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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:38 pm 
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The topic of Míriel also brings up what I expect will remain my most vehement criticism of your work, Doug: namely, your unsupported and scurrilous implication (and only just barely that, as opposed to an explicit charge) that in his editorial changes Christopher deliberately set about to "reduce" female characters in The Silmarillion.

In order to support this charge, you need at minimum to show that his editorial changes were made in a statistically significant preponderance to passages both directly and specifically pertaining to female characters, as opposed to those pertaining to any other class of character. But you have in fact made no attempt to establish this: I nowhere see, for example, a corresponding tabulation of changes affecting male characters as male characters, which would be a bare requisite for determining statistical and editorial bias. Instead, you exhibit and introduce your own bias (statistical and otherwise) by singling out changes (putatively) affecting female characters for comment simply because they are female. This is bad methodology and blatantly biased statistics, employed to make an insulting implication, and I'm astonished that you didn't realize this, and even more that none of your reviewers or editors pointed this out to you.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:11 pm 
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If I ever met anyone lacking malice, it is our Voronwë. His near perfection would be improved, imho, by a dash of wickedness, perhaps a touch of petulance or smugness.

Myself, I would attribute a great many unpleasant thoughts and actions to Christopher Tolkien. A devoted son and keeper of the sacred flame, for sure. The wisest son and flame-keeper?

Tolkein himself has been "accused" of anti-feminism, but I always excuse him as being merely a product of his time and place. CT would come by that excuse honestly, but perhaps he was a tad too enthusiastic?

There is no such thing as a "neutrally technical" volume. Whatever the subject, an author chooses his material from several options - and that choice is never "technically neutral" no matter how he holds his mouth.

I don't have "my book" yet. So you will excuse my comments as merely those of someone who has read The Sil only about 20 times and does not love it as others do. Once I have the book, look out.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:43 pm 
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Aelfwine wrote:
You are entitled to form your own opinions, "vison", but your are not entitled to form your own facts. I nowhere accused Doug of malice, only (in short) of sloppy scholarship. (Only if I thought he was being knowingly and deliberately sloppy could I accuse him of malice, and I don't think that.)

It's disappointing that you take the opportunity of response only to a) totally ignore my point, which involved method, not intent; and b) to cast aspersions on Christopher Tolkien; but I won't otherwise comment on them. If you have any comments or questions regarding what I actually wrote, though, I'll be happy to respond to them.


Aelfwine wrote:


The topic of Míriel also brings up what I expect will remain my most vehement criticism of your work, Doug: namely, your unsupported and scurrilous implication (and only just barely that, as opposed to an explicit charge) that in his editorial changes Christopher deliberately set about to "reduce" female characters in The Silmarillion.


Bolding mine. You were saying?


As for Christopher Tolkien, I wasn't aware that he had become a Sacred Cow.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:50 pm 
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Well, I for one understand Carl's indignation. I certainly expected that to be the most controversial part of my book, and I'm sure that Carl won't be the only person upset about it.

Carl, I'm not qualified to perform a statistical analysis (which would require a heck of a lot more than simply comparing the number of changes to female characters to the number of changes made to male characters). Nor am I convinced that even a comprehensive statistical analysis would necessarily tell an accurate story; as an attorney I've certainly seen plenty of examples where two sides have taken exactly the same factual situation and come up with statistical analyses that reach diametrically opposite conclusions. If this were a legal case I have no doubt that I could hire an expert witness that crunch the numbers and "prove" my case for me; I am equally convinced that you (hypothetically) could hire an expert witness who would just as convincingly "disprove" the case. But, I don't really trust those kind of numbers (as a scientist, I know that attitude is an anathema to you :)). But it is the nature of the changes and the overall sense that they create that is significant, at least as much as the quantity of the changes. I certainly didn't set out with the idea that Christopher's editorial decisions specifically reduced the role of women in the book, but the more that I worked on the project, the more I got that impression. It would have been dishonest of me not to include it in the book. I think people will have to judge for themselves whether that impression is supported by the facts that I document. Some have already told me that they believe it is well-supported. Others are less convinced. I think it is fair to say that you rather strongly fall in the latter category.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:31 pm 
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One doesn't have to be a statistician to appreciate that a methodology that selects and presents only evidence that supports a case, and ignores evidence that doesn't support it, is bad methodology, as it can only lead to one (invalid) "conclusion". You know that better than most, I expect.

And for that same reason, one doesn't have to do any statistics to know that your methods are faulty and unsupportive of any claim. In such a case, it is not enough to say that "people will have to judge for themselves whether that impression is supported by the facts that I document", because your selection and presentation of those facts is inherently biased, and can only lead to one conclusion. You should have recognized this, as should your reviewers.

Scholars are not prosecutors (well, OK, far too many are; but they aren't supposed to be): they have an obligation to present and address all evidence bearing on a matter, not just the evidence that they like or supports their prejudices.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:41 pm 
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I don't really think there is anything more that I can say about this, at least at this point, other than that I respect your opinion.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:29 am 
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Unintentionally snarky "humor" removed by author.


Last edited by Aelfwine on Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:21 am 
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Aelfwine, please, that's a bit snarky. And I know my snark.

I don't buy Doug's women claim, either; his arguments don't convince me. But it's an opinion, just like the merits of including/excluding Laws and Customs is an opinion. I know well how much truly scurrilous abuse CT has taken from malicious persons in print and pixels, and your efforts to defend him; but that just isn't the case here.

(My own view is that CT reduced or removed the roles of lots of minor characters, and for the most part JRRT's women are minor characters. But Nerdanel was slighted for the same reasons as her father Mahtan was, not because there was some impulse (conscious or un-) to gynophobia.)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:38 am 
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It wasn't meant to be "snarky", it was meant to a) be funny, and b) make a serious point, which is: if Christopher Tolkien really were given to deliberately reducing the roles of female characters, just because they are female (as Doug seems really to believe), then why would he stop with The Silmarillion? Why not in other works? Indeed, why not in HoMe itself? It simply makes no sense.

And surely, "soli", you don't mean to equate the seriousness and impact of an opinion about the inclusion of a text with that of an opinion that someone is misogynist?

Your view about the general reduction of minor characters is my own as well, and I am quite certain it would be borne out by a balanced consideration of the evidence. And it should certainly be tested, and the evidence and results presented, before charges of misogyny are leveled. (Charges which, again, simply make no sense on their face.)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:08 am 
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Carl, I value your opinions, even your criticisms, but I do request that you keep it civil. I understand that you might not have meant that to be "snarky" but it definitely came across that way. While this is an open forum the overall "Laws and Customs" of the Hall of Fire still apply.

In regard to your substantive comments, nowhere to do I express an opinion that Christopher is misogynist, only that the net result of the edits give the affect of reducing the role of women in the book. I understand that it is your opinion that such is implied between the lines, so to speak, and I don't challenge your right to express that opinion, but I don't think it is supported by the facts.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:11 am 
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Well, I acknowledge that my analogy was imperfect, since one does and the other does not include (the suggestion of) extra-textual considerations. But I'm not so sure that their 'seriousness' differs that much.

I mean, you and I both (and many others here) have waded through whole volumes of crap written about Tolkien by tenured but clueless persons, with far more whackjob and 'scurrilous' hobbyhorse theories (bibliography of Laughably Bad Tolkien Criticism available on request)- but surely this is pretty minor.

Actually, Doug never does once IIRC imply or derive or point an accusing finger at any purported 'motive' for CT's supposedly having gender-cleansed the text- in other words he doesn't call him a misogynist, and the attribution is a leap which does not follow necessarily as the only possible hypothesis.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:11 am 
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I use the term "misogyny" here only as a shorthand for "deliberately reducing the role of female characters" (which to be sure seems equivalent to a charge of misogyny to me) -- which is what I had written before this and which, I note, you did not and have not yet denied charging.

So Doug, do you deny that you meant to imply that the changes to female roles that you catalogue are indicative of a deliberate pattern (as opposed to being an unintended side-effect of, say, a general reduction of all minor characters)? And if so, do you further deny that your numerous comments highlighting specifically these changes, with no offer of an explanation for them, could lead a reasonable person to develop the opinion that you did in fact find them deliberate? If you deny the first, then I'm prepared to believe you, but I will nonetheless submit that that the second cannot be denied. An implication of deliberateness is easy to arrive at from your presentation -- consider your claim on p. 68 that "it appears that the roles of female characters are systematically reduced" (emphasis mine) -- and I don't think I'm the only one to have arrived at it (right, "soli"?).

"soli": to my mind, accusing Christopher (even by implication) of "having gender-cleansed the text", with the gender being "female", of course, is equivalent to charging him with misogyny. What distinction do you see?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:00 am 
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Put another way:

If, Doug, you had written, "it appears that the roles of minor characters are systematically reduced", I would have nothing to critique, and in fact would readily accept that as quite likely, because I think all can agree it would at least arguably have been a reasonable thing for Christopher to have done deliberately. I would even have little or nothing to say (unless asked) in response to the opinion that it was nonetheless wrong for him to do so (though I wouldn't agree with it).

But when you write that "it appears that the roles of female characters are systematically reduced", you are making a far different kind of statement, and one that I cannot read as anything but an implication of deliberate reduction of female roles simply because they are female (which sure sounds like misogyny to me). Now, you may not have intended this implication (i.e., the use of the word "systematic" here may only have been an unfortunate and unconsidered choice); but in the event this statement as written does make that implication (nor is this statement the sole source of that implication).


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:22 am 
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Quote:
So Doug, do you deny that you meant to imply that the changes to female roles that you catalogue are indicative of a deliberate pattern


I did not intend to imply a deliberate pattern. I have no idea what was in Christopher's mind, and I have no way of knowing. However, I do maintain that some of the edits that I point to do not fit in the pattern of a systematic reduction of the role of minor characters. For instance, the two removals of the description of Galadriel as "valiant." Or substituting the Quenta passage in which only Ossë teaches the Teleri sea-lore for the Annals text in which both he and Uinen do so, despite the fact that the Annals is the main source for the that portion of that chapter (Chapter 5). Galadriel certainly is not a "minor character" (certainly not in the broad scheme of Tolkien's overall legendarium), and I simply don't have any alternative explanations to offer for why those specific omissions were made. And while you could argue that Uinen is a minor character, she is certainly not more so than Ossë, and again I simply have no alternative explanation for why that one particular passage was taken from the Quenta text when almost all of the rest of that portion of that chapter is taken from the Annals

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:05 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
I did not intend to imply a deliberate pattern.


I'm afraid then that your choice of words was very ill considered, because I maintain that your wording strongly implies that.

Quote:
However, I do maintain that some of the edits that I point to do not fit in the pattern of a systematic reduction of the role of minor characters. For instance, the two removals of the description of Galadriel as "valiant."


This is only remarkable if you can establish that such descriptive terms were removed solely or predominately from female characters as compared to male characters. Otherwise, you're just cherry-picking your evidence.

Quote:
Galadriel certainly is not a "minor character" (certainly not in the broad scheme of Tolkien's overall legendarium)


But she certainly is a minor character in the work in which you claim to find a systematic pattern!

Quote:
while you could argue that Uinen is a minor character, she is certainly not more so than Ossë


She most certainly is a much more minor character than Ossë. It was Ossë, not Uinen, who was responsible for the anchoring of Tol Eressëa short of Eldamar, and so for the continued separation of the Teleri (a significant fact of the linguistic history as well, of course); it was Ossë, not Uinen, who taught the Teleri ship-building; and it was Ossë, not Uinen, who raised up Númenor out of the Great Sea.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:29 pm 
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There is also the chapter Of Maeglin (of which the real subject is Aredhel)- this was not actually part of the Silmarillion*, but CT included it anyway: a whole added chapter centered on a female character.

*Maeglin was written as part of the new Fall of Gondolin, the "Long Tuor." At some point T noted 'Silmarillion?' in the margin- but this he struck out.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:14 pm 
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Aelfwine wrote:
I'm afraid then that your choice of words was very ill considered, because I maintain that your wording strongly implies that.


I understand that that is your opinion. You have made it abundantly clear.

Quote:
This is only remarkable if you can establish that such descriptive terms were removed solely or predominately from female characters as compared to male characters. Otherwise, you're just cherry-picking your evidence.


I can't think of any comparable edits where, for instance, a prominent male character is described as being "the most fair and valiant" and it is changed to say that he is just "the most beautiful" (or similar words). I don't believe there are any.

Quote:
She most certainly is a much more minor character than Ossë. It was Ossë, not Uinen, who was responsible for the anchoring of Tol Eressëa short of Eldamar, and so for the continued separation of the Teleri (a significant fact of the linguistic history as well, of course); it was Ossë, not Uinen, who taught the Teleri ship-building; and it was Ossë, not Uinen, who raised up Númenor out of the Great Sea.


While that is true, it is still true that they are Maia of the same level; both were long counted among the Valar. Maybe it is my own failing, but I really don't understand how these things help justify an edit that further reduces Uinen's role. For that matter, to my mind the fact that Nerdanel is clearly a much more minor character than Fëanor does not in anyway justify the edit in which the statement that her father Mahtan taught her much about the making of things of metal and stone was changed to saying that he taught these things to Fëanor. Again, I can think of no equivalent edit involving a male character, even a minor one.

solicitr wrote:
There is also the chapter Of Maeglin (of which the real subject is Aredhel)- this was not actually part of the Silmarillion*, but CT included it anyway: a whole added chapter centered on a female character.


soli, as you well know, Aredhel was an essential character in the story from way back (in both the Quenta and Annals traditions), though under the name Isfin. To suggest that Christopher somehow "added" her in is simply not accurate. (I would also disagree with the assertion that Aredhel is the "real subject" of the chapter, but that is beside the point.) The chapter is critical to the overall story, and there was no way that Christopher could (or should) have left it out.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:41 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
I understand that that is your opinion. You have made it abundantly clear.


This in neither a helpful nor a fair comment, Doug. I was not simply reiterating my opinion: I was explaining why I have that opinion, and further why I am not the only one to hold it.

I didn't address the nature of the edits themselves, and deliberately so, since I need to sit down with the books and study the specifics of a change for myself before I can offer a (possible) explanation for them, and I haven't had time to do that.

(Though one possibility specifically concerning superlatives springs to mind even without consulting the sources: if one is combining superlative-laden texts from different periods, it would be all too easy to have conflicting superlatives if one is not very careful, lest, e.g., two characters are both declared to be "strongest" or "fairest" etc. Just a thought, not saying that is the case here.)

But I am in a position to discuss who is or is not a minor character, which you raised, and so I stuck to that (for now).

And I submit that the nature of a character has nothing at all to do with their being a major or minor character: it is the extent of their presence and the importance of their role in a story that determines that. Nor am I arguing that Ossë is a major character and only Uinen minor: at issue was whether Uinen is "more minor" a character as Uinen. Since Ossë has considerably more presence, and a considerably larger role, than Uinen (and does so even in the unedited sources), I maintain that Uinen is clearly a "more minor" character than Ossë.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:48 pm 
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Okay.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:18 pm 
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soli, as you well know, Aredhel was an essential character in the story from way back (in both the Quenta and Annals traditions), though under the name Isfin. To suggest that Christopher somehow "added" her in is simply not accurate...The chapter is critical to the overall story, and there was no way that Christopher could (or should) have left it out.


However, CT could with perfect right and justice have used the GA text, which contains all the essentials, and set the expansive Maeglin aside. He chose instead to include it, with the result that Aredhel/Isfin/Feiniel is given greatly expanded screentime. No, I never claimed she was 'added in'- of course not: but CT's decision brought her far more to the fore than she was in the Annals and Quenta traditions.


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