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Old 07-21-2016, 08:05 AM   #12
Faramir Jones
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The Eye I like this thread

I like this thread, and feel I first need to put down what Tolkien is recorded (by himself) as saying about the abortive work.

In Letter 256 of the published Letters, dated 13th May 1964, sent to Colin Bailey, Tolkien said that the work 'proved both sinister and depressing'. As it was dealing with Men, it was inevitable that they should be concerned with 'the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good'. He went on to say this:

So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless - while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors - like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a 'thriller' about the plot and its discovery and overthrow - but it would be just that. Not worth doing.

In a later letter, of 6th June 1972 to Father Douglas Carter, Letter 338 of those published, Tolkien had this to say about the work:

the beginning of a tale supposed to refer to the end of the reign of Eldaron about 100 years after the death of Aragorn. Then I of course discovered that the King's Peace would contain no tales worth recounting; and his wars would have little interest after the overthrow of Sauron; but that almost certainly a restlessness would appear about them, owing to the (it seems) inevitable boredom of Men with the good: there would be secret societies practising dark cults, and 'orc-cults' among adolescents.

It is clear from what Tolkien wrote that his heart wasn't in his attempt to write The New Shadow. I had wondered since first reading the Letters what the fragment was like, and got my opportunity after Volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth appeared. Like you, Nerwen, I found the fragment attractive, and wanted to read more; but I fully understood why Tolkien abandoned it, although what he might have finished would, I believe, be far, far better than most of what appears under the guise of 'fantasy'.

In Letter 187 of the Letters, one of 16th April 1956 to H. Cotton Minchin, Tolkien said:

Historians require more details about the social and political structure of Gondor, and the contemporary monetary system; and the generally inquisitive wish to be told more about Drúadan, the Wainriders, the Dead Men, Harad, Khand, Dwarvish origins, the Beornings, and especially the missing two wizards (out of five).

I would have liked some of the above in preference to a completed The New Shadow. However, I would have especially liked to know more about Meriadoc Brandybuck's works, particularly Herblore of the Shire.
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