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Children of Hurin Discussion, Part 1



Pallando
Lorien


Jun 11 2007, 10:24pm


Views: 8562
Children of Hurin Discussion, Part 1



Kaz Latven: Children of Hurin







INTRODUCTION


Welcome to the first day of week number one in the discussion of Tolkien's CHILDREN of HURIN.

We will try to maintain the following schedule this week:


MONDAY: The Preface
TUESDAY  \
WEDNESDAY> The Introduction I, II, & III
THURSDAY /
FRIDAY: Notes on Pronunciation and Open Discussion



The daily format will be similar to other topics the group has had, which will include notes on key points of the chapter followed by questions for further discussion.

RESOURCES

I have included some maps as reference material for those who may not have such or find those available inadequate. These maps are in PDF format.  The PDF Reader, has become fairly stan-
dard in the world of computer documents and now comes with most new computers. If you don't have one click here (www.adobe.com) and then click on the "Get Adobe Reader" button to download the Reader (if you want to access the maps).


The links to the two maps are here.  

The first is all of Beleriand
(1MB), the land where the entire First Age takes place. It is essentially the area covered by the Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin (1MB); and the second is a
zoomed portion of just Turin's haunts (500kB), that is, his travels in the book so they can be documented.

These are "modified" maps by Karen Fonstead (single-use permission requested). As noted they are in Adobe Acrobat format and if you have the Adobe Reader on your system, the map will just load by itself when selected by clicking the underlined text above.  While the map is open on your system, it may be convenient to save it in a familiar place like your Desktop or print it out. They are in color.

Also, any opinions added by this writer are annotated with [Ed.]

THE CHILDREN OF HURIN: The Preface


There has been a lot written about Hurin and his family, of the House of Hador from the area of Dor-Lomin in northwest Beleriand. Hurin was a vassal of Fingon, one of the High Kings of the Noldor.

Much has been written about Hurin and his son Turin, both in the Silmarillion, and in just about every HoME volume.
It's safe to say that these are the First Age men about whom Tolkien (J & C) have written the most .

Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien's son, has assembled THE CHILDREN OF HURIN because, in his words,

"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. For this reason, it has seemed to me that 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..."


Christopher Tolkien goes on to discuss the children of Hurin and his wife Morwen: Turin and Nienor, and posits 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.


[Ed. Note:] Only one of the High Elves remain who was alive during both Hurin's time in the First Age and also at the end of the Third Age and the time of Fellowship. 
This was Galadriel, who might know Hurin but surely knew of him. Galadriel was then of Doriath, where Hurin's son Turin was raised from about seven years old, and is sure to have known of the King's foster son, but there is no proof of this or the converse.

We also learn in the Preface that the senior Tolkien spent spare time during the Great War (probably during his convalescence-Ed.) writing a collection of stories,
some unfinished, some fourteen completed, and collected them in the Book of Lost Tales in which Hurin is known as "Urin" and whose name was probably changed to Hurin for
reasons or potential ambiguity and confusion.  But it in The Book of Lost Tales, which became "HoME #1", we are introduced to the Valar, Elves and Men as the Children of Iluvatar and Melkor-Morgoth; and Balrogs, Orcs and Beleriand, the first Middle-earth as we knew it; and Valinor, land of the Gods beyond the Western ocean. And this place was first called the Great Lands (afterwards Middle-earth), between the eastern and western seas.

And among the Lost Tales are the familiar Tale of Tinuviel(1917) Turimbar and the
Foaloke
(Turin and the Dragon - 1919) and The Fall of Gondolin (1916-7) all of which can be found in either the Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales. Tolkien wanted to create a 'legendarium' "from the large and cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story". It is seen that this desire was part of his conception of what became the Silmarillion. But significantly, of all the stories here that Tolkien felt were complete and independent and most linked to the general history played in the Silmarillion, he felt that most important were The Children of Hurin and The Fall of Gondolin.

Christopher Tolkien finishes with the notion that

"It would be contrary to the conception of this book to burden its reading with an abundance of notes...that are seldom of real importance, but that in some cases it may be important and these will be more elaborated in the Introduction" to follow.


QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


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?

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?


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?

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?

Reference Map of 1st Age

Map of Hurin's area





Pallando


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


drogo
Lorien


Jun 11 2007, 10:56pm


Views: 6046
I'll bite first

 
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?


I think CJRT's statements here pretty accurate in that many LOTR and Hobbit readers have been very put off by the very different (and non-hobbity) narrative style of the Silmarillion (not even counting the 12 volumes of HoME and the Unfinished Tales). Now this book does pose some problems for those who have read the two chief sources of the Turin legend already (I have heard some grumblings from those who will refuse to read the book period, much less buy it), but they are buried in other volumes and the Sil fear factor (ditto for UT) might turn away many potential readers. Extracting the Turin story and presenting it as an independent "novel" could bring in new readers. I know of at least one who is now tackling the Sil (using my CD audiobook version) after having made it through CoH.


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?


The problem with some of the narratives like The Fall of Gondolin (which has been privately published by a gentleman in the UK Tolkien Society, though he printed less than 100 copies in the finest leather binding, so it's a collector's Holy Grail) and even ones like Beren and Luthien is that they exist in different versions that are not easily reconciled into a seamless narrative apart from the published versions we have. The army of Balrogs makes the Fall of Gondolin from the BoLT II too alien to mesh with the later account from the Quenta Silmarillion, etc., that CJRT published in 1977. The Lay of Leithian is in verse, and the BoLT version of Beren has him an Elf, so those accounts really can't be integrated into a prose version to expand the Sil chapter. There could be unpublished material, true, but the prose versions of CoH (and verse version too) at least could be pieced together into a book-length narrative that would have the integrity to stand on its own. i admit that Turin in not my favorite story in the Sil legends by a long shot, but I can understand why it is the Great Tale CJRT most wanted to see published on its own.


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?


That's the big question of Tolkien's whole enterprise. Sufice it to say for now that I think having smaller (heroic) narratives such as Turin's story (like those of Achilles or Odysseus or Sigurd or Beowuf) that fit into a larger network of legend and mythic history does create the illusion of a cultural heritage. What makes Tolkien so unique is how much depth he gives his legendarium as one man. For me, this is not the mythology for England, to use that infamous phrase, but a mythology that is sui generis but yet one that all of us can claim as our own. But that's for a whole other thread.



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?


This is a very Mannish tale, so it does not give readers a sense of the Noldor at their height, or of the Valar fighting Melkor on the primordial Arda. Still, it is a more accessible First Age tale for those who are new to the whole saga, and maybe a bit more LOTR-like in that respect.


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 11 2007, 11:18pm


Views: 5950
Sorry for the delay...

I won't whine and say "But it was ready this morning.", tho I just did.

I realistically gotta blame myself for not going through an HTML practice run before clipping it in. So my bad.

But not to bore the world or PO the good hard-working folks at TORn, I want to have closure on why this hit the east coast at 7pm.

Truth be told, I had to re-code a hundred or more lines of HTML in-situ, that is, in the little box they give you for basic editing... Preview Post and fix a line..Preview Post and fix a line, etc. and that took a few hours at least. You should have seen it as a fresh paste!!

And can someone please update this HTML interpreter to at least a 1.2 spec or better 2.0.

Well, that's the story. Sorry.

P


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


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 11 2007, 11:29pm


Views: 5946
Thanks Drogo...

I'm a bit burned out for my first attempt at this (see my post nearby) to reply in detail just now, but I appreciate your efforts - and hey - they were great answers too.

Back to ya' later.

P


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


drogo
Lorien


Jun 11 2007, 11:39pm


Views: 5914
No problem

Great first discussion thread--we're pretty laid back here (well, except for squire Tongue, but he has Hildebrandt hobbits tracking him down to get revenge). The non-narrative bits are always a little tricky, but we're pretty good at discussing away, and you're doing fine.

Thanks for the maps--those always help (I wish CJRT had drawn a more detailed map for the book, but oh well).


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 11 2007, 11:44pm


Views: 5966
*jumps in*

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.

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


Wynnie
Rohan


Jun 12 2007, 2:17am


Views: 5922
expanding the edit box


In Reply To
I won't whine and say "But it was ready this morning.", tho I just did.


A wizard is never late! It's not as though the discussions are scheduled to begin at a set time; don't worry about it.


In Reply To
Truth be told, I had to re-code a hundred or more lines of HTML in-situ, that is, in the little box they give you for basic editing


There's a way to enlarge that little box. Go to User Profile, then to Display Settings. Toward the bottom of the page you'll see:
Textbox width (in characters)
Textbox height (in characters)
Change the numbers to whatever suits you. I have mine set for 100 and 25. It's a big improvement over old TORn, where the box was tiny and couldn't be changed.

Sorry you had to struggle with the formatting, but your work did pay off; your post looks great.





None such shall return again.



Wynnie
Rohan


Jun 12 2007, 3:25am


Views: 5932
thoughts


In Reply To
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?


The Sil can be a hard slog, even for LotR fans who want to like it. Same goes for Unfinished Tales. I think Christopher's assessment is right on the money, and his aim in releasing Children of Hurin is to offer a more approachable entryway into the First Age. A single, complete story is easier to digest than an entire mythology.



In Reply To
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?


Christopher wasn't so much creating as patching together; it's my impression that he didn't have much choice, that the holes are just too large in the other stories. Though CoH doesn't feel quite finished -- I wish JRRT could have been the one to assemble and polish it -- I do think it's close enough to have been worth publishing.


In Reply To
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?


Well, it's only one little sliver of the age, and a pretty grim one at that. Perhaps a typical First Age story should be more Elf-centric? Still, CoH does show us a fair number of Elves along with the Men (not to mention the glimpses of Dwarves, and Morgoth). It's reasonably representative, I'd say.





None such shall return again.



Pallando
Lorien


Jun 12 2007, 3:44am


Views: 5887
Thanks, Wynnie!! I'll try it.


In Reply To

In Reply To
I won't whine and say "But it was ready this morning.", tho I just did.


A wizard is never late! It's not as though the discussions are scheduled to begin at a set time; don't worry about it.


In Reply To
Truth be told, I had to re-code a hundred or more lines of HTML in-situ, that is, in the little box they give you for basic editing


There's a way to enlarge that little box. Go to User Profile, then to Display Settings. Toward the bottom of the page you'll see:
Textbox width (in characters)
Textbox height (in characters)
Change the numbers to whatever suits you. I have mine set for 100 and 25. It's a big improvement over old TORn, where the box was tiny and couldn't be changed.

Sorry you had to struggle with the formatting, but your work did pay off; your post looks great.



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


elentari3018
Rohan


Jun 12 2007, 3:56am


Views: 5884
interesting points...

I know some people who can't even get through LoTR even though it's no that hard to get into compared with Sil and UT.. I think you're right in saying that people go with the "fun and light" stuff frequently.


Quote
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.


I definitely agree with that-- i reread Sil before reading CoH and that definitely helped a lot in refreshing my memory on a lot of characters and made me appreciate reading CoH a lot more. i reread bits of UT after reading CoH and saw a lot of overlaps and was curious about that but i was glad to see CT elaborate on writing the book in the Appendices. :)

"By Elbereth and Luthien the fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me!" ~Frodo

"And then Gandalf arose and bid all men rise, and they rose, and he said: 'Here is a last hail ere the feast endeth. Last but not least. For I name now those who shall not be forgotten and without whose valour nought else that was done would have availed; and I name before you all Frodo of the Shire and Samwise his servant. And the bards and the minstrels should give them new names: Bronwe athan Harthad and Harthad Uluithiad , Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable.." ~Gandalf, The End of the Third Age , from The History of Middle Earth series


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 12 2007, 4:13am


Views: 5918
"Perhaps a typical First Age story should be more Elf-centric?"

Did Tolkien write any First Age stories (after the Lost Tales) that can be told from beginning to end and yet don't involve men? (Might that relate to mortality?) The "Silmarillion" material is largely a chronicle with each incident tied up in the whole --chapters not discrete stories-- with the exception of the "Great Tales" where more than Elves are concerned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Detail from earliest version of Thror's MapTolkien Illustrated! Thanks to everyone who participated in our sixteen-week discussion of Tolkien-inspired artwork! New posts on this subject are welcome at any time.


elentari3018
Rohan


Jun 12 2007, 4:15am


Views: 5876
Thanks for the maps!

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---


Quote

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. :)


"By Elbereth and Luthien the fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me!" ~Frodo

"And then Gandalf arose and bid all men rise, and they rose, and he said: 'Here is a last hail ere the feast endeth. Last but not least. For I name now those who shall not be forgotten and without whose valour nought else that was done would have availed; and I name before you all Frodo of the Shire and Samwise his servant. And the bards and the minstrels should give them new names: Bronwe athan Harthad and Harthad Uluithiad , Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable.." ~Gandalf, The End of the Third Age , from The History of Middle Earth series


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 12 2007, 5:44am


Views: 5875
"Great Tales".

An excellent beginning! Thanks for starting us off in such fine fashion.


Quote
1. Christopher Tolkien said "It is undeniable that there are a very great many readers of The 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?



Absolutely: there are far more readers of LotR than The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales or The History of Middle-earth, and a good number of those who start one or more of the latter books give up before reading far. The "heigh style" of the "Silmarillion" material is very different from the tone of LotR.


Quote
2. Also CT said: "...there was a good cause for presenting my father's long version of the legend of The Children of Húrin as an independent work... in continuous narrative without gaps or interruptions..." Do you think The Children of Húrin 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?



In "On the Construction of 'The Silmarillion'" (from the collection, Tolkien's "Legendarium": Essays on "The History of Middle-earth"), Charles Noad proposes that The Silmarillion, if completed in Tolkien's lifetime, would have contained the following:


Quote
Quenta Silmarillion

Concerning the Powers
- Ainulindalë
- Valaquenta

The Great Tales
- The Lay of Leithian
- Narn i Chin Húrin
- The Fall of Gondolin
- Eärendil the Wanderer

The Later Tales
- Akallabêth
- Of the Rings of Power

Appendices
- The Tale of Years
- Of the Laws and Customs among the Eldar
- Dangweth Pengoloð
- Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
- Quendi and Eldar



Túrin's story is by far the most fully developed of the "Great Tales" --the Narn version from UT runs to about 100 pages-- and Túrin has more character than near-nonentities Beren and Tuor. Eärendil's tale, apart from annalistic versions, is little more than a sketch. There are many versions of the story of Beren and Lúthien, but nothing in prose much longer than what we find in The Silmarillion. And as others have noted, the only full version of Gondolin's fall is in the very different style of the Lost Tales.


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?



The English plainly don't need a fully-developed mythology, having survived quite well without one. Which doesn't bear on Tolkien's desire to create one. Verlyn Flieger has noted that others besides Tolkien have noted its absence in England: see E.M. Forster's question in Howards End, for instance.


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?



As one reviewer of The Children of Húrin has noted, life in the First Age seems to have been pretty grim. Of course, there was a long period of peace and growing prosperity: the three centuries of the Siege of Angband that ended with the Battle of Sudden Flame, not long before Túrin's birth. Tolkien doesn't write much about that time, mostly just setting up for the flurry of action that closes the Age. This tale does present a great number of settings and people, including all three Hidden Kingdoms and the evil stronghold of Angband. (Though Gondolin is all but undescribed here.)

A couple tangential notes:


Quote
Only one of the High Elves remain who was alive during both Húrin's time in the First Age and also at the end of the Third Age and the time of Fellowship. This was Galadriel...



Jason Fisher wrote the same thing in his J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia entry on "Galadriel", which I read just this morning. Is there a source for this claim? I find it unlikely. Gildor, for instance, describes his party as "Exiles" who will eventually "return over the Great Sea". Glorfindel, whether reincarnated or not, is described by Gandalf as having "dwelt in the Blessed Realm", and also as being one of several Elves in Rivendel "from beyond the furthest seas". (And Celeborn, in Tolkien's last conception, though unpublished in his lifetime, was a Telerin elf from Valinor.)


Quote
But in The Book of Lost Tales, which became "HoME #1"...



The Lost Tales are presented in volumes 1 and 2 of The History of Middle-earth, with the stories of Tinúviel, Turambar and Gondolin appearing the second book.

I look forward to the rest of your week!

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


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 12 2007, 5:55am


Views: 5877
Old shadows and new.


Quote
I'm not sure -- I just know that the Tale of Túrin is Tolkien's oldest tale which was started in the early 1920 / 30s? and probably one that Tolkien cared a lot about.



No later than 1919, says Christopher Tolkien.



Quote
I rather like Beren and Lúthien to be the representative story but then again, the First Age did end in tragedy rather than hope like the Third Age did...



Well, the First Age ended with the first Dark Lord being thrust from the world, but only after much suffering, it's true. And Tolkien was not particularly hopeful about the long-term prospects of Middle-earth after the Ring's destruction, and wrote that orcish cults and new shadows would arise only a few generations later.

But the stories of Beren and Lúthien and of Túrin did get the most attention of his First Age tales over the years; clearly, as you say, he cared a great deal about them. I find the latter a bit more unified. Do you prefer the former for any reasons other than its more hopeful end?

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


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 12 2007, 6:37am


Views: 5858
Good response...

... especially for Q4. I also think a more representative story would be Elf-centric.

Thanks Wynnie,

P:


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


Pallando
Lorien


Jun 12 2007, 6:47am


Views: 5860
Thanks for the reply, Elentari...

... I especially agree with your first answer regarding the denseness of the Sil. I had that same block too, but for the heck of it, I bought the complete CDs of the Sil.

To me the difference was like a sharp stick in the eye and finding a far green country under a swift sunrise! I'm not exaggerating.

If anyone can't get thru the Sil, and has that real desire to understand it, rent or buy the CDs. It'll change your Tolkien life.

P


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


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Jun 12 2007, 7:56am


Views: 5850
De gustibus...

I had no trouble at all the first time I read the Sil. I loved it. Sure, it's different, and the language is rather archaic, but that's part of the fun. I think its difficulties are exaggerated.

Of course, I used to read the King James Bible for entertainment, so I'm probably atiypical.

I really think a lot of the impenetrability of the Sil is apocryphal, notwithstanding Smeagirl's list of difficulties (Túna is a real problem).




Son of Elizabeth in Frodo's tree
March, 2007


Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 12 2007, 8:28am


Views: 5866
I think you are an exception.

Smeagirl's list got a lot of sympathetic responses. In my experience most people need to read The Sil twice in order to enjoy it, or else listen to it instead of read it. I had the same experience with the King James Bible; I enjoyed listening to it, but could never have gotten through some of the books if I had been reading it.


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 12 2007, 9:50am


Views: 5862
Regarding the maps,

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.


Wynnie
Rohan


Jun 12 2007, 1:01pm


Views: 5865
By Elf-centric

I didn't mean Elves-only.

The First Age was more an age of Elves than of Men, no? The Elves were the leaders, the ones with the greater power and knowledge and influence; any Men who played prominent roles had close ties to them in one way or another. Though it's certainly true that many of the turning points in Middle-earth history involved interactions between the two races.





None such shall return again.



Istar Indigo
Bree

Jun 12 2007, 1:06pm


Views: 5867
As a college instructor

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?

I would have to say, I completely agree with this assessment. Many young readers of tolkien are not familiar with First Age material and hear from peers that The Silmarillion is inaccessible in comparison to LotR. I'm not sure what some of you would do, but I tell many not to begin at the beginning, but to see UT and Sil as collections of romances historically organized but not necessarily demanding a chronological reading.
Great maps by the way!


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 12 2007, 2:30pm


Views: 5842
That's exactly the suggestion

made here, and I seconded it here. But another suggestion was to listen to The Silmarillion instead of reading it.


Stanislaus B.
The Shire

Jun 12 2007, 3:54pm


Views: 5861
Fall of Gondolin

The Fall of Gondolin would have to be written again. Christopher T. certainly could do it, but he seems rather unwilling to add even a word of his own.

There is the fairly complete story in the Lost Tales, and the beginning of new version in the Unfinished Tales. The problem is, both are written in completely different style, and the earlier would have to be completely rewritten. There are also minor technical difficulties with the development of Elvish tongue, but there is enough of Tolkien linguists to solve them.

Problem of many weak Balrogs is solved, in fact, by Tolkien himself. In Lost Tales they are simply big brutes. Although they do have whips of fire, elves are able to catch them and use them against their owners. They form the bodyguard of Gothmog, who is a child of Melko, a being incomparably greater than they.

In the later versions of Silmarilion, the guard of Gothmog is formed of trolls. It seems obvious that trolls would substitute for Balrogs in the battle of Gondlin. It is also quite probable, although by no means certain, that Glorfindel would kill only a troll.

Dragons pose a greater problem. In the Lost Tales, dragons are metal tanks in fanciful shape; their role in the battle would have to be changed - orcs are unlikely to ride inside the later dragons!


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 12 2007, 4:30pm


Views: 5844
How about the life of Feanor?

Ending perhaps not with Feanor's death, but with Fingon's rescue of Maedhros and the temporary reconciliation of the Noldor. It's a long story, but completely discrete from those involving men. It also ends with a sort of cliffhanger, since Feanor's death resolves nothing, but that leaves us waiting for coming attractions! It's the story of the Fall of the Noldor, as Tolkien calls it.

Oh, but I guess technically that's not a First Age story at all, but a pre-First Age story. Is that what you meant? In that case, nevermind.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 12 2007, 4:41pm


Views: 5826
That might work.

"First Age" seems to refer sometimes only to the First Age of the Sun, and sometimes to include also the earlier times. I had thought of Fëanor's story, but wasn't sure about the ending: and you suggest two possible endings. Another story within The Silmarillion is the tale of Aredhel and Eol, a sort of dark Beren and Lúthien, but it seems more like set-up for the Fall of Gondolin. In any case, J.R.R. Tolkien himself only conceived of four separate "Great Tales", so that Christopher Tolkien had only those choices to work with when deciding what to produce as a stand-alone work. And of those tales only Túrin's story, as far as we know, even approached a cohesive whole.

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


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Jun 12 2007, 6:03pm


Views: 3391
trudging through the Sil

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

I can only speak for my own experience . . .

I have met a lot of people whole like or love LotR that don't even know of the existence of the Sil, let alone it's reputation as "strange and inaccessible in mode and manner." I don't have an explanation for this, unless perhaps, the 'reputation is among publishers of its 'inaccessibility' and so don't publish or promote it very much.

On the other hand, I see many, many people struggle along with the early chapters and I always suggest starting with the story Beren and Lúthien and that it is not necessary to read it in order, but reading it does enhance the LotR experience; at least it did for me.

Then one an even different hand…I met a few rare persons who love the Sil even more than LotR and raved about the grand tales in it. I met one such person while I was in the middle of reading the Sil for the first time and looked at him like he was crazy. Not because of the stories, but because it is written in a style hard to read. I was a bit overwhelmed by my charts and lists for the gazillion names (names overwhelm in real life).

To me, I got used to the style well enough…its all those names that make it extremely hard for me to get through. I had to make copious amounts of lists, charts & notes and enlarged Xeroxes of maps. Though it is a challenge, It is worth it. But most people don't want to have to work that hard when they read…or work that hard at anything. The only people I know who get through it do so because they love The Lord of the Rings and want to enhance their experience and are willing to bear the pain of trudging through the Sil and most, in the end say its worth it. Just don't read it from the beginning, and be prepared to take notes or go online to many websites that already offer lists.



3. The senior Tolkien desired to create a legendarium of the "cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story"
Does every "people", the English in this case, need such a legendarium to validate their culture?


I am not sure that 'validate' is the right word. I believe very strongly that myth and legend provide a sense of unity & history. They also were traditionally a way of teaching. In some way, I think Tolkien felt England robbed of this heritage of myth and legend by invading cultures in its history and since other cultures still have theirs, he wanted that for England, too.

I agree with Drogo that his mythology is one of a kind and kind of exists unto it's own. It doesn't feel particularly attached to England. Though it does feel more like it belongs western culture more than eastern culture, I think we can all claim it.









...

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Nienna: “ those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope . . . All those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom." — Valaquenta


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 13 2007, 2:03pm


Views: 3451
I might be a bit late to the party...

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?

I, personally, have always found the idea of the Silmarillion being "strange and inaccessible" to be incomprehensible to me, but I admit I am a bit of an oddity: my parents read the Sil to me as bedtime stories until I could read it myself; I knew the tales of the First Age by heart long before I even knew LotR existed. I do understand, however, that other people find the Sil to be so, and certainly its reputation is as such.


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?

As many people have pointed out, the Narn is the only one of the tales where it is possible to present it in such a manner. The others were not written with such "immediacy" (Beren and Luthien), or were left too unfinished (The Fall of Gondolin). Therefore CT was more or less stuck with the Narn.



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?

Absolutely not. Given an ideal world, where all of the Great Tales were available in this mode, I think the Narn is possibly the worst one to choose, if you are attempting, as CT seems to be, to bridge the "reading gap" between LotR and the Sil. First of all, as a representative of the First Age stories -- or should I say, as a representative of the Quenta as a whole -- it more-or-less fails. The Quenta is primarily concerned with Elves and their actions; Men are important, crucial even, but despite the effort Tolkien poured into the Narn they are very much on the sidelines. The story of the Quenta is the story of the madness of Feanor, and it's outcome; this is not the story that is told in the Narn. Instead, the Narn tells the story of how Men, caught up in something bigger than they are, can be destroyed, which is a thematically crucial story in the sense of the larger mythos but does not bear any direct relation to the overarching tale of the War of the Jewels. Picking up the Narn, you would know nothing of the Rebellion of the Noldor, and knowing that, would know nothing of why Middle-earth was as it was at that point.

Which brings me to my second point. Where the Narn doesn't fail as a representative of the Quenta is twofold: its connection to the larger story as a whole; and its underlying themes of tragedy and ruin. Both of these, in my opinion, make the Narn bad bridge material. The Narn, as I said, does not contain enough background knowledge of the history of the First Age, and this both makes it a bad representation of that history and makes it impossible to remove from that history. Not knowing why Morgoth is at war with the Elves (and some Men) except "he's just evil" is, to my mind, completely remove the message the Narn is trying to tell. The Tale of Turin is already flawed because the hero is, well, not terribly heroic (see below for expansion on that issue), and to remove the larger story surrounding the tragedy of the Children of Hurin is to remove all the greatness from the tale and to leave only the burning desire to kick Turin in the head.

The second place where the Narn does not fail to be representative of the Quenta as a whole is in its thematic content. Thematically, the Narn fits right in with the rest of the Quenta, which is essentially a tale of how all things come to grief in Arda Marred. (It does fail to fit in with the more subtle themes, that great deeds are no less great because they are in vain, and that grief in itself is a thing that can be made glorious, but more on that anon.) This is a fundamentally different thematic content than LotR, which is essentially about evil being defeated by the weak. LotR is a story about hope in a very immediate sense; the Quenta is a story about hope despite the inevitable ruin of everything. And of all the tales of the Quenta, the Narn is the most hopeless, the most filled with ruin and destruction without any mitigating factor. To hold the Narn up as representative of the Quenta is, I think, to turn many LotR readers away from the Quenta, because, being used to stories of hope and victory, they will rightly ask, "why would I want to read a bunch of stories where everyone is miserable"? And while it is true that the majority of the people in the Quenta spend the majority of the time we hear about them miserable, the other tales have redeeming themes of hope, and valour, and a sense that glory is no less glorious for being brief and easily overthrown, that in fact this impermanence makes it more glorious. The Narn, in contrast, has none of that, and therefore is the most removed thematically from LotR, and the tale most likely to alienate readers who are familiar only with the thematic content of LotR.

This is compounded by the fact that the Narn has no true positive characters. Turin, the erstwhile "hero", is selfish, whiny, and a coward, with no sense of responsibility nor any demonstrated ability to think things through to their logical conclusions. He tramps through Beleriand, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, and blames the entire thing on the Curse, which he spends his entire time hiding from. Other characters are little better. Only in Beleg do we find some semblance of a "hero", and he is written somewhat remotely. Readers of LotR, who are used to Aragorn and Frodo and Faramir, will see little likable about a story that is filled with, essentially, nothing but a bunch of Boromirs. (I am not saying that this lessens the quality of the Narn. The Narn very specifically requires such characters; it is a tale about the downfall of men who could be great because of their flaws. But I am saying that LotR readers are not familiar with tales that have no equivalent of the incorruptible goodness of Aragorn, and therefore will be likely to be alienated by such a story.)

I think a much better Great Tale to bridge the gap between LotR and the Sil would be the Tale of Beren and Luthien. It is at once more self-contained and more involving of the greater mythos; there is a Silmaril at stake and it can be understood that the Wars of Beleriand have a purpose other than Melkor being evil without having to go into the detail told in the earlier Quenta. Moreover, its thematic elements are much more similar to LotR; it speaks of hope and the weak destroying the strong and the necessity of valour in the face of annihilation. It even has a happy ending, insofar as such are possible within the Quenta. Certainly, it is no more sad than Frodo being ruined by his burden and forced to seek peace in the West.

But all such opinions are irrelevant. The truth of the matter is, Beren and Luthien was never written down in the "immediate" form that is similar to LotR and which CT is trying to use to "bridge the gap", and therefore my disapproval of the Narn being used as such material and preference for B&L over it is of no matter.



squire
Half-elven


Jun 13 2007, 2:52pm


Views: 3428
*Mods way up*

Thank you for that!

I would only suggest that Tolkien changed his mind about whether the Quenta was about Elves or Men, as he developed his concept of the legendarium.

I think it started out being about the Elves, certainly. Your observations about Men's role is very appropriate to the Lost Tales, and to the Silmarillion to the extent that that later text retells the Lost Tales.

But I think Tolkien himself found that to write upclose and personal stories about immortal, superhuman Elves either left them too remote to be sympathetic to readers, or made them into Men by giving them the same weaknesses like vanity, cowardice, and bad judgement. The result of this change of heart is that the latter part of the War of the Jewels is mostly about Men's interference in the Elves' affairs, and the Silmarils are only redeemed by the passionate efforts of short-lived, weak and mysteriously-fated Men.

It is also notable that the tales of Men - Turin and Tuor and Hurin; the Lay of Leithian; and even Aldarion, Erendis, and Andreth - are what Tolkien spent his last years expanding and retelling in more detail after completing LotR. He could have treated Feanor's story, or Thingol's or Finrod's, as "Great Tales" and written them out in narrative detail, but he didn't.



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


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 13 2007, 3:41pm


Views: 3431
Great post! And that's why we hear all about Beren

and Luthien in LotR, and almost nothing about Turin -- except that Turin is ranked right up there with Beren as a hero and elf-friend, which is an interesting comment on how Tolkien viewed him.

For Tolkien did fall in love with Turin, even if many of us do not. I see the parallels between Turin and Boromir, but I think Tolkien meant for Turin to be far greater and more tragic than Boromir.

I also think Tolkien meant for the death of Glaurung to be Turin's one great success, almost redeeming his many failures. Perhaps killing Glaurung did not change anything in the end, but on the other hand perhaps it greatly weakened Morgoth himself, for just as the Ring contains much of Sauron's spirit, so Glaurung seemed to contain a strong portion of Morgoth's spirit. On the other hand, as you note, it is hard to appreciate this ultimate triumph over Morgoth when we see nothing of it in the tale presented to us.

The other redeeming factor is the power of Morgoth's curse, which should not be discounted in assessing Turin's character. But I understand why it is hard to sympathize with anyone who acts as Turin does. I'm just saying that Tolkien seems to have sympathized with him.

I'm fascinated by your parents' decision to read you The Silmarillion. Did it come after The Hobbit and LotR, and did you ask for more? I have a five-year-old daughter, and I can't imagine her sitting still for it.

I also agree that Children of Hurin is very different from LotR -- in fact, in many ways it is the exact opposite, with Turin being everything the hobbits were not. But I'm not sure if it is as exceptional among the tales in The Sil as you make it sound. Instead I think Beren's story is the exception, the one success among many failures. Or perhaps one of two successes, with Earendil being the other. But as you yourself note, there is lots of failure, and there are many, many flawed characters in tales collected in The Sil.

As for Turin's story being about a man, and not elves, most of the tales in The Sil have men as their central characters, even though they are outnumbered by the elves. As Tolkien said in his lecture "On Fairy-Stories," fairy stories are usually about men who visit Fairie, and not about elves or fairies. He gave that lecture in the late 1930s, and I think by then, as squire says, he had reconsidered the idea of writing tales just about elves among elves. The long tale of the Fall of the Noldor became background material for the tales of Beren, Tuor, and Turin, which in turn became background material for LotR. Then, in the early 1950s, when Tolkien hoped to publish The Sil along with LotR, he began to elaborate not the Fall of the Noldor, but the tales of Tuor and Turin.

It sounds to me like you love The Sil, but don't particularly like Children of Hurin, and therefore find it frustrating that Christopher Tolkien is presenting CoH as a window on The Silmarillion. I think there are many who share that opinion. I don't happen to be one of them, and I'm not sure that the Tolkiens (J.R.R. or Christopher) are either. But you raise a very good point. To the extent that Christopher Tolkien invites new readers to judge The Sil based on Children of Hurin, he risks alienating more readers than he wins, including readers who might love the rest of The Sil, but not Turin.

And by the way, I see this is your first post. What a start! Welcome to TORn!


(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 13 2007, 3:44pm)


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 13 2007, 5:42pm


Views: 3399
I'm with you, sister!

When The Sil came out I was so starved for beautiful language and a history of Middle-earth before LOTR I dove into this new world like Augustus Gloop into Willie Wonka’s chocolate river.

That said, the archaic words, baroque phrasing, and complex and compound sentences can slow you down. A year or two after I had read the book, my English class had a few weeks of speed reading sessions. I’m not sure if they used any of the big-name speed reading techniques like Evelyn Wood or whatever. The teacher basically told us to bring a book to class and read it as fast as we could, skipping prepositions and articles, and I think they had us run a finger down the center of each page. Never one to take a challenge lightly, I brought The Silmarillion, and I can’t say I was able to read it as fast as I would have other books. I’m not a super-speedy reader, but neither am I slow, and I was a big reader with lots of practice. I imagine someone who didn’t read as much or fluently as me would find this work of Tolkien's really frustrating.

Oh, and trying to read it that way was so unrewarding. During later readings, I took more time, savoring the words.

I was much more attracted to the stories of the Valar and Elves than Men. When they started showing up I was like, eh, just more LOTR-level stuff. The exception was Túrin because his story was so…dramatic! *makes jazz hands* (Can I make jazz hands in the Reading Room?) Plus I like arrogant characters. What can I say? I struggled along with Túrin all the way, banging my head in frustration and loving every minute. It’s funny because I’ve read so many comments on TORN from people who didn’t like the highfalutin’ language of The Sil and really hate Túrin. So it’s nice to run into people who like some of the stuff I do.

~~~~~~~~

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



Curious
Half-elven

Jun 13 2007, 6:11pm


Views: 3367
I learned to speed read by reading when I shouldn't.

I still find myself doing so from time to time in the bookstore, torn between buying a book and finishing it where I stand. I do believe there are some books I read and then bought, just out of guilt!

I find speed reading rewarding when I can go back and read the same material again later. That's how I read The Sil. But philosophy and law slowed my reading considerably. One does not speed read Hegel! Although Nietzsche reads pretty quickly.


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 13 2007, 10:43pm


Views: 3486
This HTML editor is rather small.

I'm fascinated by your parents' decision to read you The Silmarillion. Did it come after The Hobbit and LotR, and did you ask for more? I have a five-year-old daughter, and I can't imagine her sitting still for it.

They read it to me, or told me the tales contain therein, literally as bedtime stories, since before I could speak. (My parents are slightly odd. They are well-educated atheists who do not trust religious texts but believe that people need mythology as well as fact to be fully human. For their children, they chose Tolkien's legendarium to be the mythology, albeit while always stressing the difference between "fact" and "story".) They used a combination of the actual Sil, with its high language, and their own retellings of the tales, as much more "immediate" and dramatic, to hold our interest; it worked out well in the end. I was able to happily reenact Fingon's rescue of Maedhros using two stuffed animals, a piece of string, and my father's desk by the time I was three. (Maedhros was my favorite stuffed lion, I think -- the lion also did double duty as Feanor -- and my wolf pup was Fingon.) Of course, UT and HoME weren't published when I was very young, but when they were, things got even more exciting.

I didn't even know the Hobbit and LotR existed until my father (who always read out loud to us in the evening, although as we grew older it ceased being the Sil and became a variety of books) decided to read the Hobbit to us when I was about seven. A couple of years later (after he had finished reading us Watership Down), he embarked on LotR. I remember being rather disappointed by the Hobbit, and it was, comparatively, undramatic, and I wasn't terribly interested in "boring" Hobbits. It also ended happily, something that confused me greatly. "But all things come to grief in Arda Marred!" I said with the self-confidence of a seven year old who thinks she knows everything about the world, and my parents looked slightly worried that they had instilled this belief in one so young. "Not all great deeds are in vain," they said, and I thought that boring. I found LotR slightly more interesting, as it had themes I was more familiar with, but I've never found Sauron to be quite so thrilling after having grown up on Melkor. I have come to a greater appreciation of LotR as I have grown older, but it still does not compare to the greatness and tragedy of the Elder Days. My older sister, actually, prefers LotR, but she has always liked happy endings. (Her favorite story was always Beren and Luthien; I preferred battles.)

I see the parallels between Turin and Boromir, but I think Tolkien meant for Turin to be far greater and more tragic than Boromir.

Oh, I agree! I was simply pointing out that LotR readers will find more similarities between Turin and Boromir than between Turin and virtually any other LotR character, and that they might not be interested in a "tale full of Boromirs" when they are used to Aragorn and Hobbits.

I was not trying to imply that I dislike Turin or the Narn, or that I do not see the value of the tale. It is certainly not my favorite part of the Quenta (that would be the long and interwoven relationship between Fingon and Maedhros, and secondarily, the tale of Tuor in Gondolin), but I value it quite highly for the message it tells. What I do think is that thematically, it is the most grim and least hopeful of all the Quenta, and therefore the farthest in thematic content from LotR. Consequently it is possibly the worst of the Great Tales to use as "bridge material" if you are trying to get readers of LotR to read the Sil. (Heck, I think even the Akallabeth is better bridge material than the Narn.)

But I'm not sure if it is as exceptional among the tales in The Sil as you make it sound. Instead I think Beren's story is the exception, the one success among many failures. Or perhaps one of two successes, with Earendil being the other. But as you yourself note, there is lots of failure, and there are many, many flawed characters in tales collected in The Sil.

I agree that Beren (and Earendil) are the exceptions in the Quenta -- in my original post, I stated that the Quenta is essentially a story of how all things come to grief in Arda Marred. In that sense, the Narn fits right in. But the Quenta is also about hope despite ruin, personal responsibility, and the necessity of valour in the face of annihilation. The Narn has very little of these (especially of personal responsibility, which Turin more-or-less completely lacks). The only one of the more subtle themes of the Quenta, I would argue, that the Narn fully embodies is that great deeds are no less great because they are in vain. Turin's slaying of Glaurung is no less great because it ultimately changes little (and I would love to devote the time to compare Turin's slaying of Glaurung and Huan's slaying of Carcharoth with concerns to their ultimate effect on Morgoth, but I don't think this is the place), but it also does not negate the effect he has on single-handedly causing the destruction of much of Beleriand.

As for Turin's story being about a man, and not elves, most of the tales in The Sil have men as their central characters, even though they are outnumbered by the elves.

This is certainly true of the later Quenta, but I would argue that the main story of the Quenta is the story of the consequences of the madness of Feanor; the Wars of the Jewels were fought by Elves for Elves, and Men were only caught up in them by accident. (Of course, the "accidental" involvement of Men in the Great Wars is something that the Narn embodies more fully than any other tale; Turin is buffeted about by the Curse of Morgoth because his ancestors had the misfortune to be sucked into the ongoing animosity between the Noldor and Morgoth.) Men become crucial to the fight, and it is obvious that Tolkien ended up with greater sympathy towards them than towards his Elves (just look at the Athrabeth), but that does not change that the overarching tale of the Elder Days is one that is shaped primarily by the choices of Elves.

I do not suggest that the best "bridge material" between LotR and the Sil is one that involves more Elves than Men -- in fact, I think choosing something from the early Quenta, such as the story of the Rebellion of the Noldor, would be an even worse choice as "bridge material" than the Narn -- but the Narn is the tale which contains the least background information of all the Great Tales, and as such I think it is a bad representation of the Quenta. If you read only the Narn, you have no knowledge of the reason behind the destruction that was sweeping over Beleriand at that time; you will see Morogth only as a "great evil" and not as the complex character he actually is, and that, I think, takes away a lot of the power and message behind the Quenta. It's rather, I suppose, like reading LotR without any background knowledge of the History of the Elder Days, which I think is slightly horrific. But then, I realize I am in the (very small) minority on that one.


And by the way, I see this is your first post. What a start! Welcome to TORn!

I was heavily involved with movie discussion over at TolkienOnline/TheOneRing.com (where we regarded you over here at TORN as raving fanboys), but I got rather burned out by fighting on the losing side of the great Purist/Revisionist Wars of 2000-2003, and retreated to my own small corner of fandom at LiveJournal. I was linked to this discussion by one of my friends there, with the comment of "look, there is intelligent discussion of Tolkien going on on the internet, after all!". Hopefully the insanity from the movie has died down a bit, and I will be able to tentatively work my way back into the larger fandom world without suddenly getting the desire to throw myself off the highest peak of Thangorodrim


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 13 2007, 11:02pm


Views: 3378
Here's a link to fix that.

Wynnie had a tip on changing the editing box earlier in this discussion.

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


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 13 2007, 11:25pm


Views: 3363
Not late at all.

As you may have noticed, by default each page of this board shows fifteen threads. I think the consensus opinion is that anything on the first page is considered active, though any thread can still receive replies (that was not the case before the boards were upgraded in February). So you're in the thick of things.

Your points about the difficulties of this tale as a introduction for new readers are well taken, though I wonder if this material is any harder than a classical epic like the Iliad.

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


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 14 2007, 12:18am


Views: 3331
Thanks for the tip.

Thank you very much for the tip on changing the editing box; I'm new here and greatly appreciate no longer having my HTML editor contain less than one of my sentences.

The forcing subject lines is rather annoying, however. I keep forgetting.


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 14 2007, 12:21am


Views: 3382
That is so fascinating!

I can't imagine what it would be like to be raised on the Sil like that. "'But all things come to grief in Arda Marred!'" That's classic! I have told my five-year old stories about Bilbo Baggins since before she could speak. It never occurred to me to begin with The Sil. But I'm sure Tolkien would be gratified by your reaction. In "On Fairy-stories" he quoted Chesterton's statement that "Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy."

I do wonder, though, what Tolkien would think of your parents' reasons for teaching you tales from The Sil. They may be unusual in their choice of bedtime reading, but they are by no means unique in liking Tolkien in part because of their distrust of organized religion. Tolkien recognized that distrust and wanted to get around it with his spiritual message, but he did not share that distrust himself. I really wonder whether he was more pleased or dismayed by his reception among those who were not religious. I suppose there are some who came to Christianity through Tolkien, as C.S. Lewis famously did, but many more who prefer to stick with Tolkien.

Does Turin lack personal responsibility more than Feanor or his sons? I think not. Furthermore there is that curse of Morgoth to account for. It's a heavy burden to bear, and no one else, human or elf, seems to have received as much personal attention from Morgoth as Turin. Could Tuor have done any better if Hurin had died and Huor had survived? Of course one of the problems with reading Children of Hurin in isolation is that we cannot see what could have been without that curse. But compared to the stories of the elves, who generally got themselves into trouble without such a curse, Turin could be considered quite noble, if we give him the benefit of the doubt. The wisest characters in Middle-earth consistently give him the benefit of the doubt, even though he does not make any excuses for his behavior.

I think perhaps what you miss is not a different tale, but the whole of the tale. Those who read Children of Hurin in isolation miss so much. But that would be true of any tale in The Sil taken in isolation. And if the tales of elves would not work any better, then we are left with very few alternatives, even if all of them had been completed. How could one appreciate Beren and Luthien's tale without knowing the history of the Silmarils? How could one appreciate Tuor's tale without knowing the history of Gondolin? Because Turin was so determined to rely on no one, his tale stands in isolation better than most. And he spent much more time among men than the other human heroes of The Sil.

I'm so glad you found your way here!


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 14 2007, 2:26am


Views: 3364
Welcome, NS!

It's lovely to see you here - and your childhood sounds wonderful, being filled with such rich stories.

I had to smile at your news of TORC's view of TORN. I had heard that we were dismissed as 'the tea party', which also made me laugh for some odd reason. Laugh

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


elentari3018
Rohan


Jun 14 2007, 2:57am


Views: 3376
Re: N.E. Brigand


Quote
But the stories of Beren and Lúthien and of Túrin did get the most attention of his First Age tales over the years; clearly, as you say, he cared a great deal about them. I find the latter a bit more unified. Do you prefer the former for any reasons other than its more hopeful end?

Yes, probably just because of its more hopeful ending...i tend to like happier and more hopeful endings. I liked Turin's story also because it's something different from what is conventional happier endings type deals and i also liked it because it presented something different from what i usually read so that was in part, the appeal of it. Turin's character intrigues me and i hope to talk more about the reasons for his downfall later on in the CoH discussion. :)

"By Elbereth and Luthien the fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me!" ~Frodo

"And then Gandalf arose and bid all men rise, and they rose, and he said: 'Here is a last hail ere the feast endeth. Last but not least. For I name now those who shall not be forgotten and without whose valour nought else that was done would have availed; and I name before you all Frodo of the Shire and Samwise his servant. And the bards and the minstrels should give them new names: Bronwe athan Harthad and Harthad Uluithiad , Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable.." ~Gandalf, The End of the Third Age , from The History of Middle Earth series


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 14 2007, 3:09am


Views: 3377
I am disturbed by the screaming face of Elrond in the corner of my screen.

My parents really have no one to blame but themselves for my attachment to tragic tales; one of my earliest memories is asking my mother what happened to two characters later on, and her voice, immeasurably sad, saying, "They came to grief in the end, as all things do." (Contrary to what this might imply, my parents have actually led a rather happy life.) Somewhat counter-intuitively, a deep-seated philosophical acceptance that sorrow is the way of the world has actually led me to be a generally cheerful person: sure knowledge that happiness is fleeting means that such happiness is sought and, when found, embraced fully. And there are always things to be happy about; we are alive, and the world is beautiful. I don't think Tolkien would object to that philosophy.

In a similar vein, I've often wondered what Tolkien would think, as you mentioned, of my parents reading the Sil to us as a sort of "counter-religion". Tolkien was not only deeply religious but Catholic as well, which my parents trusted the least (partly because they were raised Anglican, and distrust of Catholicism is deep-rooted in Anglicanism, and partly because they view Catholic dogma as "obeying rules simply because they are given by authority", which they have always objected to). But my parents are atheists only in the sense of rejecting the Western Christianity view of God as a personal, interfering, and selfish deity; they do subscribe to the more "mystic" (what a charged word! I use it in a historical sense) view of "God" as a creation of men's thought which, through contemplation of, we can become more fully human. (This is a view I share.) Because in essence this is a very spiritual matter, they are in tune with the "spiritual" side of Tolkien's mythology, if not the more literal "Creation God" aspect. And, as I stated above, it has led to a philosophy which I do not think Tolkien would object to. Still, it has not led to a cessation in their (or my) distrust of organized religion, and they are both scientists (as am I), and Tolkien, well, never did trust scientists. So I am not sure, at all, what he would think of the route my family has taken.

I do hope the above is not too off-topic; I am not sure of the rules governing discussions on this forum. (The Newbie Guide unfortunately does not give guidelines as to discussion of personal religious beliefs on a thread devoted to Turin Turambar.) [I suddenly realize why Firefox is not spellchecking "Turin". Turin, Italy, obviously. Ah, Juventus and your cheating ways. But I really am off-topic now.]


Does Turin lack personal responsibility more than Feanor or his sons? I think not.

The Sons of Feanor fall because they take personal responsibility for that which they have no right; it is a tale deliniating the limits of to what extent we have the right to take action when something concerns us. Turin falls because he refuses to take personal responsibility for something which is caused by an outside force, yet which is no less his responsibility; it is a tale demonstrating that simply because we do not cause something does not mean we do not have responsibility for it. I realize, as I argue this, that this means the Narn does contain within it the Quenta-wide theme of personal responsibility, despite what I said earlier, but I still do maintain that, as a negative example (Turin falls because he lacks personal responsibility), it is unique in the Quenta and therefore a bad representation of the whole. Nor, I think, can the understanding of how the Narn fits in to this theme be realized when reading the Narn in isolation, and therefore the entire theme falls by the wayside.

My main objection, I suppose, is that when reading the Narn in isolation, the only theme that is left is "all things come to grief in Arda Marred", and that is a very shallow (and hopeless) message to get from the Quenta. (Nor is it likely to endear readers of LotR.) The other tales, especially B&L, more clearly embody other themes -- e.g. hope in the face of ruin, valour in the face of annihilation -- even when taken in isolation, and are therefore more representative of the Quenta as a whole.

Because I do think that B&L especially is a good tale, if one is forced to take one of the Great Tales from context in the first place, to tell in isolation. There is a Silmaril present, and it can be understood that this a great thing, much as the Ring is in LotR, without knowing the (more theological anyway) details of its origins and exactly why the light is so sacred. It can be understood that the Silmarils are the cause of the Wars and hence of the destruction of Beleriand, which is not something that is explain in the Narn and which I think is essential. Morgoth becomes a character who, when placed in conjunction with the Silmarils, has motivations beyond simply being evil, which I also think is essential. (Sauron can get away with simply being evil. Melkor can't.) The more prominent place of Elves in B&L is more representative of the whole; this also gives it a connection to the grander history that the Narn does not have. (Besides, I think many readers of LotR would like to hear more about Elves, and less about Men, whom they can read about in any other book.) It also, as I said above, contains more fully the complexity of the themes in the Quenta, and knowledge of the outside tale is not necessary to comprehend the greatness of the story (as I firmly believe it is for the Narn). B&L is great in and of itself. Moreover, it bears direct relation to LotR in that the tale of Aragorn and Arwen is modeled directly on the tale of Beren and Luthien; this enables readers of LotR to see something recognizable immediately and therefore be more easily drawn in.

But, of course, all of this argument is irrelevant. Christopher Tolkien can't present the Tale of Beren and Luthien in the "immediate" form he wishes to use to draw in readers of LotR, because Tolkien never wrote it. He never even fully wrote the end in the final version, just wrapped it up with a hasty "and then they came back to earth, stuck their heads into Doriath to say good bye, ran off and had Dior, and then died, but we don't even know when because they didn't talk to people after that" and went on with the Nirnaeth. The only "immediate" writing of a Great Tale that Tolkien came close to completing was the Narn, so it is the Narn we are stuck with.


NiennaSorrowing
The Shire

Jun 14 2007, 3:28am


Views: 3374
And now the picture is of dying Arwen. Much better.

We did tend to see you as uncritically accepting of the movies, whereas we had great battles like unto any of the Wars of the Elder Days over the changing of the line "you cannot pass" to "you shall not pass". And don't even get me started on Elves at Helm's Deep, Arwen at the Ford of Bruinen, or Faramir taking Frodo to Osgiliath. In some sense, I miss those days, as that passion shall never again be seen, but on the other hand, I am grateful, because it was exhausting. Especially because I chose the losing side, knowing full well that I was doing so. (I will say that the movies turned out much better than I expected. That doesn't mean I don't wish to expunge their existence from history, and other such distinctly uncharitable things.)

My rearing did tend to isolate me a bit from other children my age, as they tended to talk about cartoon shows (we didn't have a television (my parents believed television, as my mother once bluntly put it, "sucks the brain out through the eyes") so I never had any clue what they were talking about), whereas I wanted to discuss whether Tuor really was permitted to join the Eldar in order to remain united with Idril. I never minded, as what was going on in my head was always so much more interesting than what other children were doing. And once I got to uni, I found plenty of people like me, and have since never wanted for companionship.

I was able to bond with other children over my love of football (er, that's soccer), which my father abhorred and my mother secretly admired. So I did have that.

Edit: WHY DOES THIS KEEP CHANGING BACK FROM HTML. *kicks text editor*


(This post was edited by NiennaSorrowing on Jun 14 2007, 3:36am)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 14 2007, 4:03am


Views: 3359
I see Boromir blowing his horn.

The corner icon changes regularly. Before the switch to the new boards, it was stuck on an orc for a couple years, so dying Arwen and a screaming Elf are a vast improvement.

As for the subject lines, I'm glad you're having fun with them. Many people here read the discussions in threaded mode (I think that discussions with clear shapes, and discussions with expiration dates --practically speaking-- are two of this site's great strengths), thus the forced subject line. For the first few days on the new boards, that wasn't required, and seemingly every other post was titled merely "Re", which is no help at all when deciding which post to open.

I don't pay much attention to html, thus can't answer your question, but if you pop over to the Feedback board, you'll find that Pallando, when preparing his discussion last week, got some good advice on that subject, and you may find an answer posted there.


Quote
We did tend to see you as uncritically accepting of the movies, whereas we had great battles like unto any of the Wars of the Elder Days over the changing of the line "you cannot pass" to "you shall not pass". And don't even get me started on Elves at Helm's Deep, Arwen at the Ford of Bruinen, or Faramir taking Frodo to Osgiliath.



Yeah, that happened here too. I only joined the forum around the time of RotK's release, when one of the biggest debates concerned the sacrificial nature (or not) of movie-Faramir's charge on the Pelennor.

I suppose this discussion really is getting off topic (and we do have a forum for that) but to second the others: Welcome to TORN! There are a few good discussions underway. Here, in addition to The Children of Húrin, just begun, we are four-fifths of the way through being audited by a Tolkien class at the University of Vermont. On the Movie forum, there's a discussion of the Bakshi film of LotR, about two-thirds complete. And in the Off-Topic forum Curious is leading a discussion, about twice weekly, of Beowulf, still in its infancy (Beowulf is now dissing Unferth).



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


ponyhobbit
Registered User

Jun 14 2007, 5:22am


Views: 3363
Hope I'm not too late

First let me just say thanks to everyone joining in on this discussion. I've been waiting a while, hoping that I discussion of The Children of Hurin would come up...I've been dying to discuss it.

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?

I would agree with CT assesment. I think that what he means by "their repute as strange and inaccessible in mode and manner is to many people other works of Tolkien may be too far-fetched, legthy, or they just can't follow Tolkien in depth writing style. Plus hobbits are a unique draw to Tolkien work and that's what people want to read about...even The Inkling thought so! Yes I think that it is a valid notion from the people I've talked to that call the Sim. a lesser known work.


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?


Yes I think that presenting it as a independent work will again bring in the skeptics because it is a narritive story and does remind one of a combination of Greek tragedies (Promethus & Oeopis)


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?


The English don't really need another legendium to validate their culture, but 1 more couldn't hurt

A short answer to number 4 - yes, if you want a shorter read... although I think the Sim. is a better choice b/c it gives you a picture from the beginning and begins like the Bible, but if you're not up to the challenge then The Children of Hurin is also a good choice


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Jun 14 2007, 5:26am


Views: 3332
Welcome ponyhobbit...

You're not too late at all. Smile


.

Art Gallery Revised, Aloha & Mahalo, Websites Directory

Nienna: “ those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope . . . All those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom." — Valaquenta


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Jun 14 2007, 6:25am


Views: 3348
Aloha kâua!


In Reply To
I was heavily involved with movie discussion over at TolkienOnline/TheOneRing.com
(where we regarded you over here at TORN as raving fanboys), but I got rather burned out by fighting on the losing side of the great Purist/Revisionist Wars of 2000-2003, and retreated to my own small corner of fandom at LiveJournal. I was linked to this discussion by one of my friends there, with the comment of "look, there is intelligent discussion of Tolkien going on the internet, after all!". Hopefully the insanity from the movie has died down a bit, and I will be able to tentatively work my way back into the larger fandom world without suddenly getting the desire to throw myself off the highest peak of Thangorodrim



I think you will find a wonderful home here at TORn…and even while the crazy fan syndrome was raging during the height of the film era, there was "intelligent discussion of Tolkien going on", even amid the raging battles. I st uck pretty much to the Reading Room … it was saner and I learned a lot. I took a hiatus for a few years, came back and found the place the unchanged and different at the same time.

Everyone here seems to know a lot about Tolkien now, compared to before when the range was vaster with newcomers abound, and middle-bees like myself. I studied Art, so some of the discussions tend to get just a tad 'heady' for me…or at least beyond my exposure to heady education… I read those, but tend to not post. Regardless of how many Tolkien analysis books I read, I'm better at pictures and the intuitive side than the heady side. And people are a whole lot less defensive.

There is something for everyone here and lots of comradery, fun and learning too. The thing I love is the varied perspectives brought to the table.


welcome!
and
Aloha kâua!
(see footer link)


PS: I stopped using HTML with the new boards...I use Mark-up available in the pull-down menu in the editor window. For easy use...I keep a palette: I copied the Mark-up page and pasted it into a word file....I re-arranged it in order to what I used most on top...and made my common combinations already for drag-n-drop use (or copy-paste use). So, when I compose, I have what I want ready at hand for me in a previously created file. I trick I learned many years ago using graphics software. I'll do anything to keep from typing repeating things.

DoN
Smile






.

Art Gallery Revised, Aloha & Mahalo, Websites Directory

Nienna: “ those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope . . . All those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom." — Valaquenta


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 14 2007, 10:57am


Views: 3328
Once weekly.


Quote
And in the Off-Topic forum Curious is leading a discussion, about twice weekly, of Beowulf, still in its infancy (Beowulf is now dissing Unferth).


Thanks for the plug. I started doing it twice weekly, but reduced it to once weekly, what with everything else going on. I add a new post every Wednesday morning, Chicago time.


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 14 2007, 12:05pm


Views: 3347
Feanor and his sons

take personal responsibility? Far from it, I would say. They blame everyone and anyone, including Beren and Luthien, for depriving them of their rights. They suffer from classic victimitis.

Turin, on the other hand, blames no one for his mistakes, even though he has every right to do so -- although he may not know it, since he is not aware of his father's fate. On the contrary, Turin consistently blames himself, and punishes himself by exiling himself from one home after another and isolating himself from all who love him and putting himself in the path of danger and eventually by killing himself. Now maybe it is an example of misplaced pride to preemptively punish yourself before others can punish you, or to refuse help freely offered, but if anything Turin takes too much personal responsibility, not too little.

By the way, please let me know if I get too argumentative. It's hard to judge how people are taking it when you aren't face to face. But I'm very much enjoying this conversation.


a.s.
Valinor


Jun 14 2007, 12:32pm


Views: 3302
Welcome to Torn, and the RR


Quote
"look, there is intelligent discussion of Tolkien going on on the internet, after all!".




Well, others have already beat me to the explanation of the intelligent discussion you can find here, so I'll just say "welcome". I didn't find Torn until after all three movies had been released, and I saw the little "theonering dot net" lapel pin on PJ's jacket in a post-Oscar picture in People magazine, of all places. That's how I know there is power hidden in serendipity.

Cool

Wonderful posts. You'll find a lot of thoughtful posting here on Torn, in the RR and elsewhere. Take a look around!! And welcome aboard.

a.s.




"an seileachan"

"Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say they're gonna come back.
Some say you rest in the arms of the Savior if sinful ways you lack.
Some say they're coming back in a garden, bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be."

~~~~~Iris DeMent


Beren IV
Gondor


Jun 15 2007, 10:54pm


Views: 3303
I'm still waiting for my copy of the book

and then I will be gone next week. I'll join the discussions then!

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Saelind
Lorien


Jun 17 2007, 11:55pm


Views: 3318
CoH part 1

My late two cents...

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?
*I suspect the “reputation” The Silmarillion has probably scared off more people than any actual attempt at reading it. I agree that there are a great many readers of LOTR who are not familiar with the material from the Elder Days except for the brief references in LOTR. All it may take is some gentle guidance from more knowledgeable fans to help these folks get through the material. There have been some great suggestions posted. I also have gone through and attempted to link references in the books and movies (sorry Nienna Sorrowing) to their Elder Days sources in an attempt to show how the works are related and provide depth to Lord of the Rings. I actually read the BoLTs before The Silmarillion by accident. They didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time but were a nice distraction during some excessively boring nursing school lectures.

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 do think that the CoH is a more complete story with characters that are fleshed out better than the Fall of Gondolin. The Fall of Gondolin also drops you into the middle of a story. There’s not a lot of background to help you understand what led up to the events in the story. There are multiple versions of Beren and Luthien. B and L also has a rather frantic “Perils of Pauline” quality that makes it difficult to connect with emotionally. CoH does have some pacing with cycles of action and exposition.

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?
*Validate is a rather strong word. I think “sense of identity” would be a little more accurate. Myth-making seems to be a universal human activity. And I agree with Drogo that Tolkien’s mythology stands alone. It has elements from other European mythologies but it is a unique creation.

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?
*No. It is a tale from the First Age that is briefly referred to in LOTR. My hope is that it will get people more interested in the material from the First Age and gain a deeper appreciation for the world Tolkien created. I’m not really sure what story I would have picked over CoH. I will say CoH does do a good job illustrating the theme of the intersection between fate and free will. This theme runs through the other two Great Tales as well as to some extent in LOTR. I think the other stories would require too much background material to follow properly.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 1:27am


Views: 3296
LotR difficult?


Quote
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’.



Actually, Christopher says that "many readers of" LotR only know the "Silmarillion" material by its reputation as inaccessible. I'm surprised to hear of readers who find LotR difficult, since critics have complained for years that it's too childish. Perhaps the repeated defense of LotR's more serious aims, dating to Tolkien's own comments about its linguistic inspiration, have caused some people not to realize that it is foremost a rousing adventure story?

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


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 18 2007, 1:39am


Views: 3411
Disconnected from "real" mythology?


Quote
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


Views: 3417
"[M]ore an age of Elves than of Men"?

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


Views: 3399
"eh, just more LOTR-level stuff"

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


Views: 3380
Túrin in LotR.


Quote
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


Views: 3362
Nice point about the Paulinian pacing of "Beren and Lúthien". //

 

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


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 18 2007, 2:11am


Views: 3396
All I know is that

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


Views: 3399
How is this story "conceived as handed down...

...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


Views: 3372
Good luck answering that question.


Quote
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


Views: 3400
*laughs*

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


Views: 3368
But do you own them?


Quote
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


Views: 3378
No, I don't.

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


Views: 3405
It's not so much distance I craved

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


Views: 3390
Nice job with the interpretation, E-30198!


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---


Quote

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


Views: 3388
Same answers I got! P


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


Views: 3374
CHANX, (thanx) C.


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


Views: 3352
No, I didn't get that from any source (Galadriel)...

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


Views: 3394
There's nothing suspect about HoMe.

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


Views: 3455
HoME as "canon"? *breaks into nervous sweat*

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


Views: 3396
Not a mythology for England?

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


Views: 3427
Good word you used: "elides" (v.t., to gloss over or omit)...

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


Views: 3363
What is poetry?

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


Views: 3365
Interesting...

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?