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Old 07-22-2021, 10:59 AM   #10
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Originally Posted by mhagain View Post
This kind of framing device is a common enough trope, at least in my own personal reading experience. Moorcock used it as well, for example the "Opium eater of Rowe Island" introduction to "Warlord of the Air". It's an interesting narrative conceit but I don't view it as significant.

We all know that Tolkien liked a good framing device, put significant work into them, and - in common with his main narratives - went back, revised, expanded, discarded or completely changed them.

So Lord of the Rings is feigned to be an editorial translation of the Red Book, and there is a great deal of framework and structure around that feigning, including translators notes, but absolutely none of it intrudes into the main narrative. The Silmarillion has it's own history here, where the framing device almost becomes as much a story as the tales embedded in it.

Tolkien admitted in Letter 160 that "I am not now at all sure that the tendency to treat the whole thing as a kind of vast game is really good Ė cert. not for me, who find that kind of thing only too fatally attractive" and that is really what we're seeing here.
But there is rather a difference between the very common frame device of a story purported to come from an old book or manuscript (medieval authors regularly did this to claim authenticity, even when like Geoffrey of Monmouth or the later editor of "Nennius" they were lying through their teeth), and what Tolkien in Notion Club and Eco are doing, which is to make the claim while simultaneously implying that the claim may well be untrue, that the source document is highly dubious.
The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings could be said to turn on what Sauron didnít know, and when he didnít know it.
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