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On Glorfindel

Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Oct 27, 5:49pm

Post #1 of 18 (992 views)
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On Glorfindel Can't Post

Due to his self-sacrifice in the escape from Gondolin, he was not only allowed to depart to Mandos despite the Ban of the Valar, BUT he was also re-embodied and granted powers by Manwe to make him almost a Maia in terms of spiritual capabilities.

Then he was sent back to Middle-earth after 1,000 years as an emissary with some "great purpose/mission" to fulfill.

Why??? We know he was instrumental in the wars against Angmar, and that he helped Frodo and Aragorn, et al, to Rivendell, and was one of the few who could openly ride against the Nine.

But when you factor in everything that was actually IN the books, Glorfindel really didn't appear all that much...and yet, Tolkien specifically allowed him to be reincarnated for some "great mission in Middle-earth". THEN...he gave his job on the Fellowship to this random weirdo from Mirkwood that he made up halfway through the Council of Elrond! I actually feel bad for our poor, jilted Glorfindel LOL Laugh

At any rate, the timeline of the Second Age tells us that Glorfindel was by no means idle when he returned to ME. He wasn't solely regulated to be Elrond's search and rescue team for a certain hobbit sporting jewelry that its owner was rather cranky about losing.

My only conclusion is that Tolkien intended to flesh out the Second Age, just like he had the first and the Third (mainly LOTR story/quest). He just simply ran out of time before his death.

Thoughts? Both on Tolkien's intentions, and what all Glorfindel actually did that aligned with the very rare exception/honor he earned from the Valar?

In other words, did the Valar's special dispensation to Glorfindel actually accomplish much of anything? Or was it rather pointless?

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(This post was edited by Cirashala on Oct 27, 5:51pm)


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 27, 6:29pm

Post #2 of 18 (949 views)
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the why of it [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien says why Smile

Glorfindel I: an Elf who had once known Middle-earth and had fought in the long wars would be an eminently suitable companion for Gandalf -- of whom he was already a friend and follower . . .

. . . superseded by . . .

Glorfindel II: returned for the purpose of strengthening Gil-galad and Elrond, when the growing evil of Sauron was at last perceived by them, or later in 1600 when war was inevitable with Sauron.

And Tolkien noted (regarding the invasion of Eriador) "and that not (yet) mentioned in the annals recording Sauron's defeat, he played a notable part in the war."


(This post was edited by Elthir on Oct 27, 6:41pm)


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 27, 7:08pm

Post #3 of 18 (938 views)
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by the way . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

 . . . I mean the why of Glorfindel's return.

I can't recall for certain (without reading the two texts over again), but I'm not positive it was said Glorfindel was "sent" by the Valar.

I do recall the general statement that Elves could return to Middle-earth before the Change of the World, if they desired, and that urgent messages and prayers asking for help were received in Numenor and in Valinor.

I'm not entirely certain Glorfindel was necessarily sent as opposed to desiring to go. If I recall correctly, one of the (seeming) reasons Tolkien altered Glorfindel returning with Gandalf, is that this would make it a Third Age event (after the Change of the World), which (Tolkien thought) was improbable and make Glorfindel of greater power and importance than seemed fitting.


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Oct 27, 7:12pm

Post #4 of 18 (936 views)
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So... [In reply to] Can't Post

after the Change of the World, the road to Valinor was one-way then?

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Happy reading everyone!


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 27, 10:09pm

Post #5 of 18 (927 views)
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there are exceptions . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

 . . . (like the Istari) . . . but basically yes, according to Glorfindel II.

Tolkien briefly mused about the possibility that Manwe could have received permission from Eru to make an exception in Glorfindel's case, but as I say (and in the same sentence that he brought up the idea) JRRT thought this improbable and moved Glorfindel's arrival to as early as SA 1200, and next "more probably" around 1600, the Year of Dread.

And by "Change of the World" I mean the removal of the Blessed Realm from the World Circles.

[in my mind-canon a once flat earth is Mannish myth]


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 27, 10:26pm

Post #6 of 18 (925 views)
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being sent [In reply to] Can't Post

Argh.

Found a brief note under The Five Wizards (Last Writings) in which Tolkien uses the word "sent" . . . to aid Elrond . . . and Glorfindel was "(though not yet said) pre-eminent in the war in Eriador."

I suppose he might have desired to return to Middle-earth anyway, but in any case I knew I shoulda checked first!

Smile


(This post was edited by Elthir on Oct 27, 10:35pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Oct 28, 2:06pm

Post #7 of 18 (881 views)
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I hope Glorfindel was worth it.... [In reply to] Can't Post

As I understand it, Glorfindel 'appeared' in the story somewhat to Tolkien's surprise, as a few other things did (such as Black Riders, palantirs or Farmir). And not just an elf called Glorfindel (Tolkien's imagination insisted) but THE Glorfindel.

It certainly caused some complications! Not only the hows and whys of making an exception to elvish afterlife, but the contortions Tolkien gets into to avoid having a useful fellow like Glorfindel in the Fellowship.

I suppose it shows how Tolkien was willing to give his imagination its head, confident that he'd work out the details later. And it also mush show how Unwins were willing to give Tolkien his head -- I can imagine an editor wanting a simplification here, and if the task is to send a suitable rescuer to help Frodo et al. on the last leg to Rivendell, it seems like Gandalf would do.

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 28, 5:03pm

Post #8 of 18 (876 views)
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exceptions [In reply to] Can't Post

Generally speaking, Elves reincarnated, and as Tolkien writes, they could return to Middle-earth if desired, before the Change of the World.

The exception Tolkien gave Glorfindel was that he could return to Aman before the end of the First Age.

And if Glorfindel hadn't been in Rivendell as a possible member of the Fellowship, there were plenty of Noldor there who could have gone on the quest.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 28, 7:00pm

Post #9 of 18 (863 views)
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First Age? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Generally speaking, Elves reincarnated, and as Tolkien writes, they could return to Middle-earth if desired, before the Change of the World.

The exception Tolkien gave Glorfindel was that he could return to Aman before the end of the First Age.


He could? Then why didn't he return until well into the Second Age? He could have instead accompanied the Host of Valinor for the War of Wrath.


In Reply To
And if Glorfindel hadn't been in Rivendell as a possible member of the Fellowship, there were plenty of Noldor there who could have gone on the quest.


True, though ultimately none of them became part of the Fellowship.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 28, 7:59pm

Post #10 of 18 (857 views)
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Glorfindel of Aman [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
He could? Then why didn't he return until well into the Second Age? He could have instead accompanied the Host of Valinor for the War of Wrath.


Tolkien imagined that Glorfindel remained in Aman at first by his own choice, with Gondolin destroyed and his kin perished, and still in the Halls of Waiting "but his long sojourn during the last years of the First Age, and at least far into the Second Age, no doubt was also in accord with the wishes and designs of Manwe."

And we know, in general, that little is said in any tale of the March of the Host of the Valar, "for among them went none of those Elves who had dwelt and suffered in the Hither Lands"


In Reply To
Elthir: And if Glorfindel hadn't been in Rivendell as a possible member of the Fellowship, there were plenty of Noldor there who could have gone on the quest

Otaku-sempai: True, though ultimately none of them became part of the Fellowship.


Right. My point above (to nowizardme) was that Tolkien would still have to deal with the question: "Why not send some/or one Noldorin Elves/Elf" on the quest, whether or not Glorfindel was present.

In other words, Glorfindel's presence need not, by himself, raise that question.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Oct 29, 11:14am

Post #11 of 18 (816 views)
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"Glorfindel's presence need not, by himself, raise that question." [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
My point above (to nowizardme) was that Tolkien would still have to deal with the question: "Why not send some/or one Noldorin Elves/Elf" on the quest, whether or not Glorfindel was present.

In other words, Glorfindel's presence need not, by himself, raise that question.


Well, yes and no, I think. I completely agree that if Tolkien came up with some reason to recuse Glorfindel personally, that could just raise the question of "why cold-shoulder any other older Noldor soldier?"

But on the other hand, I think that Tolkien has got himself into this difficulty by putting an older Noldor soldier so clearly in the eye of the beholder with Glorfindels' spectacular rescue mission. That is to say, I think that it would take a lot more hours staring at the proverbial fridge* to wonder about any other candidates from Elrond's household if we hadn't seen what a useful chap Glorfindel seems to be on a quest.

The (over)-thinking reader can of course still niggle about why there really have to be just nine walkers and argue about the merits of the candidates - it's not Tolkien's most convincing explanation, in my opinion**.


---
*"fridge logic" see https://tvtropes.org/...php/Main/FridgeLogic
** In any case I think hobbits ought to count as halves, or possibly hand-luggage Wink

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


noWizardme
Half-elven


Oct 29, 11:29am

Post #12 of 18 (817 views)
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"Elves reincarnated, and ... they could return to Middle-earth if desired, before the Change of the World." [In reply to] Can't Post

Now I'm wondering whether we know of any others who 'came back'.

Also, Elthir - I was claiming that Tolkien ended up inventing this post-death state of affairs because he wanted to include a recycled Glorfindel in LOTR, and had to work out how his ideas of elven afterlife might allow it. At least, that's my reading of Hammond & Scull's notes on Glorfindel in their excellent 'Reader's Companion'. (I think I might have read similar stuff elsewhere, but nowhere I can reference now). So now I'm wondering whether you are pointing out some mistake in my understanding there, or were (perhaps) saying that once Tolkien had solved his Glorfindel problem that 'precedent' meant Glorfindel was no longer an exception (in some senses), because this is now how things work and other elves might putatively have had the same 'career path'.
Or perhaps you meant something else?

From the discussion so far, I get that Tolkien was supposing Glorfindel had some big thing to do in Middle-earth. So I'm wondering whether that's inferred from him 'being allowed' to return (such an unusual occurrence requiring a special explanation)?

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 29, 5:01pm

Post #13 of 18 (805 views)
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"the" Glorfindel [In reply to] Can't Post

Point taken, but Gandalf yet tells the reader that in Rivendell there are Lords of the Eldar from beyond the Sea who do not fear the Ringwraiths and are some of Sauron's chief foes.

And if it was "Galador" that helped Frodo and revealed himself in wrath then it would be Galador that Gandalf mentions in his "even if you choose for us an Elf-lord, such as . . . " In other words, Tolkien chose an Elf-lord to help, and the fact that it's (turns out to be) "the" Glorfindel is not the reason the question arises.

Technically there is no "the" Glorfindel in a sense here (at least not in detail, despite his impressive description), as when the Nine Walkers are chosen, the reader is unaware of Glorfindel's history at this point . . .

. . . which would only be revealed posthumously of course.


(This post was edited by Elthir on Oct 29, 5:11pm)


Elthir
Grey Havens


Oct 29, 5:30pm

Post #14 of 18 (801 views)
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Glorfindel part two (pun intended) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Also, Elthir - I was claiming that Tolkien ended up inventing this post-death state of affairs because he wanted to include a recycled Glorfindel in LOTR, and had to work out how his ideas of elven afterlife might allow it.


Elven reincarnation was in the mix from very early on (referenced in The Book of Lost Tales for example). When Tolkien introduced Glorfindel into The Lord of the Rings, the idea that Elves would return to life in body was already a long held notion . . .

. . . and even longer when Tolkien decided in 1972-73 (Glorfindel texts I and II) that there was only one Glorfindel.

Tolkien changed his mind about how Elven reincarnation was accomplished, but both ideas held for all Elves (again, generally speaking, and with respect to judgement), and both pre-dated the musing and decisions found in Glorfindel I and II.


InTheChair
Lorien

Oct 30, 7:08pm

Post #15 of 18 (749 views)
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He ran out of time certainly, but that was for the first age, not the second. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
My only conclusion is that Tolkien intended to flesh out the Second Age, just like he had the first and the Third (mainly LOTR story/quest). He just simply ran out of time before his death.



My guess on that would be that Tolkien never had any intention to fleshing out the Second age in that way, although he may have wanted to write the Downfall of Numenor in some detail.

With Tolkien it seems very often it started with a Name or a word, and its meaning and intention, and then he tried to adapt the story to fit around that.
He re-used the name Glorfindel in LotR:s, and then because he considered it such a remarkable name, he concluded that it must be the same Glorfindel he has written about in the first age.
Therefore Glorfindel must have come back from Mandos, and returned to Middle-earth, probably in a role similar to the Istari, though perhaps to work in the second age, or else against the Witch-king of Angmar.
I do not think Tolkien intended to go into any more detail than that.

Of course it raises all kinds of questions, like the ones you have brought up. Not the least of is, what motivated Glorfindel to return to Middle-Earth at all?
Why was he still there at the time of Frodo's quest?
etc...



(This post was edited by InTheChair on Oct 30, 7:09pm)


squire
Half-elven


Oct 30, 7:43pm

Post #16 of 18 (744 views)
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I agree. The Second Age was an artifact of other work, and never really engaged him. [In reply to] Can't Post

When reading History of Middle-earth for the writing of The Lord of the Rings, you can see it dawning on him that he's creating a three-Age structure, into which Numenor (a pre-existing story independent of the Silmarillion legends just as The Hobbit was) could be fitted. He kind of scrambled to make it all work, wrote down the Akallabeth in a way consistent with the new Third Age epic, and called it a day except for a few more occasional essays or short stories related to Numenor. There's no sign in his letters or papers that we have that he regretted not writing more about the Second Age.



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Omnigeek
Lorien


Nov 4, 2:28am

Post #17 of 18 (571 views)
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Remember the Red Book of Westmarch is the compilation of 5 hobbits' experiences [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say that saving the life of one particular hobbit and his somewhat suspect jewelry at that particular instance was a rather significant event and purpose. The power of an Elven Lord like Glorfindel as well as all of Elrond's and Gandalf's powers were required. However, the tale we know as The Lord of the Rings is centered around 5 (really, 4) hobbits and their view of a vast war. I look at Glorfindel's role as simply a tale that never got told fully. It would much like talking about Patton from the lens of E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment as told in Band of Brothers. We know there were a lot of other desperate battles, some of which got a part of a paragraph, some of which didn't even get that much mention.
I've seen statements that the Men and Dwarves defense in the Battle of Dale diverted Sauron's forces from the attacks on the Elven stronghold but I think you could make a case for flipping that and saying the defense of the Elven strongholds weakened the attacks on Dale and Erebor. Defense of Dale and Erebor protected Rivendell and had Rivendell fallen, Arwen would also have been taken. In addition, while Celeborn and Galadriel get the credit for retaking Dol Guldur, is it not probable that a mighty Elven prince would have been a key element in that struggle?


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Nov 4, 8:23pm

Post #18 of 18 (509 views)
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Very good point! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!

 
 

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