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Old 03-16-2018, 06:10 PM   #43
Pile O'Bones
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Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
I need those volumes before i could give a good evaluation. But it just seems to me in the case of DB, that Tolkien at the time [1950's] and post publishing of the fellowship of the rings, saw no inconsistencies and wanted than to publish the sillmarillion that he seemed over and over to refer to as a finished history of the first ages [in his letters]. He very well may have drastically wanted to chang things later but i need those volumes first. With my limited knowledge it seems the 1977 sil likely took the best option, or very close to it. Tolkien must have had in mind the 1950's version of the sil when he wrote LOTR because it

“The Lord of the Rings was not not so much a sequel to the hobbit as a sequel to the silmarillion, every aspect of the earlier work was playing a part into the new story.”
-J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000

“It [LOTR] is not really a sequel to the hobbit, but to the sillmarillion”
-J.R.R Tolkien letters 124
The Silmarillion wasn't finished in the early 1950s, despite Tolkien's attempts to find a publisher interested in. It wasn't finished at the time of his death either, of course, but in the intervening years much of the work he did was influenced by a desire to make the Silm consistent with LOTR. Within a few years of the first edition of LOTR being published Tolkien considered large portions of the Silm, mostly early mythological material, to be inconsistent with the more novelistic and (for lack of a better term) realistic material from the Third Age. The legend of the sun and the moon was of particular concern during the Myths Transformed period as Tolkien thought the Elves must have had an advanced enough knowledge of the physical world and laws of nature to know that the sun couldn't "really" be a magical fruit, that vast forests could not grow in a world illuminated only by starlight, that the world was never flat, etc. This led him to the idea that much of the Silmarillion material (the Great Tales, at the very least) were not true historical accounts written by Elves but human myths preserved by the Númenóreans that mixed the "actual" events with their own traditional folkloric beliefs.

It's an open question how radically different a hypothetical published Silm would have been if Tolkien had lived longer (or whether he'd have finished it even with an extra 10-15 years of life). A lot of people dislike the the Númenórean transmission and choose to ignore it. Certainly, if one is reading early and middle period texts by Tolkien, those must be understood in the context in which they were written, which did not include the more scientifically realistic setting conceived later. And if one wants to approach the 1977 Silmarillion as its own distinct work (as does, for example, Dennis Wilson Wise in "Book of the Lost Narrator" in volume 13 of Tolkien Studies), those ideas obviously aren't present there either. But if one wishes to take a holistic view of the First Age, then Tolkien's ideas from the last 15 years of his life can't be disregarded. I tend to think that Tolkien was right that they improve the Silm's consistency with LOTR (the mythological version of the sun and the moon always seemed out of place to me in the world of LOTR, even before reading HoMe) but there are of course plenty of people who disagree.

Fake edit: also, the early 1950s version of the Silm wasn't the one Tolkien had in mind when writing LOTR, since it didn't exist yet. The latest extant version of the Silm during the period when Tolkien wrote the main body of LOTR (1937-1949) was the version found in HoMe V that Huinesoron mentioned above.

Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
Just to be clear I have no position yet especially before I have not read the HoMe X-XI. I very well may end up agreeing with you as I often did with your essays. However to even engage in such a discussion as my op, there must be a set standard and only the published sillmarillion can fulfilling that even if imperfectly. As you said otherwise its "one's own personal Silmarillion" and it would vary. Even if that is the correct mode.
My view is that meaningful discussions of Tolkien's works are not only possible if we take into account the lack of a set standard, but that doing so makes it easier to understand the works in relation to each other. Because Tolkien did not finish the Silm a consistent vision of the First Age can only be achieved by readers, and even if it's a group of people creating a collective Silmarillion, that's not really more authoritative than a plethora of personal Silmarillions, IMO. And the 1977 Silm was not intended to be a standard like this. As Christopher Tolkien stated in the foreword:

A complete consistency (either within the compass of The Silmarillion itself or between The Silmarillion and other published writings of my father's) is not to be looked for, and could only be achieved, if at all, at heavy and needless cost. Moreover, my father came to conceive The Silmarillion as a compilation, a compendious narrative, made long afterwards from sources of great diversity (poems, and annals, and oral tales) that had survived in agelong tradition; and this conception has indeed its parallel in the actual history of the book, for a great deal of earlier prose and poetry does underlie it, and it is to some extent a compendium in fact and not only in theory.
Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
Thanks as always for your posts.
Thanks for starting such an interesting thread!

Last edited by Eldy; 03-16-2018 at 06:14 PM.
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