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Why it is taking me years to read the Silmarillion
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Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 4:09am

Post #1 of 74 (1924 views)
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Why it is taking me years to read the Silmarillion Can't Post

In celebration of reaching page 100 in the Silmarillion, the furthest I've ever gotten in my three tries so far (Third time pays for all! I think I'll finish it this time!) I post herewith some reasons why this is taking me years. In no particular order:

1. Every time I see "Túna" I think "mmm, fissshes" and get hungry.

2. Every time I see a name and remember who that is and/or what it means and/or how to pronounce it, I stop to gloat.

3. Every time I see a name and can't remember who it is and/or what it means and/or how to pronouce it, I stop to berate myself and/or look it up.

4. After every sentence, I wonder, "Why did Tolkien write this sentence backwards? And if it's backwards, how did I understand it?"

5. After certain phrases, I picture them on the page in different configurations, like
"In that time / Were made those things / That afterwards / Were most renowned / . . ."
or
"In that time
Were made those things
That afterwards
Were most renowned
. . ."

6. (One serious one!) I am troubled by Tolkien's disdain for micro-organisms. "Green things fell sick and rotted, and rivers were choked with weeds and slime, and fens were made, rank and poisonous, the breeding place of flies . . ."
River slime is teeming with life. It's a fine line between weeds and wildflowers. Flies and the micro-organisms that cause sickness aren't inherently evil, I think, they're just being themselves. Why do these creatures have any less right to live than any others?

7. When I think about Melkor trying to mess up the music, it reminds me of this guitarist I know, Scott. So I keep picturing Melkor as Scott. And Melkor is a lot less threatening with a slight potbelly.

8. When I stop reading and do other things, it feels weird to encounter things without names. Like, if I take two carrots out of the fridge, I feel like I should give them a name unto themselves, something that means "The Two Carrots." And those that remain in the fridge should have another name meaning "The Remaining Carrots." And likewise the knife with which I cut them, and the board below. And then I think maybe I shouldn't read so much.

9. I stop and think about how next time I'm at a party and someone's underdressed, I won't say he's underdressed, I'll say he "came not in raiment of festival." (For some reason this line really cracked me up.)

10. I worry that if I understand the story too well, I'll be tempted to write a post about it, and then I'd have to look up how to make all those weird characters for the names (like in Túna above).

11. Every time I see a letter "c" in any context, I initially pronouce it "k". Then sometimes have to go back and pronouce it "s", then wonder why we bother with "c" at all.

12. I keep forgetting to look up "van" as in "They were in the van." I picture elves in a '70's-looking van. That can't be right.
OK, I'm looking it up now. Ah! Short for "vanguard." That makes more sense. But won't stop me from picturing elves in a customized '70's van.

13. I find myself wishing I had pets so I could give them elvish names. But I don't, so I start daydreaming about if I did have pets, what they would look like and what I'd name them.

14. I stop to post on TORn when I could be reading. ;-)

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


squire
Half-elven


Jun 10 2007, 4:23am

Post #2 of 74 (1340 views)
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"The Remaining Carrots" [In reply to] Can't Post

All of your reactions are funny, but #8 really cracked me up.

I tend to agree with you about The Silmarillion. I regard it as a research source, not a good read. But Tolkien might almost have agreed with us, because he saw the text that became the published Silmarillion as essentially a bunch of summaries. The tales themselves, possibly as interesting as The Lord of the Rings when written up, were in fact never written up.

Except, perhaps, the tale now in print as The Children of Hurin. Have you read it yet?



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


silneldor
Half-elven


Jun 10 2007, 4:29am

Post #3 of 74 (1264 views)
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You funny girl:) [In reply to] Can't Post

This is the 1st good laugh i have had all nightLaugh.

You have gotten farther than i have. I seem to get more success from reading other books about it.

"Tolkien, like Lewis, believed that, through story, the real world would become a more magical place, full of meaning. We see its patterns and colors in a fresh way. The recovery of a true view of the world applies both to individual things, like hills and stones, and to the cosmic - the depths of space and time itself. For in sub-creation, in Tolkien's view, there is a "survey" of space and time. Reality is captured on a miniature scale. Through stories like The Lord of the Rings, a renewed view of things is given, illuminating the homely, the spiritial, the physical, and the moral dimensions of the world."

Tolkien and C.S. Lewis- The Gift of Friendship -Duriez



A little bit of Rivendell to warm the home



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 10 2007, 4:35am

Post #4 of 74 (1264 views)
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Prose from poetry. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
After certain phrases, I picture them on the page in different configurations, like
"In that time / Were made those things / That afterwards / Were most renowned / . . ."
or
"In that time
Were made those things
That afterwards
Were most renowned
. . ."



Truer than you knew? As Gergely Nagy has shown (in "The Adapted Text: The Lost Poetry of Beleriand" from Tolkien Studies I, which can be read here) Tolkien's Silmarillion texts often draw on earlier poetic versions of the stories, or are made to seem as if they do so.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Jun 10 2007, 4:58am

Post #5 of 74 (1256 views)
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BWAHAHAHAHA! [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe it's the late hour, but I had tears of laughter rolling down my face. Your #4 made me think of how I got a little irritated with voiceovers in the movie saying, "And so it was..." a couple of different times. Then I read LotR again and realized that Tolkien really does say, "And so it was..." quite a bit.

Where's Frodo?


Penthe
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 6:08am

Post #6 of 74 (1264 views)
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"Get in the back of the van!" [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm afraid your serious issue (number 6) made me laugh as well. Poor old slime mold.


Eledhwen
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 10 2007, 8:35am

Post #7 of 74 (1236 views)
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LOL! [In reply to] Can't Post

And congratulations on getting to page 100. Personally I like the later First Age stories best - when you get past the Valar and the Elves to the Men, basically.

You know, when you're reading to yourself, who cares how things are pronounced? For years I consistently missed out the first "l" in "Silmarillion" and thought "Simarillion" until one day I realised it was there and probably for a reason. Of course then you get into daft versions like Sillymarillion, and then I suppose you're lost again ...

Marlborough vineyards on a sunny winter's day.

IMG_1107


a.s.
Valinor


Jun 10 2007, 9:12am

Post #8 of 74 (1275 views)
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Bookmark this!! It's a Torn classic! [In reply to] Can't Post

lol. The next time I make a salad you are going to force me to think of slicing carrots as "The Carrot-Slaying". Poor Carrots That Remain Behind, never seeing the Light of Frigidare...etc.

OMG, it's catching!

I feel your pain, however. NEVER will I forget the astounded pain I felt when, after eagerly awaiting the publication of the Sil in 1977 and joyously beholding my newly-purchased book, I actually began to read it.

Sly

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


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 10 2007, 11:09am

Post #9 of 74 (1235 views)
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*Mods way up* [In reply to] Can't Post

This is an instant classic!

The sad part is that I routinely recommend reading The Silmarillion twice, because the first time no one can keep it all straight. But really, it is much easier the second time around. Or the third, anyway. Or maybe it was the fourth, I forget .... ;-)


kareniel
Lorien

Jun 10 2007, 11:16am

Post #10 of 74 (1224 views)
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How clever and funny! [In reply to] Can't Post

I had to read your wonderfully written post twice and respond right away, even though I'm pressed for time this morning. I'm on page 128 of The Sil and have been berating myself for not progressing more quickly. I'm a retired high school English teacher for gosh sake! I should be breezing right through! I keep forgetting who's who and who did what and who lives where! I feel compelled to keep checking the maps whenever a location is mentioned because, well I don't really know why. I am also confused by the characters and places that have several different names.

Your post has reassured me that I am not alone. Thanks for that. Onward through The Silmarillion!


Curious
Half-elven

Jun 10 2007, 11:21am

Post #11 of 74 (1231 views)
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Is it just Tolkien Studies I [In reply to] Can't Post

that is accessible online?


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 10 2007, 11:23am

Post #12 of 74 (1230 views)
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*reads with fascination and delight* [In reply to] Can't Post

Cripes! There are so many parallels to what I experience when I read the Sil... but I LOVE you descriptions!!! *wild applause* That was fun!!!!! *cuts, pastes*

This is going into my copy of the Sil!


sample sample
Trust him... The Hobbit is coming!

"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."


TORn's Observations Lists


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 10 2007, 12:36pm

Post #13 of 74 (1229 views)
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I don't know whether to congratulate you [In reply to] Can't Post

or offer you my profound sympathy! Laugh

I know what you mean about Túna sandwiches. Some of those names are a bit much - and way too close to be able to tell apart withough keeping a genealogical chart at one's side. At least Tolkien didn't keep the name "Teleporno"!

Just as long as you don't start assigning names to your serving spoons, chairs, and umbrellas, you'll be okay...Crazy


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"History often resembles "Myth", because they are both ultimately of the same stuff."


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 1:46pm

Post #14 of 74 (1279 views)
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I started The Children of Hurin [In reply to] Can't Post

But then for some reason I decided to finish the Silmarillion first. Like, "why am I starting new books when I haven't finished my old books?" But I'm going to read CoH too. I'll be writing a post about that in a decade or so. ;-)

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 1:49pm

Post #15 of 74 (1215 views)
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That's one of the things that helped, I think. [In reply to] Can't Post

I like surfing around on Wikipedia and I've read the entries on some of the elves and other stuff from the Sil. So when I encountered them in the book they were a little familiar this time.

Glad you liked my post. :-)

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jun 10 2007, 1:55pm

Post #16 of 74 (1222 views)
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Me too! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

I feel your pain, however. NEVER will I forget the astounded pain I felt when, after eagerly awaiting the publication of the Sil in 1977 and joyously beholding my newly-purchased book, I actually began to read it.

Gee, you mean I wasn't the only one? I've felt guilty ever since for not sticking with it. Thank goodness for TORn, otherwise I'd never have appreciated the Sil. Our kids asked the Gaffer and me the other day why so many of our things have names -- trees, cars, the cell phone -- I see I should have blamed JRRT Wink Great post, S/G! Thanks for brightening my morning!


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:06pm

Post #17 of 74 (1206 views)
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Thanks, this is really interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a feeling someone else must have noticed this poetry stuff. I skimmed the Nagy article and bookmarked it to read later. I see that it combines topics from two of my paragraphs!


The first of these is a part of the Quenta Silmarillion proper, Ch. 1, that to my knowledge has no extant parallels; its use of nearly all the devices we have found to belong to the implied poetic tradition places it with the adapted texts.

Green things fell sick and rotted,
and rivers were choked in weeds and slime,
and fens were made, rank and poisonous,
the breeding place of flies;
and forests grew dark and perilous,
the haunts of fear;
and beasts became monsters of horn and ivory
and dyed the earth with blood.

The paratactic and repetitive structure at once draws attention to this passage. Made up of three two-line units, each telling about the corruption of a certain sphere, plus an initial 1+1 pair, its parallels are thematic as well as structural. The rhythm of the lines is broken twice with the shorter fourth and sixth lines, while the assonance of "slime" and "flies," and the fuller rhymes "poisonous" and "perilous" (italicized), strengthened by the alliteration, keep the composition together. Alliteration further links (very appropriately) "fens" and "flies," "forests" and "fear." This "stanza' is highly reminiscent of the style of the Ainulindalë, both formally (as seen in example 1) and thematically, and suggests a lost poetic tradition of the cosmogony, in fragments and style preserved in the prose redaction.29 And this is, I believe, unmistakably poetry.


"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:12pm

Post #18 of 74 (1201 views)
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Oh wow! [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't even imagine how hard that must have been, trying to read it for the first time, without any prior warning of its difficulties! You have my sympathies.

"The Carrot-Slaying" - LOL!

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:22pm

Post #19 of 74 (1205 views)
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Thanks! That's cool that you name things. [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you think you'd still be doing that if you weren't a Tolkien fan? I think maybe some people just have a drive to do it, and others don't.

I'm always surprised if I'm visiting someone, and ask the name of a local species of bird or tree or something, and they don't know. It seems weird to me that they wouldn't want to know. I guess for some people the word "bird" is enough, others want to know the species name, and others want to name every individual. Or you could go overboard and give a name to each feather, and where does it end?

I really do picture Tolkien walking around his house and naming all the silverware and stuff. :-/

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:24pm

Post #20 of 74 (1192 views)
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I am planning to read it a second time [In reply to] Can't Post

because I know I'm missing things, and it does seem like it'll get better on re-readings. So, I'll be done with that in a decade or two. ;-)

Glad you enjoyed the post!

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:30pm

Post #21 of 74 (1192 views)
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*hurries to catch up with kareniel* [In reply to] Can't Post

Page 128, here I come . . .

My mother is a retired high school English teacher too, and she had never read any Tolkien at all! I finally got her to read "The Hobbit," and she said she enjoyed it, even though she also kept saying "It's not my genre" (whatever that means). I bought her a copy of LOTR a while back and I'm after her to read that too.

Glad you liked my post! :-)

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:32pm

Post #22 of 74 (1183 views)
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I'm honored to be in your Sil, Gramma! Thanks! /NT [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:37pm

Post #23 of 74 (1179 views)
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Thanks! LOL, Teleporno cracks me up too. /NT [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Jun 10 2007, 2:39pm

Post #24 of 74 (1188 views)
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Hrmph, mean Penthe, laughs at nice slime mold. ;-) /NT [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it." --Gandalf


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jun 10 2007, 3:55pm

Post #25 of 74 (1193 views)
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Without a subscription, yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien Studies I is available as a free sample issue. The other issues of Tolkien Studies are accessible online only with a subscription to Project Muse. Academic libraries and some large public libraries subscribe. Cleveland's public library system has a subscription that gives its patrons access to Project Muse, but only from computers at the downtown branch: many other online resources from Cleveland library can be accessed remotely (by patrons using their library card number).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.

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