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Old 01-15-2020, 01:06 PM   #1
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Pipe The Silmarillion in the Vernacular

I have accidentally committed myself to retelling the Silmarillion in the vernacular to my children, aged 7 and 9.

This began because I foolishly attempted to explain why feeling guilty means you need to stop doing something rather than getting angry and continuing, by using the phrase 'let me tell you a story'. I then racked my brains for a suitable story... and, as he often does, Feanor leapt to mind.

It's been... an experience. I never knew I could chop so much out of the Silm and still convey the essential story. I'm telling it entirely off the cuff, chopping it into 15 minute chunks, and trying to work in enough hooks to get them to ask for more (which is working!), so it's... well:

Part 1 was the story of Feanor, from making the Silmarils to his death; 'Feanor' and 'Melkor' were the only two names I used, and I didn't actually mention the Trees dying. I ended by summing up the fate of Maedhros and Maglor (not named), and attributing it all to their dad not dealing well with guilt. ^_^

Part 2 was inspired by the question 'Who was king after Feanor died?'. So we backtracked to the Trees dying, then did Fingolfin and the Grinding Ice, and then struggled through Maedhros' captivity and Fingon's rescue. Again, those were all the names I worked in. This was the one where my son said 'A lot of these names start with F, don't they?' Yep, kid, they do that.

Part 3 began with me asking 'If you were trying to protect your city from Melkor, how would you do it?', and they answered beautifully. First we had 'a Melkor-proof shield', so I explained Doriath (no name, though I did have to name Melian). Then 'hide it', so we did Nargothrond and Gondolin, and a little bit of Finrod propoganda (he got a name; Turgon didn't, and neither city did). Then 'train my soldiers to fight really well', so we did Himring and Mithrim. Finally I fed them 'just live a long way away', allowing me to introduce Cirdan and the Havens. I threw in the Dagor Aglareb and Glaurung's little outing, to provide a bit of upcoming threat, and then pointed out that we'd mentioned Elves and Dwarves (and Goblins - yes, I know - and Gods - I know), but we hadn't yet talked about humans... but that they were, literally, on their way.

("Well, not literally," I get from the back of the car. "Literally in the story, maybe.")

So next time I get to do The Coming of Men, which should lead us nicely to the Bragollach, and then into Beren and Luthien. What I'm going to do about Turin when he shows up, I have no idea - but I will have to, because I've already introduced the idea that all these cities are going to fall in the end.

Has anyone else ever had to/wound up doing something like this? And/or, any suggestions for how I should proceed?

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Old 01-15-2020, 06:55 PM   #2
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
With my son and daughter (the son is 7 years older), I started with The Hobbit at about age 5, and then the Lord of the Rings at about 7-8. I never even considered reading The Silmarillion to them, to be honest.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:14 PM   #3
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Your story just made my day! That is so adorable.

A simplified and slightly altered Turin story can be an excellent way of explaining why feeling guilty should make you stop and not just get angry and continue. You don't even need to mention the rest of his family, the story works even if he's the only one there.
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:38 PM   #4
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Not personally but it reminds me of what Dorothy L Sayers said about dramatising the Bible for the radio in the early forties with potential child audience that she couldn’t be too explicit about Mary Magdalene but just had to give the impression she lived a fast lif3 and probably drank to many cocktails!
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:05 AM   #5
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That is one of the best opening posts I have ever read, Huinesoron. And I can well remember the wilful days of childhood, feeling a bad feeling but getting angry and continuing instead of being sorry.

How enlightened (I mean it - I was pretty gobsmacked by this!) to respond that they would defend their city beautifully! And what flawless logic in all the subsequent methods suggested.

You really should write these stories/retellings up. It reminds me of what Rosemary Sutcliff did for 'Beowulf,' but sounds a lot more exciting - and I think the 'moral' messages would be more complex, too - although I guess in the 'reduction' they might possibly end up a little too close to allegory.

Whether or no, what a great thing to do. Lucky kids and lucky father, I say.

Uton herian Huinesoronings!
"Sit by the firelight's glow; tell us an old tale we know. Tell of adventures strange and rare; never to change, ever to share! Stories we tell will cast their spell, now and for always."

Last edited by Pervinca Took; 02-16-2020 at 01:27 PM.
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