Works of Tolkien scholarship

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Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:21 am

I think I saw that discussion on account of the thread being linked to from the LOTR Plaza. Razz I completely agree that Tolkien would have had to do a lot more to implement the idea of a Mannish Silmarillion; changing his intentions doesn't retroactively change the fact that he wrote most of the Later Silmarillion texts (to say nothing of their antecedents) with a different framework in mind. Though I think he would have been able to preserve a fair bit when it comes to the annals, histories, and etymological material, since Rúmil and Pengolodh are both compatible with the Red Book transmission. Pengolodh didn't leave Middle-earth until well into the Second Age, so his works could easily have been preserved in Lindon and later in Rivendell where Bilbo could translate them as supplements to the Great Tales. Some of that material could have come to Rivendell by way of Númenor and/or Arnor as well. The Númenóreans were in contact with the Eldar of Tol Eressëa for a long time as well and we even have the name of one Númenórean loremaster (Vardamir Nólimon) who collected lore from them.

When it comes to Eriol/Aelfwine, I know that a lot of people like him, but he strikes me as a character who largely lost his reason for being at a very early date, once Tolkien began to separate the emerging Silmarillion mythos from his imagined English prehistory. I talked a bit about Verlyn Flieger's question "whose mythology is it?" back on the first page of this thread and I think that's an important question to keep in mind when attempting to understand myths of any sort. Way back in the BoLT era the ultimate endgame of the mythology was to explain how the English came to possess "the true tradition of the fairies". But once Aelfwine had become a later Anglo-Saxon inhabitant of England rather than one of its founders (or the father of its founders), and Tol Eressëa was no longer the same as Britain, this connection was lost and I find it hard to see the mythology as being about the English in a story-internal sense (as opposed to being something Tolkien created in the spirit of what he thought or hoped Anglo-Saxon mythology might have developed into if the Norman conquest had never occurred). And I think that one loses something when the legendarium exists in isolation like that.

The Lost Road provides an alternative way of maintaining a connection between the English and the mythology of Beleriand, but ultimately I think that the idea of the Great Tales being Númenórean is a resurrection of some of the earliest notions of the legendarium. Upthread I mentioned my theory about how to understand The Silmarillion, being that the prime movers in all of the major stories bar the Fall of the Noldor are human, and that the result of all the battles and heroics of the First Age is the preservation of Eldarin knowledge by men, as well as an Elvish strain in the royal bloodline. I don't think it's a coincidence that, seeing as all known Middle-earth cultures were patrilineal, each of the human/elf marriages was between a male human and a female elf, allowing Eldarin descent to become a characteristic of certain human royal houses. Thus, the Great Tales are not only a mythic origin story of how the Númenóreans came to be a distinct people, but they also tell how they came to possess "the true tradition of the Eldar", as one could put it. Plus it really ties together the whole "one long saga of the Jewels and Rings" theme since it means the legendarium ends as it began, with an account of the trials and tribulations that led to the (revived) Númenórean connection to the Elves. I'm pretty sure Aragorn's son is named Eldarion for a reason.

That's been my line of thinking in recent years, anyway.
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Post by Elthir on Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:15 pm

Nice!

I don't know how you or anyone else feels about the following two notions, but since this thread concerns Tolkien scholars:

Charles Noad suggested a framework which combines both Hobbits and Ælfwine, but this seems contingent on an idea of two distinct pasts merging at the fall of Numenor (an idea gleaned from The Notion Club Papers).  This could have preserved the old versions of the stories, and Ælfwine: "He would have known of the Hobbits as they survived in tenth-century Britain, and learning from them about the Red Book and its contents (...), have been inspired by its hints about the histories of the Elves to seek the straight Road to the West, there to learn the lore of the Elves and recover it for the race of Men." Charles Noad, Tolkien's Legendarium


Veryln Flieger delves into "what if" Tolkien had used The Notion Club Papers as the mode of transmission all the way back to the 'Golden Book'. If Ælfwine gets to see 'both books' (on the assumption that there are two different books, based on Tolkien's note found in Sauron Defeated), one might contain the older stories, the other could be Elendil's account of the Downfall, and: "The Reader would encounter the 'faerie' myth by way of a more novelistically conceived work of science fiction which would in turn effect the ethos and spirit of the legendarium contained within both. It would have made the 'Englishness' a genetic -- even psychic -- as well as historic and geographic element in the story. This is a profound change." V. Flieger, The Artifice, Interrupted Music

I've another "what if"... what if Bilbo could not even lift an Elvish Silmarillion  Wink

"When the Eldar made records in written form, even those that to us would seem voluminous, they did only summarise, as it were, for the use of others whose lore was maybe in other fields of knowledge*,..."

I think that's from The Shibboleth of Feanor... drat my not-Eldarin mind!

Of course, reading the full arguments of each scholar is really the better way to make judgement calls in any case, but I'm not typing all that out. I copy/pasted much of the above from a younger me.

And if I've already posted these in this thread... cough. Never mind Smile

Ah Ælfwine -- the energy I had back then! Now I simply write Elfwine

And someday it'll be Elwin probably!

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Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:27 pm

I have read both the Noad and Flieger pieces you're quoting from, though it's been a couple years in both cases. I made photocopies of several essays from Tolkien's Legendarium when I'd checked that out from my old university's library and I have my own copy of Interrupted Music, but unfortunately all that is at my mother's house and neither I nor my sister are presently on speaking terms with her, so... Laughing

I vaguely recall Noad's argument and it's definitely thought-provoking, although it's not a concept that I've incorporated into my "personal Silmarillion". Flieger had a lot of very interesting comments about the Númenórean material in general, though I thought her arguments were weakened by her out-of-hand dismissal of the Red Book transmission while misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting it (a criticism I detailed on the first page of this thread).

You've mentioned previously the idea of Tolkien being assisted in the translation of the Red Book by Númenórean dream-transmission a la the Notion Club Papers which I still think is a really intriguing idea, and not one I can recall seeing discussed elsewhere. Smile
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Post by halfwise on Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:38 pm

Sorry to hear about the state of affairs with your mother, Eldo, though at least you're not alone.

Though I loved Verlyn Flieger in person when I went to one of her seminars, I find her writing to be so stylized that it doesn't feel like hard nosed research or critical analysis to me. In fact I often have a hard time picking out the real meat of her arguments. Do you or Elthir have that same reaction or is it just me?

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Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:57 pm

Thanks halfy. Smile All in all it's been an improvement so I really can't complain.

Literary criticism is not exactly my forte when it comes to academia, though it's something I've gradually become more accustomed to thanks to Tolkien studies, but I didn't have too much trouble with Flieger's writing. It's definitely a bit of an adjustment from scientific (and even social scientific Razz) research, though.
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Post by Elthir on Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:31 pm

Photocopies: good idea Eldo; at the time I wasn't interested in every article, and the price for TL was above normal, so I made myself feel better by buying it with years of collected change!


I vaguely recall Noad's argument and it's definitely thought-provoking, although it's not a concept that I've incorporated into my "personal Silmarillion".

Agreed. I have a desire to see Elfwine connected in some way, but he's still (as of today) not part of my Silmarillion either.

Sometimes he "hovers" as a way to A) bring back Elvish texts, mainly linguistic in nature, and B) give Tolkien an Old English foundation for translation -- but then again, he's really not needed for A (noting Tolkien on how the text about Eldarin fingers survived, for example, explained in VT), and B) Appendix F "On Translation" doesn't give me the suggestion of an Anglo-Saxon version of something being in the mix.

Flieger had a lot of very interesting comments about the Númenórean material in general, though I thought her arguments were weakened by her out-of-hand dismissal of the Red Book transmission while misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting it (a criticism I detailed on the first page of this thread).

I see I need to read this thread again! But yes, very briefly, ideas are nice, but for me, in the end, they need to work with the Tolkien-made scenario in print.

You've mentioned previously the idea of Tolkien being assisted in the translation of the Red Book by Númenórean dream-transmission a la the Notion Club Papers which I still think is a really intriguing idea, and not one I can recall seeing discussed elsewhere.

Thanks Eldo. Also for reminding me that I went there!


Halfy, I see where you're coming from with Flieger. And to be unfair to her, Flieger and I are unfriends at the moment (she is not aware), concerning fate and Elves, so that's not helping. I might say more about VF, but maybe not; and at least not before skimming over this thread again  ("unfriend" may sound a bit harsh, but I really only use it 'cause it's Tolkien-y)!

Very Happy

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Post by halfwise on Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:42 pm

VF's a sweetie (at least to students), so long as your tiff is intellectual rather than personal may you enjoy the tension.

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Post by Elthir on Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:16 pm

Thumbs Up

And my goofiness aside, I've got a lot of respect for VF actually.

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Post by halfwise on Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:12 pm

I'm posting this mainly to set off crabbit rants. Somebody seems to think the Eagles are more powerful than Ancalagon the Black.

https://screenrant.com/lord-of-the-rings-every-supernatural-being-ranked-weakest-powerful/

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Post by Eldorion on Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:50 pm

Laughing
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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:11 am

Ah here's the thread, took some searching.

I was just reminded of how much I enjoyed the last chapter of Tolkien and the Great War. The best parts of the book for me are the first and last quarter: when Garth is describing Tolkien's earliest writings, and when he's looking back over Tolkien's Great War experience and drawing conclusions from it as a whole. The last paragraph I liked especially:

The last word may go to Siegfried Sassoon, a quintessential Great War writer. In The Lord of the Rings the embattled city of Minas Tirith is saved by the intervention of a host of the dead out of ancient legends: people who deserted their allies three thousand years before, and have come at last to redeem their oath and to fight. It is an astonishing, fantastic scenario, and morally striking: ghosts joining the war against evil. Yet how similar this is to a visionary moment in Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, where Sassoon recalls the shock of witnessing the return of his men to rest after eleven days in the Somme trenches:

"I had seem something that night which overawed me. It was all in the day's work -- an exhausted Division returning from the Somme Offensive -- but for me it was as though I had watched an army of ghosts. It was as though I had seen the War as it might be envisioned by the mind of some epic poet a hundred years hence."

Tolkien, more famous for prose than poetry, was already at work on his mythology in 1916; but otherwise we may justly regard him as the epic writer Sassoon imagined.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:24 am

"In The Lord of the Rings the embattled city of Minas Tirith is saved by the intervention of a host of the dead"

{{ Only in PJ's s awful adaption of RotK! Its hard to take a scholar seriously when they make such a basic error in the opening lines! Mad Otherwise the main quote is interesting.}}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:18 am

Petty you fool! The city certainly is saved by the army of the dead, for it is they who enable Aragorn to defeat the corsairs! Mad

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:49 am

{{ No they free the sailors and natives of the populated bits of Gondor (which PJ left out) to go fight with Aragorn and save the city long after the Dead have buggered off. They are a single chain in events preceding the saving of Minas Tirith, only a contributing factor, thats like saying Gildor meeting Frodo in the Shire saved Minas Tirirth. Its part of a chain of event which untimely does so, but not directly responsible for doing so. Except in Pjs twisted mind of spectacle over substance. Mad }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:35 pm

Ogling Oliphaunts!!
It is certainly NOT like Gildor and Frodo, that's ridiculous. The whole Dead at Erech thing takes place immediately before (if not during) the battle, and is integral to Aragorn's efforts.

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Post by halfwise on Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:50 pm

The dead were instrumental in freeing Minas Tirith, but they didn't themselves free Minas Tirith. That's like saying Jimi Hendrix's roadies performed at Woodstock.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:14 pm

Fair enough, that sentence is not quite accurate.

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Post by halfwise on Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:21 pm

Actually, looking at that sentence "...the embattled city of Minas Tirith is saved by the intervention of a host of the dead" I retract much of my objection: the phrase "the intervention of" does make a huge difference. It may be a bit misleading, but not as bad as saying Jimi Hendrix's roadies performed at Woodstock. Sort of like "Jimi Hendrix's performance at Woodstock was made possible by his roadies."

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:47 pm

Ahem, yes that is what I meant as well.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:34 pm

{{ I'd still object thanks the use of 'saved by', the city was not saved by the intervention of the dead, but by the intervention of the extra troops freed up by the dead. Its saving was aided by the actions of the dead, but not by the intervention of the dead in saving the city in the battle. That was the extra troops, the arrival of the Rohirrim, and the unlooked fall of the Witchking by Eowyn and Merry, those were the interventions that saved the city on the day and on the battlefield
So I think its at best a clumsy way for a professional scholar to put it, and at worst a misleading one that gives the unsavoury impression they only watched the films! Mad }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:43 am

Rolling Eyes

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:43 am

{{ Would you really expect any less a standard of crabbit pettiness from me? Very Happy }}

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Post by halfwise on Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:43 pm

To commence the end of beating this horse, I'd like to switch to an open letter to Eldy.

Eldy - I know you are committed to to writing a scholarly article, but with the new Amazon series coming out, I think you can open your sights to a wider audience. There would be a market for a book along the lines of The Peoples of the Second Age, with your historical analysis of all the different cultures available to the series. Your writing is very accessible and a joy to read for anyone who has interest in Tolkien. I think you could get a couple articles published in scholarly journals to establish your credentials as you work on the book for the wider audience. And the standards are not as confining as scholarly work: you don't have to reference every sentence! (in fact you don't want to).

With the TV series due to come out in a couple years and run for five, you've got time to nail the second or third season. The publisher would slap some image from the series on it and it would sell like hotcakes. I'd certainly buy the damn thing even if I didn't know you.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:06 pm

{{ I'd second that- sound commercial reasoning, good economic climate for it, and you've got the knowledge, the research skills, and the writing skills to convey it all to the layperson in an engaging fashion Eldy. Nod
Good idea if you ask me. Nod }}}

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Pettytyrant101
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Works of Tolkien scholarship - Page 4 Empty Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

Post by David H on Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:17 pm

Thumbs Up :carrot: Thumbs Up

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