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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Children of Hurin Discussion, Part 1
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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 1:39am

Post #51 of 72 (3415 views)
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Disconnected from "real" mythology? [In reply to] Can't Post


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Suffice it to say for now that I think having smaller (heroic) narratives such as Túrin's story (like those of Achilles or Odysseus or Sigurd or Beowulf) that fit into a larger network of legend and mythic history does create the illusion of a cultural heritiage.



What is the function of the audience in cultural heritage and mythology? Are Tolkien's mythological efforts hampered by his material's distance both from his readers and real mythology? That is, for their original audiences, the stories of Achilles or Beowulf fit into the legends and history they knew, and the continuous use and re-use of that material still gives those tales some heft today. But a "new" work like The Children of Húrin has only a few decades of Tolkien's own writing to lean on, and no connection to our history or mythology.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 1:48am

Post #52 of 72 (3421 views)
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"[M]ore an age of Elves than of Men"? [In reply to] Can't Post

The problem is, after the Lost Tales, Tolkien didn't write much in the way of stories of the Elves. So while I agree with you, that Elves are at the heart of the First Age, they're portrayed closely enough (not in the various Annals and Quenta material) to serve as the kind of introduction that Christopher Tolkien, perhaps wrongly, intended for CoH. It seems readers are stuck with The Silmarillion after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 1:53am

Post #53 of 72 (3403 views)
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"eh, just more LOTR-level stuff" [In reply to] Can't Post

Are there other stories you like that have a distance like The Silmarillion?

And I think jazz-hands are OK in the Reading Room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 2:05am

Post #54 of 72 (3384 views)
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Túrin in LotR. [In reply to] Can't Post


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Although Christopher Tolkien attempts to tie Children of Húrin to LotR by noting two references to Túrin in LotR, we really don't hear much about Túrin in LotR beyond a couple of references to his name.



At the Vermont conference in April, Nicholas Birns presented a sharp paper titled "By Doom Mastered: The Túrin Story in Tolkien's Legendarium", that attempted to explain the two references to Túrin in LotR. I won't spoil Birns' conclusion here, but I am curious about a subject he didn't discuss: did those references shape Tolkien's later writing of the character: did he adjust the story to make the allusion more explicable, hoping for eventual publication of The Silmarillion?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 2:11am

Post #55 of 72 (3366 views)
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Nice point about the Paulinian pacing of "Beren and Lúthien". // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 18 2007, 2:11am

Post #56 of 72 (3400 views)
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All I know is that [In reply to] Can't Post

two friends have tried to read it and given up because they found the language antiquated, and a third skim-reads the bits between the battles because he finds Tolkien's descriptions of landscapes too wordy.

The first two friends are in their mid-30s, the third is in his late 20s.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 2:20am

Post #57 of 72 (3403 views)
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How is this story "conceived as handed down... [In reply to] Can't Post

...from remote ages", as Christopher Tolkien says, in a way that LotR is not?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 18 2007, 10:26am

Post #58 of 72 (3376 views)
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Good luck answering that question. [In reply to] Can't Post


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did those references shape Tolkien's later writing of the character: did he adjust the story to make the allusion more explicable, hoping for eventual publication of The Silmarillion?



I don't think we can really answer that question now. All we can do is speculate.

But if Tolkien had been expanding upon The Sil in order to make it a proper companion to LotR, I do find it strange that he would start with Children of Turin, which has much less direct relevance to LotR than the stories of Beren and Tuor and Earendil, or than the stories of the Valar. Perhaps Tolkien saw an indirect relevance between CoT and LotR, though. If Turin is a foil to Tuor, he also could be considered a foil to Frodo and Aragorn and Gandalf, or perhaps the story of CoT is a foil of sorts to the story of LotR.

CoT is so very different than LotR that we might learn something about LotR by comparing the two tales, which both take place in the same Secondary World. If we don't learn anything new about LotR, we certainly learn something new about Middle-earth, which has a dark and melancholy history rarely glimpsed in LotR.


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 18 2007, 3:29pm

Post #59 of 72 (3404 views)
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*laughs* [In reply to] Can't Post

I no longer with to erase the movies from history. That would be rather nihilistic and Melkor-ian of me, wouldn't it? Even I can admit that they are beautiful, and the world should not be deprived of beauty.

I just won't watch them. And will try to avoid talking about them, not because there aren't things to talk about, but because I always end up wanting to scream and kick things, and possibly other, less polite actions. Smile


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 18 2007, 3:47pm

Post #60 of 72 (3372 views)
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But do you own them? [In reply to] Can't Post


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I no longer with to erase the movies from history. ... I just won't watch them.



Some time ago we conducted an unscientific poll and found that most of the people who had doubts or regrets about the movies still bought at least one version of the DVDs. That was the case for me, even though I rarely watch any DVDs and have not watched much of FotR or any of TT or RotK on DVD, let alone all the extras on my extended editions. I have a feeling when I do go back and watch them some day, probably with my daughter, I'll like them better than I expect because I expect to be disappointed with all the changes. That's why I liked FotR the best of Jackson's trilogy; my expectations for the first movie were quite low.


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 18 2007, 3:53pm

Post #61 of 72 (3382 views)
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No, I don't. [In reply to] Can't Post

The only movie-related anything I own is the "Weapons and Warfare of Middle Earth" tie-in book, because I thought the work that went into making the costumes, especially in making each culture unique, was absolutely awe-inspiring.


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2007, 6:04pm

Post #62 of 72 (3409 views)
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It's not so much distance I craved [In reply to] Can't Post

as invention and looking at the world through the eyes of the beautiful Elves. Their viewpoint is so different from ours and so noble. Another story I liked for similar reasons was Anne Rice’s early Vampire Chronicles. (The vampires aren't all noble, but they certainly are exceptional.) One passage that comes to mind takes place at the very beginning of Interview with the Vampire when Lestat has just made Louis a vampire. Louis describes the death of his human nature as he becomes a vampire (If I have the cheek to quote Anne Rice in a forum about Tolkien, that’s my affair.) ;o)

"It was as if I had only just been able to see colors and shapes for the first time. I was so enthralled with the buttons on Lestat's black coat that I looked at nothing else for a long time. Then Lestat began to laugh, and I heard his laughter as I had never heard anything before. His heart I still heard like the beating of a drum, and now came this metallic laughter. It was confusing, each sound running into the next sound, like the mingling reverberations of bells, until I learned to separate the sounds, and then they overlapped, each soft but distinct, increasing but discrete peals of laughter." The vampire smiled with delight. "Peals of bells.

"'Stop looking at my buttons,' "Lestat said. 'Go out there into the trees. Rid yourself of all the human waste in your body, and don't fall so madly in love with the night that you lose your way!'

"That, of course, was a wise command. When I saw the moon on the flagstones, I became so enamored with it that I must have spent an hour there. I passed my bother's oratory without so much as a thought of him, and standing among the cottonwood and oaks, I heard the night as if it were a chorus of whispering women, all beckoning me to their breasts."

Another passage I love is from The Vampire Lestat. Lestat has just awoken in New Orleans in the 1980s after going underground in the 1920s and describes this new world:

"The dark dreary industrial world that I'd gone to sleep on had burnt itself out finally, and the old bourgeois prudery and conformity had lost their hold on the American mind.

"People were adventurous and erotic again the way they'd been in the old days, before the great middle-class revolutions of the late 1700s. They even looked the way they had in those times.

"The men didn't wear the Sam Spade uniform of shirt, tie, gray suit, and gray hat any longer. Once again, they constumed themselves in velvet and silk and brilliant colors if they felt like it. They did not have to clip their hair like Roman soldiers anymore; they wore it any length they desired.

"And the women – ah, the women were glorious, naked in the spring warmth as they'd been under the Egyptian pharaohs, in skimpy short skirts and tuniclike dresses, or wearing men's pants and shirts skintight over ther curvaceous bodies if they pleased. They painted, and decked themselves out in gold and silver, even to walk to the grocery store. Or they went fresh scrubbed and without ornament – it didn't matter.. They curled their hair like Marie Antoinette or cut it off or let it blow free."

Her book The Mummy also has some fascinating passages from the mummy's viewpoint. There’s such wonder in it and such a different viewpoint from that of mundane humans. Plus, the vampires have their own history alongside that of humans which Anne Rice slowly reveals as the reader progresses through the books, like the payoff you get from reading Tokien's backstory.

When I was looking for my copy of the Anne Rice book my eyes happened to light on The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I got a similar enjoyment out of it. While the characters in it (except for the narrator) are clearly human, their intelligence and their membership in high society also removes them from the mundane world. I started to look for a good quote from it, but it's been a long time since I last read it so that would take more time than I have at the moment.

Thanks for giving me an excuse to ramble.

~~~~~~~~

Coming up with reasons for changing my nick from GaladrielTX to Galadriel wore me out.



(This post was edited by Galadriel on Jun 18 2007, 6:06pm)


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 22 2007, 5:19am

Post #63 of 72 (3394 views)
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Nice job with the interpretation, E-30198! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Pallando-- you did a great job in writing up this post with complete references to maps and all. I congratulate you for a job well done. :) I like your q's too---


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1. Christopher Tolkien said "It is undeniable that there are a very great many readers of Lord of the Rings for whom the legends of the Elder Days ... are altogether unknown, unless by their repute as strange and inaccessible in mode and manner.

Do you agree with this assessment? What does he mean by "their repute as strange and inaccessible in mode and manner," and do you feel that this notion is valid?




Yes I think that a true Middle-earth fan would indulge in Sil and CoH but not those who are light-hearted or just love LotR and hobbits. I mean there's also the content to think about for CoH and Sil are both darker than LotR and The Hobbit but i think if you really have patience for Tolkien, you would read everything by him and not just the ones directly related to the movies.
I know that certain people love Tolkien and LotR but can't get into CoH or Sil because of either language or perhaps really just the fact that there are no hobbits and that it's too dark. It's respectable and i don't begrudge them but i think it's just interesting to read and i like darker stories so find the tale of Turin very compelling.

It's "inaccessible" also probably because of its language and the fact that it has almost no relation to the Third Age where most LotR fans are interested in. I must admit, i have the Tolkien love running high in me but Peter Jackson's movies did influence my love greatly and LotR introduced me to the wonderful world of ME. So i would suspect casual movie fans wouldn't get into CoH or be as excited as me. (which isn't a bad thing at all but i'm just stating my opinion on difference in interest levels...)


Quote
2. Also CT said: "...there was a good cause for presenting my father's long version of the legend of THE CHILDREN OF HURIN as an independent work... in continuous narrative without gaps or interruptions..."

Do you think THE CHILDREN OF HURIN fits this description and do you think it was a good cause compared with say, THE FALL OF GONDOLIN as the effort
used to create an independent work?


I'm not sure-- i just know that the Tale of Turin is Tolkien's oldest tale which was started in the early 1920 / 30s? and probably one that Tolkien cared a lot about. Probably there' snot enough material for The Fall of Gondolin to be published as a stand-alone tale? I would love to see Gondolin as an independent work too... I think it's good cause to have it published as a separate tale...though there are overlaps with UT, i like the fact that there are no footnotes to deal with. :p


Quote
3. The senior Tolkien desired to create a legendarium of the "cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story".

Do you think this is a valid effort, that is, does every "people", the English in this case, need such a legendarium to validate their culture?

A legendarium isn't NECESSARY to validate a culture but it definitely helps. You see many established cultures have a lot of myths and tales to talk about further enhancing culture and knowledge and generally gives a well-roundedness to a people.


Quote
4. Christopher declares that this legend could show readers a scene set in an "unknown Middle-earth" which was washed over and drowned long before the time of the Fellowship.

Do you think that this story is a fair showing to readers unfamiliar with the First Age what life was like in the First Age. If not, what would you pick to achieve this purpose?


It's definitely a tragic showing...and one with no hope ... I rather like Beren and Luthien to be representative story but then again, the First Age did end in tragedy rather than hope like the Third Age did...
It would be nice to have a tale about the times of peace in the First Age too and not just the conflicts. I know there was a siege of Angband for a long time ...i am rather curious on the improvements that the elves and men did at that time and how they ruled at that time as well.
But i think this tale is pretty representative of the helplessness that the elves had against Morgoth. Men getting involved and seeing the friendships between Hurin and Turgon and Thingol keeping Turin in Doriath were interesting to see and it's always good to see relationships like that.

--
my two cents...for whatever its' worth. :)



__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 22 2007, 5:20am

Post #64 of 72 (3392 views)
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Same answers I got! P [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
1. What does he mean by "their repute as strange and inaccessible in mode and manner," and do you feel that this notion is valid?

Nearly all of my friends have not read LOTR, for two reasons: The genre doesn’t interest them, and they find the writing too difficult for it to be an enjoyable read. I’d say the latter is what Christopher is referring to when he talks about LOTR and the Silmarillion having a reputation for being ‘inaccessible’.

One reason many readers love LOTR is because of Tolkien’s background in philology. That reputation might also give potential readers pause for thought. “Is this going to a pointy-head version of fantasy? ‘Cause I like my reading light and fun.”

2. Also CT said: "...there was a good cause for presenting my father's long version of the legend of THE CHILDREN OF HURIN as an independent work...

I suppose Christopher is limited by how many stories are complete, rather than having huge gaps in them. All we can do is trust that he’s made the right decision because none of us knows what other information is in Tolkien’s notes.

3. Does every "people", the English in this case, need such a legendarium to validate their culture?

Intriguing question!

I think it’s part of human nature to want to ‘belong’, whether it’s to other people or to a country. Having stories that link you to your ancestors and to earlier times on the land you stand on, adds to your own identity. So I’ll go with ‘yes’ to your question.

4. Do you think that this story is a fair showing to readers unfamiliar with the First Age what life was like in the First Age?

I think CoH is an incomplete Middle-earth and doesn’t stand up well without the background of The Silmarillion. Whereas hints of The Sil in LOTR’s text give LOTR wonderful depth, CoH is cast adrift with precious few links to the greater story in its text. If readers don’t know the background to this story, I believe they won’t find it easy to connect with either the characters or the book.



__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 22 2007, 5:24am

Post #65 of 72 (3378 views)
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CHANX, (thanx) C. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
as in LotR, Tolkien uses his mountain ranges like walls, and his forests (I contend) have abrupt borders, contiguous with the territory of the forest dwellers. As in LotR, we hear nothing about great herd of animals roaming the land, and little about cultivation either. In other words, this is not realistic wilderness, but a highly territorial map with mountains, rivers, and forests marking unnaturally-sharp borders between the territories.

Although Christopher Tolkien attempts to tie Children of Hurin to LotR by noting two references to Turin in LotR, we really don't hear much about Turin in LotR beyond a couple of references to his name. This contrasts with a great deal we hear about Beren and Earendil. We don't hear much about Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin either, as I recall, nor do we hear much about the history of the elves in the First Age. I think LotR focuses on Beren and Earendil because those are hopeful tales, whereas the stories of Turin and Tuor and most of the elves in the First Age are mostly about downfall and loss.

And in fact Turin's story doesn't relate much to the story of the Silmarils. Turin's road is a dead end. He leaves no progeny, and accomplishes little beyond the death of Glaurung. He does bring about the downfall of Nargothrond. Hurin then helps bring about the downfall of Doriath and Gondolin, but we don't hear about that in this book. That may be another reason why Turin's story can stand alone better than other First Age tales -- it really is a self-contained story, almost incidental to the history of the First Age.

Although Children of Hurin is presented without obvious gaps, except at the very end, I think there are a number of places in which it is not a fully-fleshed-out story, but rather a summary of what happens between episodes in the story. Still, at least Christopher Tolkein does not have to interrupt with notes or make up something to tie the episodes together. I have not read The Fall of Gondolin, but from what I understand it was never updated to fit in with later versions of The Silmarillion. As drogo said, the army of Balrogs in the Fall of Gondolin was later winnowed down dramatically. And even more so than Turin's tale, the Fall of Gondolin is just the first half of a story that ends not with Tuor but with Earendil, and that story was never fleshed out. We don't even really know what happened to Tuor in the end; he may have reached Valinor before his son, by some accounts.

Of course no one really needs a legendarium, much less one invented out of whole cloth. But Tolkien sorely felt the lack in England. I think he resented the imported Norman stories of King Arthur, in which the Saxons were the enemy. And he was not much for Celtic tales, apparently. The whole field of philology was invented as part of Romantic Nationalism, it seems, after the Napoleonic Wars made French tales, and the French language, less popular in Germany and England. Tolkien also had a personal connection with the Saxons, or so he believed, through his mother's family, which claimed descent from the Saxons.

Furthermore J.R.R. Tolkien had another reason for inventing a legendarium. J.R.R. Tolkien wanted a context for his invented languages. I think he realized that language without stories is dead. That may be why Tolkien's invented languages, and the Star Trek language of Klingon, are more popular than Esperanto.

Thanks for the great post. I'm sorry you had trouble posting. It looks like a great schedule.



__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 22 2007, 5:40am

Post #66 of 72 (3356 views)
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No, I didn't get that from any source (Galadriel)... [In reply to] Can't Post

But she was the only one who has evidence of being an Exile, as a daughter of Finarfin (or was it Fingolfin - it's late)

Good point regarding Gildor being an Exile. But I read somewhere that the Exile moniker was given to all Noldorians (?). And I would just assume he was born here after the "journey". The others you mention may be from suspect sources (HoME) as I don't recall those words in anything "officially JRRT" I've read. Have you?

And thanks for the complements, NEB


__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 22 2007, 2:52pm

Post #67 of 72 (3398 views)
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There's nothing suspect about HoMe. [In reply to] Can't Post

At least, Tolkien's writing as presented in HoMe is every bit as "canon", in my view, as anything in the published Silmarillion, and occasionally should carry more weight: sa when Christopher Tolkien has acknowledged making things up (e.g. "The Fall of Doriath").

But even if we defer to material published in Tolkien's lifetime, as he himself was wont to do, then I don't know anything that claims Galadriel to be the only Valinorean elf still alive during LotR.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


squire
Half-elven


Jun 22 2007, 4:10pm

Post #68 of 72 (3459 views)
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HoME as "canon"? *breaks into nervous sweat* [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought "canon", a debatable term, was supposed to define those works of Tolkien that could be referred to as authoritative in matters of his fictive history. Generally, unanimous agreement starts with The Lord of the Rings, 2nd edition, adds The Hobbit, revised 3rd edition (which conflicts in places with LotR), and goes rapidly downhill from there. The idea, I believe, is that if Tolkien published it, it's the most reliable indication of his "intention".

After that, given how much revision his drafts are known to have undergone before he published them, most people in arguments about his the "lore" of his legendarium would agree that his posthumously edited and published writings (including even The Silmarillion of 1977) are just "drafts", no matter how completely finished in form. They should therefore give way to anything put into print under his supervision, and are not "canon" (unchallengable).

The idea of HoME being "canon" makes "canon" a meaningless term, doesn't it? What's left that's not canon?

I would agree, if this was your intended meaning, that HoME texts written by Tolkien, when accompanied by close attention to Christorpher Tolkien's commentary and notes, constitute "primary sources" in Tolkien studies. They are equally as important as anything in LotR when evaluating Tolkien's thoughts about his fiction, his story themes, literary expression, etc.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 23 2007, 6:31am

Post #69 of 72 (3400 views)
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Not a mythology for England? [In reply to] Can't Post

Christopher Tolkien elides interestingly when he quotes from Letter #131, jumping from "the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths" to "I would draw some of the great tales in fullness". Omitted are Tolkien's intent to dedicate the mythology to England, the legendarium's debt to the tone of Germanic and Celtic legends, and the style "fit for the adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 24 2007, 9:34pm

Post #70 of 72 (3431 views)
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Good word you used: "elides" (v.t., to gloss over or omit)... [In reply to] Can't Post

I can always count on you to increase my vocabulary, NEB. ;)

QUOTE-------------------
"fit for the adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry".
------------------------------


Is this to say (or do you indeed believe) the implication here that England (and its extant legendarium) *is* steeped in poetry *in lieu* of a true-needed legendarium (presumably one from JRRT); or ambiguously, that England owes a debt of some kind to the Germanic and Celtic legends and the poetry that came with it for the legendarium Tolkien may have adapted and now hopefully believes England now has? Or something else entirely...


__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 24 2007, 9:43pm

Post #71 of 72 (3367 views)
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What is poetry? [In reply to] Can't Post

What does Tolkien mean when he writes that English thinking is more adult because long steeped in poetry? I guess he could mean that English ears are used to appreciating the music in language, or that English minds are used to metaphor. Therefore the legendarium that he seeks to create needs either, or both, unlike earlier mythologies that were less sensitive to this? Not sure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 25 2007, 10:48pm

Post #72 of 72 (3369 views)
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Interesting... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll have to accept your analysys as likely because other than that I have no idea. Except perhaps he thinks there are more English poets around? ( ! )

P:


__________________________________________
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?

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