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Old 01-21-2018, 12:42 AM   #1
ArcusCalion
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Tolkien Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

This is a pretty straightforward question, but I am very curious. Where is the textual history of this chapter of the Silmarillion given? Wikipedia says it is given in the Treason of Isengard but I can find only references to one or two passages from it in that book. Is the textual history of the chapter ever given? Or is Christopher Tolkien's version the only one we have available? If the latter is the case, to what extent did he make it up from scratch?
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Old 01-21-2018, 04:08 AM   #2
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This is a pretty straightforward question, but I am very curious. Where is the textual history of this chapter of the Silmarillion given? Wikipedia says it is given in the Treason of Isengard but I can find only references to one or two passages from it in that book. Is the textual history of the chapter ever given? Or is Christopher Tolkien's version the only one we have available? If the latter is the case, to what extent did he make it up from scratch?
I'd love to know as well. Even Douglas Kane's Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion, which is a pretty thorough account of where Christopher Tolkien sourced his texts, and where he had to invent things himself, offers little insight. My instinct might be totally wrong, but the passage at the end of "Of the Rings of Power" about Frodo destroying the Ring has always felt out of place to me, because the specific events of The Lord of the Rings are so rarely mentioned in the context of the wider history of Arda in anything else Professor Tolkien wrote.

When I revised my PhD thesis, one of my examiners told me to reference the drafts found in The History of Middle-earth rather than the published Silmarillion so that I could accurately cite Professor Tolkien's own writing. I ended up eliminating any reference to "Of the Rings of Power" and using alternative sources because I simply couldn't find any version of it other than the one Christopher Tolkien published in The Silmarillion.
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Old 01-21-2018, 09:49 AM   #3
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I had always assumed that Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age was an essay compiled by Christopher Tolkien and Guy Gavriel Kay, a distillation of JRRT's work beyond the bounds of The Silmarillion proper, and meant to wed the textual threads of The Sil to LotR.

It is, in a sense, The Lord of the Rings and other 3rd Age material written in the the literary style of The Silmarillion. It is almost as if an Elvish scribe, uninterested in banal Hobbitish bits of the gross and mundane, described the Age in overarching themes and high prose rather than in the more precious style of Hobbits like Bilbo or Frodo; hence, "Gandalf" is always mentioned instead as "Mithrandir," Hobbits are referred to as "the Periannath" or "halflings", and Bilbo is not named at all.

Again, I am assuming C. Tolkien and Gavriel Kay weaved disparate quoted material directly from various J. Tolkien notebooks into a framework which they created.
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Old 01-21-2018, 10:23 PM   #4
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Well, as far as I could find, in Unfinished Tales CT says this at the beginning of the short text of the Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn:
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The text bearing this title is a short and hasty outline, very roughly composed, which is nonetheless almost the sole narrative source for the events in the West of Middle-earth up to the defeat and expulsion of Sauron from Eriador in the year 1701 of the Second Age. Other than this there is little beyond the brief and infrequent entries in the Tale of Years, and the much more generalised and selective account in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (published in The Silmarillion).
Here he references the text as if it is extant outside of his own personal creation as a primary source. He also refers to certain passages in the drafting for the chapter of the Council of Elrond and the Lothlorien material for LotR as the first drafts for what would later become passages in the later part of Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age. CT also mentions it in the drafts for the Appendices of LotR:
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The name Ulairi of the Ring-wraiths seems to mark a period in my father's work: it is found also in a text of the Tale of Years (p. 175); in The Heirs of Elendil (Chapter VII); and in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (published in The Silmarillion).
All of these references seem to indicate that there was indeed a Tolkien document with this title extant as a primary source, and CT did not make it up wholesale. However, as Zigur says, the very last part summing up LotR seems very out of place after reading the other source texts of Tolkien, and feels very much like a CT addition. That very fact is what leads me to this inquiry, since I do not know which parts are Tolkien original or CT creation. However, CT always refers to the document with the clarifying "published in The Silmarillion." Perhaps he means that he simply published it as it was without alteration? However, consideration of the majority of the book makes this claim very hard to believe.

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Old 01-21-2018, 10:55 PM   #5
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Perhaps he means that he simply published it as it was without alteration? However, consideration of the majority of the book makes this claim very hard to believe.
This is my feeling as well. If I recall correctly, Kane claimed in Arda Reconstructed that there was an original "Of the Rings of Power" text, but didn't explain its history or how he knew this, unless he was basing it on the same statements by Christopher Tolkien in other publications as you've mentioned already.

On the other hand, some elements of the published Silmarillion are largely, if not entirely, unaltered, such as "Akallabźth", according to Christopher Tolkien in The Peoples of Middle-earth:
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"the final form of the Akallabźth, if with some editorial alteration, is available in The Silmarillion."
Despite making similar claims about "Of the Rings of Power", however, he never offers information on its composition as far as I'm aware.

I'd almost be inclined to suggest that perhaps "Of the Rings of Power" was entirely Professor Tolkien's own work with minor editorial changes if it wasn't for the fact that parts of it seem peculiar.
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Old 02-11-2018, 08:01 PM   #6
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Certainly the impression I get from the relevant bits of HME is that Of The Rings of Power, like Akallabeth, was a work that Tolkien Pere had completed to his satisfaction and CRT did nothing more than touch it up. CT also points out, in the foreword to the 1977 Silmarillion, that both works were included in that volume "according to my father's explicit intention," which certainly argues that the Professor had written both works.

(The reason that Akallabeth and its antecedents receive substantial space in HME is that the legend of Numenor evolved over many drafts, and was intimately bound up with Tolkien's changing conception of his legendarium, whereas RPTA was, apparently, written off at a stroke, like most of Appendix A was (and quite possibly at about the same time, 1949-50 or so))
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