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Old 01-17-2014, 08:32 AM   #1
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the original Foreword

Christopher Tolkien notes 'On one of his copies of the First Edition my father wrote beside it: 'This Foreword I should wish very much in any case to cancel. Confusing (as it does) real personal matters with the 'machinery' of the Tale is a serious mistake.'" The Peoples of Middle-earth

I feel like I am misunderstanding Tolkien here, as I don't see the confusion in the original Foreword -- I mean not to question the man himself [which means I am], and obviously or arguably he should know best, but what lines necessarily confuse the conceit?

To my mind Tolkien 'as translator' of parts of The Red Book can himself have children of course, be friends with Inklings and even comment on whether or not the present translation is a children's story or has been given the quality of one, subjective as that might be. And a translator can be in part author of the modern book, which can explain some modern references anyway, like a 'train' for example.

I think it's a bit fanciful to say that the Shire map was approved by Hobbits, but then again English speaking Hobbits who preserved knowledge of Westron and the Tengwar would go some way to explaining how Tolkien translated the original [if Elfwine's Old English translation of The Silmarillion was 'out' of the picture for good]. Plus fanciful isn't bad. Are there Hobbits in Oxford? Why not. Perhaps they were rustic and 'wild', and shorter, than in days long past, but where did JRRT lay his hands on a copy of the Red Book in the first place?

Sorry if you [anyone reading this] don't have a way to read the original Foreword, but anyway, again I'm not sure if I'm understanding this correctly, or if I am, perhaps I'm straining too far to allow the conceit to be easily accepted...

... and Tolkien essentially agreed?

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Old 01-18-2014, 12:07 AM   #2
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. . . goes off looking for original Foreword . . . .
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Old 01-18-2014, 08:03 AM   #3
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You can find that Squatter copied the first foreword in post #25 of this chapter-by chapter thread from 2004)

This tale, which has grown almost to be a history of the great War of the Ring, is drawn for the most part from the memoirs of the renowned Hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo, as they are preserved in the Red Book of Westmarch. This chief monument to Hobbit-lore is so called because it was compiled, repeatedly copied, and enlarged and handed down in the family of the Fairbairns of Westmarch, descended from that Master Samwise of whom this tale has much to say.
I have supplemented the account of the Red Book, in places, with information derived from the surviving records of Gondor, notably the Book of the Kings; but in general, though I have omitted much, I have in this tale adhered more closely to the actual words and narrative of my original than in the previous selection from the Red Book, The Hobbit. That was drawn from the early chapters, composed originally by Bilbo himself. If 'composed' is a just word. Bilbo was not assidious, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused: faults that still appear in the Red Book, since the copiers were pious and careful, and altered very little.
The tale has been put into its present form in response to the many requests that I have received for further information about the history of the Third Age, and about Hobbits in particular. But since my children and others of their age, who first heard of the finding of the Ring, have grown older with the years, this book speaks more plainly of those darker things which lurked only on the borders of the earlier tale, but which have troubled Middle-earth in all its history. It is, in fact, not a book written for children at all; though many children will, of course, be interested in it, or parts of it, as they still are in the histories and legends of other times (especially in those not specially written for them).
I dedicate this book to all admirers of Bilbo, but especially to my sons and daughter, and to my friends the Inklings. To the Inklings, because they have already listened to it with a patience, and indeed with an interest, that almost leads me to suspect that they have hobbit-blood in their venerable ancestry. To my sons and my daughter for the same reason, and also because they have all helped me in the labours of composition. If 'composition' is a just word, and these pages do not deserve all that I have said about Bilbo's work.

For if the labour has been long (more than fourteen years), it has been neither orderly nor continuous. But I have not had Bilbo's leisure. Indeed much of that time has contained for me no leisure at all, and more than once for a whole year the dust has gathered on my unfinished pages. I only say this to explain to those who have waited for the book why they have had to wait so long. I have no reason to complain. I am surprised and delighted to find from numerous letters that so many people, both in England and across the Water, share my interest in this almost forgotten history; but it is not yet universally recognized as an important branch of study. It has indeed no obvious practical use, and those who go in for it can hardly expect to be assisted.
Much information, necessary and unnecessary, will be found in the Prologue. To complete it some maps are given, including one of the Shire that has been approved as reasonably correct by those Hobbits that still concern themselves with ancient history. At the end of the third volume will be found some abridged family-trees, which show how the Hobbits mentioned were related to one another, and what their ages were at the time when the story opens. There is an index of names and strange words with some explanations. And for those who like such lore in an appendix some brief account is given of the languages, alphabets and calendars that were used in the West-lands in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Those who do not need such information, or who do not wish for it, may neglect these pages; and the strange names that they meet they may, of course, pronounce as they like. Care has been given to their transcription from the original alphabets and some notes are offered on the intentions of the spelling adopted* But not all are interested in such matters, and many who are not may still find the account of those great and valiant deeds worth the reading. It was in that hope that I began the work of translating and selecting the stories of the Red Book, part of which are now presented to Men of a later Age, one almost as darkling and ominous as was the Third Age that ended with the great years 1418 and 1419 of the Shire long ago.
* There is a footnote at this point explaining some minor points of
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Old 01-18-2014, 08:40 AM   #4
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This is the first I've seen of the original Forward, and thanks to Guinevere for that quote. The later version in LOTR strikes me as avoiding the "translator" issue, concentrating instead on the real-world observations of the author in relation to the book. It seems the translator narrative was instead moved to the Prologue, and maybe that's what Tolkien had an issue with: wanting the Forward to be a largely separate entity from the Prologue. Just my unscholarly two cents.
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Old 01-19-2014, 12:23 PM   #5
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Thanks, Guinevere for that link. It's wonder when members remember early threads.
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