Works of Tolkien scholarship

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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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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Re: Works of Tolkien scholarship

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

Laughing
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