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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:24 am 
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As Wallace Stanley Sayre famously said:

"Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low."

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:44 am 
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Andreth wrote:
I wonder if the issue isn't really the quantitative changes so much as the qualitative changes.

Word counts might help but I think what Voronwë was trying to get at was that the changes CT made to the female characters appear to diminish their importance on a qualitative level. And as Primula might know, qualitative research is much harder to conduct and extrapolate. In addition to being a bit on the "fuzzy" side. ;)

I'm not talking about changing hair color but the change to Galadriel from being "valiant" does affect how she is precieved.The overall effect is to relegate the female characters to mostly passive background roles when they did have a presence and influence of their own on the action.


But you can attempt to quantify such changes by first creating a typology of changes, and then counting them.

In this case, removing the "valiant" moniker from Galadriel could be categorized as a "type 1" change, which is defined as a "significant diminution of a character's agency" or some such thing. The removal of a hair color descriptor could be a "type 5" change, which is defined as having "no effect on a character's agency."

For the purposes of the debate in this forum, you could have that typology agreed upon by the main voices on either side of the argument. That would eliminate the "court room" phenomenon referred to by Voronwë, where the same data is interpreted differently by opposing sides in order to support their case.

Then you run the numbers, as Inanna suggested.

It is certainly not perfect, but it may get you closer to the truth of what Christopher Tolkien was doing - either intentionally or unintentionally.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 4:05 pm 
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It's a good idea, but I don't think you would ever be able to get that kind of agreement on the typology. I doubt, for instance, that some people would agree that the removal of the "valiant" moniker should be categorized as a type 1 change. Or, without the detailed reexamination of all of Tolkien's manuscripts, that the change was even made.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:22 pm 
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My reading Arda Reconstructed is ongoing, but within this partial exposure, I found the focus on Christopher Tolkien's "misogyny" somewhat discordant. For example, there is much play made of the excising of Galadriel as "the most valiant" (AR p74). Is this really an example of misogyny on CJRT's part, or could it be a case of editorial "proportionalising"?

A character who is "the most valiant" would be expected to have a major role in the histories, and yet Galadriel's, to my impression, can only be described as a supporting role, that grows in LotR because she is a remnant of the Noldor in ME. Much of her status would seem to be due to her relationship to ancient events, rather than her active involvemen to "present" eventst, and her continued residency in ME. She is a conduit to the past for the reader of LotR, and although it is undeniable that she remains of the most powerful of her kind in ME (challenged only by Glorfindel), her power remains subtle and "hidden". Is this valiant? Perhaps. Is she "the most valiant"? I think that is open to contention.

My impression regarding what I have found to be a repeating theme, that CJRT exhibits misogyny, is that there are superficial indications for this, but that Doug has embraced these somewhat tenuous inclinations and has made them an over-represented facet of his critique. It has the feel of a "straw man".

However, that does not undermine his observations. There are some perplexing editorial choices. The error, I feel, is to "pigeon-hole" the reasons for these choices.

And as I read on, I look forward to finding my initial, tentative conclusions being refuted... :)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:35 pm 
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I'd be curious to know where in the book you think that it states that Christopher Tolkien exhibits misogyny, with specific references to the comments made that you believe say that. Because I don't recall ever saying that. :scratch:

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:29 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
I'd be curious to know where in the book you think that it states that Christopher Tolkien exhibits misogyny, with specific references to the comments made that you believe say that. Because I don't recall ever saying that. :scratch:

My error, V. I am forever confusing usage of "..." in analysis. I put misogyny as "misogyny", meaning this was my extrapolation of the analysis in AR. It is my reduction of what I see as a running theme; that CJRT excises strong female roles due to misogyny. Of course, Doug Kane does not make this explicit; my mistake was making what I found implicit explicit, and I apologise.

I would be interested, however, on your take; do you think CJRT was misogynistic in his choice of excisions, and if not, what do you think was his motive?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:03 am 
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My temptation is to say "read this thread" as this ground has now been covered several times. But instead, I'll repeat what I said earlier. "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. ... 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. ... I make no pretentions to know what was in Christopher's mind when he produced the published Silmarillion. I only state what in my opinion the effect of the edits made is. That opinion is certainly open to challenge, and certainly a viable case can be made against it. But in response to your repeated statement that I imply that Christopher deliberately set out to reduce the roles of women, I can only say, again, that that was not my intention, that I don't know what his intentions were, and since I don't know him at all, I have no way of knowing what his intentions were. ... Again, I don't know what motivations, conscious or otherwise, went behind the editing decisions made. I am only able to say what my impression is. To me there is a clear pattern, which I felt it necessary to point out."

That having been said, I do think you would find it interesting to read the thread. At the very least, to see the arguments of those who share your impression.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:19 am 
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Oh dear. I feel a need to apologise again. I've held back from making any comment, and then jumped in with one impression from your book that I found of specific interest, only to be told that I am making a "repeated statement" (really?) regarding implied misogyny.

You are, of course, correct in advising me to read the whole of the thread, and be assured I will, but sometimes I think it is better to jump in feet first into a discussion, rather than succumb to the intimidation of those more learned who have preceded.

Yet if it matters at all, my impression from reading your book (which I have not yet finished) is that a minor theme I have picked up is that CJRT habitually diminishes female roles, and there is an implicit accusation hanging there.

I was loathe to make criticism of Arda Reconstructed on TORC. That reticence has been reinforced here. :(


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:14 am 
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I just went and re-read this thread and while I am not nearly interested enough in Tolkien or CRRT to truly delve into any of this subject, I am pretty interested in V-man and I gotta say, your responses to people's questions have been very unsatisfying and feel very evasive. So I'm gonna ask the question that everyone seemed to be trying to ask in as direct a fashion I can manage hoping to get a truly direct answer from you:

V-man: Were you aware, when you chose to write about this subject, that the way you stated your case, particularly the use of the word "systematically", would be taken by many as an implied accusation of misogyny and if so, why didn't you reword your argument so that it did not seem you were implying this accusation?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:26 am 
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Yov, I have actually already answered that exact question in this thread, quite directly. When I have time, I will endeavor to do so again.

Jotnar, no need to be reticent. As I have said before it is a reasonable criticism.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:27 am 
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A quick aside: it is entirely possible for an author or editor to do any number of things systematically *and* unconsciously. Any number of times I have looked back at my own work and noticed glaringly obvious trends I was oblivious to while writing and revising.

The result can be more revealing than any consciously inserted notion. And in that light, the vast majority of male (and for that matter, female) writers throughout history have some degree of misogyny lurking in their work, because the cultures in which they were inculcated had it baked into them, not because they consciously chose to wrong their female characters (though that happens too).

So yeah, CJRT, like his dad, like MY dad, had some misogynistic tendencies. This is not a profound observation for someone who grew up in a Western country before, well, now. Whether those tendencies unconsciously shaped the approach taken in culling material for the Sil et al is, as V-man notes, impossible to prove...but why should the Tolkiens be any different in this regard than other mid-century British writers?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:34 am 
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Exactly. Systematic does not equal deliberate.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:38 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
Yov, I have actually already answered that exact question in this thread, quite directly. When I have time, I will endeavor to do so again.


You largely answered the first part but not the second.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:09 am 
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axordil wrote:
A quick aside: it is entirely possible for an author or editor to do any number of things systematically *and* unconsciously. Any number of times I have looked back at my own work and noticed glaringly obvious trends I was oblivious to while writing and revising.

The result can be more revealing than any consciously inserted notion. And in that light, the vast majority of male (and for that matter, female) writers throughout history have some degree of misogyny lurking in their work, because the cultures in which they were inculcated had it baked into them, not because they consciously chose to wrong their female characters (though that happens too).

So yeah, CJRT, like his dad, like MY dad, had some misogynistic tendencies. This is not a profound observation for someone who grew up in a Western country before, well, now. Whether those tendencies unconsciously shaped the approach taken in culling material for the Sil et al is, as V-man notes, impossible to prove...but why should the Tolkiens be any different in this regard than other mid-century British writers?
I think this analysis is inarguable (as a trend), although the minutiae could be debated. However, I do not think this is applicable to the "meat" of the issue here.

That JRRT could be reckoned misogynist is accepted (although that he was is open to debate). That Christopher Tolkien not only exhibited the claimed misogynism of his father, but deliberately amplified that misogynism by overt editorialising of his father's work is the inferred accusation I garner from reading Arda Reconstructed.

And it seems I am not alone in this.

But I admit, never before have I read a critique of a book in synchronicity with my reading of the book, and I do not envy Voronwë.

The defence from snipers is to take cover. An author has no cover to take. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:00 am 
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Quote:
That JRRT could be reckoned misogynist is accepted (although that he was is open to debate).


That anyone could be reckoned misogynist is accepted. The only important question is whether or not someone actually is, and whether or not there's much proof of it.

I detect very little misogyny in JRR Tolkien's letters.

I treat his invented mythology as an invented mythology, not as a reflection of his perspective on women in the 20th century. And even if I did, there would be non-trivial evidence of at least an ambivalence towards misogyny with his depiction of characters such as Éowyn, Brethil and Galadriel.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:44 am 
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yovargas wrote:
V-man: Were you aware, when you chose to write about this subject, that the way you stated your case, particularly the use of the word "systematically", would be taken by many as an implied accusation of misogyny and if so, why didn't you reword your argument so that it did not seem you were implying this accusation?


As I have said before, I was aware that this part of the book would be the most controversial, and so it has proven. Was I aware that my comments would be taken as an implied accusation of misogyny? I would not say that I had thought it through that thoroughly, as I believe a careful reading of what I wrote should not be taken that way. As I wrote earlier, There are two places where I use the word "systematically" and in both cases it is modified by the words "appears" or "seemingly" ("This small but significant change is the first of a number of occasions in which it appears that the roles of female characters are systematically lessened" "another small example of the seemingly systematic weakening of female characters".) In the conclusion where I discuss the pattern as a whole, I simply state that the net result of the edits is a significant reduction of the female presence in the book. Can I see [someone] would come away with the belief that I meant to imply that Christopher intentionally reduced the female presence? Yes. But I was very careful to state that this was the impression that the edits give, not that it was Christopher's intention to set out and purposefully reduce the female presence. And I think that is made clear by a careful reading of what I wrote." With the benefit of hindsight, and the knowledge that several intelligent people have indicated that they took what I wrote to imply that Christopher intentionally reduced the female presence, would I go back and change it if I could? Maybe, although doing so would have the parallel negative effect of removing a point that I felt (and feel) was worth making. As I noted earlier, my original draft had much less of this type of commentary. The result, as several people -- including Christopher Tolkien -- noted, was a much less interesting and valuable work. So perhaps with the benefit of hindsight I might have tried (had I been given the opportunity, which I was not) to reword what I wrote to try to make it less likely that anyone would take what I wrote to imply that Christopher intentionally reduced the female presence, without diluting the point that I was making. But I'm not sure that would have been possible, and I do firmly believe that I did so imply anyway.

jotnar wrote:
But I admit, never before have I read a critique of a book in synchronicity with my reading of the book, and I do not envy Voronwë.

The defence from snipers is to take cover. An author has no cover to take.


Needless to say, I would not have set up this forum if I did not think it had value, and I welcome this discussion so long as it done respectfully (as it has). And I would not have strongly encouraged you to post your thoughts on the book (both here and at TORC), it I wasn't interested in what you had to say!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:50 am 
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Thanks, V-man, I think that is a clear and satisfying answer. :) Maybe even satisfying enough for poor ol' Aelfwine. ;)[quote][/quote]

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:14 pm 
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I think that you have made your case quite clearly, but if I may say so, in a very lawyerly way. I very much get the impression from the book that you personally believe that Christopher deliberately reduced the role of women, but the lawyer in you has been very careful to not actually state that.

Is that a fair statement?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:55 pm 
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It is a fair statement, in that your impression is your impression, honestly held and honestly expressed, and one that obviously others also share. And it is a fair statement because I AM a lawyer, and there is no doubt that that is reflected in the book. Indeed, after I had submitted my initial manuscript and it had been rejected by the outside reader with the comment that it needed more opinion and commentary, I asked the publisher for advice as to how I should go about doing that, since I am not a literary critic, and he specifically suggested that I apply the same skills that I would towards making a legal argument. So it certainly is no accident that it seems "lawyerly".

However, while I am perfectly happy to say that it is a fair statement, I continue to maintain that it is not an accurate one. When I say that I have no idea what was in Christopher Tolkien's mind, that is absolutely and completely true. Nor do I see any real point in speculating, since there is no way to know. And actually if pressed I would say that I don't believe that it was consciously deliberate, at least based on the little that I know of Christopher Tolkien. All I can say with certainty is that the pattern exists, not why.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:02 pm 
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While its true that you have no way of knowing CRT's mind, the same is true of JRRT's mind, PJ's mind, PB's mind. Yet you often make statements such as "I believe Tolkien would have approved..." or "I'm sure PJ thought..." the same as any of us do. I don't see how this is any different?

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