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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Quenya alphabet stopped at F


Feb 28 2013, 3:43am

Views: 359
The Quenya alphabet stopped at F [In reply to] Can't Post

1. I confess, I find all those "F" names are confusing. Do you suppose Tolkien did that so he could just file them all under "F" when he was writing this? Do you have any tricks for keeping all these characters straight

This is one of those times where you want to thump the desk in front of him and cry, "What were you thinking?!?!" Didn't he get confused himself? Did he just consider this private fun, and would he have changed the names for publication?

There is something traditional about patronymics, the son's name resembling the father's (Aragorn son of Arathorn). That holds up here, but it swamps new readers, and swamped me. I clung to the family tree at the back of the book, but even flipping back there got tiresome. I could have used some more in-text reminders, such as repeatedly saying, "Then Fingon, son of Fingolfin, said to Finrod, son of Finarfin, 'Oh, what a lovely day,' and Finwe, father of Fingolfin, said, 'Yes, we're having lots of sun today, don't you think, my son, Feanor?" Okay, that would get unwieldy. Maybe constant footnotes would have helped. But after reading it a few times, I got them all memorized, so it stopped being an issue a long time ago. It's just such a hurdle for new readers.

2. Do you have a favorite name from the cast list Tolkien gives us here? Which of Feanor’s sons would you like to get to know better or have a beer with?

Turgon has a strong sound to it; one of my favorites. Finrod is another. I liked their names before knowing more about their personalities, and knowing the latter made me like their names more. They're some of the wiser, nobler folks in that dynasty.

I like Maglor, who seems to be a reluctant member of a cruel family. Maedhros I respect at times as the story goes on. Amrod and Amras seem the best candidates for beer buddies because they seem the least murderous and least vain. I put them in a category with Maglor as possible reluctants, though we learn so little about them, it's hard to tell.

3. Why do royal sons outnumber daughters? And if every elven child lives forever, why doesn’t Elvenhome become overpopulated? Just how many elves can live in Aman, in Túna, or if you are Teleri, on the Lonely Isle?

Wait, are you saying Tolkien doesn't have gender balance in his characters? :) Given how most of what follows this family is war, and he eschews warrior princesses for the most part, I think they had to be boys. What I want to know is why most of them had no children of their own. And that might explain the lack of overpopulation. After the initial burst of babies from Finwe's and his sons' generations, Manwe preached the virtues of family planning to all the Eldar in Valinor if they didn't figure it out themselves. Feanor, ever the showoff, of course had the most kids in the dynasty.

4. What do you think about the description of the Noldor as a people? Can you see the connection between the qualities Tolkien shares about them here and the way they turn out later? And what kinds of things might they have surpassed their teachers on?

This is still the Age of Innocence, and I admire the Noldor's curiosity and generosity. Their ambition to always do things greater and better than before is endearing. I get the feeling that they made Valinor a better place than the Valar could all on their own, and that they contributed more than the Vanyar and Teleri did. What became of them later was a corruption of their best traits.

Hard to say how they bested their teachers, other than in the cutting of gems, which it seems Aule created but never thought to fashion. It says a lot that Feanor created the Silmarils, and Aule never made anything close in comparison that we know of.

5. The Noldor strike me as being acquiring in nature – though it’s mostly knowledge at this point. Does the trouble start when they start to feel attached to the things they’ve learned or made? Is “attachment” the opposite (or even the dark side) of “longing” in Tolkien?

I still struggle to see them as "Deep Elves." They love knowledge, but of the factual and craftsman kind. They don't seem particularly wise or philosophical or profound, which is what "deep" means to me. But they love craft knowledge deeply, so I'll bend the word that way for their sake.

Agreed that they are acquisitive, and great point that it's only in knowledge at first. Even so, they don't seem to jealously hoard that knowledge any more than the gems they find and cut. The impending darkness to their nature seems to me to come from fear that someone will take what is theirs by force and deceit. I suppose every miser thinks the same. But they didn't start that way and didn't have to end up that way. All blame goes to Melkor. A pox on him!

Excellent question about attachment vs longing. Wish I had a good answer. I would try to say that longing is more instinctive, more deeply emotional, and a little more sublime than attachment. Elves long to see their kin and long to see Valinor. They aren't attached to Valinor if they haven't been there yet, and attachment to kin is different than attachment to Silmarils. To jump ahead a little (sorry!), Feanor is said to be more attached to his father than to the Silmarils, which says a lot. Maybe it's a matter of attachment to material things vs attachment to emotional/spiritual things. In that distinction, there's no dark side to the latter, at least in my view.

Subject User Time
*Silmarillion Discussion: Chapter 5, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie", Part 3 -- Meet the Noldor Cast** weaver Send a private message to weaver Feb 28 2013, 2:28am
    The Quenya alphabet stopped at F CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 28 2013, 3:43am
    The F Words Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Feb 28 2013, 2:52pm
        Jumping ahead to other chapters CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 28 2013, 3:08pm
            That Makes Sense Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Feb 28 2013, 3:15pm
    wait who has fins? is this a Jimmy Buffet song? elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Feb 28 2013, 6:53pm
    More Late Answers sador Send a private message to sador Mar 3 2013, 3:43pm
    a few more comments telain Send a private message to telain Mar 5 2013, 6:39pm
    some answers elostirion74 Send a private message to elostirion74 Mar 11 2013, 9:46pm


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