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Old 10-02-2018, 06:15 AM   #12
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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I'm currently in mid-read (Tuor has just half-carried Ecthelion to safety after killing five Balrogs), but some comments here struck a chord:

Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
2) While Tolkien's writing clearly evolved and improved over his career, reading The Fall of Gondolin gave me an impression that in some undefinable way his writing lost some of its connection to Faerie. The world of The Lost Tales feels more perilous than Middle-earth as it ultimately developed. To some extent this is possibly due to greater familiarity with the final realization than the early stages of Middle-earth's development. With this in mind I re-read some of the passages and the impression still remains. Perhaps Tolkien himself became too familiar with it and some of the magic of Faerie vanished over time.
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I found myself rather unhappy with the early versions of the story, as least as far as Tuor's coming to Gondolin is concerned, and much prefer the 1951 rewrite. Maybe that's due to the fact that that version (as given in Unfinished Tales) has a special resonance for me. The entire story is enthralling, and the depiction of Tuor first seeing the Great Sea, and Ulmo's words to him at Vinyamar, are especially vivid in my imagination.
In true Elvish fashion, I agree with both of you. The Unfinished Tales Of Tuor is a beautiful piece, and its descriptions and the way the events are structured are much better, to me, than those of the original Fall. But... the Gondolin of the Lost Tales is much more meaningful, I think, in a mythic way.

The Of Tuor Gondolin is a hidden city - one of several across Beleriand. It's home to a bunch of elves, and is one of the last peaceful places in Beleriand at a time when the rest of the Noldor are holed up on Balar, at the Havens, or down by Amon Ereb.

But the Gondolin of the Lost Tales is the last refuge. The rest of the Noldoli are slaves of Morgoth. The Dark Lord rules everything - except this one city, a hidden realm of peace which the slaves can long to run to. It's a rumour, whispered of in the mines; a legend, a myth, its only entrance the elusive, magically-concealed Way of Escape. The message Tuor brings from Ulmo enhances its mythic stature even more: if the Gondolindrim will only break their concealment and go to war, the scourge of the Orcs will be ended forever, and Melkor will fade to a whisper of malice on the wind.

Back in the day, my interest in the Fall of Gondolin was focussed on the Fall itself. Now, with this new book, I'm coming to appreciate just how special the city was in its original conception: why its name still lingered on in Middle-earth thousands of years later. Not just a hidden city, not just a last redoubt - but an Otherworld in the hills, a hope for those living in darkness, and an unfulfilled chance of Arda Renewed.

... which links it very nicely to a couple of other points from the Book of Lost Tales. The foreseen ending of at least one version of the Tales was for the elves of Eressea to undertake a great Faring Forth, to rekindle the Magic Sun and redeem the earth and their kindred... and to fail, and fade, leaving the world to Mankind. Like Beren and Luthien's departure, the theme that even the most beautiful and perfect of things will fall is a strong one in the original Gondolin.

And that leads right back to the Doom of Mandos, and the line which inexplicably doesn't appear in the retelling of the Fall of the Noldor at the beginning of the new book:

"Great is the Fall of Gondolin."

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