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Of the Unionof Elves and Men
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Apr 2 2014, 1:19pm

Post #51 of 53 (92 views)
reincarnation [In reply to] Can't Post

I think at least some of what you are thinking of can be found in either Laws or Customs, or a section titled Appendix The Converse of Manwe and Eru and later conceptions of Elvish reincarnation.

From an external perspective there was some form of Elvish reincarnation as early as The Book of Lost Tales [thus the idea was around for a very long time], but the idea that Elves were reborn into their children [as a mode of reincarnation] was seemingly only abandoned after The Lord of the Rings was published.

There might be an arguable false impression regarding how many Elves were reincarnated, possibly because the reincarnated Elves did not normally return to Middle-earth. But note, for instance, the statement above that the Quendi in general desired a physical existence for the duration of Arda. And in the very late Glorfindel texts [I and II]* there is no indication that the descriptions only hold for certain Elves.

Nor were there any seeming limitations when it was generally stated that the Quendi were reborn into their children [although at one point this meant that their number neither grew nor lessened].

I would say all Elves could be reincarnated in potential, although there was judgement involved [noted in the essays], and certainly there were factors that could delay a given Elf's reincarnation.


*I won't go into the details here, but in Morgoth's Ring Christopher Tolkien makes an incorrect statement about one element of Elvish reincarnation, a statement that he later corrects in the notes to the Glorfindel texts, from The Peoples of Middle-Earth.

(This post was edited by Elthir on Apr 2 2014, 1:34pm)


Apr 2 2014, 7:46pm

Post #52 of 53 (77 views)
It is, indeed, known. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
That said, the statement within this often cited letter was arguably written before Tolkien finished working on The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, which was [obviously] subsequently published by the author himself -- in which work there is at least [in my opinion] the implication that the choice of Elrond's children is to be made at the time of Elrond's departure -- further suggesting a choice of mortality, if it is known that Elladan and Elrohir did not sail with Elrond.

First, forgive me for limiting my response to your first paragraph; it is entirely for brevity. I have little to add to the rest of your post other than to agree with you that one of the alternate interpretations of Tolkien's statement about Elrond's sons (in letter 153) is strained to say the least.

As you say, Tolkien's letter predates the 1960 edition of LotR by a wide margin. Based on the Appendices for that edition, we can say categorically that Elladan and Elrohir did not sail into the West with their father. They might have done so later if their doom allowed them to. The most literal interpretation of that doom suggests that, by remaining in Middle-earth, their fate was already decided and they became as mortal Men. Letter 153 suggests the possibility for some wiggle room, but there is nothing else to back it up.

One does wonder about the possible motivations for the brothers to choose the fate of Men. They would never see their Elvish kin again (or only briefly, as their spirits passed through the Halls of Mandos to the doom of Men). On the other hand, by staying behind they could look after and protect their sister and her family for a time (and they must have viewed Aragorn/Estel much like a younger brother). And they may have continued to fulfil the role of the Rangers of the North along with any Dunedain who remained in Imladris after Aragorn took the throne of the Reunited Kingdoms.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Apr 2 2014, 9:52pm

Post #53 of 53 (98 views)
first edition versus second [In reply to] Can't Post

Right I know it's 'known' in an ultimate sense, but the chronology I'm trying to describe is rather...

... letter 153 predates the publication of the first edition of The Return of the King, and possibly even predates the finishing up of the writing of The Tale of Aragorn And Arwen.

And in the first edition there is no mention of Elladan or Elrohir, sailing or not sailing. That is, for years readers of The Lord of the Rings had no idea whether or not the sons of Elrond sailed... their end was not told [it was noted in the Epilogue that they remained after Elrond sailed, but the Epilogue was abandoned]

And then yes, this much became 'known' in the Second Edition, when Tolkien added two references to the sons remaining behind after Elrond sailed.

But to me the external chronology is notable compared to simply mentioning the bare information or opinion [not that you did so, but some on the web sometimes do] that we have one suggestion in the tale, and one seeming contradiction to that from a letter...

... thus from a source Tolkien himself not only never expected more than one person to read, but a source that predates even the author's own publication of the [arguable] suggestion of a mortal choice!

And as you say the letter notably predates the second edition [which I think is closer to 1965 if not exact] Smile

(This post was edited by Elthir on Apr 2 2014, 10:02pm)

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