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A forum for discussion of Voronwë's book, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion
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Voronwë the Faithful
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Another review at Amazon, this one only three stars. But well-argued overall, I thought; in fact, though it doesn't appear to be, this review could easily have been written by our friend Aelfwine (which I mean as a compliment).
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Charles Noad, author of the essay "On the Construction of The Silmarillion from the book Tolkien's Legendarium and a longtime expert on Tolkien's work (particularly The Silmarillion), who proofread much of HoMe, has reviewed Arda Reconstructed, along with Elizabeth Whittingham's The Evolution of Tolkien's Mythology and Dimitra Fimi's Tolkien, Race, and Cultural History
at the LOTR Plaza:

Three Tolkien Book Reviews - Charles Noad

The review of my book is the last (and by far the longest). He has both praise and criticism for it, not surprisingly. Overall I think it is a good review.

I have made a brief response to clarify a couple of points:

http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/forum_po ... 53#7077453
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Post by N.E. Brigand »

Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:Charles Noad, author of the essay "On the Construction of The Silmarillion"... He has both praise and criticism for it, not surprisingly. Overall I think it is a good review.
I was most struck by this comment by Noad:
The 1977 version became a work of lesser importance, a somewhat secondary and, to a degree, synthetic assemblage. In fact it’s a long time since I’ve read it.
About sixteen months ago, a professor attending the annual Tolkien conference at the University of Vermont said the same thing when I mentioned Voronwë's book, then still being prepared by the publisher: he never read The Silmarillion anymore, as he preferred The History of Middle-earth texts.
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This must be a minority, though, right?

Post by visualweasel »

N.E. Brigand wrote:I was most struck by this comment by Noad:
The 1977 version became a work of lesser importance, a somewhat secondary and, to a degree, synthetic assemblage. In fact it’s a long time since I’ve read it.
About sixteen months ago, a professor attending the annual Tolkien conference at the University of Vermont said the same thing when I mentioned Voronwë's book, then still being prepared by the publisher: he never read The Silmarillion anymore, as he preferred The History of Middle-earth texts.
It's already a minority of Tolkien fans who bother with The Silmarillion at all; but among even the more serious fans, I have to think it's a very, very small segment who prefer The History of Middle-earth to The Silmarillion, especially to the extent of no longer reading the latter. Don't you think?
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I don't know if that is true or now, vw. What I do think is objectively establishable is that The Silmarillion has had, and will continue to have, a much, much higher readership than The History of Middle-earth, which is primarily for scholars and, dare I say, fanatics. Which is why it is so disappointing to me that so much of the material that Mr. Noad (correctly, in my opinion) identified as being "necessary for attaining any real understanding" of Tolkien's world was not included in the published book, therefore leaving the vast majority of his readers unexposed to it.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

A couple of months ago I mentioned in this thread that there was a review of Arda Reconstructed in the May issue of the Tolkien journal Beyond Bree, written by Nancy Martsch, editor of the journal. To my surprise, there is another review of the book in the August issue of Beyond Bree, written by none other than Christina Scull, co-author of the Lord of the Rings Reader's Companion and the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, with contributions by Wayne G. Hammond (her husband and co-author on both of those essential books).

However, the piece entitled "Reflections on The Silmarillion and Arda Reconstructed" isn't so much an objective review of my book as much as a passionate defense of Christopher Tolkien's work on The Silmarillion. As such, I feel that it gives an overly negative impression of how critical my book is of Christopher's work. There are a number of places where her comments give a downright misleading impression of what I say. I'm not going to give a litany of all of them; I'm just going to give one representative sample.
Ms. Scull wrote:To add to the confusion, in his final years Tolkien envisaged massive alteration to his legendarium, in cosmology and other matters, but made few of the necessary changes. He was uncertain how to introduce them and still preserve elements particularly dear to him, such as the significance of the Two Trees and the Elves waking under the stars. Kane should understand that the inclusion of some of the texts whose omission he regrets would have introduced inconsistencies unless other parts were rewritten.
Someone who has not read my book would probably assume from that statement that I criticize Christopher for not attempting to incorporate the changes that Tolkien envisioned to his cosmology and related matters. The truth is just the opposite. I actually praise Christopher in several places for not doing so and I specifically state that losing such things as the Elves waking under the stars would outweigh any benefit to making the change and that I am grateful that Christopher did not attempt to do so (see, e.g., Arda Reconstructed, p. 123.)

There are a number of other places in the piece in which Ms. Scull seems to imply that I criticize Christopher for not incorporating Tolkien's late writings into The Silmarillion. This simply is not the case. She also gives the impression (whether intentionally or not I can't say) that I express the wish that Christopher had pursued a 'complex', 'academic option'." Again, just the opposite is true; I expressly state that I thought that he did the correct thing in constructing a single text from different sources.

I have the utmost respect for Ms. Scull's work. Those who follow the LOTR discussions here (as well as the discussion on the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen that I led at TORN) will know that I repeatedly cite her and Mr. Hammond's LOTR Reader's Guide. At another forum, I stated just a couple of weeks ago regarding the LOTR Readers Guide and the J.R.R. Companion and Guide "I literally could not imagine not owning either of them. They are that valuable." (see here.) And there is certainly much interesting information and ideas in this piece. I just wish that Ms. Scull had been a bit more careful at the impressions she leaves of what I wrote. It is quite surprising from someone who is usually so precise in what she says.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

This isn't really a "review" per se, but it was too amusing not to post about. I found this little blurb at a place called "SciTech Book News, Inc.":
Arda reconstructed; the creation of the published Silmarillion.
Kane, Douglas Charles.
Lehigh University Press, ©2009 280 p. $65.00 PR6039978-0-9801496-3-0
By day a mild-mannered employment attorney in balmy California, by night Kane is a resident and ferocious defender of Middle Earth, also a scholar of its origins and development. Here he details the long and winding road by which Christopher Tolkien assembled and published the extension to his father's classic fantasy series, and argues that the Silmarillion provides a fuller account of the original vision than Lord of the Rings does. In particular, he details where in the multitude of manuscripts and fragments that various passages and constructions were found, and how they were reconstructed and dovetailed into a final narrative. Distributed in the US by Associated University Presses. (Annotation ©2009 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
I'd really like to know who actually wrote that blurb! It's very cool.

http://www.booknews.com/ref_issues/ref_ ... asup1.html
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Post by Primula Baggins »

It's startlingly accurate, right down to "mild-mannered" and "ferocious." Who do you know in Portland?
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

No one that I can think of, although I can certainly think of someone in Oregon that could have written that.
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Post by Primula Baggins »

:P

But didn't.

Though I would've if I could've.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Not exactly a review, but from the last paragraph of the entry on The History of Middle-earth in The Literary Encyclopedia (the entry was written by Jason Fisher, who reviewed Arda Reconstructed for Mythlore):
More recently, scholars have begun to delve deeper into The History of Middle earth. Beyond the more obvious use of the series as a quarry for raw material, and beyond even the assessment of its various component parts as artistic works in themselves, the series makes possible the exploration of new questions, such as whether and to what extent Tolkien’s mythological and cosmological stories evolved or ossified over the course of his life. This is the question Elizabeth Whittingham takes up in her book, The Evolution of Tolkien’s Mythology: A Study of The History of Middle-earth (2007). And much more significantly, since much of the raw material has now been revealed, exactly what role did Christopher Tolkien play in the construction of The Silmarillion as published in 1977? For approaches to this second question, see Anne Petty’s “Identifying England’s Lönnrot”, Jason Fisher’s “From Mythopoeia to Mythography: Tolkien, Lönnrot, and Jerome”, and especially Douglas Kane’s Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion . The latter is probably the most extensive analysis of The History of Middle-earth so far undertaken; it is essentially a paragraph by paragraph comparison of the published Silmarillion with the source writings Christopher Tolkien made available in the twelve-volume series.
Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Primula Baggins »

That "especially" is especially nice. :)

And in the entry on HoMe!
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Post by Griffon64 »

Nice! :)
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Post by Inanna »

Very nice. :)
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Also not a review, but worth noting. I received a notice from Google Alerts about a woman in Russia who listed her "Results of the Year 2009" and listed Arda Reconstructed as her "Book of the Year."

link

That's kinda cool. 8)
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Post by Lalaith »

Those are both very cool! 8)
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Another mention of the book by Christina Scull in a blog post called "Christina Reads (2009)" at her and Wayne Hammond's blog:
Douglas Charles Kane’s Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion (2009), a study of which of his father’s text texts Christopher Tolkien used in The Silmarillion, is a significant piece of research that I wish had been presented differently, as I wrote in an article which appeared in the August 2009 Beyond Bree.
http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/ ... eads-2009/
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Another "not exactly a review" (and this one also "not in English"), but the Polish online magazine Ancalina has a long interview with me (done in English, but tranlated into Polish), along with translations into Polish of the reviews/essays that were in Beyond Bree about Arda Reconstructed, by Nancy Martsch and Christina Scull, and the responses to Christina's essay that were subsequently printed.

http://bezkr.es/bt/ancalima/
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Post by Primula Baggins »

That's really cool, Voronwë! 8)
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

It looks like a really cool magazine. It makes me want to learn Polish just so that I could read it (and not just my interview).
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