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Old 05-12-2005, 08:27 PM   #1
littlemanpoet
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The Single Greatest (Publishing) Tragedy in Tolkien's Life (yet another rant)

Okay, this is going to be traveling all over the place. I'll state some points that have been cooking in my gray matter for some while now (and some more recently), and I hope this will help you see how I get where I got.

I've been reading Letters and the Authorized Biography lately, and so far I've managed about half of the first page of the Canonicity thread, which I've discovered was tackling issues that have been hovering around my awareness for some time. That said:

1. I read Tolkien's Letter # 353 (written within the last 30 days of his life) in which he declares
Quote:
Galadriel was 'unstained': she had committed no evil deeds. She was an enemy of Fëanor. She did not reach Middle-earth with the other Noldor, but independently. Her reasons for desiring to go to Middle-earth were legitimate, and she would have been permitted to depart, but for the misfortune that before she set out the revolt of Fëanor broke out, and she became involved in the desperate measures of Manwë, and the ban on all emigration.
In a much earlier letter, # 213, Tolkien says
Quote:
...one critic (by letter) asserted that the invocations of Elbereth, and the character of Galadriel as directly described (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly related to Catholic devotion to Mary.
Letter #213 reveals that Tolkien was not conscious of Galadriel as reminiscent of the Virgin Mary while he wrote LotR.

2. In some thread or other I was reading recently (I can't remember whether it was "Smith of Wooton Major in Middle Earth?" or the Canonicity thread), it was stated that The Silmarillion was complete when Tolkien was trying to get them both published by Allen & Unwin.

3. The huge success of LotR resulted in demand for the publication of The Silmarillion, but Tolkien was faced with a difficult choice: either allow the Sil to be published as it was in its pre-LotR completed state with no mention of Galadriel and other entities that were not in that version of the Sil, OR rewrite the whole thing, finding a way to harmonize LotR and the Silmarillion. Being a natural niggler, Tolkien chose the latter. Being a natural niggler and without the prodding of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien took the rest of his life and still never succeeded in completing the thing.

Instead, we now have the plethora of Christopher's industrious tearing apart of the tower of story to see what stones were used, otherwise known as The History of Middle Earth. Christopher's father would have deplored it, I rather think, even though the current state of affairs is surely quite interesting, educational, and entertaining to those who love Middle-earth.

The Tragedy: It's a shame that The Silmarillion wasn't accepted by Allen & Unwin along with LotR.

See, if both had been accepted, Tolkien would have had to throw up his hands and say something to the effect of "the tales do have contradictions, yes, but they are separate works that must stand on their own merits". Instead, he apparently felt that he had to take on the gargantuan, impossible, and unnecessary task of harmonizing the whole mythology, removing as many contradictions as possible. Just imagine if he had been freed from that burden, freed to write all manner of tales, some like Smith, some like The Hobbit, some like LotR, some like that which is found in Unfinished Tales.

I don't think this could have happened. I just wish it had.

Back to points (1) and (2). Letter #353 reads like a papal bull. Here he is, toward the end of his life, trying to turn his mythology more and more into a mirror of primary reality (as in Morgoth's Ring). And not unlike the pope declaring Mary without sin from birth (the basis for which is very debatable even among those who accept the scriptures as divinely inspired and/or the church as the interpreter of that scripture), here is Tolkien declaring Galadriel completely without blemish, just the victim of bad timing. Blah. It seems like patent nonsense to me. He let the Virgin Mary thing take root, which wasn't even conscious to him in his writing of LotR, and seems to have turned it into a primary principle for his attempted harmonization. It's what comes from spending a lifetime trying to iron out knots that cannot by ironed out, not unlike the centuries the Roman church has spent trying to make a cohesive and logical system out of received revelation which necessarily contains paradox.

Oh, and by the way, even though I was born and raised protestant, I have a far higher opinion of and appreciation for the Roman Catholic church than most of my kind. Just wanted to get that straight.

I feel that Tolkien's latter creative life was misspent. That's the shame. I would much rather have more of his creative power in writing story than the reinterpretive philosophizing and theologizing he spent his later years in. Maybe that's what giving up the Star was partly about in SWOM.

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Old 05-13-2005, 05:57 AM   #2
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I can accept this up to a point. I would argue though, that he would probably have continued to develop the story of Middle earth in other ways, & not gone on too write more 'Smiths'. Middle earth dominated his thinking, & became his way of analysing the human condition. He wasn't a theologian so his way of doing this was through fantasy rather than through non fiction.

HoME isn't an attempt to 'tear apart the tower to see what it is made of, it is an attempt to present his father's life's work in as coherent a form as possible - in which he succeeds magnificently I might add. Also, just because the tales were left incomplete doesn't make them valueless. In fact, one can see them as 'complete' in a way - they are a continuing & evolving expression of his thought & understanding. David Jones 'unfinished' poem Anathemata springs to mind here. The 'philosophizing & theologizing' is also Tolkien, as much as is LotR, TH & Smith. What I mean by that is, they aren't 'secondary' stuff that he got sidetracked into. They are where he was going. The Sil wasn't finished because it was unfinishable - it was him & he was it. HoME is a collaberative work of literature between father & son, & will come increasingly to be seen as that. Anyone who hasn't read it really should - not as background to the work Tolkien published in his lifetime, but as a literary work n its own right. CT says in his introduction to the final volume that it has become a kind of 'literary biography' of his father. read in that light, it has great value - not least in the way it shows the workings of a mind steeped in myth & language. It may even be that in the end HoME comes to be valued as highly as LotR & TH - or even in some ways more highly valued...
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Old 05-13-2005, 06:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
I feel that Tolkien's latter creative life was misspent. That's the shame. I would much rather have more of his creative power in writing story than the reinterpretive philosophizing and theologizing he spent his later years in. Maybe that's what giving up the Star was partly about in SWOM.
Strong words! Even fighting words....

This is a fascinating topic, and I imagine you are going to get some firmly worded replies. Readers seem to have such differing responses to the material that Tolkien produced during the final years of his life. Some love the stuff, and others hate it. Christopher himself seems to have mildly "disapproved" of the direction his father's writing took towards the end.

My own feelings are mixed. There were certain issues addressed in this period that I could do without. The first one that comes to mind is the "flat versus round earth" controversy. I have never understood why Tolkien felt the need to get into that. He was a mythmaker, even a philosopher, but surely not a scientist.

I won't respnd to the specific question of Galadriel (at least on this post) yet there are three things I feel compelled to say. I am writing this off the top of my head. If I spew out a fact that is blatantly "untrue", please bring it to my attention.

First, you are asking for the impossible. You are essentially saying that Tolkien should have stopped revising the basic structure of the legendarium and simply go ahead and fill in the gaps to craft a "completed" story. I frankly think that is impossible. Tolkien simply couldn't sit still.

If you look at the history of the legendarium, its composition and evolution, the one thing that strikes you is how much everything changes: the Tolkien of the early Lost Tales, the Tolkien of the Athrabeth and everything in between. There was no "definitive form" for Tolkien. He simply couldn't stop toying and changing things.... not just the details, but the very heart of the story. I think it is one reason why so many feel impelled to write fanfiction and rpgs (or for that matter, a revised Silm). They are essentially continuing a tradition that the Professor himself started: to pull, to shift and come out with something virtually new.

Secondly, those latter writings contain much that I think is priceless. You speak of "philosophizing and theologizing", but something like the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth is literally priceless to me (also the tale of Adanel). (And I am not, as you know, a Christian.) Tolkien was wrestling with some of the deepest issues in his soul, and the Athrabeth was, I believe, a reflection of that. Both its characters and ideas are among my favorites. The same is true for much of UT. For example, what I learn of Bilbo in UT gives me a whole new insight into what motivated him, the overall hand of providence in the great design, and the responses of his neighbors.

One of the things that strikes me is how "religious" issues/emblems/ideas crept into Middle-earth in the later years. I did not get a chance to post on the recent "Emblems" thread. However, my gut feeling is this: it is "artificial" to try and create a society devoid of religious content. To my knowledge, no such society has existed on this earth. (Bird and I once had a long talk abut this shortly after I joined the forum.) If you consciously try to keep religion out, as Tolkien claimed he did, it will come creeping back in some form or fashion. This seems to have been happening in the later writings.

Lastly, I would not agree that Silm was "finished" prior to the publication of LotR. It wasn't until LotR, I believe, that we get Numenor and all the events of the second age. Again, to me, these are among the richest of Tolkien's creations. I only wish that he would have focused on these in the last years of his life.

Misspent? No, I can't agree with you. I can look at any period in Tolkien's writings and find some tales and approaches I like better than others. That is as true of the last years as the earlier period. Tolkien wasn't just writing a body of stories. He was creating a world. And worlds aren't static. They change and evolve. Why should philosophy and theology not me part of that world? The more critical question to me is why Tolkien's emphasis shifted in this latter period. What was it that caused the Professor to bring up "philosophy" and "theology" more frequently in his latter works?
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Old 05-13-2005, 09:19 AM   #4
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Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by Child
However, my gut feeling is this: it is "artificial" to try and create a society devoid of religious content.
I don't disagree. However, I do think that to attempt to shape a fictional world founded on myths and legend so that it accorded more with his own specific religious beliefs was as much a mistake as to convert it from a flat world to a round one.

That is not to say that these were wasted years. I have not read the HoME series myself but, from what I have seen and read, there is much in there that is of biographical and philosophical interest.

From my perspective, however, Tolkien hit exactly the right note with religious content in LotR.
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Old 05-13-2005, 10:52 AM   #5
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I get the sense from reading Tolkien's Letters that he never really considered any of his Middle Earth work to be truly finished. In Letter 109, written in 1947 to his publisher, he says of LotR:

Quote:
The thing is to finish the thing as devised and then let it be judged. But forgive me! It is written in my life blood, such as that is thick or thin; and I can no other. I fear it must stand or fall as it substantially is. It would be idle to pretend that I do not greatly desire publication, since a solitary art is no art; nor that I have not a pleasure in praise, with as little vanity as fallen man can manage (he has not much more share in his writings than in his children of the body, but it is something to have a function); yet the chief thing is to complete one's work, as far as completion has any real sense.
He makes a postscript:

Quote:
Talking about revising The Hobbit. Any alteration of any radical kind is of course impossible, and unnecessary. But there are still quite a number of misprints in it. I have twice, I think, sent in lists of these, and I hope they have been corrected this time. Also there are minor errors, which the researches of fans have revealed, and some closer attention of my own has discovered. I wish there could be a chance of putting them right. I enclose a list again.
He also makes similar statements in Letter 271, talking of the revisions for the American edition (1965).

Bearing in mind that Tolkien was not a career writer such as we have today, he was in fact holding down a demanding academic job, and despite his capacious intellect he did not also have the luxury of modern computer systems which could cross-reference his works, it is not at all surprising that in work of such complexity some errors or inconsistencies might occur. Tolkien was clearly also a perfectionist, even something of a pedant, and coupling this with the fact that creating Middle Earth was his lifetime's work and as such must have held deep emotional significance to him, the actual 'letting go' of any work to be published must have been difficult.

I am not at all surprised that so much of his work went unfinished in the sense that he never deemed it ready for publishing and wished to revise it. It makes me wonder if he had the immortality of an Elf would he ever have got anything published or would still have been perfecting it!

Tolkien however was a mortal like the rest of us, and his life experience would be different as he aged, so it does not surprise me that his later work is more contemplative, even slightly esoteric, as he faced up to life's biggest question when he entered old age. For myself, I like this later work as it raises more questions than answers.

There is one statement he made in the letter mentioned above which stood out for me as a member of the Downs:

Quote:
Also there are minor errors, which the researches of fans have revealed
If the internet had been around when Tolkien was alive, would he have ever reached the sense of semi-satisfaction which enabled him to 'let go' of his work? Would we have had multiple versions of the books? Looking at the way we examine the detail of the films, and thinking about how much more we examine the books, Peter Jackson actually got off lightly.
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Old 05-13-2005, 11:40 AM   #6
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lmp:

"BURN THE HERETIC!" .... oh, sorry, wrong century.

"Have a beer, you're too uptight." Oh, sorry, wrong forum.

"What kind of fan are you, story or world?" --At the moment, lmp, you appear to be a "Story" fan. But I'm not sure that that is really true.

Maybe the question is: what kind of fan are you, a Story fan or a philosophy fan. Or, What kind of eucatastrophe do you prefer?

Do you like a bit of faerie in your revelation, or a bit of revelation in your faerie? There are those "purists" who choose either faerie OR revelation.

Saucie:

Quote:
However, I do think that to attempt to shape a fictional world founded on myths and legend so that it accorded more with his own specific religious beliefs was as much a mistake as to convert it from a flat world to a round one.
Those changes are part of Tolkien's story and Tolkien's shaping. He was what he was.

And I think that's Child's (and my) response to the original post (which is up to your usual high standard, lmp) -- Tolkien's writing was an outflow of his innermost being. Since he was a devoutly surrendered man, that innermost being was destined to change. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I think we're lucky that Tolkien kept writing. It's too common for older mystics to compare their writing with the vision that they see, and give up writing in disgust. John of the Cross did that. The author of The Cloud of Unknowing came close.

(Edit: cross-posted with Lalwende...)
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:03 PM   #7
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nice posts here. I dont think they were wasted years. Consider TH and LOTR as the original, organic works that they were. And consider the author at the time when the works were written. The whole premise of the idea of ME is the recounting of a history that has already been written, as it were. Publication has its impact. Who knew that TH was going to run away with sales? While not a professional author per say, I would say that wrapped up in the ideas discussed here was some sense of responsibility to the published works and also to those who purchased the material.

The bigger question to me is: What would the legendarium be like if there was NO Hobbit and LOTR....? Or, what would the history be like if only the FINISHED Silm ONLY was put out for publication, say in the mid 1960's, only to find weak or mediocre sales? What then would Christopher find after his father died?
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:44 PM   #8
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Question

Everyone....many good points here. But I do feel compelled to add something.

Quote:
Saucepan Man I don't disagree. However, I do think that to attempt to shape a fictional world founded on myths and legend so that it accorded more with his own specific religious beliefs was as much a mistake as to convert it from a flat world to a round one.
Yes, I do think that would have been a mistake. But I can't help feeling that Tolkien's beliefs were so strong that they are inevitably mirrored in his writing, even when there was no conscious attempt to mold a world according to his personal leanings. And yet, there is even more to it than that. Let's take the example of the dialogue between Andreth and Finrod. Most readers focus on the idea of Eru taking on incarnate form and coming into the world, a clear connection with the Christian view of history. There is also a veiled reference to the "fall of Man". Both those elements are definitely there. Yet so are others, equally important.

In fact, I'd like to go out on a limb and push this a little further. In some ways the Athrabeth is the definitive statement of Tolkien's legendarium (and strangely I don't think we've ever had a serious discussion about it on this site despite a thread started several eons ago). The author has told us repeatedly that the Lord of the Rings and, by extension, the entire legendarium is about death. This is the one and only place where we get a clear idea of what the author is actually thinking about death, at least as mirrored in the human and Elvish viewpoints. Nor is this a philosophical discussion set in a vacuum. We know that Andreth speaks with bitterness out of her love for Aegnor; she represents the human mind. Finrod responds from the Elvish perspective. In my opinion, he is slightly condescending to her. He has trouble comprehending what the aging (48) Andreth feels as she sees herself eternally separated from her lover, the beautiful young Elf who will never age (at least not for several eons).

In much of LotR, we are given very clear ideas about what's right and wrong. Aragorn is the classic illustration of this: his firm statement that, whatever the age, right and goodness do not change. In the Athrabeth, however, there is not statement but dialogue: a dialogue that ends in question and speculation rather than firm answers. The two characters are in the dark: they know so little and the answers are so uncertain.

If Lord of the Rings and the legendarium as a whole is "all about death and dying", then the Athrabeth is an integral part of that very concept. And, if it is so, how can we think that Tolkien may have "misspent" his latter years in producing something as poignant as the Athrabeth?

***********************

I owe a heavy debt to Verlyn Flieger in the specifics of this argument about Andreth, although I've always felt this way myself. I've just gotten Flieger's new book "Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology". It was in paperback at Amazon. Littlemanpoet -- Flieger has a lot to say that is relevent to the question you've raised. She looks not at the content of the mythology but the logistics of its development, start to finish. And some of her conclusions are pertinent to your question: understanding how the later writings fit in. I am just reading it now, so can't say much more than that. (I cheated and skipped ahead to the section on Andreth. )
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Old 05-14-2005, 09:23 AM   #9
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death, the multiverse, and everything else...

Thank you for your interest, friends. My feet are still on the ground, my intestines are intact, and my limbs still attached; so you have been merciful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
The 'truth' about understanding lies in the tale and its life beyond the author. A tale, once published, is like a child who has grown up and moved away from Mum and Dad. It is responsible for itself.
- from
Canonicity, post # 26

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
...I think is vital in discussing Middle-earth, that we respect the extraordinary experience of reading his texts and engaging with his stories rather than demanding that there is any one particular way of reading him. This is my way of understanding sub-creation and it is one which will respect any fair and honest reading of Tolkien as the experience of the reader. Like Tolkien, I believe that meaning is not imposed by fiat but created by the web of words. In our acts of discussing Tolkien lie the essence of sub-creation, not in a reductive archeology.
- from same post

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
...the 'spell' is cast for most of us without the background history. If we choose to move beyond the 'unexplained vistas' we have to risk the loss of enchantment. The more we discover, the more 'fixed' Middle Earth becomes...
from Canonicity, post # 27.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Moving into ME, is at once fascinating & restricting. One often has to suspend not only disbelief, but also disapproval, & accept what Tolkien has given, in order to understand his vision. When one comes out of ME one can then make a decision on what one likes & what one dislikes. But we then risk disenchantment - breaking a thing to find out what it is made of.
- from same post

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I reject the 'Dome of Varda' & related ideas & prefer the earlier 'primitive' (in Tolkien's word) version of the story. I said it was 'silly' - what I meant was it was not 'enchanting' - not to me - & is like choosing to print the fact. It neither enchants nor inspires, so I choose the earlier account. I mean no offence to the author, but we have to choose, & judge. If one version enchants me & the other doesn't, I think I know which choice Tolkien would approve.
- from same post.

When I began this thread, I had not yet read these two posts. I was not altogether surprised at their applicability to the issues this thread raises. I almost included "broken enchantment" in the title of the thread, but realized that I have two different issues on my mind, and that thread shall have to wait a little while.

Part of my "beef" is the breaking of the enchantment. I don't want it. In point of fact, I have begun to understand (thank you Canonicity debaters) that sometimes a beloved thing must die in order for a more powerful, life-giving thing to be born. The question remains whether I am willing to allow the original enchantment to die. This breakage, this destruction, of the original enchantment, is what I feel Christopher's work does for those who delve there. I do have some of those works, but I have been very, very picky. I have Unfinished Tales and The Lays of Belerian. I have read the histories of the war of the ring, and some of Morgoth's Ring. I have so far been unwilling to let the spell be broken.

davem (and others) point out that the Sil would not have been finished during his lifetime, no matter what. This is probably true because Tolkien was a human who never stopped growing. This makes sense to me. It is, in retrospect, one of the things that has fed into my broaching of this thread. I've been working on my own mythology for twenty years, and am now almost at the age when Tolkien began his writing of LotR. I am not so vain that I compare myself to Tolkien in genius or intellect or ability, but myth-making is my chosen passion. And I can imagine that I may write and write my whole life long and some Christopher will come along and publish Histories of my stuff post-mortem. That is a distinct fear for me. I suppose it runs along the lines of wanting to be around to see one's grandchildren. Enough personal stuff. I just thought I should mention that so you might see where part of this probably derives for me.

Just a few general replies to points made which, because this post is getting long, I'll refrain from quoting specifically (you know who you are).

1. HoME is indeed an "attempt to tear apart the tower to see what it's made of" in so far as it is a breaking of the enchantment woven by TH, LotR, and UT.

2. I know, and stated, that what I wished for was impossible.

3. Whereas most (if not all) of what Tolkien wrote is worthy, all that you are saying is that what we have is very good. I acknowledge that; but I still wish for something better ... or at least I did, unless the death of the enchantment is the necessary precursor to the birth of something better...

4. As to the Sil's completion prior to the publication of LotR, it was complete enough for publication as it was. Lalwendë's quote from JRRT's Letters is applicable to this, of course, but in that sense nothing anybody writes can be called finished.

5. As to wasted and/or misspent: well, maybe those words are indicators of my own fears more than a commentary on Tolkien's life work (indeed, they were the clue).

6. The words you use, Helen, are all quite loaded: "story fan" versus "world fan" versus "philosophy fan"; what kind of eucatastrophe; faerie versus revelation; in short, I'm not sure what to understand from all of these labels. They seem like short form for whole realms of content.

7. I like the Athrabeth a lot. One of the reasons I like it is because as much as it is a philosophical discussion, it is story, grounded in a time and place and characters, which gives it shape and life and context that a mere philosophical treatise could not do. It enriches it with meaning. So in that sense I prefer story to all the Christopherian commentary.

There. I think that about catches me up.
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Old 05-14-2005, 11:05 AM   #10
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Certainly Tolkien went down some strange sidetracks in his later Me writings, but I think we must separate works like LotR, TH & Smith, etc, which were in effect completed & something like The Silmarillion which wasn't & never could be. The 1977 Silmarillion which CT put together is not Tolkien's Silmarillion & I don't think CT would claim it is. Actually, HoME (&UT) is the Silmarillion. The Sil is not a continuous coherent narrative. To quote from Flieger's new book (like Child I'm working my way through it)

Quote:
In this multiplicity, his mythology would imitate without copying the structure of the many-visioned real-world mythologies with which he was familiar & on which he modelled his own. He knew from the beginning that his music must include not just the stories themsleves but also the storytellers & bards & scribes & translators who were the offspring of his thought. He saw clearly that in order to follow the overall pattern of hte great British & northern European mythologies on which it was modelled, his mythos must both create & depend on a variety of voices & methods of transmission & must appear in many recensions over a great(if largely imaginary) span of time. He, therefore, took pains to orchestrate in many different forms & in many different voices the stories that comprise the central episodes that tell of his heroic & often tragic figures & that express the concerns , the beliefs, & the worldview of his mythis Elves &, later, his Men.
In other words, for all that some episodes may fail to 'enchant', even (for some readers) 'break the spell ', HoME is (including CT's commentary) The Silmarillion - or as close to it as it is possible to come - that Tolkien intended. It, as Flieger states, was never intended to be a single story thread, but rather a collection of different accounts by different hands in different forms from different perspectives. The 'Silmarillion' that was (kind of) 'complete' before LotR was written was not The Silmarillion, but rather one version of it. It wasn't so much that he kept on trying different approaches/producing different versions till he 'got it right' (though this was part of his motivation) - the different versions were differing accounts, often intended to stand alongside each other. The fact that he kept all his different versions rather than throwing them away, shows, I think, that it was not a case of later versions simply replacing, & so making redundant, earlier ones. From this perspective, the Book of Lost Tales is equally as 'valid' as the 'Silmarillions' of the 1930's & 1950's.

In terms of their power to 'enchant' on the other hand, some of the versions are more successful than others - but that could be said of the variants of primary world mythologiest that we have recieved.

In short, there isn't A Silmarillion in the way that there is A Lord of the Rings, because there was never intended to be. There was a version of it available in the 30's which could have been brought into publishable form - if any publisher had wanted it, but because of the nature of the 'project' Tolkien would have carried on working on the other versions.

So, in answer to your original question, the rejection of The Sil by A&U wasn't the 'tragedy' you imply. Publication of that version wouldn't necessarily have 'freed Tolkien up' to write other stories. He would very probably have carried on writing the other 'Silmarilions'.

None of this is to deny the great disappointment he felt at its rejection, but as he himself put it 'The Silmarils are in my heart'....
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
6. The words you use, Helen, are all quite loaded: "story fan" versus "world fan" versus "philosophy fan"; what kind of eucatastrophe; faerie versus revelation; in short, I'm not sure what to understand from all of these labels. They seem like short form for whole realms of content.
Aye, several of them are short for whole threads. You could say the post came from the compost of the Downs.

It is a bit overarching. I'd try again but I must be off (to teach Sunday School and thence to work-- on Sunday??? Outrageous! Yes...) But I suspect that The Author of The Story (by which Tolkien did not mean himself) is busily laboring in the garden of your own soul. I look forward to the flowering and then the fruit.
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Old 05-15-2005, 07:50 AM   #12
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From the new Flieger book, 'Interrupted Music':

Quote:
Very well then, if Iceland & Norway & Wales & Ireland had their great manuscript books, objects of scrutiny & examination by schollars, Tolkien's Middle-earth would have th efictive equivalent. If these real-world books had been translated, edited, regularized as to spelling, & published, Tolkien's mythos should have no less. He therefore would devise a similar treatment for the stories in his legendarium. But to provide these equivalents, Tolkien had to invent a 'pre-history' of existing texts, & geanealogy of transmitters: bards, minstrels, storytellers of all kinds stretching over a period roughly comparable to the prehistoric (migration) age, transmitters who diseminated the stories both vertically in time & horizontally across the geography of Middle earth. These had then to be succeeded by a further succession of historical 'redactors' & scribes, agents who could believably transfer the stories from their original oral tradition to tangible artifacts, to manuscript books. The final stage would be their appearance in print.
The task Tolkien set himself, then, was first to create an authentic & convincing oral tradition, a legacy of songs & stories attributed to identifiable bards & storytellers & perpetuated by subsequent performers. Second, he had then to devise a stage or stages of transmission in which this body of material could come to be written down by later redactors, with the process culminating on a few 'surviving' manuscripts in the manner of his medieval models. Third & finally, he had to create some sort of believable frame within which the manuscript material - much of it needing not just transference from one medium to another, but presumed 'translation' from one or more of his invented languages into English - could find its way into print in his own twentieth century.....
Commenting on CT's statement that he felt it was, in retrospect, an error to publish the Silmarillion in the form he did in 1977 she states:

Quote:
The published Silmarillion gives a misleading impression of coherence & finality, as if it were a definitive, canonical text, whereas the mass of material from which that volume was taken is a jumble of overlapping & often competing stories, annals & lexicons.
Looked at from this perspective, I think we can see that, rather than being a project his father would have disapproved of, HoME does in fact do exactly what Tolkien pere wanted his Silmarillion to do & perhaps does it better than he could have done it himself....
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:29 AM   #13
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As usual, I come to the debate after many substantial points have been made and some very fine discussion put forth.

I have been pondering this thread, however, since lmp's first post. What I have to offer, rather than reply to specific points already made far better than I could, is some rambling thought which I hope manages some coherency.

First of all, I think it is fascinating and well worth while to consider the role of Christopher in his father's work. And not just the publishing of The Silm and HoMe. Anyone who has read Tolkien's Letters, particularly those during WWII when Christopher was stationed in South Africa, will be aware of how very much Tolkien Sr thought of Tolkien Jr as his audience. Time and again JRR asks C for his opinion. Publishing the papers after JRR's death can perhaps be seen as an extension of this process for Christopher. I don't know, but the fact remains that there was some kind of symbiotic relationship here which was part of Tolkien's habit of composition. Was this relationship something which stimulated Tolkien's later work? There is a letter (cannot remember the number now) where Tolkien bemoans his children's loss of faith. Was the increasingly didactic part of his latter work part of Tolkien's response to this, as to the rising secularisation of his world?

As an aside, Christopher was an academic in his own career and the scroll on the wall of the Bird and Baby includes Christopher as an academic and member of the Inklings. Does anyone know what else Christopher has done? What was his academic field aside from Middle earth?

Also, we keep coming up with this idea of a pristine reading of enchantment. (davem is currently berating me for destroying enchantment on the Chapter by Chapter discussion of Shelob's Lair.) The problem I have with this is trying to set in stone just what the perfect first reading is. lmp, you are yourself an accomplished writer. You understand how to intersperse dialogue and exposition, action and reflection. Is this something that you suspend when you read initially and do inretrospect? I guess what I am asking is, what do you mean by enchantment and by tearing apart the tower to see the stones? (Yes, I know the Tolkien allusion.)

What HoMe has done, I think, it make available to the general public the kind of detailed writing papers which more usually remain sequestered in libraries and the domain of scholars to pour over. The publication of HoMe has actually democratised Tolkien scholarship, I think.

Now, for my own theory, being myself a little of the Ann Elk variety. I see the vast panorama of Tolkien's writing in narrative terms. I see a very strong impulse towards the kind of heterogeneity of style, narration, point of view, structure which marks early narratives and the Bible itself. The Bible is, after all, a compendium of various authors over a great range of time. This variety is fascinatingly various and multiplicitous (is that a word?). Then I see the impulse towards hegemony and control, authorship as one voice, one vision, one way. In himself, Tolkien seems to have combined contradictory impulses, a paradox of authorship. He was both a medieval pluralist and an authoritarian eighteenth century rationalist. This paradox informed his work throughout his life, directing his ideas differently at various times. As readers, we can pick and choose which we like best, but I think it is also rewarding to consider how the cauldron bubbled for Tolkien, either simmering or roiling boil, for that might help us understand aspects of creativity. That might be something altogether different, however, from simply reading for enjoyment, which of course offers its own rewards.

EDIT: Cross posted with davem.
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Old 05-15-2005, 05:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen
But I suspect that The Author of The Story (by which Tolkien did not mean himself) is busily laboring in the garden of your own soul. I look forward to the flowering and then the fruit.
Bless you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I think we can see that, rather than being a project his father would have disapproved of, HoME does in fact do exactly what Tolkien pere wanted his Silmarillion to do & perhaps does it better than he could have done it himself....
It's ironic that what is being described in answer to my assertion, that Tolkien created this heterogeneous diversity of text and narrative over a lifetime, is probably not what Tolkien intended. Rather, it's how his mind worked and his artistic endeavor sorted itself out. He certainly was not scientific, but his template has now been laid for others to follow. Nobody does it, so far, because, outside of it being an unacceptable idiom in publishers' minds (spectres of "valid criticisms"?), it may be too gargantuan a task; besides, one would have to be an expert in philology or at least linguistics, or be able to feign such expertise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Does anyone know what else Christopher has done? What was his academic field aside from Middle earth?
I think Christopher followed in his father's footsteps in philology, and taught Anglo-Saxon at Oxford.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
lmp, you are yourself an accomplished writer. You understand how to intersperse dialogue and exposition, action and reflection. Is this something that you suspend when you read initially and do in retrospect? I guess what I am asking is, what do you mean by enchantment and by tearing apart the tower to see the stones? (Yes, I know the Tolkien allusion.)
Thank you for your kind words, Bb. To answer perhaps both questions, the more I learn about the craft of writing, the harder it is to achieve Secondary Belief, including my rereadings of Tolkien. It's a fact of life that with gained knowledge comes the loss of ....not innocence ... but simplicity of perception, I suppose, the desire to recapture which may have something to do with a desire for Eden or Middle-earth. That's probably why the 'mythic unity' concept is so important to me. Any analysis is by its very nature a dividing, a paring apart, and thus a loss of the enchantment that story brings.

So whereas it may not be the misspent life I originally asserted, there is still a loss occurring each time Christopher's commentary interrupts (yes, a loaded word) the story, because story creates mythic unity while commentary necessarily de-stories (destroys) it. So whereas we have a great treasury bestowed to us by the kindly and well meant efforts of Christopher, I can't help thinking that it undoes (unintentionally, I'm sure!) what JRRT was trying to do. And also, JRRT's own later analysis and attempts to harmonize his legendarium away from mythology toward a modern mindset was mistaken and harmful to his original purpose.
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Old 05-15-2005, 09:29 PM   #15
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Being rather a strong proponent of HoMe, I feel I should try to say something in answer to Littlemanpoet. But I am afraid that to a significant extent, this issue is really one of personal taste. If someone dislikes HoMe, well, that's that. To each his own. But that goes both ways - and there are many people (like me) who genuinely enjoy HoMe. I am thankful to Christopher Tolkien first of all simply because his efforts gave me many, many hours of great pleasure. I enjoyed his "interruptions".

So perhaps this is a subjective thing. Still, when littlemanpoet writes:

Quote:
Part of my "beef" is the breaking of the enchantment. I don't want it.
. . . I find myself incredulous. For I can't believe that the enchantment is that brittle. Is it so fragile that a footnote will break it? Is it so fragile that the mere thought that it is not true, that it was in fact written by a real author, chases it away?

It is not so for me. It is something stronger. It is something that holds up under close scrutiny. My experience of Tolkien's creation - and, for that matter, of all my favorite works of art - is that the act of studying it can only enhance my appreciation of it. To have (almost) all of Tolkien's Silmarillion material allows me to enjoy his creation in ways far beyond what a single narrative does. And Christopher's commentary is, in my view, an essential part of that presentaion. As I see it, there are more or less three ways Christopher could have published the Silmarillion:

1. As a single narrative
2. As merely a series of his father's texts, without commentary/interruption
3. As HoMe

We have a grievance against the "interruption" found in 3. But I think the problems with the others are greater. Any single narrative is a contrived narrative, in which Christopher's influence is far greater than in HoMe. If Christopher interrupts the material in HoMe, he disrupts it (necessarily) in the '77. Also, any such narrative necessarily leaves out a vast amount of material. The problem with option 2 is simply that it is incoherent. Without Christopher's information on dates of composition and such, any presentation of all or most of Tolkien's Silmarillion writings would be quite a jumble; a reader would be completely lost.

So though you may fault Christopher's chosen method, someone would fault him no matter what he did. There is no "perfect" presentation of the Silmarillion. Christopher gave us two very good ones, and I for one am very happy with that.

I realize that I am only addressing part of the issue that littlemanpoet raised. In fact, I agree with some of the other points. I think that it would probably would have been best if the Silmarillion had been accepted along with LotR. I don't think that his goal of harmonizing the Silmarillion with LotR was completely "unnecessary" - but I do think that if a deal had actually been struck at this point, he would have brought the Silmarillion into a form he found satisfactory much more quickly.

I also agree in part with the proposition that, as littlemanpoet put it:

Quote:
Tolkien's latter creative life was misspent.
Specifically, I think that his issue with the scientific unreality of the flat earth mythology was completely misguided. For of course his Legendarium is not scientifically valid.

However, I think that he had some great successes in the post-LotR work on the Legendarium that cannot easily be dismissed. The Narn i Chin Hurin is my favorite thing that he wrote, and I don't know that I'd give it up even for a complete, authoritative Silmarillion. In this as well as the later "Tuor", the later Geste of Beren and Luthien, and "The Wanderings of Hurin" I think we find Tolkien's narrative and descriptive powers at their height. The characters are vividly drawn; the stories are engaging; the mythology is powerful. No, I don't think I could bear to give those things up.
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Old 05-16-2005, 12:00 AM   #16
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It seems we pro-HoMe-ers are all a bit uncomfortable with the 'Myths Transformed' period & feel it was a mistake for Tolkien to try & change his Legendarium in the way he did. It probably was, & I wish he hadn't gone that way, because he would quite probably have managed to finish things like the ones Aiwendil mentions.

Having said that, & I realise I'm possibly sidetracking this thread here, wasn't that 'period' actually inevitable right from the start? Right from BoLT the conceit was that this was as much history as Myth. These accounts were what really happened - a phrase Tolkien was to use repeatedly over the years of his approach to writing them. In other words, the Legendarium was to be a replacement for England's lost mythology (though, as Flieger has pointed out, what Tolkien actually stated in his letter to Waldman was not that he wanted to write a mythology for England but rather a mythology he could dedicate to England), & was to be, originally, the accounts of the Elves themselves - the eyewitnesses - written down by Eriol/Aelfwine. So it was never intended to be taken by readers as a mythology that Tolkien 'made up' but rather as one that he was passing on. This culminates in the conceits of the Red Book & the single page of an ancient manuscript that sparks off the journey of Lowdham & Jeremy in NCP.

So, if the Legendarium was to be history as well as myth, the true account of what had really happened, then Tolkien would eventually have had to bite the bullet & account for why the world of the early Ages was so physically different from the world we live in now. Of course, he tried various explanations -principally that the world was physically changed at the Fall of Numenor - actually that doesn't work because we know that this world was never flat.

It was his very desire to produce a mythology which would be accepted by those (the English) he wanted to dedicate it to that (he seems to have felt) required it not to contradict known history or science. More, that required, I suppose, that it fitted in as closely as possible with what we know about the world. Inevitably he was going to fail & get himself tied up in all kinds of knots, but as I say, the more I think about it, the more I feel that he was heading for that period right from the start, when he chose to build on pre existing foundations (like Cynewulf's Crist) rather than lay his own...
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Old 05-16-2005, 03:02 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
It seems we pro-HoMe-ers are all a bit uncomfortable with the 'Myths Transformed' period & feel it was a mistake for Tolkien to try & change his Legendarium in the way he did.
Tut-tut. Some of us are perfectly comfortable, you know:

Canonicity 127
Evil Things 114 (see also 92 and below). Wait, it was you whom I was posting to on both occassions!

(What miss-stakes-s-ss, my precious-ss, what miss-stakes-s-ss?)

No true accounts for anything that happened, just a refraction of eyewitness' perception, further altered by the worldview of the scribe and mistakes of his nearsighted copier.

I would also spice the post up by much quoted (by yours truly, mainly ) line of 'Leaf by Niggle':

Quote:
Things might have been different, but they could not have been better
Said by Niggle (allegedly representing Tolkien, or creative aspect of his personality) himself, as he stopped to worry about 'unfinishness' of his work. The quote expresses my feelings about the issue perfectly: Of course, I would certainly like to have more plots to read about ME, but, again, where is the guarantee that even if Tolkien wrote tenfold amount of stories, I would not crave for more all the same? As it is, I'm glad things happened as they did, and diving into the 'world', with facts but no 'plots' is equally satisfying.
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Old 05-16-2005, 07:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Aiwendil
I am afraid that to a significant extent, this issue is really one of personal taste ...So perhaps this is a subjective thing. .... I can't believe that the enchantment is that brittle.
Whereas discussing this under the rubric of personal taste may reveal some interesting facets, I think there's more to this issue than that. I also think that there is a subjective element to it; how could it not be so when we speak of enchantment?

But what do we mean by enchantment? It seems clear enough that what we're talking about here is related to our comparison of Smith of Wooton Major and The Silmarillion in the "SWOM in Middle-earth" thread. There, davem and I, and others, wrote how we found ourselves more moved by SWOM than by the Sil, whereas others had the opposite experience. "Moved" is obviously an extremely subjective term.

The words you use, Aiwendil, reveal an approach to the work of Tolkien that is not "home" for me, though clearly it is "home" for you. Just two examples: "close scrutiny"; "act of studying". HoME, as presented by Christopher Tolkien, renders such activity a necessity. It seems to me (and correct me if I err) that you approach HoME as a historian, or even perhaps as a lay philosopher. I respect such an approach. However, as I said above, it is not "home" for me. For me, the enchantment is the thing, and it is no simple thing.

I suppose it's time to wander into that second thread I had mentioned earlier. Pardon me for the rehash, but I feel it's necessary. Some of you know this stuff already, so I'm sorry for creating unnecessary boredom. You might want to check my facts to make sure I'm expressing this correctly.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge posited "suspension of disbelief" as an activity a reader brings to a work of fiction. He meant that the reader realizes, of course, that the work of fiction is not true, but suspends that realization for the sake of enjoyment of the story. J.R.R. Tolkien made a further distinction between suspension of disbelief and "secondary belief". JRRT felt that the mere suspension of disbelief was not an adequate description of what occurs in reading fairy story. The author weaves a spell by means of the subcreation of a feigned reality, a secondary reality. If the author does well, the reader is cast (voluntarily) under the author's spell for the duration of the reading (and perhaps longer). This is the enchantment. Its effect is to experience that subcreation as real, even though it is feigned. At no point need the reader be truly deluded that the feigned reality is primarily real, but for the sake of the story, that secondary reality may be entered into as if passing into a room in one's house.

But there are things that break the enchantment. It no doubt varies from reader to reader. I find that the enchantment is more easily broken the more I learn of the craft of writing. Thus, my own extended knowledge threatens the enchantment.

What about Christopher's commentary on his father's multiplicitous (yes, it is a word, Bethberry ) versions of all manner of story from the First Age? My recollection is that Christopher refers to "my father's" this, and "my father's" that. Rather than attempt the feigned history, he presents it as his father's creation. He was probably wise not to attempt the feigned history, if he felt that he was not capable of it. Nevertheless, all of Christopher's commentary sets the feignedness aside. There is no possibility of secondary belief. One may suspend one's disbelief, but that is not the same as the enchantment of secondary belief.

Please understand that in all this explication, I'm not really being successful in communicating the reality of the experience of secondary belief enchantment. If one has not experienced it, I most assuredly cannot adequately describe it.

Just a quick question for davem: could you please start your own darned thread? Just kidding. The real question is: do you really think Tolkien had to attempt Myths Transformed, or do you just think it was inevitable that he would try?
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
The author weaves a spell by means of the subcreation of a feigned reality, a secondary reality. If the author does well, the reader is cast (voluntarily) under the author's spell for the duration of the reading (and perhaps longer). This is the enchantment. Its effect is to experience that subcreation as real, even though it is feigned. At no point need the reader be truly deluded that the feigned reality is primarily real, but for the sake of the story, that secondary reality may be entered into as if passing into a room in one's house.
I'm not sure if this is the place to ask this, but I am curious about how you will answer. If the subcreation is or should be read "as if real", how are we readers to take the various passages which refer to LotR's nature as story? The example which most recently comes to my mind is Sam's and Frodo's conversation in the chapter "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol."

Quote:
'But those aren't always the best tales to hear, thought they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?'

'I wonder,' said Frodo. 'But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to.'
. . . .

'Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?
Is this Tolkien's way of incorporating in his story his thoughts from "On Fairy Stories"? Is this his way of suggesting that LotR must be read as a real history come out of the past legends? For myself, this does not destroy any of the great magic of Tolkien's writing but it does bring to the fore thoughts about the differences between story and real life.

Any thoughts?
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Old 05-16-2005, 10:51 PM   #20
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Davem wrote:

Quote:
So, if the Legendarium was to be history as well as myth, the true account of what had really happened, then Tolkien would eventually have had to bite the bullet & account for why the world of the early Ages was so physically different from the world we live in now. Of course, he tried various explanations -principally that the world was physically changed at the Fall of Numenor - actually that doesn't work because we know that this world was never flat.
I think the attempt was fundamentally misguided because it operates on the false assumption that the mythology could be made scientifically plausible. It couldn't. It is a work of fantasy that, like any work of fantasy, is filled with violations of known science. It seems quite absurd to me to think that the "flat earth" cosmology is not believable but that it is scientifically plausible for Venus to be Earendil!

If what Tolkien wanted was a story that readers could literally believe to be true, he would have had to give up the fantasy/faerie-story genre.

littlemanpoet wrote:
Quote:
My recollection is that Christopher refers to "my father's" this, and "my father's" that. Rather than attempt the feigned history, he presents it as his father's creation.
The thing is that it is his father's creation.

I still find myself incredulous about the Spell of Faerie being broken so easily. If you are reading LotR and, setting the book down for a moment, you happen to see the words "by J.R.R. Tolkien", does this break the enchantment? I honestly don't see how Christopher's commentary does anything more severe.

But clearly we're not going to agree on this, and it seems to me that further discussion will come down to nothing more than restatements of the respective opinions.
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Old 05-17-2005, 03:47 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMP
My recollection is that Christopher refers to "my father's" this, and "my father's" that. Rather than attempt the feigned history, he presents it as his father's creation. He was probably wise not to attempt the feigned history, if he felt that he was not capable of it. Nevertheless, all of Christopher's commentary sets the feignedness aside. There is no possibility of secondary belief. One may suspend one's disbelief, but that is not the same as the enchantment of secondary belief.
What is interesting to me in this context is the number of times CT talks about his father making changes when he 'realised what really happened'. I think this is essential. Tolkien repeatedly uses this phrase himself. Taking into account The Notion Club Papers I think we must take this statement quite (if not entirely) seriously. Tolkien had a very real sense, increasingly so as he grew older that he was not 'inventing'. Ct's commentary does not dispell or reject this possibility. In fact he mostly just analyses the differences between versions.

Quote:
The real question is: do you really think Tolkien had to attempt Myths Tran
sformed, or do you just think it was inevitable that he would try?
Probaly it was inevitable in both ways. In NCP he goes into this whole question of the relationship of history to myth in some detail. The central idea there is that of inherited memory. Modern characters experience the past directly through visions & dreams and also come into possession of a page of text which is a copy in anglo saxon of a Numenorean original. Tolkien is attempting to tie his mythic past into the primary world through the inner, psychic experiences of his characters & through a genuine physical artefact. Of course, it is possible to argue that the 'primary' world of that story is itself a 'secondary' world as far as the reality we inhabit is concerned. Yet, the text which contains that 'secondary' equivalent of our primary world does exist within our, 'primary' world. As does the LotR.

What I mean is that LotR/NCP exist as real physical objects in our world, but contain within themselves as a 'frame' the contents of a 'secondary' world text - the Red Book/page of anglo saxon text - which refer to another time/place & have come down to us by a number of removes - if that makes sense. Tolkien was attempting to analyse the way history is mythologised & how the past can be alive in the present. That happens in two ways - at least in NCP - one, by artifacts & stories, two, by 'psychic' means whereby the memories of people living in past ages can be accessed by those in the present - which is what Tolkien himself seems to have believed. He studied ancient texts to discover the origins of words & beliefs, but he also believed he was setting down 'what really happened'.
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Old 05-17-2005, 07:58 AM   #22
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LMP/Davem are spot on for me. You guys have the gift of consise gab! Here is my take:

The crafting of the published work incorporated all the authors aforementioned skills, resulting in a work that is both heavy as a freight train and subtle as feather. I am walking in fairie when I read LOTR.

We all become literary scholars of a sort with HOME and UT. Its how we each use that information that's the difference. The gift for us was the subcreation. Now that its inside my own personal universe, HOME and UT merely fill in the empty gaps and plug a few holes. But it's the joy of creativity of the author that I encompass when I take on these books. I am wrapping my head around the creative process as I read how the author tried to wrap his head around his creation. Otherwise for me, its as dry as any other literary breakdown that an academic is attempting on another's creation.

The Silm has to be taken for what it's worth. Like other threads have concluded: it was better than nothing. I read through it, and imagine an ancient tome that has weathered and decayed to a point that half (if not most) of its contents are missing, and I must be carefull as I turn the brittle pages (or enchantment), as I read the primeval elvish histories. If you want Histoy, then don't expect a Tale, or a Myth. What you will get ultimately is page after page of what's in the appendixes - which I truly enjoy myself, because it adds to the enchantment - it doesn't detract from it, and it certainly doesnt stand on it's own feet.

Heres a timely analogy of continuity: Lucas had a rough story line for all 9 episodes when he cranked out the 1st Star Wars movie (Ep 4), never really imagining the tremendous popularity of that original work. But, when it comes to enchantment, do the other episodes (other than mabye Ep 5) come even close to the original? Does all the merchandise, books, techie manuals adnauseum that the scifi fans consume to "fill in the blanks" do anything for those other movies as far as treatment of the medium (cinema)? Then factor in time (the original premise being a fairie tale set in space- the fall from democracy to empirialsim a morality tale based on the Vietnam war), and success (ewoks and JarJar ), then you have a comptletely different critter than the original. In fact, for me, it did evaporate the rare, effusive enchantment of the original work. The blush is off the rose, and the dew has dried...
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Old 05-17-2005, 08:28 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
I'm not sure if this is the place to ask this, but I am curious about how you will answer. If the subcreation is or should be read "as if real", how are we readers to take the various passages which refer to LotR's nature as story? The example which most recently comes to my mind is Sam's and Frodo's conversation in the chapter "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol."

Is this Tolkien's way of incorporating in his story his thoughts from "On Fairy Stories"? Is this his way of suggesting that LotR must be read as a real history come out of the past legends? For myself, this does not destroy any of the great magic of Tolkien's writing but it does bring to the fore thoughts about the differences between story and real life.

Any thoughts?
Bb-- there's a difference? .....I'm only half kidding.

The telltale phrase for me is " 'The Author of the Story' (by which I do not mean myself.) "

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Old 05-17-2005, 09:00 PM   #24
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Hi Helen. Nice to see you around.

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What serious gardener maintains a careful separation between soil and plants?
Well, maybe not separation, but I surely do have to keep track of which plants want rich soil and which sandy soil. And sometimes peat is needed in some places where it isn't in others.

While Sam's thoughts about being in the worst part of the story actually cheer Frodo, they sadly don't stop the poignant misunderstanding between Sam and Gollem, do they?
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Old 05-17-2005, 09:01 PM   #25
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What serious gardener maintains a careful separation between soil and plants?
What serious gardener can't distinguish one from the other?
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Old 05-18-2005, 01:36 AM   #26
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dark remarks are in order, seemingly...

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What serious gardener can't distinguish one from the other?
Bonsai are trees nevertheless...
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Old 05-18-2005, 03:59 AM   #27
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Quickly, because it's all I have time for, I like to see Frodo and Sam's conversation as feigned reality.... we are still in the same story ourselves!
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