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Old 01-05-2012, 03:29 AM   #1
TheLostPilgrim
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Will a "definitive" version of The Silmarillion ever be released?

Do you think there will ever come a time when a more 'definitive' version of The Silmarillion--more in line with Tolkien's later/exact thoughts, with perhaps some of the tales expanded as much as possible--will ever be released? Basically a Silmarillion in line with Tolkien's final or definitive conception of it, as well as in line with his other works?
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:47 AM   #2
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Did Tolkien have a final and definitive concept of the Silmarillion? It seems to me he was working things out about his creation pretty much to the end - and I wonder if he would have sought to adjust the LOTR to fit a "finished" Silmarillion in the same way as he made the alterations to the Hobbit to fit the needs of the LOTR.

I sometimes wonder if JRRT had had the use of a word processor and could have implemented name changes throughout a script in seconds and the like, if he would have been able to finish it or delve deeper but I suspect he was too much of a Niggle to ever finish and he would have tinkered to the end no matter how long he had lived and we would have been deprived of the insight into the development provided by the drafts.
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Old 01-05-2012, 07:14 AM   #3
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Did Tolkien have a final and definitive concept of the Silmarillion? It seems to me he was working things out about his creation pretty much to the end - and I wonder if he would have sought to adjust the LOTR to fit a "finished" Silmarillion in the same way as he made the alterations to the Hobbit to fit the needs of the LOTR.

I sometimes wonder if JRRT had had the use of a word processor and could have implemented name changes throughout a script in seconds and the like, if he would have been able to finish it or delve deeper but I suspect he was too much of a Niggle to ever finish and he would have tinkered to the end no matter how long he had lived and we would have been deprived of the insight into the development provided by the drafts.
Perhaps--it's just, what is the "canon" mythology in the LOTR universe? Is the released Silmarillion "canon"?
Also, I read something about JRRT tinkering with the idea of Gandalf being a manifestation of Manwe?
I don't think he would've tinkered with the LOTR. Although, he did want to ENTIRELY re-write The Hobbit to fit the tone of the LOTR.
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:08 AM   #4
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Perhaps--it's just, what is the "canon" mythology in the LOTR universe? Is the released Silmarillion "canon"?
Well, there is the bit too where Tolkien named his son, Christopher, his Literary Executor. Placing Christopher in a position to do what he sees fit with his father's unpublished works, and which is how The Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, and several other books have been published since Tolkien's death.

Christopher Tolkien has always appears straight forward with what was written by his father and what is commentary/opinion from CT. He's been rather clear with in order to publish The Silmarillion, he had to make certain decisions to put it in a presentable form. I believe he also had assistance from someone else, but I can't for the life of me remember the name at the moment.

I think you'll see both arguments here. Some who can argue if it's not directly written and published by Tolkien than it's not canon. But, in my opinion, as his Literary Executor, Christopher had full confidence and authority to re-work and do what he will with The Silmarillion and other unpublished works of his father's.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:12 AM   #5
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Perhaps--it's just, what is the "canon" mythology in the LOTR universe? Is the released Silmarillion "canon"?
Well, some people argue that HOME books are more canonical than TH.

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I don't think he would've tinkered with the LOTR. Although, he did want to ENTIRELY re-write The Hobbit to fit the tone of the LOTR.
No, but he wanted to change some details. One that I remember is how Gandalf couldn't read the runes on the Elven blades they found in the Trolls' cave. TH says that Gandalf didn't know them. JRRT wanted to change that so that the runes would be covered in muck/rust/etc and he wasn't able to read them until he came to Rivendell; this way Gandalf the Knowledgeable that we see in LOTR is the same Gandalf in TH. I think he also wanted to change something with Gollum.

PS: for your siggie, Boro. ^.^
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:25 PM   #6
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Perhaps--it's just, what is the "canon" mythology in the LOTR universe? Is the released Silmarillion "canon"?
Also, I read something about JRRT tinkering with the idea of Gandalf being a manifestation of Manwe?
I don't think he would've tinkered with the LOTR. Although, he did want to ENTIRELY re-write The Hobbit to fit the tone of the LOTR.
I refer you to the notorrious canonicity thread which has daunted me (albeit I may not be the most bravest of women) since I arrived on the Downs about seven years ago.. I do have a deal with Fordim that I will post but I haven't quite got there yet..... Bon courage... you may need ropes, oxygen and emergency rations.
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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Well, there is the bit too where Tolkien named his son, Christopher, his Literary Executor. Placing Christopher in a position to do what he sees fit with his father's unpublished works, and which is how The Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, and several other books have been published since Tolkien's death.
I don't see how the work could be any more "definitive" than it already is.

Who is, or would be in the future, in a better position to analyze Tolkien's writings and decide what comes nearest to the author's ultimate intentions than Christopher?
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:08 PM   #8
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I don't know how much room there is right now for a conclusively more 'definitive' text because of the state of the stories left when JRR passed. Christopher Tolkien has commented on this extensively. He was pressed to complete his version quickly by the volume of requests, and of course, several writings were found after his 1977 version was published. Given much more time and all the material he had by the time the 12 HOME volumes were finished, he's said that he could've had a substantially different version.

He set out on the difficult task of trying to use his father's latest versions of the stories, but to also balance completeness and internal consistency. Few stories had all three qualities. Stories decades in the making are problematic as they change so much - in revision, later versions would change details that also affected the accuracy of/continuity from earlier stories that weren't updated yet. Doesn't help that JRR's handwritten notes often weren't legible!

Unfortunately, at his age (87) and the amount of time (20+ years) he has already spent editing and publishing all of these writings (The Silmarillion, UT, HOME), I suspect he'd rather spend these last years of his life on something other than a new Silmarillion, and mostly I can't blame him! The Children of H˙rin and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudr˙n are testaments to this. (On the other, selfish hand, part of me says - what a crowning achievement that would be.)

If a new Silmarillion was to come from his hand, I think it would've arrived shortly after The Peoples of Middle-earth (HOME XII, 1996) in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

If not from Christopher Tolkien, I think it could be difficult for a new version of The Silmarillion to be attempted, published, and received as definitive. Not impossible, but improbable - it would have to be impeccable! I am largely ignorant of the amount of scholarly study given to Tolkien's work, but if it is there, maybe it could happen. Time may make it more likely; as JRR's children pass and the Estate is in the hands of another generation, I wonder how it will hold his legacy, including if/how it will continue 'new' releases to feed longtime fans and stir up attention for new ones.

In regards to "expanding" the tales, I think that's less likely because some of the more detailed versions of the stories were also earlier and/or never completed - thinking particularly of "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" from Unfinished Tales.

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No, but he wanted to change some details. One that I remember is how Gandalf couldn't read the runes on the Elven blades they found in the Trolls' cave. TH says that Gandalf didn't know them. JRRT wanted to change that so that the runes would be covered in muck/rust/etc and he wasn't able to read them until he came to Rivendell; this way Gandalf the Knowledgeable that we see in LOTR is the same Gandalf in TH. I think he also wanted to change something with Gollum.
Tolkien commented more than once that he was having to resist the urge to rewrite The Hobbit for continuity of tone with The Lord of The Rings, and according to The History of the Hobbit (John Rateliff, 2007) he actually started a rewrite that was scrapped by chapter three because it felt too unfamiliar. Someone previewed it (I can't remember who) told him it "just wasn't The Hobbit."

He actually did change some details. Particularly the fifth chapter (the account of Bilbo beating Gollum at the riddle game) was revised for the second edition of The Hobbit in 1951, done so to reconcile the version of events in The Lord of the Rings. In the first edition, Gollum willingly put the Ring at stake in the game, and when Bilbo won, they parted ways peacefully.

Further changes were made for a third edition published in 1966, primarily because, or at least the opportunity was taken because, of copyright problems Tolkien was having in the US with Ace books (who were printing his works without permission by a loophole - that previous US editions only had UK copyright information listed). I do not know the specific changes made for the third edition; they might be included in The History of the Hobbit, but my copy is in storage at the moment. I expect that these were more philogic concerns.

There's a note explaining both revisions (1951 and 1966) in the front of most editions published since.

* TL;DR - Probably won't be another Silmarillion. Tolkien did revise The Hobbit twice, and started a rewrite that was scrapped early on.
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:40 PM   #9
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If only Tolkien had been immortal...Imagine what could've come from his mind...He probably would've at some point finished The Silmarillion in total; it was dear to his heart and even the 1977 version is a masterpiece and a work of art. Although, it seems his mind was always changing, even on small issues, and perhaps he would've never reached any definitive conclusion even if given 100 years...He might have always been tinkering with it, never truly "satisfied" with it, always finding some new idea or twist on a story or new angle on a character. Consider the way he jumped around with what the origin of the Orc were...He never did seem totally sure.

I tend to look at The Silmarillion as one version of incredibly ancient tales: Some of the details might have been "lost in translation" but the story is mostly the same. As such, to me it is canon. It is a distillation of the tales, which seem to have changed many times over the course of JRRT's life. It is the best we would probably ever get given what I've read here. Sort of like how the Eddas or Beowulf were probably tampered with and Christianized a bit. Still the "definitive" Beowulf.

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Old 01-05-2012, 07:50 PM   #10
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If only Tolkien had been immortal...Imagine what could've come from his mind... [...] Although, it seems his mind was always changing, even on small issues, and perhaps he would've never reached any definitive conclusion even if given 100 years...He might have always been tinkering with it, never truly "satisfied" with it, always finding some new idea or twist on a story or new angle on a character.
You touch on something interesting there - the artist and his struggle to be wholly satisfied with the art. As above, there were many things in even The Hobbit that he wished to revise, and it took him twelve years to write The Lord of the Rings. Though stretched with many other jobs and tasks, he did, after all, have several decades to write and finish The Silmarillion. Imagine what he could've done with the luxury of being a writer by exclusive profession as some are afforded today.

Having just spent over 120 hours recording and producing a relatively simple album for my local church choir, I can identify with the concept. After you create a foundation - a draft, a demo, or a rough sketch - you could spend an endless amount of time editing and perfecting every little word, note, or line. If you want the art to be finalized in such a way that other people can enjoy your work, you eventually have to let it go.

Originally after completing The Lord of the Rings in 1949, he tried to convince George Allen & Unwin to publish The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings together. I wonder how close to completion it was in his own mind at the time. Even though they baulked, he must've had some short/midterm timeline in mind for completion and publication, don't you think? They waited 12 years for a completed sequel; I don't suspect he would've asked them to wait another 10 years for the Elvish history companion volume which he wanted available simultaneously.

And yet he lived 23 more years and didn't finish.
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Old 01-06-2012, 10:37 AM   #11
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I was once told that in order for a Middle Earth role playing game to be playable, one would have to extrapolate or add enough detail that the result could not be considered canon. I suspect the same would have to be true for any version of Silmarillion. If you told the story cleanly enough for a wide modern audience, if your objective were for it to entertain rather than to not contradict the Professor, you'd have to fill in, extrapolate or guess at enough stuff that the academic nitpickers would lump it in with the Steve Jackson movies.

What sort of author would one seek for such a project? What should the objective be? Do you want to make money selling books? Do you want to worship at the alter of The Original Author, striving for his style while minimizing conflict and contradictions?

I'm not entirely pleased with Christopher Tolkien's approach. His value added seemed more as a scholar than a story teller, and I'm looking for a good story. Still, there is no approach that would please everyone.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:44 PM   #12
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Hardly suprising since Christopher Tolkien is a scholar, eminent in his own right. Itdoes give the Silmarillion and HoME an integrity that, for me makes up for any lack of readability. If the Silmarillion as it stands is harder work than LOTR to get into it reflects Tolkien's changing style rather than failings on Christopher's part. As far as I can make out he has put as little into the "composed writings" as possible. The Children of Hurin had minor corrections for syntax and that was about it. It may not have been exactly the version that JRRT would have chosen to publish but I think we can be sure it is just about 100% JRRT not CRT not some hired gun.

Of course other versions could be written..we are all free to have a go at it as long as we don't try to make money from it. Fan fic finds its own level. I am grateful beyond words that Christopher hasn't cashed in as he might with all sorts of ersatz spin offs. Would we really want him to carry on as Dick Francis' son has with his father's books? One thing for fromulaic thrillers but with ME? As for the future, Hammond and Scull (Calcifer here) seem to be the anointed scholars and Adam the family member likely to be most involved (he aided his father with the Children of Hurin and is the translator into French of the early volumes of HoME. He may me moremedia savvy and friendly than pere but I doubt it will be a free for all under his watch.

It is quite possible that the published Silmarillion is not what Christopher would have issued had the full archive been available to him at get go...as I recall a substantial amount of documents came to light later but I think he has more than corrected his "mistake" in the form of UT and HoME. Those of us who love those works being available to us are grateful that JRR's son was a natural scholar not a storyteller. It is a remarkable achievement even for one who was editing his father's work in the nursery, keeping tabs on the colours of dwarf hoods.

My main regret with Christopher being the good scholar is that he as far as I recall pretty much sticks to the texts. There must be so much anecdotal stuff he knows from being so close to his father but he hasn't included becasue he has no textual proof. My hope is that he has written a memoir for posthumous publication but given how persecuted he has been it is a very faint one.
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:56 PM   #13
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If only Tolkien had been immortal...
If Tolkien were immortal, he'd still be fidgeting about with some projects half done, others half started, and half halved to have more than half whole.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:24 PM   #14
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If Tolkien were immortal, he'd still be fidgeting about with some projects half done, others half started, and half halved to have more than half whole.
That, and half again as much.
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:52 AM   #15
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(...) It is quite possible that the published Silmarillion is not what Christopher would have issued had the full archive been available to him at get go...as I recall a substantial amount of documents came to light later but I think he has more than corrected his "mistake" in the form of UT and HoME.
Hmm, I'm not sure there was relatively that much unavailable or unknown to Christopher Tolkien in the 1970s -- and at least one example that I do recall at the moment is the updated long prose Beren and Luthien, but it is very close to the poetic version, and as far as it goes introduces no substantial changes to the tale.

And for example where Christopher Tolkien has criticized himself: The Fall of Doriath presents a somewhat unique scenario in any event, but given Christopher Tolkien's own regret here -- that he with Guy Kay could have done better in the way of sticking closer to the existing texts -- I'm pretty sure (although without checking) that he still had all the relevant material before him for consideration, at the time.


It seems to me that Christopher Tolkien has been criticized from both sides, so to speak -- for not taking up the mantle of writer in enough measure (I think Michael Drout, at least, expressed this desire in his review of The Children of Hurin) -- and for overstepping the bounds of the editorial function. Or some say the published Silmarillion is too long and 'boring' (!) while others think it should have included much more of what we now find in HME.


The History of Middle-Earth ('Silmarillion related' portion) may be very complete seeming, but Christopher Tolkien has noted that his private History of the Silmarillion is actually longer and more detailed -- although one assumes the most notable and interesting information (the most notable from Christopher Tolkien's point of view, granting that this too can be opinion-based when one really wants to take up a detailed study of the Silmarillion) has made its way into the version on public bookshelves.

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Old 01-07-2012, 10:00 AM   #16
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You may be right it is some time since I have more than dipped into HoMe. I just recalled mention of stuff which either went to Marquette by mistake or should have gone to Marquette and didn't... I suppose the thing is that the Silmarillion was thought to have been unpublishable in Tolkien's life time - didn't he envisage it as being comparable to the rings? If there had been a "more perfect" Silmarillion published in Tolkien's lifetime I wonder if we would have had UT and HoME. The "imperfect" published Silmarillion may have been a vital stepping stone in giving so many of access to the drafts. In which case I think I prefer it that way.. nice as it might have been to have had every story in the Sil able collated and expanded as CoH was....
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:26 AM   #17
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This quote by JRRT is interesting: "once upon a time... I had in mind to make a body of more or less connected legend... I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched."

As such, it seems he intentionally wanted to leave some things incomplete (IE, not make full length novels of every tale, even if it were possible). Which leads me to view the Silmarillion as being canon as well...I don't think any edits Christopher made damaged his father's work, and given that Tolkien entrusted his work to his son (which speaks highly of his faith in his son to be a good steward of Middle Earth as it were), I would imagine he would've been very much pleased to see at least a cohesive version of it be released were he alive. He might've had minor quibbles here or there--But then, might've changed his mind yet again and agreed with what he previously quibbled with. Christopher took on what was a very daunting task and probably seemed impossible to him--and met it well in my opinion, in a way which fulfilled his father's mythology.
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:49 PM   #18
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You may be right it is some time since I have more than dipped into HoMe. I just recalled mention of stuff which either went to Marquette by mistake or should have gone to Marquette and didn't...
Insofar as the Marquette papers are LotR-specific, rather than the entire corpus of Middle-earth, I suspect your memory is muddling bits of the History of the LotR with History of the Silm.

That said, I think your basic point about Christopher Tolkien having a greater sense of the Silm corpus after the HoME, and as a result of the HoME, is still valid. Even if he had all the papers, which is a fair assumption, and even if he was familiar with all their contents, it does not follow that he had the perspective on them all necessary to make the most judicious decisions in all cases regarding a collated Silmarillion. You can see just from the notated changes to earlier volumes included at the beginning of most later volumes of the HoME what a huge task it was to keep all the different manuscripts and variants in mind, and it makes sense spending twenty-plus years on the entire corpus of Middle-earth (1973-the mid-1990s) would give Christopher Tolkien a fuller sense of the corpus than the 4 years (from his father's death, 1973, to the publication of the Silmarillion, 1977) he had to bring that entire corpus down to a single publishable text.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:16 PM   #19
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I think if the right person [douglas anderson or one of the other folks already close to CJRT] were to present him with an 'Expanded Silmarillion' that did not try and change the 77/99 Silmarillion but instead supplemented it with a 'best of Unfinished Tales/HoM-E' it could fly.


And unless CJRT has put some clause of non-tampering in with ANY Silmarilion ever published by the estate after his well-earned repose, it is more likely to come out after. He spent a big chunk of his life trying to do right by his father and undoubtedly feels rather attached to the treatment[s] he has given the Silmarillion[s].

I do think a gorgeous multi-volume set with the 'canonical' (note quotes ) Silm in the center, and the annals [old below and new above] and the most interesting additions and variants in boxes where appropriate would be gorgeous and frankly much needed. So many people never make it to HoM-E where imo in the post LotR volumes some of his best writing lays, read by a small % of M-E lovers.

If I had been more foresighted, I would have skewed the whole Translations from the Elvish Project in that direction, but frankly the idea did not occur to me until after we [ Aiwendil and I ] had the long, hard debate over Rog/principles of editing and I was nearing the end of my active involvement with the truly massive undertaking.

Nonetheless, the TftE as it stands is doing a brilliant thing by sticking to JRRT's words and themes far closer than CJRT did editorially, and someone someday will be able to get a Doctorate out of their work if they know of it that is.

So I do hope it gets done, and I see it would help the Silmarillion take it's rightful place alongside LotR as an equal work - not just in size but in depth of story, which the edited version simply does not allow for very easily if at all.

The Osanwe Kenta, the Laws and Customs of the Eldar and the Athrabeth, the wanderings of Hurin are some of JRRT's most moving to me writings, and them being buried in HoM-E is a minor tragedy, relieved only by the fact that they ARE available. Though some not even in HoM-E!
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:32 PM   #20
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This quote by JRRT is interesting: "once upon a time... I had in mind to make a body of more or less connected legend... I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched."
Let me now expose myself as the total ignoramus I am in regards to Tolkien scholarship, but I can just relate to what he says there.

Think of a scholarly mind enthusiastic with medieval history, a time in many senses different but yet similar to ours. We don't have any accounts of the history written from an all-knowing "God's eye perspective", the "full account" or the "definitive version", but a concentration of stories about the Scandinavians (vikings) written up by the monks coming in there, another with the British Isles (some older accounts, some more concentration later on figures like Arthur or even later, Robin Hood), the myths of Perceval from France later incorporated into the Arthurian legends, the Niebelungenlied bringing in many of the features of some older scattered notes (and the things shared with the Edda) and after that followed by scores of accounts... while some other thoughts, ideas, narratives are mentioned just here and there, some probably nowhere.

So isn't Tolkien just going for the "real thing" here? Some legends are more connected, wealthier in detail and in variance, while some are more scetchy, more scattered, more unfathomable? Like with real history from where we have to draw from - and of which he was himself so fascinated about?

The real history has gaps and discontinuities as well as overlapping and different versions of things.

So as an author, leaving the gaps was also intentional, as a call to incite the imagination of the reader? And if so, then isn't that exactly that which made him (and us reading his stories) curious and enthusiastic, which made him (and thence us) fall in love with the thing as it can never exhaust itself? Just because there is no "definitive version".
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:44 PM   #21
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I really like that thought, Nog - there is no 'canon' in the real world either. I admit I have always been a little disappointed by the fact that there is a lot of overlapping and lack of continuity in the Middle-Earth literature, wanting to know the 'truth'. But it is true that in this world and in the best of art there is always space for interpretation, for everyone to see what they want to and what for them completes the story best. Tolkien was a master of that.
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Old 03-01-2012, 05:16 PM   #22
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Well, lindil, you had to bring up TftE, didn't you? Now I have to head back in, make a new folder on my computer, and make text files of all the finished content to see how it looks collated.

Thanks. There's two to three weeks down the drain.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:43 PM   #23
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down the drain? hardly.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:16 PM   #24
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(...) So isn't Tolkien just going for the "real thing" here? Some legends are more connected, wealthier in detail and in variance, while some are more scetchy, more scattered, more unfathomable? Like with real history from where we have to draw from - and of which he was himself so fascinated about?

The real history has gaps and discontinuities as well as overlapping and different versions of things.
True, and not that you were referring to this, but I am also seeing (what I perceive) as a tendency in some to treat all of Tolkien's variations, or at least many of them, as 'internal' instead of what they actually are in many cases -- external drafts working toward the author's intended measure of consistency (and purposed inconsistency). The Drowning of Anadune, for example, is a perfect example of intended confusion and inconsistency...

... but fans and readers re-characterizing rejected drafts as 'internal variations' is arguably undermining Tolkien's art of subcreation in my opinion.
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:20 AM   #25
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Galin I will respectfully disagree.

IF JRRT was involved in Sub-creation [see On Faery Stories] then his 'experiments' in various drafts can [on at least one level] be seen as a the universe trying to understand itself, this is vastly deeper and more significant than a fiction writer sitting down and using cliche formula coming up with a collection of cliche events.

This too me is why JRRT is so important and deep, he writing, living and breathing from a deep space and I put his writings [and many drafts] in the same category of relevance as Jung, Gurdjieff and a hand-full of others. Of more modern writers, J.Crowley's 'little, big' and T. Williams Otherland and War of the Flowers approach, and even the Potter series, approach the level of truth whereby their internal fabric can usefully mirror to us TRUTH on amny levels. As above - so below.

Now that being said, studying it all from the external fictional, he wrote this stuff in the 1910's-70's is ALSO a way of understanding it - just a limited and to me comparitvely shallow mine to look for jewels and ore, compared to the mythological and even spiritual levels he attained. This to me is the key as to why JRRT was author of the century, he tapped something far deeper than himself, and like a true Christian followed where he was led.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:06 PM   #26
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For better clarity maybe, I'm talking about characterizing (for example) Qenta Noldorinwa as an internal variant to later versions of the same text; that is, external and superseded drafts being recharacterized by readers as collectively internal, and the Subcreated World is thus made inconsistent where Tolkien himself imagined no such inconsistency.

I think Tolkien was engaged in creating a measure of purposed inconsistency, especially between sources: the Annals versus Quenta Silmarillion for example, or the variant texts regarding Numenor -- and perhaps even a bit between the long prose versions and the brief chapters of Quenta Silmarillion, or versus the poetic versions. A perfect consistency was not only not necessary, but not intended in any case.

But I'm still not certain why this leads you to post: '... studying it all from the external fictional, he wrote this stuff in the 1910's-70's is ALSO a way of understanding it - just a limited and to me comparitvely shallow mine to look for jewels and ore,...' This seems to suggest that because of the opinion above, I must be approaching the whole of Tolkien's work in some sort of detatched scholarly manner, 'studying it all from the external fictional' of A to Z, although I'm not sure what you mean by looking for jools and ore if this is the right context.


I don't disagree with what you posted 'on at least one level'

Or do you think I must, or still do, given this post?

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Old 03-02-2012, 07:35 PM   #27
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"I think Tolkien was engaged in creating a measure of purposed inconsistency, especially between sources: the Annals versus Quenta Silmarillion for example, or the variant texts regarding Numenor -- and perhaps even a bit between the long prose versions and the brief chapters of Quenta Silmarillion, or versus the poetic versions. A perfect consistency was not only not necessary, but not intended in any case."

very true, I misread a bit of your intent on the other points.

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Old 03-13-2012, 02:54 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by lindil View Post

The Osanwe Kenta, the Laws and Customs of the Eldar and the Athrabeth, the wanderings of Hurin are some of JRRT's most moving to me writings, and them being buried in HoM-E is a minor tragedy, relieved only by the fact that they ARE available. Though some not even in HoM-E!
I was all ready to be dismissive and them remembered that the Osanwe Kenta is only available in a very obscure and hard to source little pamphlet. The Osanwe Kenta, which blew apart all my previous ideas about Tolkien's creation...so yes, a publication with all of that included would be amazing. Not least because then i can talk to more people about the ideas in it.

But, in general, the thing Tolkien most lacked was the Tight Deadline. I have this fear now of writers who haven't got that threat hanging over them because so many of them seem to get unravelled and baggy the longer they take to get the next installment of a book out *cough* georgerrmartin *cough*. In contrast, you have JK Rowling who was obliged to keep the installments coming, as her main audience of kids aren't known for their patience and they will insist on growing up! She polished off the whole series satisfactorily and coherently, and in spite of the modern trend for writers to be utterly incapable of finishing a story correctly.

Had Tolkien had his publisher standing over him cracking the whip, I suspect we would have had a definitive and neatly completed Sil, even though he himself would never have been quite satisfied.
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:58 AM   #29
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I think Allen& Unwin did what they could to make Tolkien publish faster. But at first Tolkien was an amateur writer, his profession earned him and his family a living and he presited on beening satisfied with the story before publication.

I think the only chance for devinite 'Silmarillion' was lost when Allen and Unwin turned down Tolkiens idea to publish 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Silmarillion' together.

Now a day with the autor dead, I don't see who would be in the position to make any definition for the 'definitive' version of 'The Silmarillion'. The literary executers don't have the power to enforce such a thing. Christopher Tolkien did already try that, with no success as this discussion clearly shows. No body else would be more entiteled to try and thus any try would be discussed out of 'devinitivness' as soon as it is out in public.

To be fair: Christopher Tolkien was in the position to enfoce a 'definitive' version of 'The Silmarillion' and for a long time his version was exactly that. But I am very greatfull to him that he had chosen to public all the conflicting versions included in 'The History of Middle-Earth' that made his own version of 'The Silmarillion' questionable.

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Old 03-14-2012, 11:10 AM   #30
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(...) Now a day with the autor dead, I don't see who would be in the position to make any definition for the 'definitive' version of 'The Silmarillion'. The literary executers don't have the power to enforce such a thing. Christopher Tolkien did already try that, with no success as this discussion clearly shows. (...) To be fair: Christopher Tolkien was in the position to enfoce a 'definitive' version of 'The Silmarillion' and for a long time his version was exactly that. But I am very greatfull to him that...
Can I ask what you mean by Christopher Tolkien enforcing a definition for a definitive version of The Silmarillion?

In the Foreword to the 1977 Silmarillion Christopher Tolkien notes that he set himself to work out a single text, '... selecting and arranging in such a way as seemed to me to produce the most coherent and internally self-consistent narrative.' He had earlier noted that due to the complexity of the existing texts: '... a final and definitive version seemed unattainable' -- but I get the feeling that he is here (that is, this sentence read in the fuller context), speaking generally as he very briefly describes the 'history' of the texts. Or speaking from his father's perspective perhaps.


I'm not suggesting that Christopher Tolkien is necessarily saying here that the book is not to be considered a definitive version, but at least with respect to the Foreword I don't think he states that it is to be considered definitive in some sense. I take his comments to briefly describe the construction of a reader's version rather than a scholarly presentation, perhaps similar to the more recent presentation of The Children of Hurin.

Did Christopher Tolkien ever claim he had presented the version rather than a version? Or did readers rather treat the 1977 Silmarillion as definitive, having nothing else in any case -- before the more scholarly presentation was published -- especially considering that it wasn't until the 1990s (with Morgoth's Ring) that a notable amount of the 'later Quenta Silmarillion' could be compared to the constructed Silmarillion of 1977.

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Old 03-15-2012, 04:12 AM   #31
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Posted by Galin:
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Can I ask what you mean by Christopher Tolkien enforcing a definition for a definitive version of The Silmarillion?
Christopher Tolkien over steped the task of an editor to get a coherent book from the scirpts of the Silmarillion komplex left to him by his father. Since his father entiteled him to do as he wished with his scripts, he is not to be blamed for it. And I did not mean 'enforcing' with any negativ conotation.
What he did was not enforcing a definition realy, he simply presented the result of such a definition: As long as nothing else was published, the product of that process 'The Silmarillion' of 1977 was THE 'definitive' version.

All publication about Middle-Earth that followed with the excaption of 'The Children of H˙rin' were mere resource books showing JRR Tolkien's life long work on the theme. In his commentaries Christopher Tolkien himself does question some of his own decissions made for the 'The Silmarillion' of 1977, but he did not take the opportuinty to re-edit 'The Silamrillion' in these points when a new edition came out 2001.
Therefore the avarage reader will, if he is interrested enough to read that fare at all, come first to 'The Silmarillion'. Which makes that book still some kind of a definitiv version.

The alternative way (probably not possible in practise) would have been to start with 'Unfinished Tales' and 'The History of Middle-Earth' series. That would have meant no preselection or definition for devintivness by the editor but full freeness for the readers.

Thus in effect we have what was asked for: a 'definitive' version of 'The Silmarillion' of some kind. The issue is that we are not satisfied with it.

Respectfuly
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:09 AM   #32
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Christopher Tolkien over steped the task of an editor to get a coherent book from the scirpts of the Silmarillion komplex left to him by his father.
With respect to the Fall of Doriath he overstepped the editorial bounds according to his own words, yes; only done because at the time he felt this was the best way to reconcile a part of the Silmarilion that hadn't been truly updated or fully revised since the 1930s. Choices have to be made for sake of consistency of course, and as far as I recall, Christopher Tolkien applied this term where it involved actual editorial invention, which is relatively quite rare with respect to the book as a whole.


Quote:
And I did not mean 'enforcing' with any negativ conotation. What he did was not enforcing a definition realy, he simply presented the result of such a definition: As long as nothing else was published, the product of that process 'The Silmarillion' of 1977 was THE 'definitive' version.
Then you appear to agree that Christopher Tolkien didn't enforce a definition in any sense of 'with intent'. To me it seems to be the assumption of others, or the somewhat unavoidable result of having to consider something definitive in the sense that there is simply nothing else to compare it to. And if it was avoidable, for a while, in that a scholarly presentation could have been produced first, incidentally it looks like Christopher Tolkien's idea was to produce a scholarly tome first: Charles Noad has noted:

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The fundamental problems, I believe, with the published Silmarillion lie in the fact that a 'literary' version was decided on in the first place. Apparently the idea of Guy Gavriel Kay, it was accepted, and the finished version was accordingly produced. In his speech at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention, Kay said that the initial idea had been to produce a large, scholarly tome, in which the latest version of any particular chapter would have been given, together with extensive appendices and editorial apparatus showing how it had evolved from earlier versions.

This would have resulted in a massive volume, some 1300 printed pages long, say (about the size of the Scull and Hammond Reader's Guide to Tolkien), and two chapters in this style had already been produced when Kay arrived. However, Kay felt strongly that what was needed was a straightforward narrative, shorn of academic apparatus, which advice was eventually adopted by Christopher Tolkien. This approach was tried with 'The Coming of the Elves' where it was felt to work so well that Kay's approach was thereafter adopted. ('A Tower in Beleriand', Charles E. Noad, Amon Hen 91, May 1988, pp.16-18.) It may indeed have worked well, but such a procedure served to give a finished appearance to what was very often disparate and unfinished material.


Charles Noad, from his review of Arda Reconstructed
That is not to lay any kind of 'blame' on anyone, and the ultimate decision was Christopher Tolkien's of course, but in any case the idea put forth by some, to support that a one volume version needs revising, is that 'most' will be getting their Silmarillion experience through a one volume (what I call) 'reader's version' compared to a scholarly presentation -- which to my mind also supports that the former is what most readers really wanted in the first place; and that's what they got in the 1970s.


Quote:
In his commentaries Christopher Tolkien himself does question some of his own decissions made for the 'The Silmarillion' of 1977, but he did not take the opportuinty to re-edit 'The Silamrillion' in these points when a new edition came out 2001. Therefore the avarage reader will, if he is interrested enough to read that fare at all, come first to 'The Silmarillion'. Which makes that book still some kind of a definitiv version.
They are free to assume it's intended as definitive despite the Foreword which explains that the book in their hands is not the finished product of the author, and is not being presented as such.

The average reader will likely pick up The Children of Hurin more than sift through Unfinished Tales and HME for the scholarly presentation. Does that make the recently published version 'definitive' if they do? Maybe in some sense; but once again that is simply the nature of the beast: the versions Tolkien intended for reader consumption -- in essence if not in detail -- are represented by The Children of Hurin and The Silmarillion one volume editions.


Quote:
In his commentaries Christopher Tolkien himself does question some of his own decissions made for the 'The Silmarillion' of 1977, but he did not take the opportuinty to re-edit 'The Silamrillion' in these points when a new edition came out 2001.

If I recall correctly, there's not really all that much that Christopher Tolkien himself questioned. I wonder how short the list is actually; or how much on such a list would be deemed compelling enough matters to argue for a revised edition, given the subjective nature of that discussion.

Quote:
(...) Thus in effect we have what was asked for: a 'definitive' version of 'The Silmarillion' of some kind. The issue is that we are not satisfied with it.
Some might be dissatisfied with it, but are you dissatisfied with The Silmarillion based on a reading of the book itself? Is it 'un-Tolkien-ian' in essence, or too much so? Even those inventions intended to reconcile The Fall of Doriath? To quote Mr. Noad again (same review)...

Quote:
There is one point where Kane attempts a justification for a book such as this one. He notes (Kane, p. 216) that in The Road to Middle-earth Tom Shippey cites 'Thingol's death in the dark while he looks at the captured Light' (of the Silmaril) as an example of Tolkien’s genius for creating compelling images. However, 'Thingol's death in the dark recesses of Menegroth was completely an invention of the editors', hence 'The fact that as renown[ed] a Tolkien scholar as Shippey would have this kind of mistaken impression is a strong indication of the need for a work like the present one.'

Well now, catching out Shippey must count as pretty neat, but one might admire the editors for so well creating, out of the requirements of the reconstructed narrative, so Tolkienian an image. It must prove something.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:49 PM   #33
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I'm not nearly well-versed enough in the laborious process Tolkien had in writing the stories of the First Age to debate with some of the scholars here.

However, Tolkien himself is gone and unable to tell what his ultimate plans for consolidating the stories into a comprehensive volume were. That being the case, it is very unlikely that any version or variation of The Silmarillion will ever appear that will be universally accepted by both critics and readers. I think CT has done as good a job as can be done with the material he had to work with, and as I've said before, I really don't know anyone else in a better position than he to try and assemble the stories into a cohesive work.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:25 PM   #34
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Leaf The Silmarillion we've Got

I have often called fantasy role playing games a shared daydream. One might argue that any form of fiction -- novel, movie, TV show, play, whatever -- might be understood as such. A distinction might be made in the degree to which the daydream is intended to be shared. Is the sub creator out to satisfy himself, or is he playing to an audience? Has he got to please an editor first? How many other people -- screenwriters, directors, actors, RPG players -- might have a finger in the pie?

The Silmarillion stories seem closer to a personal daydream than most fiction. Sure, they were shared somewhat with the Inklings. Still, I get the feeling that they were written for the author, not for the audience. In some sense this defines what the Silmarillion is.

Would the Silmarillion be different if he had a publishing contract, a due date, an editor with a big hammer and a target audience? Certainly. Would it be the same Silmarillion that a small group of people love but a lot of folks don't? Nope.

Christopher Tolkien's Silmarillion is the Silmarillion we've got. I think I'd have preferred and editor looking to create good stories rather than an academic trying to preserve a legacy. Not sure who I'd volunteer to edit such a volume, or whether it would sell, but I don't anticipate any such volume in the foreseeable future.

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Old 03-20-2012, 05:25 AM   #35
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However, Tolkien himself is gone and unable to tell what his ultimate plans for consolidating the stories into a comprehensive volume were.
I don't think he knew himself, as he kept changing them. In other words, if CJRT didn't choose one variation of each and publish it in The Sil, we'd just have a big collection of versions. Well, like we have the HOME that summarises the versions. Or, at best like the UT with half-completed ideas.

So even had Tolkien lived, I doubt we'd ever have a finished Sil.


I wonder a bit at how "easily" Frodo and Bilbo finish their parts of the Book compared to the author. I guess they knew what they're writing about while Tolkien, well, didn't.
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:33 PM   #36
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If Tolkien were immortal, he'd still be fidgeting about with some projects half done, others half started, and half halved to have more than half whole.
You know, that sounds suspiciously like Feanor.

In answer to the question: plain and simple NO.
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:24 AM   #37
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'definitive'

I will define what I see as 'definitive' which I notice has become very different from many here.

1st - any definitive Silmarillion, would be at best relatively so, as JRRT would not be the editir, nor at this point is CJRT at all likely.

The most we can hope for is a 'puffed' up version that CJRT DOES sign off on, as he must have with the 3 volume Hobbit Editied by Anderson.

I really see Anerson's Annotated Hobbit as something of the model.

What would make it definitive to me is if it contained the maximal 1st AGE material with no attempt to present any detail as definitive, but to include the best of the alt versions side by side literally with the 'official' version.

So I mean definitive presentation of materials, not any definitive 'canon'. That ship sailed in 1999 when CJRT declined to change anything of substance other than a few dates in 1999. No change in Orodreth/Gil-Galad, the 7th son of feanor being killed, etc...


But definitive 'readers' editiion is still very much needed. As Lalwende noted most obvioulsy with the Osanwe-Kenta, it is too important to the understanding of Elves and Men and the Valar for that gem to be so buried, along with so much else that imo can transform the reading of the Silm to something more nearly approaching a] what JRRT intended and hoped for in terms of size and variability b] The whole of the story is shown large/small old new condensed and expanded without much concern being given to do all the explaining HoM-E does quite well. So minimal editorial comments and maximal texts ideally with a cool timeline [annals new above core text, old at bottom] and boxes or different fonts to show the variations, or even a final on one side, and maybe a lost tales variant on the other.

I do hope something like this might happen with the Silm. Prob Anderson or one of the skulls or somesuch would have to grab CJRT's ear.

But I think it unlikely for the simple reason that CJRT has handled all the Silm stuff himself, it has been 'his baby'. The Hobbit to him was something he could live with passing on to Anderson, Silm and LotrR material? probably not. Hope to be wrong.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:25 AM   #38
Findegil
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Lindil, you have spoken about such a version before. I can agree that it would be nice to have such a version, but I doubt that it is a reader friendly version. The material to be collected in that version is far apart, that it would either need a big lot of commentary from the editor or would confuse any reader (who is not familiar with 'The History of Middle-Earth').

But if we speculat about possible future editions, I would like to see in the fare future a compendium edition of all Middle-Earth stuff collected as the best we can hope for. If it comes out to be all Tolkien texts instead that wouldn't be that bad either.

Respectfuly
Findegil
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