A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:08 pm

Lots of people get offended by art that doesn't go out of its way to advocate for their political goals.  Fantasy in particular gets attacked on this basis a lot because it's not set in the real world (hence, harder to have political relevance) and because it tends to be backwards-looking in its attitude toward history, which freaks out some leftists. But more to the point, some people just get can't wrap their minds around the fact that others don't seem to realize how important it is to constantly work to further the intellectual and social struggle of ... whatever it is they're so convinced about.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:14 am

He seemed to know the story well enough that I wouldn't say he was dismissive of Tolkien - else he wouldn't have gotten that far in the books. He may of been dismissive of the idea that Tolkien has "depth"; I get the impression that he feels what readers perceive as depth is closer to a sort of psychological manipulation on the same level as Titanic. This is a cheap shot which could equally apply to any literature.

He has obvious respect for Tolkien's world building, and admits what Tolkien did is something "some of us enjoy". So I think his attack on the use of Tolkien as a sort of moral guide comes from a place of respect, and perhaps, given his religious affiliation, from a worry that LotR may in part supplant the bible in some people's minds.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Tue Apr 05, 2016 1:09 am

As some of you know I have my own (not very interesting) Tolkien blog, but I've been messing around writing a little bit more about lore stuff lately. I also figured I might try something a little different than a seven year old Wordpress site that I never update, so I found my old tumblr account that I'd never done anything with and tried to pretty it up a bit. Anyway, I'd recently expanded this piece for the old site, and thought it might be a decent starting in the event that this new idea goes anywhere. There are so many of them, after all, but if you try to look up his bibliography on, say, Wikipedia, you get so much non-Middle-earth stuff mixed in that it's hard to know where to begin.

http://nolondil.tumblr.com/post/142279130706/tolkiens-books-about-middle-earth
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by azriel on Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:14 am

I like that Eldo. Its clear & easy to follow without being patronising Smile Not everyone is clued up about Tolkien & his magical world & its nice to be "spoken to" in a friendly way that makes it a pleasure to fit into that world Smile

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:07 am

Thumbs Up I really like this Eldo. It looks great too, I like the art work you have used, it has a lovely 'atmosphere'

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:43 pm

Thanks guys. Smile I'm hoping to keep things fairly accessible even when discussing kinda obscure Lore topics (again, assuming I follow through on this project Razz). I was going for a Númenórean theme for the artwork since the name of the blog is taken from the name of one of the grandsons of Elros, the first King of Númenor (though the reason I went with it is for the translated meaning, seen in the subtitle and also very similar to the meaning of the word "philosopher").
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by malickfan on Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:44 pm

Eldorion wrote:As some of you know I have my own (not very interesting) Tolkien blog, but I've been messing around writing a little bit more about lore stuff lately. I also figured I might try something a little different than a seven year old Wordpress site that I never update, so I found my old tumblr account that I'd never done anything with and tried to pretty it up a bit. Anyway, I'd recently expanded this piece for the old site, and thought it might be a decent starting in the event that this new idea goes anywhere. There are so many of them, after all, but if you try to look up his bibliography on, say, Wikipedia, you get so much non-Middle-earth stuff mixed in that it's hard to know where to begin.

http://nolondil.tumblr.com/post/142279130706/tolkiens-books-about-middle-earth

Nice list Eldo just the right amount of detail, I didn't know you have a tumblr account, what else are you hiding I wonder  Suspect  Laughing

A couple of additions/suggestions (please don't take this the wrong way, I'm not dictating anything, just sharing a few thoughts and comments):

There's a fair amount of uncollected or linguistic material about middle earth (much of it published in journals such as Vinyar Tengwar) that you might want to mention (if briefly, I haven't read any of it myself) this seems the most extensive list of Tolkien's writings:

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Index:Writings_by_J.R.R._Tolkien

There was technically a 13th Volume of the H.O.M.E collating the various indexes into one volume, but that's only really for the hardcore fan I suppose.

The History Of The Hobbit was later republished in 2011 with about 60 pages of new (but fairly minor) content, from Tolkien Gateway:

One-volume Edition (including Addendum)

On 24 March 2011, Rateliff announced that HarperCollins is reprinting, together with an Addendum, The History of The Hobbit as a single-volume book.[3] This "Revised Updated edition" was released on 27 October 2011.[4] The Addendum contains (as announced by Rateliff)[5]:

"Timeline of Events" [the fifteen days following Durin's Day]
"Notes on a Parley "[detailed description of the Front Gate]
"Responses to Queries" [some proofreader's concerns addressed by J.R.R. Tolkien]
"Personae" [an interesting listing of Thorin and Company]
"Runic Charts" [details on using dwarven runes]
"Feanorian Letters" [details on writing in tengwar, including punctuation and numbers]
[edit] From the Publisher (Second Edition)

[edit] Product Description

In one volume for the first time, this revised and updated examination of how J.R.R.Tolkien came to write his original masterpiece The Hobbit includes his complete unpublished draft version of the story, together with notes and illustrations by Tolkien himself.

For the first time in one volume, The History of The Hobbit presents the complete unpublished text of the original manuscript of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, accompanied by John Rateliff's lively and informative account of how the book came to be written and published. As well as recording the numerous changes made to the story both before and after publication, it examines – chapter-by-chapter – why those changes were made and how they reflect Tolkien's ever-growing concept of Middle-earth.

The Hobbit was first published on 21 September 1937. Like its successor, The Lord of the Rings, it is a story that "grew in the telling", and many characters and story threads in the published text are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their "fireside reads".

As well as reproducing the original version of one of literature's most famous stories, both on its own merits and as the foundation for The Lord of the Rings, this new book includes many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for The Hobbit by Tolkien himself. Also featured are extensive annotations and commentaries on the date of composition, how Tolkien's professional and early mythological writings influenced the story, the imaginary geography he created, and how Tolkien came to revise the book years after publication to accommodate events in The Lord of the Rings.

Like Christopher Tolkien's The History of The Lord of the Rings before it, this is a thoughtful yet exhaustive examination of one of the most treasured stories in English literature. Long overdue for a classic book now celebrating 75 years in print, this companion edition offers fascinating new insights for those who have grown up with this enchanting tale, and will delight those who are about to enter Bilbo's round door for the first time.


It was then republished again in 2015 as 'A Brief History Of The Hobbit' with a greatly reduced amount of commentary (some readers had apparently complained it was too extensive or intrusive, but I don't agree, Rateliffe's commentary is utterly fascinating):

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/A_Brief_History_of_The_Hobbit

Beyond the written word, there are several works of visual art by Tolkien that are of interest to some readers.

There was also:

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Pictures_by_J.R.R._Tolkien

But I believe it was largely superseded by Hammond and Scull's books anyway, maybe you could do a brief overview of the Illustrated editions of Tolkien's work (The Alan Lee Hobbit, LOTR and COH, and Ted Nasmith's Silmarillion spring to mind) and the audiobooks versions as well?

Speaking about Hammond and Scull they have a website which among other things lists very extensive Addenda and Corrigenda (i.e additional information and citations, corrections, references and new/and or expanded articles) for their various publications, for example, there's at least two editions of the LOTR Readers Guide:

http://www.hammondandscull.com/

There are several known, extant letters not included in this collection, some of which (including the famous “Munby letter”) are owned by collectors and have never been made available to the general public.

Actually according to Hammond and Scull's 'The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide they had as of 2006 recorded or traced around 1500 Letters by Tolkien, published or unpublished, more of which continue to come to light, they mentioned  they approach the Tolkien Estate about doing a expanded 2nd edition from time to time, so you never know...

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Letters_not_published_in_%22The_Letters_of_J.R.R._Tolkien%22

Perhaps Hammond & Scull’s magnum opus

That I agree with, a staggeringly detailed book (with a substantial amount of previously unpublished material included) , my only problems with it were A) The lack of a contents page, and the decision to list articles merely by alphabetical order rather than dividing them into say 'Peoples, Place, Names, Writings etc' first means it can be quite confusing/frustrating to find the article or reference you are looking for B) As it was written with the direct assistance of the Tolkien Estate it's arguably slanted slightly in his favour (i.e there is perhaps not as much criticism of some of his writings as you'd expect), though of course every reader has there own perception of Tolkien's writings so you wouldn't necessarily want a biographical work to 'take sides' C) From memory the article on Film Adaptations of his work isn't in that much depth for such a popular trilogy of films, I vaguely recall reading Hammond and Scull have expressed interest in writing expanded second edition's of the Guide/Companion and 'J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography' but that might just be my memory playing tricks on me.

Robert Foster’s The Complete Guide to Middle-earth (a revision of Foster’s earlier Guide to Middle-earth) is probably the best published encyclopedia on Tolkien’s secondary world.

I'd argue 'The-Complete-Tolkien-Companion' by J.E.A Tyler is a good alternative, though I don't think it includes page references for Tolkien's books.

There are two prominent books of maps of Middle-earth: The Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad (1981, second edition 1991) and Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Strachey (1981).

I believe there was also a 3rd edition of the Atlas released in 2005, there's also these:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Maps-Tolkiens-Middle-earth-Special/dp/0007169701/

On Fairy-Stories (1939), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962)

You might want to mention that both were recently re-released as expanded 'special editions with commentaries and new/draft content included.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (1977)

I find Carpenter's other book 'The Inklings' very interesting as well, it's possibly outdated in some respects but it gives a good grounding in the wider work, impact of, and themes of the other Inklings and it's quite an interesting read as well.

Many readers are interested in the multitude of reference works about Tolkien, though most such books do not bear mentioning here.

I would perhaps still add a list of names or references to well known Tolkien Scholars (Verlyn Flieger, Hammond and Scull, Tom Shippey etc) or websites for further reading, 'The Road to Middle Earth' (The most recent revised edition was released in 2005) by Tom Shippey is, in my opinion, probably the single greatest book on Tolkien ever written (at least in Literary Criticism terms) and does at least deserve a mention or entry of its own.

I haven't read any of them but there's a fair few books about Tolkien that seem to have high critical praise:

Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion by Douglas Charles Kane (better known as Voronwe_the_Faithful amongst the online Tolkien community, he's the founder of the 'Hall of Fire' forum and has written a few articles for TORn)

Tales Before Tolkien by Douglas A Anderson

The Company They Keep by Diana Pavlac Glyer

Perilous and Fair: Women in J.R.R. Tolkien's Work and Life

Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity

Tolkien: Man and Myth. A Literary Life by Joseph Pearce

Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien

Tolkien's Gedling - 1914: The Birth Of A Legend and Tolkien's Bag End: Threshold to Adventure by Andrew H Morton

War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien by Janet Brennan Croft

The:

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Cormar%C3%AB_Series

And Verlyn Flieger's four books:

Splintered Light

A Question of Time

Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology

Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien



There's also a few Tolkien related journals:

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Category:Journals

You could also mention a few books to avoid....David Day's books spring to mind...



...That was more than a few suggestions, sorry!

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by malickfan on Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:44 pm

Eldorion wrote:Thanks guys. Smile I'm hoping to keep things fairly accessible

I that case my suggestions might not be much use!

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The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
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Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:30 pm

Thanks a bunch, Malick! I made my tumblr several years ago but have literally never posted on it before (it was also under a different name before yesterday). I've gotten around a bit on the web in my time, though. Razz

I do really appreciate your detailed feedback on this. I did seriously consider including a warning against David Day, but wanted to try to keep things positive. Also pondered whether or not listing any journals (especially Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar Tengwar) was appropriate, and while I can certainly see the benefit of it, I wanted to try to keep things relatively simple and thus stuck to books as I'd already put that in the title. I was mainly trying to stay away from works of literary criticism, not because I have anything against it, but because I was trying to give a brief overview of the "core" books that someone looking to read all of Tolkien's Middle-earth material might start from, hopefully without overwhelming them. It's also supposed to be a companion piece to an essay about "canon", though I still have to rewrite and expand that before posting it on the new blog, but that's part of the reason why I didn't want to include too many books about Tolkien as opposed to ones actually containing his own words.

I do appreciate your comments about variant editions and new publications, some of which I had heard of myself (such as the new edition of On Fairy-Stories) but others that had flown under my radar (like the variant editions of The History of The Hobbit; I don't get it either ... just buy The Annotated Hobbit if the full text of the story is the main draw). I will consider adding the J.E.A. Tyler guide to the reference works section, though that was intended more as a brief addendum. I might rework the first sentence to try to not imply that anything not listed isn't worth paying attention to, as that wasn't my intent but it might come off that way.

I'm curious about this third edition of The Atlas of Middle-earth because I have never seen it in any physical or online bookstore. My understanding was that Fonstad had wanted to create a new edition but hadn't been able to before her death. My edition, purchased new in 2007 or 2008, has no copyright date later than 1991. The Wikipedia page for the Atlas claims there was a third edition of 2001, though without a source, but I can't find anything like that on Amazon or BN.com so I'm a little uncertain here.

I knew V_t_F casually through the LOTR Plaza but his book was always out of my price range and I'm not sure if it's even in print anymore. His website for it has been down for quite some time, anyway. I might do a guide to Tolkien illustrators at some point; could be fun.

Thanks again for all your suggestions! Smile
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by malickfan on Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:50 pm

I made my tumblr several years ago but have literally never posted on it before (it was also under a different name before yesterday).

I've tended to assume tumblr was just full of cat videos and fan fiction about Twilight, evidently I was wrong Wink

Eldorion wrote:Thanks a bunch, Malick!

No problem, glad my rambling reply was of some use.

I've gotten around a bit on the web in my time, though

I know the feeling Laughing

I did seriously consider including a warning against David Day, but wanted to try to keep things positive.

It's not just the content of Day's books that annoy me , it's that he reprints the same stuff over and over again with a few slight changes and a new cover...

Also pondered whether or not listing any journals (especially Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar Tengwar) was appropriate, and while I can certainly see the benefit of it, I wanted to try to keep things relatively simple and thus stuck to books as I'd already put that in the title.

Fair enough, maybe you could do a follow up post for the hardcore Tolkien nerds fans?

It's also supposed to be a companion piece to an essay about "canon", though I still have to rewrite and expand that before posting it on the new blog, but that's part of the reason why I didn't want to include too many books about Tolkien as opposed to ones actually containing his own words.

That makes sense, too much detail might simply scare off readers...

I'm curious about this third edition of The Atlas of Middle-earth because I have never seen it in any physical or online bookstore.

Actually after searching around briefly I think I was mistaken on that, can't see any confirmation about a 3rd edition (according to Amazon it is getting re-released later this year though) I too have a 2000's edition of it so I'd assume it has the same copyright date Embarassed

I knew V_t_F casually through the LOTR Plaza but his book was always out of my price range and I'm not sure if it's even in print anymore.

I may have shared the odd conversation or post on TORn with him at some point but I mostly knew him by reputation, his book certainly sounds interesting, but yeah, that's unfortunately the case with self published works of criticisms, it's alot of time and money for reasonably small returns...

I might do a guide to Tolkien illustrators at some point; could be fun.

Yeah that would be a fun follow up post Nod



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The Thorin: An Unexpected Rewrite December 2012 (I was on the money apparently)
The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
The Sod-it! : Battling my Indifference December 2014 (You know what they say, third time's the charm)

Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:18 pm

malickfan wrote:I've tended to assume tumblr was just full of cat videos and fan fiction about Twilight, evidently I was wrong Wink

I know plenty of it is. There are a few serious literary/lore commentary tumblr blogs I'm aware of, though. Plus I like the format better than Wordpress' at this point, tbh.

No problem, glad my rambling reply was of some use.

They're always appreciated. Thumbs Up

It's not just the content of Day's books that annoy me , it's that he reprints the same stuff over and over again with a few slight changes and a new cover...

Heh, that is true. At work we were getting newly repackaged versions of his stuff each December for The Hobbit films and each time I would check and without fail it would be the same shit as always.

Fair enough, maybe you could do a follow up post for the hardcore Tolkien nerds fans?

I might, depends on how things feel as they go. I certainly don't want to dumb anything down, but I've been told that I'm good at explaining things in understandable terms (there's a few people always trying to get me to go into textbook writing), so I figured I might as well try to play to my strengths as much as I can. I think there's worth to providing an entry point into more serious studies while avoiding or even calling out common pitfalls.

Actually after searching around briefly I think I was mistaken on that, can't see any confirmation about a 3rd edition (according to Amazon it is getting re-released later this year though) I too have a 2000's edition of it so I'd assume it has the same copyright date Embarassed

Ah, no problem. Curious to see what the new version will be, though I'd expect it's probably little more than cover art since Fonstad is unfortunately deceased.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:25 pm

Great work Eldo. I have one recommendation. I've taken your description of RGEO and added a little flourish. See if you can spot it!

A song cycle, with music by Donald Swann and lyrics taken from Tolkien’s poems, mostly ones found in The Lord of the Rings. Also includes an introduction (effectively liner notes) with background material on the songs and settings (and more Galadriel!). Later editions added “Bilbo’s Last Song”, which has also been published as a stand-alone hardcover with illustrations by Pauline Baynes.

On the author hand maybe not... too subtle perhaps.

Very Happy
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:51 pm

Good point, Elthir. That was something of an oversight, I suppose. No I shall have to rectify that sometime, or perhaps make a special post directing readers to every mention of Galadriel I can find (although I seem to recall you already did something like that, but with considerable and impressive commentary Wink).

NB Thank you for the compliment; I hope you know how much your feedback {{{and especially your praise Embarassed}}} has always meant to me.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:22 pm

Still working on the aforementioned canon essay, but I decided to do another companion piece, sort of/kind of following the model of those "recommended reading order" lists you find out there, and geared specifically towards people who have read LOTR and maybe the Silm but aren't sure where to go after that.

http://nolondil.tumblr.com/post/142440170841/so-you-want-to-get-serious-about-tolkien

As always, any and all feedback is appreciated. Very Happy
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:26 am

Here's my canon entry  Twisted Evil  

Tolkien canon (Middle-earth): anything Middle-earthy that JRR Tolkien himself published, plus the map by Pauline Baynes*

*since he helped with it** knowing that publication was imiminent.

**the map part but not the character illustrations.

The second footnote took the lion's share of my time. I'm still not sure eminent is the right word.

If you (anyone) want to quote this essay, please send the equivalent of 10 US cents (optional donation) to the Letobard Foundation (founded in opposition to Norrisbeard United), in partnership with Overchin Underlip (Paris, Okinawa, New York), CEO Hattori Hanzo.

Thanks for your consideration.

somewhat sincerely,

E.L.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by halfwise on Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:07 am

The Silmarillion's not canon? Shocked

Shockwaves just roiled through the universe.

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:20 am

:evil cackle: not in my opinion... and The Hobbit first edition is!

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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:39 am

Heh, halfy, The Silmarillion is the main reason why the canon issue is such a sticky, recurrent one. I touch on this a little in the "So you want to get serious" essay.

Anyway, Elthir, you may be pleased to know that I'm arguing against the idea of there being any sort of canon for the First Age (not in the sense that it's usually thought of for fictional universes). Though it looks like the essay is going to segue into a discussion of the historiography of the Elder Days too, which is part of the reason it's taking longer than I initially expected.
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by malickfan on Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:40 pm

Eldorion wrote:Still working on the aforementioned canon essay, but I decided to do another companion piece, sort of/kind of following the model of those "recommended reading order" lists you find out there, and geared specifically towards people who have read LOTR and maybe the Silm but aren't sure where to go after that.

http://nolondil.tumblr.com/post/142440170841/so-you-want-to-get-serious-about-tolkien

As always, any and all feedback is appreciated. Very Happy

I feel strongly that the point of learning about Tolkien should still be to have fun. We all start down this path because we found enjoyment in one of Tolkien’s books. If you are content to read his finished works and not dig deeper, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, Tolkien himself would say you had the right idea:

A very good position to take Nod Tolkien wrote the stories partially for his own enjoyment and was able to detatch himself from his world, as fascinating as his writing is, ultimately it's still a heightened fantasy world and if you are going to delve deep don't forget to have some fun with it...argue about about how grey the horses are for instance Razz

It’s also an all time classic of children’s literature that can be appreciated even if you never read another word of Tolkien.

I read TH after seeing/watching LOTR mutliple times, and even having read the appendices, the H.O.T.H and The Annotated Hobbit I think this still holds true for me, despite Tolkien's best attempts, for better or worse The Hobbit does stand apart from the wider mythology a little bit, and I prefer to read/anaylse it largely through the viewpoint of how it was written-a stand alone children's fairytale, rather than resenting/treating it as a not quite as deep LOTR prequel...but I may be a little weird like that...

I never recommend starting LOTR by reading the prologue.

Who would Laughing

...that said, I started with ROTK so I'm probably not the best person to talk about this Razz

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block in The Silmarillion is that a lot of its slowest and densest chapters come in succession right at the beginning.

I recall very much enjoying the 'dense' chapters...I was a weird teenager...

The Children of Húrin

Maybe you could add a brief summary of the various different versions, and or note it's connection to 'The Story Of Kullervo'?

The History of Middle-earth

This reminded me of an interesting thread I came across a while ago:

http://thehalloffire.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2250

...A further, but quite distinct, consideration in this connection lies in the relation of The History of Middle-earth to the original writings. In my Foreword to The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp.ix-x, I referred to the forerunner of the History as 'an entirely "private" study, without thought or purpose of publication: an exhaustive investigation and analysis of all the materials concerned with what came to be called the Elder Days, from the earliest beginnings, omitting no detail of name-form or textual variation.' This work, which I called The History of the Silmarillion, and which I began after the publication of my 'constructed' text, runs to more than 2600 very closely typed pages, and it does not even touch on the Second and Third Ages. When the possibility arose of publishing at least part of this work, in some form, it was obvious that it would have to be heavily reduced and curtailed, and the part of The History of Middle-earth dealing with the Elder Days is indeed a new presentation of The History of the Silmarillion, and a severe contraction of it, especially in respect of the sheer quantity of variant manuscript material reproduced in full...



Another good blog post Eldo Smile

_________________
The Thorin: An Unexpected Rewrite December 2012 (I was on the money apparently)
The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
The Sod-it! : Battling my Indifference December 2014 (You know what they say, third time's the charm)

Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:09 pm

malickfan wrote:A very good position to take Nod Tolkien wrote the stories partially for his own enjoyment and was able to detatch himself from his world, as fascinating as his writing is, ultimately it's still a heightened fantasy world  and if you are going to delve deep don't forget to have some fun with it...argue about about how grey the horses are for instance Razz

I perhaps have a strange sense of fun, but I do sometimes have to take a break from Middle-earth studies and come back fresher and more interested again, and I think that's always been good both for me as a person and for the quality of my writing.

I read TH after seeing/watching LOTR mutliple times, and even having read the appendices, the H.O.T.H and The Annotated Hobbit I think this still holds true for me, despite Tolkien's best attempts, for better or worse The Hobbit does stand apart from the wider mythology a little bit, and I prefer to read/anaylse it largely through the viewpoint of how it was written-a stand alone children's fairytale, rather than resenting/treating it as a not quite  as deep LOTR prequel...but I may be a little weird like that...

It never ceases to surprise me how many dedicated Tolkien fans seem to resent The Hobbit for not fitting neatly into the "canon" they wish existed. For me, all of Tolkien's "big three" books are quite different from each other in scope and style and aim, but I actually think that's a strength rather than a weakness.

Who would Laughing

...that said, I started with ROTK so I'm probably not the best person to talk about this Razz

Well, when my sister borrowed my copy of LOTR a couple years ago I advised skipping to the start of Book I, but she insisted on reading the Prologue first. She ended up liking it and loving the book as a whole, so I guess the worldbuilding stuff appealed to her, but I still think it's a lot to drop on the reader who's starting off for the first time.

I recall very much enjoying the 'dense' chapters...I was a weird teenager...

I loved the whole Silm from the first time I read it, but I know enough people who gave up in the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta, or the first four or five chapters of the Quenta that I think the warning was appropriate. Razz

Maybe you could add a brief summary of the various different versions, and or note it's connection to 'The Story Of Kullervo'?

IIRC the published stand-alone Children of Húrin doesn't get into that too much (maybe in the appendix), so I didn't want to get too off track. Your comment made me realize that I probably should have mentioned the Narn in the Lays of Beleriand section, though. I did initially intend to speak at some length about the recent (post-COH) non-Middle-earth publications but I felt the piece was already too long. :/

This reminded me of an interesting thread I came across a while ago:

I finally decided to order Kane's book a few days ago after finding a decently priced used paperback version on Amazon Marketplace, but I've been poking around more on The Hall of Fire again. Definitely some very interesting stuff in there.

Another good blog post Eldo Smile

Thanks Malick! Very Happy I really value the feedback I'm able to get on forums, and yours is always considered and thought-provoking. Nod
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:44 am

Hmm... I thought I heard something about horses... of a certain mith-ic colour?

It never ceases to surprise me how many dedicated Tolkien fans seem to resent The Hobbit for not fitting neatly into the "canon" they wish existed. For me, all of Tolkien's "big three" books are quite different from each other in scope and style and aim, but I actually think that's a strength rather than a weakness.

Huzzah Eldo. I recently went about five friendly rounds with someone (elsewhere) about canon and The Hobbit.

Incidentally, when HME first came out, I resisted. I had Guy Kay's mindset (as it seems) about Middle-earth, and I still do in a sense... I just think the mind is nimble enough to enjoy the [constructed] Silmarillion and [constructed] Children of Hurin as if they are internal, as if they are "canon" some might say -- when one is reading them -- even though a part of you (anyone) really knows the external scenario (if you do).

To my mind that's why these two works exist. They provide the important "reader's experience" (why we read stories) that Tolkien's work intended to provide... in other words, I'm not really thinking about canon when I read either book, I'm immersed... just like I would be if I were reading Tolkien's finished, published (for a once-and-future readership) version.

That said, reading is one thing, canon another. Canon can be a thorny spined beast, so I try to handle it as easily as possible   Wink
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:49 pm

Cheers, Elthir. Very Happy The weirdest thing to me though is that people who get really concerned about TH and canon are usually not the same people who get concerned about TS and the same. Razz

I love the 1977 Silmarillion, warts and all, and I'm very grateful to Christopher (and Guy) for having made it happen. When approaching the legendarium as a mythology, there is certainly plenty of real world precedent for historical mythmakers collecting a large (often oral) body of legend and boiling it down to create a single written version. I think the limitation of the mythological approach though is that many of us do create our own consistent Silmarillions in our mind, which demands picking and choosing to a degree that I never felt necessary when studying eg Greek mythology. Though I suppose I might have been in a minority with that. Certainly the D'Aulaires didn't present every divergent version...

I think the most useful thing about 1977 Silm, other than providing a point of entry for people, is in establishing a baseline for discussion. People might disagree with it on many points, but it gives us a common starting point before we begin niggling. And I'll admit to referring to the Silm in Lore debates many times, though generally for basic stuff rather than on points of controversy. Though depending on how your definition of "basic" (like, would the number of Finwë's children count?) it's usefulness even for that might be suspect.

Still a very enjoyable read IMO. Nod
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:01 am

Good stuff Eldo.

If I may blather on... I think those who want consistency between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (including Tolkien to a certain extent, in specific details at least [moon phases, rune writing, Aragorn's getting lost in the wild compared to the description in The Hobbit and so on, any example of where Tolkien arguably did not desire a "purposed consistency") are inspired to do so from a natural place...

... (I think) consistency makes room for purposed inconsistency. In other words, once you draw a subcreated world that is so believable and internally consistent, then you can actually make it more believable by purposed dashes of inconsistency, especially when the inconsistencies have a foundation like variable authors and perspective.

And with The Hobbit, readers (now) know too much about its external origins. They know Tolkien didn't mean to include certain inconsistencies, and so all the more reason to question the book's status with respect to canon. But such folk aren't looking hard enough at the big picture in my opinion, and unfortunately... and I may be the only person so far [that I know of] who holds the view that it's unfortunate... Tolkien revised his first edition Foreword to The Lord of the Rings, which I much prefer (and still consider canon by the way, as he did not revise it in an internal sense).

"I have in this tale adhered more closely to the actual words and narrative of my original than in the previous selection from the Red Book, The Hobbit. That was drawn from the early chapters, composed originally by Bilbo himself. If "composed" is a just word. Bilbo was not assiduous, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused: faults that still appear in the Red Book, since the copiers were pious and careful, and altered very little."

Tolkien (as translator) Foreword, The Fellowship of the Ring, first edition

Granted an author can only dip into this well so many times, as he will arguably begin to reveal himself "too much" as an author. Here Tolkien was sort of forced to, but I note how his explanation does not toss out the Hobbit first edition, but embraces it as an internal text. The Hobbit first edition remains canon, authorized by its translator as existing as part of the varied legendarium (not the only evidence for the argument in any case). Moreover, total consistency is not to be found in The Lord of the Rings either, but folks know its external history is unlike that of The Hobbit.

I note that after The Lord of the Rings was published JRRT took certain poems that weren't originally meant for Middle-earth and published them in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. People don't seem to worry much about some of the content in these poems. Is it because one can say: well some things are just Hobbit whimsy, Hobbitish poetry that doesn't have to be wholly consistent with The Lord of the Rings.

It would have been interesting if Tolkien had finished and published the 1960 Hobbit... how would that Foreword have read? I would guess yet another explanation about authorship... perhaps Frodo's version? Would Tolkien have gone to the well again? I'm not sure, and maybe this was part of the reason he abandoned the project. Tolkien might have gained as much as he lost with this one, although admittedly he was inventive at keeping things internal.

And I think part of the scenario includes that some simply forget to consider ATB and RGEO. These works are internal as well (over at TORC I had a rather involved discussion about RGEO versus The Shibboleth of Feanor concerning "translator" versus "author"). The revised Foreword to The Lord of the Rings is not internal however, in a sense it's more like a letter in response to Tolkien's critics, and in response to the Ace Books matter. And when JRRT's not doing these things, he's explaining the making of the book, as its author. When I say he revised the first Foreword, I think in a sense he didn't: he wrote an entirely new Foreword in a different mode altogether.

And now I have wandered...

But as Stephen Colbert might say: but before Stay Human brings the funk... one more thing...

... consistency is, in my opinion, important, in part exactly because Tolkien was going to add his measure of inconsistency. When we as readers essentially create inconsistency out of mere variant texts that happen to exist, I think we have put aside a major concern with respect to the art of world building. And if the measure of purposed consistency is rightly Tolkien's, that's another reason why I desire canon.

Often enough I encounter the opinion that it's "all" canon, and someone just views the variant texts in the same light as the multiple versions of certain real world myths, or let's say, the Arthurian corpus. Sounds good, but my response is: that's exactly what Tolkien was working toward, but certainly not with such a sweeping gesture, a gesture that makes the Elder Days considerably more inconsistent than Tolkien ever desired.

It might be a nice way to look at things, but I would argue that Tolkien didn't write from this perspective. It's convenient, but dispatches an aspect of the art of World building... which for me seems kind of odd, given how much Tolkien is praised for this skill. Granted, one can say that multiple disparate versions is another type of "unintended" world-building...

... by why dispatch the intended for the unintended? Plus, I think the art includes what is believably inconsistent, and what is not, as well as how much can be poured in without undermining the reality of the Secondary World. Of course it's subjective, but I think the general view that it's like Real World Myths sort of skates over just how much inconsistency is created... an amount I find hard to believe Tolkien would be comfortable with, even if (which I doubt) he would be happy with stamping "all canon" after he worked so hard to find out what "really happened".

If we have five variations of Galadriel's history, then which version is "true" internally, which is real? Does it make sense that the Loremasters of Rivendell would be so confused about her history? It makes sense to me that in after days, some scribes might confuse Galadriel for Galadhriel, and think her name contained a tree word (as Celeborn seemed to)... and that's the art of Tolkien, picking and choosing how to inject confusion.

The inclusion of the sun existing before the Elves awoke is so subtle it's awesome, not to mention placing it in an Elven-child's tale mixed with counting lore. Tolkien has implied a rather "major" point of controversy (compared to Mannish legends) in a tale that helps Elven children learn to count (or so I guess)! That's Tolkien's genius to my mind, not the fact that over decades his story evolved, naturally containing "external" kinds of inconsistencies when he changed his mind, rejecting an old idea and replacing it. If Guy Kay kept any of his drafts for a given story, would any variants that existed be counted as part of his worldbuilding skills?

Or if no one holds the opinion I just described... never mind  Very Happy

Well, that's how I see some hings... hmm, I can't find an emoticon where I'm wearing my grey horse blinders Wink
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Eldorion on Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:46 pm

Came across an interesting perspective on the whole canon question on Reddit this evening. In response to me citing the Silm in a LOTR discussion:

Well The Silmarillion doesn't line up with other lore in many places



Anyway... Laughing

I agree with what you say and don't have a ton to add right now. I used to be more devoted to the historiographic (or perhaps mythographic?) approach when I was younger. These days I try to strike a balance between that and what I guess could be termed the literary criticism approach. I don't know that there is an objectively correct place to balance at, but I would want to at least try to have a consistent methodology for determining which texts to treat as in-universe sources and which to treat as rejected drafts. But looking at, for example, the persistence of the Eriol/Aelfwine transmission, I don't know if it's possible to draw a consistent and useful distinction there.

Something I'm trying to think about more when I can muster the mental energy. study
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Re: A couple of very interesting Tolkien Blogs I've stumbled across

Post by Elthir on Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:13 pm

Laughing

Here's part of my unasked for approach to canon or internal texts, and so on.

Canon

Author published work, all editions. Or "authorized" by JRRT for publication (map by P. Baynes, Christopher Tolkien's maps, first and second editions)


Posthumously published texts [to possibly add to my personal vision of Middle-earth, referred to earlier as "and so on"]

A) latest description, if known -- late text yields to canon however

B) characterizing purposed contradictions or variations -- that I can imagine as internal (as if canon) -- versus natural variations due to the creative process

Books for the internal reader's experience

The Simarillion Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay [1977]
The Children of Hurin Christopher Tolkien [2007]

____________________

Of course one can say that this entire scenario is subjective, but "published by Tolkien" is at least something that everyone can rather easily discover and agree upon, whether or not anyone agrees these works alone should be considered canon. How many people don't include the works Tolkien himself published within their "canon", although there are some Hobbit refusers, admittedly... and anyway (as I often argue), the distinction of publication was not only important to Tolkien himself, it naturally has to be in my opinion.

With respect to "latest" idea, Christopher Tolkien is very good at dating the texts, and we can often know that A is later than B for example, even though that might only be a starting point for something.

With respect to purposed internal contradiction or variation versus natural changes in the course of writing (creating), while this is difficult in general, I think much of the existing variation is external: Tolkien was a self-admitted niggler of details and very creative, and so I think naturally one will find a lot of revision that simply reflects a change of mind, arising out of growing and branching conceptions, and even some changes based on memory lapse. Especially over decades.

Memory can be a significant issue too, but from my perspective, if for example Tolkien forgets how many sons Feanor had, and his last known description says "five"... for me I can't simply say that Tolkien forgot... well he might have, but I'm guessing he hasn't lost his mind either, and he knows what the word five means. So in that moment -- again, even if he has forgotten seven -- five seems to have been his desired number.

If however JRRT had forgotten that he had published seven, then it's arguably a matter of undermining canon. And for Tolkien to make a true choice in that arena, in my opinion he must be aware that the change impacts the reader's perception of his world (the art of Subcreation). In this made up scenario, Tolkien's readership already believes Feanor's seven sons exist -- given that awareness he still has the option (if given the option I guess, as he was due to Ace Books) to revise material already in print...

... but whether he will or not remains a grey area, unless of course we see that he published five after publishing seven, and if so, I would expect him to provide the reader an outlet to help preserve internal integrity. Both seven and five cannot be true internally, but if Tolkien can think of a way in which both details exist in the legendarium -- a way that satisfies his artistic sensibilities anyway -- he can of course, make it so.

It's a balancing act, as Tolkien allows, sometimes even prefers, X to conflict with Y, where elsewhere he struggles to retain consistency, even sometimes if the discrepancy will arguably go unnoticed by most readers.

With respect to the importance of importance: I once had a discussion with someone who claimed that Tolkien's faith was very important to him (I agree), therefore the "unstained Galadriel", being Tolkien's last known idea about her (true), and being driven by Christian impulses (probably true in my opinion), provides the internal "truth" of Galadriel's history... for this person. I won't go into my full response to that, except to say that I think the "penitent Galadriel" is also an arguably powerful tale as seen from a Christian standpoint (and in my opinion the better story in general), so that the admitted importance of Tolkien's faith might not, in itself, weight the ultimate balance toward latest text. Plus I got Galadriel in again here!


Anyway there's more to it, and it takes some work to try and track some of these things, and some pondering too... to that I say: yup... and it's fun.

Very Happy

And to get Galadriel in again again (since her history is one of the more confusing matters), employing A) "Tolkien published" plus B) last known idea though not when conflicting with A, really simplifies the issue for me, while granted leaving a few things to consider hazy. I imagine a fuller internal story for her that can be gleaned only from (my) Tolkien "canon", a fuller story which is much less cluttered than all the texts seem to make things.

Ironically (if not made of iron) the 1977 Silmarillion provides not only a great read for me, but a good text from which to glean my fuller, personal internal history of Galadriel.
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