The Silmarillion in 1000 words

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Post by chris63 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:54 pm


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Post by chris63 on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:22 am


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Post by RA on Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:49 am

He seems like a cool guy. Thumbs Up 

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Post by chris63 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:36 am

A Silmarillion Fanfilm made by Fans, for Fans is coming soon.

sounds interesting Smile

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:08 am

I think I'm going to start pronouncing Silmarillion as "SilmarillI-ON".

Maybe it's closer to an equal stressing of all syllables when Tolkien Jr. says it, but it's quite different from the "SILMARILLee-un" way that I usually say it.

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Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:36 pm

Listening to this again brings up the question - how much was the Akallabeth affected by Lord of the Rings? The fall of Numenor leads into the Third Age, and is a defining component of Sauron's character. Do we have versions of this tale before and after LotR? I don't have HOME so don't know, but it's very interesting.

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Post by Eldy on Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:14 am

halfwise wrote:Do we have versions of this tale before and after LotR?

The textual history of the Akallabêth begins in conjunction with Tolkien's abandoned time travel novel The Lost Road. The chapters "The Early History of the Legend" and "The Fall of Númenor" in The Lost Road and Other Writings (HoMe V) would be where to begin; this is one of the easier volumes of HoMe to get your hands on from a library or major bookstore. It was written in 1936-37, immediately before Tolkien began work on LOTR.

Tolkien began a new version of the time travel story during the writing of LOTR, called The Notion Club Papers. This is found in Sauron Defeated (HoMe IX), which also includes a third version of "The Fall of Númenor" (from relatively early in the writing of LOTR) as well as several versions of the retitled Númenor history, "The Drowning of Anadûne", written in 1946 during the break from LOTR that Tolkien took to work on TNCP. There were some major developments at this point, including the development of the Adûnaic language.

The Akallabêth as we know it postdates LOTR. Tolkien wrote three successive versions of it, the final one probably in 1958, which are described in The Peoples of Middle-earth (HoMe XII). Because the version in the 1977 Silmarillion is closely based on these texts, they are not reproduced in full in HoMe. However, some notable differences include the title--the manuscripts were titled "The Downfall of Númenor" and only referred to by Tolkien as "Akallabêth" in retrospect--and the removal of the Aelfwine framing device from the published version, since Tolkien moved away from that notion late in life but wrote no further versions of the Númenor history after that decision. This final point is clearly a result of LOTR, since the Aelfwine transmission was replaced with the Red Book transmission, introduced in TH and developed in LOTR (with some notable changes occurring only in the second edition).
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Post by halfwise on Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:06 am

Okay, so if I interpret you list of changes right, arguing from omission it seems the essentials were in place before LotR, and Sauron as the fair deceiver was already established before the concept of the Rings of Power. I was wondering if Sauron was elevated to the level of the new mastermind of evil mainly to serve as the foil for LotR, but since his role in the fall of Numenor was already established Tolkien just had to give him another job in line with the one already written.

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Post by Eldy on Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:34 am

Yeah, Sauron was established as a major figure of evil in "The Silmarillion" from a very early date. He features in the Númenor story from the very earliest one page summary, in which he was called Thû (etymologically a precursor of Gorthaur), the name already in use for him in 1920s and '30s "Silmarillion" texts. When Tolkien began work on LOTR, he incorporated much of the story of Númenor into its backstory. Thus, for example, the earliest account of the War of the Last Alliance can be found in HoMe V in surprisingly recognizable form, before the One Ring was a thing.

The first version of The Fall of Númenor wrote:But there remains still a legend of Beleriand: for that land in the West of the Old World, although changed and broken, held still in ancient days to the name it had in the days of the Gnomes. And it is said that Amroth was King of Beleriand; and he took counsel with Elrond son of Earendel, and with such of the Elves as remained in the West; and they passed the mountains and came into inner lands far from the sea, and they assailed the fortress of Thu. And Amroth wrestled with Thu and was slain; but Thu was brought to his knees, and his servants were dispelled; and the peoples of Beleriand destroyed his dwellings, and drove him forth, and he fled to a dark forest, and hid himself. And it is said that the war with Thu hastened the fading of the Eldar, for he had power beyond their measure, as Felagund King of Nargothrond had found in the earliest days; and they expended their strength and substance in the assault upon him. And this was the last of the services of the older race to Men, and it is held the last of the deeds of alliance before the fading of the Elves and the estrangement of the Two Kindreds. And here the tale of the ancient world, as the Elves keep it, comes to an end.

"Amroth" here is a precursor to Elendil. The "changed and broken" remnants of Beleriand are what became known as Lindon (the remnants of Ossiriand in East Beleriand) in LOTR. In revisions and additions to the second version of "The Fall of Númenor", at least some of which were probably written early in the writing of LOTR, the geography of the rest of northwest Middle-earth emerged and Gil-galad entered the scene. The following paragraph is from that phase of development, being written on "a loose manuscript page bearing passages that relate closely to changes made to the typescript" which, Christopher stated, "has important bearings on the dating in general."

The further development of The Fall of Númenor wrote:But there remains a legend of Beleriand. Now that land had been broken in the Great Battle with Morgoth; and at the fall of Numenor and the change of the fashion of the world it perished; for the sea covered all that was left save some of the mountains that remained as islands, even up to the feet of Eredlindon. But that land where Luthien had dwelt remained, and was called Lindon. A gulf of the sea came through it, and a gap was made in the Mountains through which the River Lhun flowed out. But in the land that was left north and south of the gulf the Elves remained, and Gil-galad son of Felagund son of Finrod was their king. And they made Havens in the Gulf of Lhun whence any of their people, or any other of the Elves that fled from the darkness and sorrow of Middle-earth, could sail into the True West and return no more. In Lindon Sauron had as yet no dominion. And it is said that the brethren Elendil and Valandil escaping from the fall of Numenor came at last to the mouths of the rivers that flowed into the Western Sea. And Elendil (that is Elf-friend), who had aforetime loved the folk of Eressea, came to Lindon and dwelt there a while, and passed into Middle-earth and established a realm in the North. But Valandil sailed up the Great River Anduin and established another realm far to the South. But Sauron dwelt in Mordor the Black Country, and that was not very distant from Ondor the realm of Valandil; and Sauron made war against all Elves and all Men of Westernesse or others that aided them, and Valandil was hard pressed. Therefore Elendil and Gil-galad seeing that unless some stand were made Sauron would become lord of [?all] Middle-earth they took counsel together, and they made a great league. And Gil-galad and Elendil marched into the Middle-earth [?and gathered force of Men and Elves, and they assembled at Imladrist].

Christopher noted that "[t]owards the end the text degenerates into a scribble and the final words are a bit doubtful." There are still plenty of differences, including the presence of a brother of Elendil named Valandil rather than a son named Isildur, as well as the question of Gil-galad's parentage (which I won't get into right now since it's a complicated issue in its own right No). Christopher also commented that "there is no question that the entire conception of Gondor arose in the course of the composition of The Lord of the Rings", and among Tolkien's comments on the FN II manuscript were further notes about changes that were necessary for it to be consistent with LOTR. Even so, while LOTR clearly had an impact on the older material even before it was finished, I think the similarities of the early versions and the published conception of the Second and Third Ages are striking, especially since the first two versions of "The Fall of Númenor" were written at a time when Bilbo's ring was simply a magic invisibility device. Tolkien did conceive of the Necromancer in The Hobbit as Sauron/Thû even before LOTR, but he had no connection to the ring at that point (which, accordingly, wouldn't have been written with a capital letter).

ETA: Hopefully managed to correct a few factual errors I realized afterwards--this is not one of my main areas of study. Neutral
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Post by halfwise on Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:16 pm

I really appreciate the effort to dig up appropriate quotes from the texts! No small amount of labor, that!

It's always astonishing how willing Tolkien is to rework old writing and concepts. I think this ability comes from his tendency to start anew each time rather than amend - we all know how painful it is to try to make changes fit in with old writing.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:27 pm

Indeed! The fresh new bits have to be wrestled down to match up with the old crusty bits, and then everything must be re-flavoured so that it all tastes similar-enough to avoid detection!

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Post by Elthir on Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:17 am

Just to add (and probably annoyingly state yet again), in my opinion Tolkien also "ratified" an earlier work in the progression of the Numenor story, taking the route of a multi-tradition legendarium here. Sometime in the 1960s Tolkien wrote upon an envelope that contained The Drowning of Anadûnê:

Contains very old version (in Adunaic) which is good -- in so far as it is just as much different (in inclusion and omission and emphasis) as would be probable in the supposed case:
(a) Mannish tradition
(b) Elvish tradition
(c) Mixed Dúnedanic tradition

JRRT

While that might seem light enough evidence, I think the decision (if I read the runes correctly) goes well with the later re-shaping of the framework of the Legendarium (this re-shaping being the "Fall of Elfwine", so to speak).


So I think (ultimately) DA is not meant to replace Akallabêth, but to stand with it.

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Post by Eldy on Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:11 am

Thank you both halfwise (for your kind words) and Elthir (for your always-valued contributions)!

@Elthir, while I have full faith in your scholarly integrity, I would love to know the source for that (the Bodleian or Marquette collections, maybe?), if only so I have a way of citing it in future discussions elsewhere. I tried Googling the passage but only came up with a couple threads like this on other Tolkien forums. Razz We've talked about the blended source traditions preserved in the Red Book a number of times, of course, but I'm shakier on the external textual history of the Second Age material so I really appreciate your insights. Smile
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Post by Elthir on Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:54 am

Sorry Eldy, I should be sourcing!

The quote above is from Sauron Defeated, The Drowning of Anadune (v) "The theory of the work."

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Post by Eldy on Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:22 am

Huh. I would've expected more traces on Google from a HoMe quote. Hardly the first piece of anti-Elfwine evidence to go relatively unremarked-upon, of course, but it was heartening to see you fighting the good fight through the years, even if Google isn't currently showing me anyone else who's quoted those lines on the public web. Razz

Thanks again!
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Post by halfwise on Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:10 pm

That's certainly solid support that Tolkien intended for there to be different versions, but did he specifically assign versions to different traditions or did he just say "they're out there in all their confusion" and leave it at that?

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Post by Elthir on Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:58 pm

Eldy wrote: ( . . .) but it was heartening to see you fighting the good fight through the years, even if Google isn't currently showing me anyone else who's quoted those lines on the public web.

Ahh, interesting Eldy. So it still seems to be a relatively lonely notion Laughing


Halfy, I think there's no doubt that The Drowning of Anadûnê (DA) is a Mannish version, and since Tolkien used a blend of The Fall of Numenor (FN) and DA in the construction of the Akallabêth (AK), Christopher Tolkien gives his opinion that AK is the mixed tradition, leaving FN as the Elvish tradition.


But in my opinion, DA appears to be a departure from the Flat-to-Round World tradition -- in DA, the Western Elves teach the Numenoreans that the world is round before the disaster. A Round World version of Ainulindale pops up in 1946. Christopher Tolkien recalls that in the Summer of 1946 his father read him DA.

"I have the strong impression that the Adunaic names were strange to me, and that my father read The Drowning of Anadûnê as a new thing he had written".

Sauron Defeated, Chronology

So if we (I) jump to the 1960s and ultimately leave Elfwine behind, it seems to me that, although originally an Elvish tradition, FN no longer stands well as Elvish in authorship.


Ultimately (as I argue, but will leave the citations at the door for now) the Silmarillion becomes a largely Mannish affair, and as far as transmission goes, Elfwine is out, Numenorean/Bilbo is in. AK still works in the new transmission as a mixed tale, and at some point in the 1960s I think Tolkien realizes (or sees no great reason to think otherwise), that the now "old" version of DA works nicely as part of a multi-perspective legendarium -- in which, generally speaking, purely Elvish texts take a back seat -- though to my mind, there are plenty of places for pure Elvish thought and texts to shine through, The Awakening of the Quendi being one notable example.


In other words I argue that Tolkien ultimately realized he did not need a "more Elvish" Silmarillion, and so the shortish attempts at revision seen in Myths Transformed remain as they were (at least to be abandoned as part of a new, more Elvish replacement QS), and that within the Numenorean/Bilbo transmission/multi-perspective legendarium, DA fit right in, as is, with its Adunaic terms. Add a now "genius touch" -- it contains a quick illustration of Western Elvish thought regarding the original shape of the World. Myths Transformed, Text I commentary:

CJRT writes: "it is remarkable to me that he never at this time seems to have felt that what he said in this present note provided a resolution of the problem he believed to exist:

"What we have in The Silmarillion etc. are traditions . . . handed on by Men in Numenor and later in Middle-earth (Arnor and Gondor); but already far back -- from the first association of the Dunedain and Elf-friends with the Eldar in Beleriand -- blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas."

JRRT, Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed

Remarkable yes, that Tolkien "never at this time" seems to have felt so; and to my mind, not remarkable if he should later feel so. In short: "problem solved" by what he said in this text. At least generally speaking!


That all said, I have a guess as to why my argument probably will continue to not catch on. Or at least a guess that makes me feel better why it won't!

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Post by halfwise on Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:31 pm

Wait. The world is round?. Shocked

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Post by Elthir on Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:34 pm

Well, some of my arguments are circular at least Suspect

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