The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-16-2016, 08:33 AM   #1
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,428
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Transmission theory: what the heck was Tolkien thinking?

The letter mentioned in a recent discussion led me to realize something very odd. In it, Tolkien (or his amanuensis) mentioned that the Silmarillion would lay out the history of the earlier Ages "as passed down by the Numenoreans." Well, this is all well and good; it's hardly a secret that Tolkien had resolved by this time that the only way to square his cosmology with "true science," which the Valar and thus the Noldor certainly would have known, would be to pass off his legendarium as garbled Mannish traditions.

But wait- that letter was written in 1965, at the same time the Revised Edition of the LR was being prepared. And what did T do in that revision? Why, he doubled down on the Bilbo-transmission theory, making it more explicit than the 1st Ed. had been that the Silmarillion was Mr Baggins' "Translations From the Elvish"- seemingly a complete contradiction of the Numenorean-legend theory.

Who can read this riddle?

(Incidentally, this would not be the first time Tolkien entertained two contradictory ideas simultaneously- for a while in the writing of Book V, he seemingly had Frodo look out at the moon over the Forbidden Pool at the same time as Pippin aboard Shadowfax *and* Pippin on the battlements of Minas Tirith!)
__________________
“It is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2016, 09:40 AM   #2
Kuruharan
Regal Dwarven Shade
 
Kuruharan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: A Remote Dwarven Hold
Posts: 3,423
Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
(Incidentally, this would not be the first time Tolkien entertained two contradictory ideas simultaneously- for a while in the writing of Book V, he seemingly had Frodo look out at the moon over the Forbidden Pool at the same time as Pippin aboard Shadowfax *and* Pippin on the battlements of Minas Tirith!)
I suspect that this is the answer to the riddle right here...unless the records Bilbo worked from were saved archives from Arnor, which I suppose is possible.

Still, he was right there in Rivendell for the entire latter part of his life on Middle earth with, presumably, plenty of elvish records right there to hand...
Kuruharan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2016, 01:04 PM   #3
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,428
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
I suppose that if we had to come up with a fan-ficcy ret-con, we could run with the idea of "Arnor library preserved in Rivendell" and go further by positing that the Elves don't write "history" the way Men and Hobbits conceive it, being as they are immortals with perfect memory recall.* Elvish writings about their past would lean towards poems giving abstracted impressions of tales already well-known to the audience, rather like Bilbo's own Lay of Earendil.

Therefore Bilbo would instead have turned to the recognizably "historical" works written by the Dunedain-- which would still have to be "Translations From the Elvish" since Arnor's scholars presumably wrote in Sindarin.

Still, one would have to assume Bilbo never let Elrond or Glorfindel proofread it!

--------------------

*The only problem with that is the in-universe attribution of the Annals to Rumil and Pengolodh. Of course, that authorship would have to disappear under the "Numenorean transmission" theory anyway.
__________________
“It is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2016, 04:07 PM   #4
gondowe
Wight
 
gondowe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 128
gondowe has just left Hobbiton.
What about.
Rumil wrote the Ainulindalė. -->Pengolodh rewrote it based in Rumil and added things.-->Pengolodh wrote Valaquenta, Quenta Silmarillion, etc.
This could have been in Gondolin, in the Second Age or in Eressėa after his return.
The Elves visited Nśmenor--> made transmission of the "tales".--> Men passing many years (Sauron in Nśmenor), filter the stories.--> The wrote or oral transmission passed to Arnor, preserved in Imladris.
Elrond never talked with any Valar. Glorfindel only to help.
Bilbo translate-->Findegil's copy of the Thain Book-->Tolkien translate--> We read.

Greetings.

PS: Hello my colleagues of TFTE. Here I am. Very, very busy, years older, without time to work, but with the project in mind..... in the future?
gondowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2016, 07:19 PM   #5
Zigūr
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Zigūr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 662
Zigūr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Zigūr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
unless the records Bilbo worked from were saved archives from Arnor, which I suppose is possible.
I always assumed that this would be the solution. It works perfectly, doesn't it? Elrond kept other artefacts of Nśmenor in Rivendell, and "Translations from the Elvish" doesn't necessarily mean "Translations of works written by Elves", just "Translations of works written in an Elvish language", which the Nśmenórean literature in Arnor presumably would have been.
__________________
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
Zigūr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2016, 07:53 PM   #6
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 2,855
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Aragorn *did* say that Bilbo's work on First Age topics was cheeky.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2016, 07:59 AM   #7
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
But wait- that letter was written in 1965, at the same time the Revised Edition of the LR was being prepared. And what did T do in that revision? Why, he doubled down on the Bilbo-transmission theory, making it more explicit than the 1st Ed. had been that the Silmarillion was Mr Baggins' "Translations From the Elvish"- seemingly a complete contradiction of the Numenorean-legend theory.

Who can read this riddle?
I don't see why the two ideas are necessarily contradictory. Numenorean material ends up in Middle-earth, where it can ultimately be translated by Bilbo Baggins in Rivendell. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was published in 1962, which already included the author-published (cough "canonical") reference:

Quote:
"These two pieces [poems 6 and 16], therefore, are only re-handlings of Southern matter, though this may have reached Bilbo by way of Rivendell. No. 14 also depends upon the lore of Rivendell, Elvish and Numenorean, concerning the heroic days of the end of the First Age; it seems to contain echoes of the Numenorean tale of Turin and Mim the Dwarf."

JRRT, Adventures of Tom Bombadil

Quote:
I suppose that if we had to come up with a fan-ficcy ret-con, we could run with the idea of "Arnor library preserved in Rivendell" and go further by positing that the Elves don't write "history" the way Men and Hobbits conceive it, being as they are immortals with perfect memory recall.* Elvish writings about their past would lean towards poems giving abstracted impressions of tales already well-known to the audience, rather like Bilbo's own Lay of Earendil.
Yes, the Eldar wrote history (their type anyway) despite that their lore could be stored in "the vast houses of their minds". For anyone interested, see The Shibboleth of Feanor and author's note 24 about the making of Exilic books.

Quote:
Therefore Bilbo would instead have turned to the recognizably "historical" works written by the Dunedain-- which would still have to be "Translations From the Elvish" since Arnor's scholars presumably wrote in Sindarin.

*The only problem with that is the in-universe attribution of the Annals to Rumil and Pengolodh. Of course, that authorship would have to disappear under the "Numenorean transmission" theory anyway.
I'm not sure why the authorship must vanish however. For the revised internal history of AAM* [Morgoth's Ring] Tolkien even notes that Rumil made the Annals of Aman in the Elder days, and that they were held in memory by the Exiles, and that those parts which "we" learned were thus set down in Numenor before the Shadow fell upon it.


Quote:
Still, one would have to assume Bilbo never let Elrond or Glorfindel proofread it!
If they read the material, I would rather expect them to expect that Bilbo Baggins not change the ancient historic or poetic material in the archives, even if parts of it are "incorrect" about some points... no more than a modern translator would need to correct passages from Classical works, if they contained some thing or things modern minds knew to be false, or arguably misleading. Bilbo was attempting to translate materials, not correct them, as Elrond or Glorfindel would recognize, I think.

And by translating certain works as accurately as possible, various points of view could be represented too. Any more purely Western Elvish texts or oral traditions would (or could), for example, contradict certain ideas found in more Mannish texts, and even some of the Numenorean accounts could contain references to what the "wise of Numenor" said about some matter or idea, even if only a scribble in a margin somewhere. In the older conception with Elfwine, Tolkien has Elfwine note that the Tale of Hurin's children was written by a man, but in the Sindarin tongue; and Elfwine writes...

Quote:
"I have not added to Dirhaval's tale, nor omitted from it anything that he told; neither have I changed the order of the history. But on matters that seemed of interest, or that were dark with the passing of the years, I have made notes, whether within the tale or upon its margins, according to such lore as I found in Eressea."

JRRT, Elfwine and Dirhaval, The War of The Jewels
Why can't something similar be said of Bilbo, altering for example, Eressea to Rivendell? But the stories remain, if not "sacred" at least as pieces of art as well as history. They are not to be corrected by Bilbo, arguably especially as some have already become altered and confused as they passed through Mannish hands and mines before landing on Elrond's bookshelves.

And in my opinion we have to give JRRT some room here, as (very generally speaking), he hadn't even finished the tales themselves, much less their internal histories down through Numenor and east over Sea.

Last edited by Galin; 11-17-2016 at 09:00 AM.
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2016, 08:05 AM   #8
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
Quote:
Galin said: They are not to be corrected by Bilbo, arguably especially as some have already become altered and confused as they passed through Mannish hands and mines before landing on Elrond's bookshelves.
Mines or minds... whatever
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2016, 09:09 AM   #9
Zigūr
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Zigūr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 662
Zigūr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Zigūr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
But the stories remain, if not "sacred" at least as pieces of art as well as history. They are not to be corrected by Bilbo, arguably especially as some have already become altered and confused as they passed through Mannish hands and mines before landing on Elrond's bookshelves.
Yes I don't feel that there's any problem with Bilbo translating Nśmenórean legends, or with such legends being kept by Elves who would have known better. After all, they are presumably works of art in their own right regardless of "scientific accuracy", to be appreciated as such, and the Elves/Bilbo may well have seen them that way, as relics of a lost culture rather than vital historical records in serious need of updating.

For all we know, Bilbo knew, either of his own accord or from his conversations with the Elves, that they were poeticised/mythologised versions of what "really" happened, but didn't care, because that wasn't why he was interested in them.

I actually find this reflective of the interesting dichotomy that I feel exists between the more "satisfactorily realistic" reformed creation story, in which the Sun exists before the Trees, and the more "poetically pleasing" earlier one in which the Trees exist before the Sun. Perhaps both can be appreciated for different reasons.

I suppose the question is: did Professor Tolkien give up on the "true" account of creation and very early history because it would have been too hard or because the reformed version lacked the beauty of the original?

Christopher Tolkien wonders if "the old structure was too comprehensive, too interlocked in all its parts, indeed its roots too deep, to withstand such a devastating surgery", but admits that he has "no evidence on the question one way or the other".

I must admit that a more "scientifically minded" side of me has always struggled a bit with imagining a period of history in which the Earth was thriving with creatures (including Elves) and yet the Sun didn't exist and the world was perpetual starlit night-time. On the other hand, the Trees are such a powerful image, and I feel that they lose some of that if the Sun existed first. I feel the same way about the round Earth vs the flat Earth. The Ban of the Valar is somehow less striking when it feels like they also needed to tell the Nśmenóreans that they weren't allowed to just sail up the other side either.
__________________
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
Zigūr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2016, 03:24 PM   #10
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
Well put Zigur. And my theory is as follows...

Quote:
"It is remarkable 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." [referring to Tolkien's...]

"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 of Beleriand -- blended and confused with their own Mannnish myths and cosmic ieas."

Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien, Myths Transformed, Text I, Morgoth's Ring
This provides the solution, and I underlined "at this time" because we do have later references from JRRT where he characterizes the Silmarillion as a largely Mannish affair; in other words, I would say he recognized the solution a bit later.

I think Tolkien gave up on the Myths Transformed texts in the sense that he did not need a new Quenta Silmarillion to replace the older one. The beauty of the old concepts could be retained, and other texts or accounts, or even marginal notes by the Wise, could serve to hint at the "truer" nature of things. Texts like the Awakening of the Quendi, for example, being more purely Elvish in authorship, could reveal (as it does) that though the Elves awoke under the stars, they awoke at night, and the Sun already existed before they awoke... to contrast with the Mannish account where Men awaken with the Sun, and the Two Trees get mixed into their version.

I have posted before that I think JRRT "ratified" the Mannish version of the fall of Numenor, called The Drowning of Anadune (DA), which includes that the Western Elves taught that the world is round before the fall of Numenor. The Drowning of Anadune (Mannish tradition) is, I think, meant to stand next to Akallabeth (mixed tradition) in the legendarium as a whole, although I don't think a second version of Quenta Silmarillion was in the works, or necessary.

In my opinion the Myths Transformed texts or notes began as a path to replacement, but whether they were abandoned due to being too invasive, or due to losing beautiful or powerful ideas (or both reasons combined), or some other reason, I think Tolkien ultimately decided (or realized) that he had found the solution anyway -- re-characterizing Quenta Silmarillion as largely Mannish. Add the Numenorean transmission, which garbles things on their long path to Elrond's vaults, some of which then is translated faithfully, Elvish into Westron, by, of all people, a Hobbit from the Shire... though it seems fitting enough given the role of certain hobbits in the fall of Sauron.

The original transmission also explained how we got the legends into Modern English through Elfwine's Old English (adding Tolkien-as-translator's expertise in Old English). The later idea with Bilbo gets us to Westron, although there are some ways that could explain how we got from Westron to Modern English as well.

Last edited by Galin; 11-18-2016 at 10:11 AM.
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2016, 12:11 PM   #11
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,428
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
I don't know if it was quite the case that Tolkien had overtly rejected the ideas he was considering in the Myths Transformed texts, so much as he was ambivalent. He had already, in the late 40s, gone to a round world model and back; and, like us, his modern Science Mind was aware that the Earth is round and orbits a Sun that is at least as old, but his Literature Mind was also aware that his cosmological myth is utterly beautiful if utterly "unscientific."

The whole idea would of course be hard to sustain if followed through completely: the Science Mind knows that the Evening Star is an uninhabitable earth-sized planet millions of miles away, not a guy in a boat with shiny jewel, but it ain't nearly as good a myth.

Besides, how "scientific" is a world with dragons, invisibility rings and giant glowing trees?
__________________
“It is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2016, 01:59 PM   #12
gondowe
Wight
 
gondowe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 128
gondowe has just left Hobbiton.
We don“t know what Tolkien could have devised as the "Real transmission theory", but with the data we have the transmission posted by me above is the more plausible theory with its weaks, in my opinion.
In other way, a text like the Awakening of the Quendi never was though, in my opinion again, as a "real history tale" within the Mythology. It was said that it was "Actually written (in style and simple notions) to be a surviving elvish fairy-tale or child's tale, mingled with counting-lore" .
Of course this is indepently of the fact that Elves knew the "Truth" and Men don't.
Greetings
gondowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2016, 04:03 PM   #13
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,428
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Well, yes, IF one assumes that Tolkien was interested in synthesizing two (or three) alternate theories, rather than just picking one and chucking the rest.

I find it interesting that well after both the Myths Transformed essays and the publication of the LR, he was still writing pieces in which Pengolodh was relating lore to Aelfwine- the old Lost Tales-era transmission theory which can't be shoehorned into either of the others without a hydraulic jack!

So at various times he had 4 (or 3-1/2) theories, as follows:

1) 5th century Angle Eriol discovers the Lonely Isle (the future Great Britain) and learns the Elves' history, and witnesses its end. Recorded in "Golden Book of Tavrobel," presumably somehow preserved at Warwick. Essentially "true."

1a) 10th century Anglo-Saxon Aelfwine discovers the Lonely Isle (not Britain) and learns the Elves' history from (Rumil and) Pengolodh. Recorded in Old English, which Tolkien the OE scholar "discovered" and "translated." Essentially "true."

2) Bilbo Baggins translates history from writings in Quenya/Sindarin kept at Rivendell, records them in the mutivolume Red Book, copied in the "Thain's Book" in Gondor, ultimately "discovered" and "translated" by Tolkien the"Westron scholar" along with the earlier parts of the Red Book. Source materials in Elrond's library, and recollections of the Wise, essentially "true."

3) Numenoreans/Dunedain write down "history" which at least in its earlier parts is mingled with Mannish myths and garbles the actual facts as known to the Eldar. Transmission uncertain, but presumably similar to (2). Considerable parts not "true."

There are some real difficulties trying to reconcile any of these, like "solving" a jigsaw puzzle by hammering together pieces that don't actually fit with each other.
__________________
“It is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2016, 09:38 AM   #14
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
Quote:
WCH wrote: I don't know if it was quite the case that Tolkien had overtly rejected the ideas he was considering in the Myths Transformed texts, so much as he was ambivalent.
Agreed upon the ideas (I don't know either), but he appears to have abandoned the texts themselves anyway (and the reference to the Dome of Varda in the Later Quenta Silmarillion is interesting, in any case).

Quote:
gondowe wrote: In other way, a text like the Awakening of the Quendi never was though, in my opinion again, as a "real history tale" within the Mythology. It was said that it was "Actually written (in style and simple notions) to be a surviving elvish fairy-tale or child's tale, mingled with counting-lore".
Yes, an Elvish fairy tale; and that, I think, is the beauty of it.

Tolkien not only doesn't begin the text with an obvious statement about the sun already existing, but the source itself is arguably questionable as a "historical" source -- but then again, what does the Sun existing before the Elves awaken have to do with "counting lore", or the way in which the First Elves find each other? "It seems my father had resolved (at least for the purposes of this fairy tale) the problem of the name "Star-folk" of the Elves in a beautifully simple way: the first Elves awoke in the late night of unclouded stars, and the stars were their earliest memory." Christopher Tolkien, War of the Jewels

"At least for the purposes of the fairy tale" is noted, but the information is still there for any reader to find and wonder about, especially given the new characterization of Quenta Silmarillion, along with (as I believe) another example like DA, which challenges the Mannish idea of the shape of the World. Within this Elvish text we read that the Quendi awoke in the early twilight before dawn, for example, which would not be a controversial description from the Western Elvish perspective, and offers a nice pathway for a variant interpretation regarding the Sun.


Quote:
WCH wrote: I find it interesting that well after both the Myths Transformed essays and the publication of the LR, he was still writing pieces in which Pengolodh was relating lore to Aelfwine- the old Lost Tales-era transmission theory which can't be shoehorned into either of the others without a hydraulic jack!
After The Lord of the Rings was published (first edition) yes, but what Elfwine related texts were written well after the Myths Transformed material?

Quote:
[snip of two older transmission ideas] (...) 2) Bilbo Baggins translates history from writings in Quenya/Sindarin kept at Rivendell, records them in the mutivolume Red Book, copied in the "Thain's Book" in Gondor, ultimately "discovered" and "translated" by Tolkien the"Westron scholar" along with the earlier parts of the Red Book. Source materials in Elrond's library, and recollections of the Wise, essentially "true."
But at this stage we don't really know about what is essentially true with respect to each and every text, do we? Not from an internal perspective at least, I would say. And with respect to the first edition Lord of the Rings, do we really know for sure if a Quenta Silmarillion text was necessarily involved specifically, in Bilbo's material?

Quote:
3) Numenoreans/Dunedain write down "history" which at least in its earlier parts is mingled with Mannish myths and garbles the actual facts as known to the Eldar. Transmission uncertain, but presumably similar to (2). Considerable parts not "true."

There are some real difficulties trying to reconcile any of these, like "solving" a jigsaw puzzle by hammering together pieces that don't actually fit with each other.
But what's the specific difficulty with the notion: Bilbo Baggins translates certain texts that have come down from the First Age, passed through Numenor, Arnor and Gondor, and ended up in Rivendell. Looking at things externally doesn't necessarily create inconsistencies internally.

Between the first and second editions, in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, it seems we can have lore reaching Rivendell from the South, and we have the Numenorean tale of Turin and Mim. And in the second edition, Tolkien adds references to suggest that Bilbo's translations from the Elvish (language) include First Age material. Compare to the First Edition, Appendix A:

Quote:
"Thus the Red Book contained many annals, genealogies, and traditions of the realms of the South and the North, derived through Bilbo from the books of lore in Rivendell; or through Frodo and Peregrin from the King himself, and from the records of Gondor that he opened to them: such as The Book of the Kings, The Book of the Stewards, and the Akallabeth (that is, The Downfall of Numenor). From Gimli..."
It's not until the second, revised edition that Tolkien notes (in addition to adding the Note on the Shire Records as well): "The ancient legends of the First Age, in which Bilbo's chief interest lay, are very briefly referred to, since they concern the ancestry of Elrond and the Numenorean kings and chieftains." Appendix A

I'm still not sure what the real difficulties are regarding reconciling Bilbo with the Numenorean transmission.

Last edited by Galin; 11-21-2016 at 05:00 PM.
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2016, 03:34 PM   #15
gondowe
Wight
 
gondowe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 128
gondowe has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Yes, an Elvish fairy tale; and that, I think, is the beauty of it.

Tolkien not only doesn't begin the text with an obvious statement about the sun already existing, but the source itself is arguably questionable as a "historical" source -- but then again, what does the Sun existing before the Elves awaken have to do with "counting lore", or the way in which the First Elves find each other? "It seems my father had resolved (at least for the purposes of this fairy tale) the problem of the name "Star-folk" of the Elves in a beautifully simple way: the first Elves awoke in the late night of unclouded stars, and the stars were their earliest memory." Christopher Tolkien, War of the Jewels

"At least for the purposes of the fairy tale" is noted, but the information is still there for any reader to find and wonder about, especially given the new characterization of Quenta Silmarillion, along with (as I believe) another example like DA, which challenges the Mannish idea of the shape of the World. Within this Elvish text we read that the Quendi awoke in the early twilight before dawn, for example, which would not be a controversial description from the Western Elvish perspective, and offers a nice pathway for a variant interpretation regarding the Sun.
I agreed, it“s very beautiful. I only wanted to mean that independently of the sun existing previously or not, the "story" of the tale is not "real", the name of the first Elves was not Imin, Tata, Enel etc.

Of course that Tolkien wanted (at least for some years) to change the cosmological myth he developed his whole life. But he couldn't (or at the end wanted). We can assume that the real truth only is known by the Eldar and rediscovered by Men in the Modern Scientific Era.

Greetings
gondowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2016, 11:57 AM   #16
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,428
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
The problem with trying to merge the "Numenorean" and "Bilbo" theories is simply this: if we want to postulate Bilbo as the vector for garbled Mannish traditions, it's very difficult to imagine that he would not have been told, or already know, that they were bullsh!t: by Elrond, by Glorfindel, by Gandalf, by who knows who else resident in or visiting Rivendell, house of loremasters.

After all, Glorfindel had walked across the Helcaraxe, at least according to the only version of the mythos we have; certainly he would have been in a position to tell Bilbo whether the world was round or flat in the Elder Days!

Quote:
Between the first and second editions, in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, it seems we can have lore reaching Rivendell from the South, and we have the Numenorean tale of Turin and Mim. And in the second edition, Tolkien adds references to suggest that Bilbo's translations from the Elvish (language) include First Age material. Compare to the First Edition, Appendix A:


Quote:
"Thus the Red Book contained many annals, genealogies, and traditions of the realms of the South and the North, derived through Bilbo from the books of lore in Rivendell; or through Frodo and Peregrin from the King himself, and from the records of Gondor that he opened to them: such as The Book of the Kings, The Book of the Stewards, and the Akallabeth (that is, The Downfall of Numenor). From Gimli..."
Well, I read that passage to mean that material on Gondorian history, as well as the "southern" Gondorian poems, were added by Pippin after Frodo and Bilbo's departure, and were separate from Bilbo's First Age work compiled in Elrond's house from Northern sources. And other parts of later rescensions of the Red Book were added by other hobbits down the generations, including some of the Bombadil poems etc. One of these was apparently influenced by the "Numenorean tale of Mim and the dragon," apparently a different text than Dirhavel's Narn (which wasn't Numenorean). That could have come either from Gondor by way of Piuppin or Arnor by way of Bilbo, there's no way to tell.

But I think we can discount any notion of Gondorian texts influencing Bilbo's work, since Pippin's research trips to Minas Tirith took place after Bilbo had taken ship.
__________________
“It is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli

Last edited by William Cloud Hicklin; 11-25-2016 at 12:09 PM.
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2016, 05:47 PM   #17
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
The problem with trying to merge the "Numenorean" and "Bilbo" theories is simply this: if we want to postulate Bilbo as the vector for garbled Mannish traditions, it's very difficult to imagine that he would not have been told, or already know, that they were bullsh!t: by Elrond, by Glorfindel, by Gandalf, by who knows who else resident in or visiting Rivendell, house of loremasters.

After all, Glorfindel had walked across the Helcaraxe, at least according to the only version of the mythos we have; certainly he would have been in a position to tell Bilbo whether the world was round or flat in the Elder Days!
This seems to be something you find problematic -- but I don't anyway, and it appears (so far) that at least one other person in this thread doesn't either. Translating ancient materials is one thing, "correcting" them another, the latter being not only unnecessary, but given the arguably "gravity" of the ancientry (and artistry) Bilbo is dealing with, he might be expected not to alter things.

If someone handed you an ancient Greek document to translate, for example, and you knew (or were told) that five things in it were factually inaccurate, would you alter these references? That's very arguably not your job, and likewise not Bilbo's. And even then, it's not like the Hobbit need leave out evidences of the Elvish perspective if the fuller legendarium includes (as I think it would) accurately translated texts that are more Elvish in nature -- more accurately describing the world from a Western Elvish perspective even in the Mannish The Drowning of Anadune, again in which the Western Elves teach the Numenoreans that the world is round (before the fall).

I don't see why you find this problematic. Granted the following example isn't perfect for obvious reasons, but art restoration isn't about correcting the background of the Mona Lisa, for instance, simply because it might be problematic in some (arguable) way. And there's nothing in print (that I recall) that blocks a pathway to keeping Bilbo, despite the re-characterization of the Silmarilliom -- which again, allows those who are minded to find the "old" cosmology problematic (if beautiful), a path to accept it as art if not utter truth in all respects.


Quote:
Well, I read that passage to mean that material on Gondorian history, as well as the "southern" Gondorian poems, were added by Pippin after Frodo and Bilbo's departure,...
If you mean the first edition Appendix A passage, I agree it could be read like that, though not only that way perhaps, but it still appears that it's possible that "Southern matter" could reach Bilbo through Rivendell. In ATB the narrator notes that though poem 6 is placed next to Bilbo's Man-in-the-Moon rhyme, it must be derived ultimately from Gondor (first suggesting, I think, that 6 couldn't be Bilbo's, but then note what is said again about this matter and Bilbo). Poems 6 and 16 must be...

"... re-handlings of Southern matter, though this may have reached Bilbo by way of Rivendell. No 14 also depends on the lore of Rivendell, Elvish and Numenorean, concerning the Heroic days at the end of the First Age; it seems to contain echoes of the Numenorean tale of Turin and Mim the Dwarf."


Quote:
(...) One of these was apparently influenced by the "Numenorean tale of Mim and the dragon," apparently a different text than Dirhavel's Narn (which wasn't Numenorean). That could have come either from Gondor by way of Pippin or Arnor by way of Bilbo, there's no way to tell.
Dirhaval's original wasn't Numenorean, yes. So what were Tolkien's thoughts in ATB about this tale of Turin and Mim referred to? Hard to know, but later...

Quote:
As is seen in The Silmarillion. This is not an Eldarin title or work. It is a compilation, probably made in Numenor, which includes (in prose) the four great tales or lays of the heroes of the Atani, of which "The Children of Hurin" was probably composed already in Beleriand in the First Age, but necessarily is preceded by an account of Feanor and his making of the Silmarils. All however are "Mannish" works.

JRRT, The Shibboleth of Feanor, note 17, The Peoples of Middle-Earth
If a Mannish poet Dirhaval is still in play within the late idea, he's not only a Man but had his work translated into prose even in the old Elfwine scenario (as Elfwine did not think himself up to a verse translation). A prose version written by a Numenorean could be referred to as a Numenorean tale, which could (at least) agree with the reference in ATB.

And as said, Dirhaval is a Man (keeping in mind the earlier MT statement) "... but already far back -- from the first association of the Dunedain with the Eldar in Beleriand -- blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas." And then we can have his work be rendered into prose by other hands and minds in Numenor, then on to Middle-earth, ultimately to Bilbo.

Last edited by Galin; 11-26-2016 at 02:00 PM.
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 04:41 AM   #18
gondowe
Wight
 
gondowe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 128
gondowe has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
This seems to be something you find problematic -- but I don't anyway, and it appears (so far) that at least one other person in this thread doesn't either. Translating ancient materials is one thing, "correcting" them another, the latter being not only unnecessary, but given the arguably "gravity" of the ancientry (and artistry) Bilbo is dealing with, he might be expected not to alter things.

If someone handed you an ancient Greek document to translate, for example, and you knew (or were told) that five things in it were factually inaccurate, would you alter these references? That's very arguably not your job, and likewise not Bilbo's. And even then, it's not like the Hobbit need leave out evidences of the Elvish perspective if the fuller legendarium includes (as I think it would) accurately translated texts that are more Elvish in nature -- more accurately describing the world from a Western Elvish perspective even in the Mannish The Drowning of Anadune, again in which the Western Elves teach the Numenoreans that the world is round (before the fall).

I don't see why you find this problematic. Granted the following example isn't perfect for obvious reasons, but art restoration isn't about correcting the background of the Mona Lisa, for instance, simply because it might be problematic in some (arguable) way. And there's nothing in print (that I recall) that blocks a pathway to keeping Bilbo, despite the re-characterization of the Silmarilliom -- which again, allows those who are minded to find the "old" cosmology problematic (if beautiful), a path to accept it as art if not utter truth in all respects.
I agree. It“s the same again. We have a "subcreated" world, and we have to assume that as subcreated it has the same rules that the "created" at least in the way Tolkien devised and explained in his essays.
We know that the world was not, to say, a piece of one god or derived from the semen of another one, even that one god create the world in six days and the seventh rested.
But we keep on reading these myths "Translated": Greeks, Nordic, Egyptian, Jude-Christian etc, because they are beautiful.

But we are moving in the speculation. And as I say before in other parts of this forum we can complicate our thoughts as far as we want. It could be easier.

Perhaps Glorfindel didn't want to talk about the First Age. Perhaps even Bilbo never asked Elrond about the creation. He only was interested in dramatic, epic tales. Perhaps....

Greetings
gondowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 08:48 AM   #19
Zigūr
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Zigūr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 662
Zigūr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Zigūr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
it's very difficult to imagine that he would not have been told, or already know, that they were bullsh!t: by Elrond, by Glorfindel, by Gandalf, by who knows who else resident in or visiting Rivendell, house of loremasters.
But why would that stop him from wanting to translate the Nśmenórean legends? I always thought that one of the reasons Bilbo did the "Translations from the Elvish" was because he was interested in the language and the stories; I never got the impression that "learning the truth about history" was ever a particular goal.

In relation to Galin's argument, I feel like the untrue nature of the Nśmenórean legends being a problem for Bilbo would be like a modern person who was interested in Ancient Greek not wanting to work on Hesiod's Theogony because it's not a true account of the formation of the world, or perhaps to bring it closer to home an Old Norse enthusiast being uninterested in Völuspį for the same reason.
__________________
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.

Last edited by Zigūr; 11-26-2016 at 09:30 AM.
Zigūr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 09:41 AM   #20
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
I begin to think that The Adventures of Tom Bombdil becomes notably important here, as Tolkien chooses to characterize the lore of Rivendell as Elvish and Numenorean, and characterizes a First Age tale as Numenorean.

We can't discount that Bilbo used living sources in Rivendell, as well as written, as this information is then also published a few years later in the Note On The Shire Records. There were other Exiled Noldor in Rivendell besides Glorfindel, but we can use him for examples -- the question is: what kind of help did the living sources provide?

I would say why not imagine that Glorfindel is a living source for an Elvish-perspective tale, or an Elvish linguistic document, or details about Gondolin, for example. Again, would it even be Glorfindel's part to correct a Mannish compliation called The Silmarillion, or any of the ancient Numenorean works that have already been sitting in the vaults of Rivendell long before Bilbo Baggins came along? Maybe Glorfindel told Bilbo the "true" tale of Ambarussa for example, in which it is said that: "In the night Feanor, filled with malice, aroused Curufin, and with him and a few of those most close to Feanor in obedience he went to the ships and set them all aflame; and the dark sky was red as with a terrible dawn."

Maybe Bilbo asks Glorfindel: is it true that the First Elves awoke before the Sun existed? And for answer Glorfindel says "no"[*] and digs out a document called the Cuivienyarna, which is noted as being "preserved in almost identical form among both the Elves of Aman and the Sindar." Again, represent the Elvish point of view, don't correct the Mannish Silmarillion -- and in any case, if Glorfindel has read this Mannish compilation, he knows that:

Quote:
"A note should say that the Wise of Numenor recorded that the making of stars was not so, nor of Sun and Moon. For Sun and stars were all older than Arda. But the placing of Arda amidst stars and under the [?guard] of the Sun was due to Manwe and Varda before the assault of Melkor"

JRRT Myths Transformed, note to text I
Christopher Tolkien took this to mean: "that the making of the Sun, Moon and stars were not derived from Elven lore."

*perhaps Glorfindel would say something like CJRT here,... rather than "No"

As late as 1971 [Letter 325] as I read the following, Tolkien even had the Sindar as possibly contributing some material that might not be quite as informed as that of the Exiles: "But the Legends are manly of "Mannish" origin blended with those of the Sindar (Grey-elves) and others who had never left Middle-earth." (actually the letter reads "Gray-elves" in my copy)

Not leaving Middle-earth arguably equates to another level of separation from the teachings of the Valar, in my opinion (despite contact with the Exiles), but again, if even some of the Wise of Numenor have already noted the "truth" about the Sun and Stars, I see little need to alter the Silmarillion proper (that tale itself) to reflect the Elvish perspective in all matters.


Edit: Ah, didn't see Zigur's last post before I blathered on.

Nice and concise! What Zigur said, then

Last edited by Galin; 11-30-2016 at 10:11 PM.
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2016, 10:01 PM   #21
Galin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 896
Galin has been trapped in the Barrow!
I stumbled across the following from JRRT (letter 276 to Richard Plotz), to mix into Hammond and Scull's Chronology. But first, I can't recall any reference to Elfwine dating to after the later 1950s early 1960s "phase". The fact that some sort of Elfwine scenario was in the mix even after the first edition Lord of the Rings was published brings up its own questions, but anyway I emphasize the first edition here because Bilbo's translations are said to be some books of lore that he gave to Frodo, while two notable Elder Days references come along in the second, revised edition of the 1960s.

As noted already, in 1962 ATB is published, which reveals that Rivendell holds Elvish and Numenorean Lore, and a Tale of Turin and Mim is referred to as Numenorean.

1965, 25 July Tolkien sends his new text, Note On The shire Records, to Houghton Mifflin Company, for insertion after the Prologue to the revised edition. So now the reader learns that Bilbo's Translations From The Elvish were "almost entirely concerned with the Elder Days". And JRRT ultimately added in Appendix A (revised edition) that the ancient legends of the First Age were Bilbo's chief interest.


1965, 12 September Tolkien replies to Mr. Plotz, in which he mentions the Numenorean Tale The Mariner's Wife, adding:

Quote:
"This is supposed to have been preserved in the Downfall, when most of Numenorean lore was lost except that that dealt with the First Age, because it tells how Numenor became involved in the politics of Middle-earth."
So as I read this, less that two months after the new Note On The Shire Records is sent to publishers, JRRT explains to Richard Plotz that First Age Numenorean Lore was not lost, when much else Numenorean lore was lost at the Downfall.

I'm wondering if I can get a date (if known), with respect to the month, for the letter that gave rise to this thread? The excerpt being...

Quote:
"Is there going to be another book? Professor Tolkien is hoping to complete for publication another work, called the Silmarillion, an account of the history and mythology of the First and Second Ages and the early part of the Third Age as it has come down through the Numenoreans, but he is kept from it by other matters..."

__________

For anyone interested, Tolkien did meet with Mr. Plotz later.

1966, I November Tolkien meets with Richard Plotz, who is quoted at least twice referring to Bilbo's possible involvement with respect to the Silmarillion material (that is, a report by Dick Plotz referring to when he visited Tolkien on 1 November, 1966):

Quote:
Tolkien tells him that one of the snags delaying publication of The Silmarillion is its quasi-biblical style, which Tolkien considers "his best, but his publishers disagree. Another problem is that of finding a story line to connect all the parts. "At the moment, Professor Tolkien is considering making use of Bilbo again ... perhaps the Silmarillion will appear as his research in Rivendell."

Hammond And Scull, Chronology
Here Mr. Plotz puts it another way...

Quote:
"he, half-heartedly I suppose, was thinking up schemes for rendering the Silmarillion publishable. So far, I think what he is doing is relating it to Bilbo's stay in Rivendell, which is what he said to me.

Now there is a hint of this somewhere in The Lord of the Rings.... But apparently when Bilbo went to Rivendell he was surrounded by Elves and all Elven records for seventeen years. Here was living history and he attempted to write it down, and this is what became the Silmarillion ["An Edited Transcript of Remarks at the December 1966 TSA [Tolkien Society of America] Meeting"; Niekas 19 (Spring 1967), p. 40]
Hammond and Scull, Reader's Guide

I wish we had Tolkien's exact words here, in any event.

Last edited by Galin; 11-30-2016 at 10:30 PM.
Galin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-01-2016, 10:28 AM   #22
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,428
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Hmmmmm- well, it's always possible that Tolkien was, characteristically, vacillating!

------------------------

Actually, I think I'm coming around to the "uncritical translation of old legends" view of Bilbo's work especially in light of T's description of Quenta Silmarillion as a compilation made in Numenor, focused around the Great Tales (all of them about Edain). This is especially appealing in that we know that Bilbo was quite fond of Aragorn and very interested in his lineage. The only (minor) problem there is that "Translations from Numenor" or some such might have been a more accurate title, even though the given one isn't inaccurate (presumably the Numenorean QS was written in Sindarin).

I had something of a small epiphany in this regard brought on by analogies made here to classical mythology. We have all read collections of "Greek" mythology-- except that many of those stories and several of the best known in fact come from Ovid, a Roman; further confusing matters is the fact that often these collections, especially the older ones, use the Latin rather than Greek names of deities (even that reflects Roman "garbling;" with the exception of Apollo, the Roman pantheon were native Latin gods who were subsequently syncretized with the Greek and appropriated their legends).

--------------

As for the Numenorean Turin- it certainly is the case that various poems get made about the same story, or pieces of the same story--how many poems and tales have been made about Arthur and his knights, including by Tolkien? See also the fight at Finnsburg, known both from its own fragmentary poem and as an episode recited in Beowulf, and the three extant medieval versions of the Sigurd/Siegfried tale. One in-universe example is the poem of Beren and Luthien's meeting sung by Aragorn at Weathertop, which is clearly distinct from the Lay of Leithian.
__________________
“It is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli

Last edited by William Cloud Hicklin; 12-01-2016 at 10:40 AM.
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:06 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.