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Old 03-03-2009, 12:08 PM   #36
Late Istar
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,128
Aiwendil has been trapped in the Barrow!
2. Secondary priority is given to the latest ideas found among Tolkien's unpublished texts and letters, except where they:
a. violate the published canon without specifically correcting an error or
b. are proposed changes that do not clearly indicate the exact details that must be changed and how they are to be changed.
A corollary is that we may not disregard any text or note, old idea or projected change, by JRRT unless it is invalidated by one of the above principles, explicitly or implicitly; that is, we must have a REASON for rejecting something.
Well, I suppose I’d argue that the alliterative ‘Turin’ is (in these sections) invalidated by principle 2, as it does not represent Tolkien’s ‘latest ideas’. I do understand where you’re coming from, though, and I suppose one could argue from your side that as long as the earlier material (the lay in this case) does not contradict the later material, it is not invalidated by principle 2, even if the later material contains a full account of Tolkien’s latest ideas.

But I think a reasonable counter-argument would be that the relevant portions of the lay are contradicted, implicitly, by the Narn. In many cases we must make the difficult judgement of whether a certain detail that appears in an early source but not in a late one was rejected by Tolkien or merely omitted. When the late text we’re dealing with is the Quenta Silmarillion or the Annals, it’s often easy to argue that the detail in question was merely omitted due to compression of the narrative (hence, our retention of the mechanical dragons for example). But here, the late text is the full ‘Narn i Chin Hurin’, the long version of the longest tale of the Elder Days and intended, as we may suppose from ‘Aelfwine and Dirhaval’, as a prose translation of the same primary source that the old lay was supposed to be verse translation of. It seems, then, very reasonable to me to think that when Tolkien omitted a detail that was found in the alliterative lay, it was because he had rejected it.

Despite this argument, I’m still of two minds about this and, to be honest, there are some lovely details in the passages of the lay you excerpt. Maybe we need a third opinion on this (Maedhros, if you happen by here, perhaps you could give us your thoughts?)

I plan to have a look at all the Androg-related material this evening and will post on that as soon as I’ve looked over it.
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