one foot taller than Treebeard would be, in my opinion, notably taller, and we could have the tallest Ents at just over 15 feet.

I mean, that's just a consideration if we hold closer to this description: I like my Ents tall and have no problem pushing the other way, but as I say, even when we do we are no where near 50 to 100 feet, as I think the conversation suggests.
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Re: Entwives

Post by David H on Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:46 pm

I'm tempted to speculate on what might cause an Ent to run, but I think that would quickly degenerate into a coconuts-and-swallows discussion Smile

Two points though. First on the crediblity of the source: Sam's discussion is happening at the Green Dragon, presumably over a few pints, and Ted Sandyman has got him on the defensive. When pressed for an actual reliable source the best he can come up with is cousin Hal's hunting story, and Hal has a reputation as an unreliable source. It seems to me that Tolkien is intentionally shrouding the story in several layers of unreliability to underscore the ambiguity of oral storytelling. In that light, I could easily believe that 7 yards might have started as 7 feet and grown in the telling.

Second, it seems to me that Tolkien may have intentionally been suggesting some resemblance to trees besides size. I'm thinking of the part where Sandyman suggests that Hal might have seen an elm, and rather than saying that it didn't look anything like an elm, Sam says "there ain't no elm tree on the North Moors." It seems that by putting the two images together in the reader's mind, Tolkien is suggesting that if there HAD been an elm tree it might have been an understandable mistake.
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Re: Entwives

Post by Orwell on Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:20 pm

David H wrote:Two points though. First on the crediblity of the source: Sam's discussion is happening at the Green Dragon, presumably over a few pints, and Ted Sandyman has got him on the defensive. When pressed for an actual reliable source the best he can come up with is cousin Hal's hunting story, and Hal has a reputation as an unreliable source. It seems to me that Tolkien is intentionally shrouding the story in several layers of unreliability to underscore the ambiguity of oral storytelling. In that light, I could easily believe that 7 yards might have started as 7 feet and grown in the telling.

Second, it seems to me that Tolkien may have intentionally been suggesting some resemblance to trees besides size. I'm thinking of the part where Sandyman suggests that Hal might have seen an elm, and rather than saying that it didn't look anything like an elm, Sam says "there ain't no elm tree on the North Moors." It seems that by putting the two images together in the reader's mind, Tolkien is suggesting that if there HAD been an elm tree it might have been an understandable mistake.


The power of buckie fueled embellishing! Yes a tree, but how big the stride? And the moors, being an open area with clear visibility, one would know a Giant from a walking elm-like tree-thingee. The point is it was big and looked tree-ish. Treebeard may not have been a tree but he was tree-ish, Elthir. Very Happy

(Well done, Davo. If I can only get you to see sense about slippers, our intergalactic flight might be totally free of the risk of any unpleasant disagreements. The Captain business, of course, will need to be sorted before I start the engines. Very Happy)

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Re: Entwives

Post by David H on Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:41 pm

{{{a horrible thought - you're not planning on bringing THAT MOVIE are you? Shocked ? }}}
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Re: Entwives

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:14 pm

To drag this back to ents for a moment I was looking at the description from the ent moot-

'The Ents were as different from one another as trees from trees....at first Merry and Pippin were struck chiefly by the variety that they saw: the many shapes, and colours, the difference in girth, and height, and length of leg and arm...'

It goes on to say that those who resembled firs were 'the tallest ents'.

I have no idea how one can extrapolate an average stride out of that lot!

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Re: Entwives

Post by Orwell on Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:28 am

David H wrote:{{{a horrible thought - you're not planning on bringing THAT MOVIE are you? Shocked ? }}}

What an odd question? Shocked Would you doubt it? Suspect

Oh yes, Petty, I agree with you. Elthir is clearly barking up the wrong tree. Nod

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:28 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote: I have no idea how one can extrapolate an average stride out of that lot!

I would agree there was a difference in Ent-strides, given different heights; but again, it's not a matter of a 4 foot stride versus a 5 foot stride for instance -- it's a 4 foot stride versus a 7 yard stride! and a matter of 'The Ent' being represented at around 14 feet tall versus a notably different height of 70 feet for an actual Elm tree (and that only an average height really).

David H wrote: Two points though. First on the crediblity of the source: Sam's discussion is happening at the Green Dragon, presumably over a few pints, and Ted Sandyman has got him on the defensive. When pressed for an actual reliable source the best he can come up with is cousin Hal's hunting story, and Hal has a reputation as an unreliable source. It seems to me that Tolkien is intentionally shrouding the story in several layers of unreliability to underscore the ambiguity of oral storytelling. In that light, I could easily believe that 7 yards might have started as 7 feet and grown in the telling.


Well I knew that was coming sooner or later Very Happy

I wouldn't argue that this path is impossible but the ambiguity of oral tales can cut both ways (not that you claimed otherwise).

Second, it seems to me that Tolkien may have intentionally been suggesting some resemblance to trees besides size. I'm thinking of the part where Sandyman suggests that Hal might have seen an elm, and rather than saying that it didn't look anything like an elm, Sam says "there ain't no elm tree on the North Moors." It seems that by putting the two images together in the reader's mind, Tolkien is suggesting that if there HAD been an elm tree it might have been an understandable mistake.

I take Sam's remark as part of the comic flow of the conversation: he only began with the Elm as a comparison for size, and an Elm then enters the conversation more generally (as a probability that it was simply an Elm), with Sam adopting this in his response (correct or not he hadn't actually seen the being in question in any event).

But your point here looks like it concerns Tolkien's intent in suggesting a resemblance to trees besides size -- to lead to the ultimate point, which seems to be that Tolkien wants to suggest an Ent-wife in this description, and so further suggest a hopeful reunion.

But externally we know that Entwives (along with their tale of being parted from the Ents and so on) were not imagined when Tolkien wrote this passage -- so we have to say that Tolkien purposely left it in -- but in 1954 Tolkien wrote the following. I give the fuller quote here, since it admittedly gives a different feel from the partial citation I gave earlier -- it started off with such seeming certainty that I didn't, at first anyway, read the whole thing! My apologies!



'I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441) when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin. (…) They survived only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits). Some, of course may have fled east, or even become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background to their soldiers and metalworkers. If any survived so, they would indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochements would be difficult -- unless experience of industrialization and militarized agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope so. I don't know.'

JRRT 1954

This is the year The Fellowship of the Ring was published, and while the ending appears somewhat more hopeful than the start, here we have Ent-wives possibly fleeing East. And even this is only a glint of hope out of a tragic scenario, and to my mind nothing like the far nicer image of lost Ent-wives in the pleasant shire. And here's the later quote again, since it arguably supersedes the former as to where an older Tolkien landed on the issue:

'As for the Entwives: I do not know. I have written nothing beyond the first few years of the Fourth Age. (…) But I think in Vol. II pp. 80-81 it is plain that there would be for Ents no re-union in 'history' — but Ents and their wives being rational creatures would find some 'earthly paradise' until the end of this world: beyond which the wisdom neither of Elves nor Ents could see. Though maybe they shared the hope of Aragorn that they were 'not bound for ever to the circles of the world and beyond them is more than memory.'

JRRT, 1972


If Tolkien purposely left Sam's tall tale in to suggest a reunion, why does he think this about something in Vol II?
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Re: Entwives

Post by David H on Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:51 am

I didn't mean to suggest that this was necessarily a reference to entwives. I do think it's possible however that Tolkien left this passage in to intentionally suggest the blurring of the line between men and trees, which is further developed with the sentience of the Old Forest, especially Old Man Willow. By foreshadowing in this way he makes the events of Fangorn and the Ents seem much less fantastic.

I think much of the ambiguity around the edges of Tolkien's secondary stories is intended to give the sense that the world of Middle Earth is much bigger than merely what is between the pages of the book, and that there will always be mysteries that are hinted at but never resolved. The mystery in the Ent story seems to be a perfect example of this. Like a painter suggesting distance by fading the hills and trees towards an unseen horizon.
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Re: Entwives

Post by Orwell on Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:50 am

I still think it's pretty clear a 'walking tree' was seen. And that, of course, to anyone but the most pedantic of Lore Masters, would suggest at least an Ent, if not an Entwife as is my hope. Very Happy

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:23 pm

David H wrote:I didn't mean to suggest that this was necessarily a reference to entwives.

Ah fair enough then. I didn't mean to assume where you landed on the question of the Entwife specifically, but I hope you can see why I thought you might be in this camp.


Plenty of people think it's clear a walking tree was seen, and I think the Entwife idea is popular in part because it's nice compared to the alternative. We know the fate of Elves in Middle-earth. I would say that Tolkien has invented a path for the 'fading' of the Dwarves as well (few women folk). And no one likes to hear the ultimate fate of Hobbits in Middle-earth! As for Ents, even an older Tolkien doesn't seem to think his books suggest a reunion.

So maybe Hal was a bit drunk and saw an Elm somewhere, not realizing that he himself was the one doing the walking! and woke up where no Elm should be, and no longer was to his mind. Or maybe he saw one of the Giants from The Hobbit, and so 'as big as a tree' became 'tree-men' in the unreliable telling of oral tales -- but he had the great size correct, there was no garbling that.

Or something else... or string or nothing! Wink


On another path, I think Eldorion has made a nice point about the look of the Entwives; and as for Ents, it seems that some artists view the active ones (say, those who showed up for Entmoot for example) as fairly 'branchy and leafy'.

Tolkien descibes Treebeard initially as a 'large Man-like, almost Troll-like' figure, and Bregaladh at least has 'hair' (if grey-green). And while the skin of an Ent seems to be tree like, whether smooth or not, and certainly Ent-size would suggest a young or small tree as well, for myself I don't envision the 'moot-Ents' as so branchy as in the films for instance -- and I imagine Ents as being more man-like than some of those examples (if I remember them correctly).

I think Ted Nasmith has rendered fairly Mannish looking Ents, for one. I don't quite agree with his vision (and if I recall correctly about at least one picture, they are not very different looking from one another), but he is one popular artist that seems to 'trim' the branches, so to speak.

Very Happy
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Re: Entwives

Post by halfwise on Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:52 pm

David H wrote:
I think much of the ambiguity around the edges of Tolkien's secondary stories is intended to give the sense that the world of Middle Earth is much bigger than merely what is between the pages of the book, and that there will always be mysteries that are hinted at but never resolved. The mystery in the Ent story seems to be a perfect example of this. Like a painter suggesting distance by fading the hills and trees towards an unseen horizon.

Beautifully put and convincing. I think by the modification of 'giant' to 'walking tree' Tolkien clearly was thinking 'ent', but he also would have stuck with the original intention of the passage: middle earth was becoming a restless place. Whether or not it actually was an ent is not important in this context.
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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:01 pm

'Thus though I knew for years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down the Great River, I have no recollection of inventing Ents. I came at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any recollection of any previous thought: just as it now is. And then I saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.'

JRRT, 1956, draft letter 180

Yes more external evidence Very Happy


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Re: Entwives

Post by Orwell on Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:46 pm

I'm amazed that a serious discussion has taken place here, and that it has gone on for so long to boot. Shocked We need your steadying influence, Elthir. Very Happy

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:50 pm

Very Happy Orwell

Also this thread got me interested in the more detail external chronology of how the Ents came to be. It's rather interesting so far: the gap in time between 'Ancient History' (the first appearance of the conversation under discussion) and the chapter 'Treebeard' looks to be quite notable, at least a couple of years -- but other references to a 'Giant Treebeard' begin much earlier, with the first reference being very close in time to the writing of Ancient History -- I think, still trying to untangle the evidence on this point.

And although we can't read Tolkien's mind of course, early descriptions of this Treebeard character are 'tree-like' and he's very large (early on his forest itself is seemingly a giant forest, with huge flowers for example). So, although always possible of course, the dating might give more weight to the notion that perhaps there was more than simply 'as large as a tree' in Tolkien's head with respect to his first revision of giants -- again I think it's also possible that a comparison of a Mannish-giant to a tower and a tree could have inspired the 'tree-man/giant' change, but in any case my objection concerning size really only relates to the final imagined size of Treebeard...

... and here too is an odd thing: with all these references to Giant Treebeard (and him being 50 feet tall for example) in the drafts or outlines, the original draft for the actual chapter Treebeard has him at 10 feet tall! revised to 12, revised to 14.

I can post my fuller findings if anyone cares. I don't think they necessarily add any certainty to the matter either way, but again, although we might have to wait at least a couple of years before an 'Ent' is fully realized, so to speak, if I'm correct we don't have to wait that long (after Ancient History was written) to find a reference to a Giant Treebeard, and not relatively long after that for this Treebeard to be described as a giant, 'tree-like' being anyway.


But be aware or beware: a fuller version of my HME studies (on this matter), even if accurate, will actually be more boring than this post!

You have been warned Wink



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Re: Entwives

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:00 pm

Elthir I never shirk from reading lore- be it as dry as a scotshobbits tongue in a desert. Do your worst! Very Happy

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:28 pm

Some repetition has been provided both for clarity and a deeper, more restful sleep.

As noted there appears to be at least a couple of years between the writing of the Green Dragon discussion and the writing of the chapter Treebeard, and I think we should take Tolkien at his word, that he invented 'Ents' when he came to the particular chapter Treebeard -- that is, in the sense that it was only here that Ents came to be fully realized -- as compared to the idea of there being any tree-like giants in the story. These came earlier, and admittedly earlier than I expected if the chronology is correct.

If people agree with that much, whatever Tolkien meant with his early addition of Tree-men -- that is, even if they were tree-like (in more than size) as first imagined, or at least when put to paper at the time of initial writing, I think it's safe enough to say that the tale of the Ents being parted from the Entwives, as part of the more fully realized invention of Ents, was imagined at least a couple of years after Tolkien wrote this discussion in the Dragon.

So if anyone is still reading this thread and this post, and is still awake, I hope I have correctly gleaned the following (thanks in part to Hammond and Scull).

____________________


In probably late Sept 1938, or early October 1938, Tolkien will write the chapter Ancient History (partially based on some earlier material), within what is called the 'Second Phase', this will include the descriptions:

'Trolls of a new and most malevolent kind were abroad; giants were spoken of, a Big Folk only far bigger and stronger than Men the [?ordinary] Big Folk, and no stupider, indeed often full of cunning and wizardry.'

'(…) But what about these what do you call 'em -- giants? They do say as one nigh as big as a tower or leastways a tree was seen up away beyond the North Moors not long back.' [changed at the time of writing to] 'But what about these Tree-Men, these here -- giants? They do say one nigh as big as a tower was seen up away…'


From probably mid October 1938 -- December 1938 the 'Third Phase' is completed, meaning Tolkien returns to the beginning of the story making a new fair copy manuscript of the whole work as far as the conversation between Frodo and Gloin at Rivendell -- and this phase includes the mention of Gandalf being imprisoned by 'Giant Treebeard.' Thus a reference to Giant Treebeard (however conceived, with his admittedly suggestive name), exists quite close on the heels of the first version of the conversation in the Green Dragon. In this Third Phase the passage concerning giants becomes:

'Trolls and giants were abroad, of a new and more malevolent kind, no longer dull witted but full of cunning and wizardry.'

So giants of some sort are still around in the same phase as the mention of Giant Treebeard. No notable revision (with respect to our purposes here) is made to the passage concerning the conversation in the Green Dragon, noting that this version would appear to still contain 'as big as a tower' but without 'or leastways a tree'. Pausing to consider the final, published passages:

'Trolls were abroad, no longer dull-witted, but cunning and armed with dreadful weapons.'

'… Tree-men, these giants as you might call them? They do say that one bigger than a tree was seen up away…'

The Lord of the Rings

I don't know when these final revision were made, but Tolkien will take out the reference to giants in the passage where trolls are noted (leaving a reference to giants in the final form of Three's Company in any case), and revise the comparison to a tower to a comparison to a tree -- so now not 'as big' as a tower, or as big as a tree -- but bigger than a tree.

It would be interesting to know when this revision was made especially if it came after Treebeard became much smaller. Nothing of note here seems to have been altered in the 'Fourth Phase' of this chapter, and Hammond and Scull generally explain (unless I missed something earlier) that in 1946-47 Tolkien would make further alterations to books I and II (as well as later), which would be after the chapter on Treebeard in any event.

Back to the 1930s: from Dec 1938 we jump a bit to February 1939, where Tolkien states in a letter: 'though there is no dragon (so far) there is going to be a Giant'

Jump to Summer: on a letter dated 27-29 July 1939 Treebeard emerges: in this short text Frodo thinks Treebeard's leg is a tree-trunk and he has a 'rootlike foot and many branching toes'. Treebeard is in league with the Enemy here, pretending to be friendly. An outline page dated August 1939 reads: 'Adventure with Giant Tree Beard in Forest'

Continuing with the tale, Gandalf (in the house of Elrond) will warn of the Giant Treebeard who haunts the forest between the river and the South Mts. And at about this time Tolkien will then write an outline in which he describes:

'Fangorn is an evergreen (oak holly?) forest. Trees of vast height. (…) If Treebeard comes in at all -- let him be kindly and rather good? About 50 feet high with barky skin. Hair and beard rather like twigs. Clothed in dark green like a mail of short shining leaves. He has a castle in the black mountains and many thanes and followers. They look like young trees [?when] they stand. (…) The tree-giants assail the besiegers and rescue Trotter &c. and raise siege.'

So not relatively long after the conversation in the Dragon was written, Tree-beard is certainly more like a tree than simply being as tall as one, and he has thanes that look like young trees. Later when Tolkien is working on the chapter for Galadriel, Christopher Tolkien notes:

'Here the name Entwash clearly implies that Treebeard is an Ent, and he is specifically so called (for the first time) in the outline just given; but since Treebeard was still only waiting in the wings as a potential ingredient in the narrative this may be only a slight shift in the development of the word. The Troll-lands north of Rivendell were the Entish Lands and Entish Dales (Old English ent 'giant'); and only when Treebeard and the other 'Ents' had been fully realized would the Troll-lands be renamed Ettendales and Ettenmoors (see p. 65 note 32).'

CJRT, commentary, Galadriel

In 'The Story Forseen from Lorien' there is an interesting note: 'it could be Merry and Pippin that had adventure in Minas Morgul if Treebeard is cut out' [this was struck out]. We also have an description of Fangorn that now seems to indicate that Fangorn forest itself was not gigantic (along with Treebeard being so giant), as implied earlier with the huge flowers, since the description seems to say that the forest was once part of a larger forested area.

Before we get to the actual chapter Treebeard there is a page of notes about how Ents came to be, including statements like: 'Did first lord of the Elves make Tree-folk in order to or through trying to understand trees?', or wondering about what they are, with: 'hnau that have gone tree-like, or trees that have become hnau?' and other details. But by the end of 1941 -- beginning of 1942: Tolkien finishes book II and began book III, completing the chapter Treebeard around the end of Jan 1942.


Another interesting thing is that Christopher Tolkien quotes his father's letter (the one I quoted already in the thread) about Tolkien having no recollection of inventing Ents, and writing the chapter without any recollection of previous thought and so on. Christopher Tolkien comments: 'This testimony is fully borne out by the original text. 'Treebeard' did indeed very largely write itself.

And so at this point we begin to find out about Ents as Tree-shepherds, and Entwives and so on, or Ents as readers will come to know them. And as far as tallness, as noted earlier, here Treebeard was originally 'only' ten feet tall, revised to twelve, and then to fourteen.


Last edited by Elthir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Entwives

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:37 pm

Ok so if I have this right the crucial bit of information we need to know the truth is the bit thats missing?!!

If the revision to the conversation in the green dragon which appears inprint was made before he wrote the Treebeard chapter then its at best a happy comparison he choose to leave in, but certainly not at the time of writing meant to be such and was referring in fact to something else which was not an ent at all.
If however the revision was done after he wrote the Treebeard chapter it is likely he did so on purpose to create the possibilty it was an Ent or Ent-wife that was spotted in the readers mind.

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:48 pm

The final revision to the conversation, whenever it was made, introduces the element that this being was thought to be bigger than a tree as compared to (earlier) as big as a tree or tower (at least as regards this particular statement anyway).

I would find that somewhat interesting if it came after the chapter Treebeard (which seems quite possible so far), since Treebeard himself was greatly reduced in size, but it doesn't necessarily show that Tolkien was even thinking of the tallness of Treebeard or Ents when he revised the conversation in the Dragon to include the new description with bigger, I think.

Or have I missed what you mean Petty?
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Re: Entwives

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:20 pm

I am not sure we can take the use of the word 'bigger' to be a fact, it seems more likely to me to be Tolkien conveying the hobbit (and human) tendency to exaggerate- so what probably started out as 'something big as a tree' would in the retelling have already become 'something bigger than a tree', as these things tend to do in retellings.
The important point I think looking at it from a writing perspective is if it was revised after Tolkien wrote the Treebeard chapter he would be unable to help but to notice that a reader might draw a line between the tree-giant seen in the Shire and the Ents, and especially their tale of the missing ent-wives as especially as Treebeard asks Merry and Pippin if they have ever seen any in the Shire (I cant have been the only one shouting in my head- why didnt Sam tell them about it- they could have told Treebeard)- so his choice not to excise it entriely as he did with the Giants tells us he must have been happy for readers to make those conncetions.
If however the passage was revised before he even invented ents then that cannot be said to be true with the same certainty, and it is likely that when he wrote it it was referring to something other than an ent and remained so.

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:09 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I am not sure we can take the use of the word 'bigger' to be a fact, it seems more likely to me to be Tolkien conveying the hobbit (and human) tendency to exaggerate- so what probably started out as 'something big as a tree' would in the retelling have already become 'something bigger than a tree', as these things tend to do in retellings.

Well it's the external change that is the notable thing: if Tolkien intended to suggest Ents here, after Ents had been invented, he still changed 'as big as' a tower to bigger than a tree -- compared to Ents. Although then one could argue that maybe Tolkien thought the tower suggested something bigger than trees in the first place (noting as big as a tower or leastaways a tree in the first version)!


The important point I think looking at it from a writing perspective is if it was revised after Tolkien wrote the Treebeard chapter he would be unable to help but to notice that a reader might draw a line between the tree-giant seen in the Shire and the Ents, and especially their tale of the missing ent-wives as especially as Treebeard asks Merry and Pippin if they have ever seen any in the Shire (I cant have been the only one shouting in my head- why didnt Sam tell them about it- they could have told Treebeard)- so his choice not to excise it entriely as he did with the Giants tells us he must have been happy for readers to make those conncetions.

If however the passage was revised before he even invented ents then that cannot be said to be true with the same certainty, and it is likely that when he wrote it it was referring to something other than an ent and remained so.

Ah I seen now, you mean the mere fact that Tolkien revised the passage, whether before or after the Treebeard chapter, would itself be notable here. I don't see this as all that crucial because those who think Tolkien left this conversation in as revised, earlier or later than the Treebeard chapter, are still going to claim what you're claiming above with: 'his choice not to excise it entirely as he did with giants tells us he must have been happy for readers to make those connections.'

Noting that JRRT left the word Giants in Three Is Company ('Giants and other portents...'), I think that Tolkien can leave the original discussion in to convey what it was meant to convey originally: a comic exchange between Hobbits about 'strange folk' on the move, a suggestion of a larger world, and a mystery nonetheless, as David H. wrote:

I think much of the ambiguity around the edges of Tolkien's secondary stories is intended to give the sense that the world of Middle Earth is much bigger than merely what is between the pages of the book, and that there will always be mysteries that are hinted at but never resolved. The mystery in the Ent story seems to be a perfect example of this. Like a painter suggesting distance by fading the hills and trees towards an unseen horizon.

I agree that that's nicely put and that it is convincing, but not that it's convincing that Tolkien wanted to suggest an Entwife specifically; and I'm not sure that was David's point anyway.

To my mind it's a tale that has multiple explanations; and one that while Tolkien knows will conjure up Ents with 'tree-men' (and even Treebeard's question about the Shire), Tolkien also knows that the tale really doesn't describe an Entwife. The reader can take the general association and 'run with it', yes, and can shape things to allow for an Entwife: for example one can claim that the matter of great height is unreliable due to the dubious nature of oral tale telling, yet not that 'tree-men' is unreliable due to the same nature of oral tale telling -- and then one has allowed for an Entwife.


And as Tolkien himself thinks that a passage in his book makes it plain that there would be for Ents no reunion in history, how then did he see this conversation at the Dragon in retrospect? I think dubious enough concerning Entwives; thus Tolkien allowing the association you speak of is merely allowing a very general association within a purposely questionable context.


In other words I think Tolkien left it in because it still fit its purpose, and that it was all dubious enough despite that he arguably knows the 'thought of Entwives' will generally be mixed in. Agreeing, I think, with Tolkien's note in the Appendices, painting the matter again as dubious.
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Re: Entwives

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:35 pm

I pretty much agree- I think Tolkien wa saware the connectin could be made and was happy for that without it ever being specific enough or accurate to be nailed down. It could have been an ent of some sort, it could have been a giant of some sort, it could have been a bit to much pipeweed and ale.
But that does it leave it open for peope like me to choose to believe it was a rare sighting of an ent-wife, even if they still never meet again or have a happy ending.

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Re: Entwives

Post by Elthir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:05 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I pretty much agree- I think Tolkien wa saware the connectin could be made and was happy for that without it ever being specific enough or accurate to be nailed down. It could have been an ent of some sort, it could have been a giant of some sort, it could have been a bit to much pipeweed and ale.

But that does it leave it open for peope like me to choose to believe it was a rare sighting of an ent-wife, even if they still never meet again or have a happy ending.

Fair enough.

And I hope I didn't come across as too repetitiverepetitiverepetitive here with my opinions. Digging in HME sometimes gives me something to do (when I have 'free' time, or am avoiding something I should be doing).
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Re: Entwives

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:15 pm

On the contary Elthir I have found the whole discussion fascinating.
Now if you could just turn your attention to the problem in the Questions for Lore Masters thread I will be even more fascinated I am sure (and it might provoke a Lore-fight between you and Eldo! Very Happy )

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