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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:20 pm 
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[I split this off from the "Opening Thoughts" thread - VtF]

V- I was reading an article today about the "Thieves' Quarrel" that happened to contain an account of an unexplicable change made by CT, which, when I checked in AR I couldn't find.

Here's an excerpt:

Quote:
Then we turn to the question of whether Balrogs really CAN fly. The short answer is that they were Maiar and that Maiar can whatever they please. The long answer is that Tolkien DOES provide one example of flying Balrogs, and that is when they flew over Hithlum to rescue Morgoth from Ungoliant.

Here many people raise objections by dissecting a single sentence and taking specific phrases out of context. "winged speed", they say, can be used as a metaphor. Yes, it can, but there is no indication in the text that Tolkien used it so. "Arose", they say, can refer to the act of flying up into the sky or simply climbing out of an underground abode, and the Balrogs were indeed underground when they heard Morgoth scream. Yes, that is so. But there is no indication in the text that this is what Tolkien meant to imply without also implying flight.

"Passed over" doesn't necessarily mean flight, either, they say. Fingolfin's horse passed over the plain of Anfauglith after the Dagor Bragollach, and the horse obviously was not flying. True, but "passed over" must be given a context to have any meaning.

What J.R.R. Tolkien actually wrote was "swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum, they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire." Unfortunately, only part of this text was used by Christopher Tolkien in THE SILMARILLION. What he wrote "and now swiftly they arose, and passing over Hithlum they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire."

Why did Christopher change the text? He doesn't say. It may only have been an error of omission. But it's not simply a matter of omission, he changed the verbal phrasing completely from "they passed with winged speed over Hithlum" to "passing over Hithlum".

The key phrase in both versions of the sentence, however, is the metaphor "tempest of fire". A tempest is a storm. Some people have argued that a tempest can simply refer to a disturbance, but Tolkien doesn't use "tempest" that way. He uses it to refer to things coming out of the sky. When Morgoth unleashed the winged dragons on the Host of the Valar at the end of the War of Wrath, they erupted like a "tempest of fire". Clearly the winged dragons were flying and spewing flames.

Tolkien's "tempest of fire" in Lammoth dates from the 1950s, AFTER Tolkien had reached the conclusion that Balrogs were winged fallen Maiar. Furthermore, it works with "swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum" to denote a passage through the sky. There were Elves in Hithlum at the time (Sindar) who noted this passage (that is how Tolkien justifies his histories -- either someone witnesses it or infers it). Hithlum itself was not burned, nor suffered any kind of damage from flame and smoke. Tolkien doesn't say the flaming Balrogs ran through Hithlum, and they in their fiery state could not have ridden through it as in the older stories.


http://www.xenite.org/tolkien/do-balrogs-have-wings.html

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:36 pm 
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Elen, if I had commented on every minor change in wording like that, the book would have been 600 pages long, and unreadable to most people.

I only commented about the changes that I thought were most significant. I suppose for someone who thinks that the debate about whether Balrogs had wings is an important subject, the removal of the words "with winged speed" could be considered a significant change. But since it is not a subject that has ever held any interest at all to me, I didn't even consider mentioning it. I doubt I ever considered it worth noting, even when I was discussing the changes in greater detail.

However, any reader of the book can look at the third page of Table 10 (on page 103 of the book), and see that the primary source for the 18th paragraph of Chapter 9 (which begins "But Ungoliant had ...") and see that the primary source for that paragarph was LQ (Later Chap. 7) sections 17-20, with inserts from AAm section 126 and GA section 34, and compared the published text with the source text for themselves, and reach their own conclusions.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:57 pm 
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Oh sure, I did notice you had listed the primary sources, just wasn't aware of how much detail you were going into. I assumed you had noted every surprising change that CT made - especially since
Quote:
it's not simply a matter of omission, he changed the verbal phrasing completely


So what conclusion should I draw from this? That CT didn't want there to be a future debate over whether Balrogs have wings? ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:49 pm 
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You are free to draw whatever conclusion from it that you like. :) To me it has little or no real significance, but the fact that I happened to write a book that was published really doesn't make my opinion any more valuable than anyone elses (I mean that).

I will say that I don't agree with the author of the article that in addition to the omission of "he changed the verbal phrasing completely." Changing from "they passed over Hithlum" to "passing over Hithlum they" hardly strikes me as a major rephrasing. There are so, so many more major rephrasing throughout the book that I would have been more interested in calling out, had I been more focused on that type of thing. Practically every sentence has at least that much rephrasing.

It is unfortunate, perhaps, that I was not able to highlight this very much in the book (I basically just alude to it in the conclusionary chapter), but that was one of the sacrifices that I had to make in order to satisfy the requirements of the publisher.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:26 am 
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I am astounded to hear that CT "rephrased" so much of JRRT's prose. :(

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:24 pm 
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I agree, Elen. As I say in the very last paragraph of the book:

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These types of minor editorial changes are endemic throughout the book. It is the sheer volume of them that is most surprising, and something of a concern.. Hardly a sentence goes by without at least one small change, or several. Of course, no one was more qualified to edit Tolkien's work than his son Christopher, who was after all given the authority to use his discretion in publishing his father's work. But it seems like it would have been more appropriate to use a lighter editorial hand, particularly since Tolkien was so careful in his use of language. Some of the changes were dictated by the extensive cutting and pasting from different sources, as has been described, but many of them appear to be almost arbitrary substitutions of judgment. The net result is a work with language that is significantly different than that used by the author.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:53 pm 
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Ah, if I'd finished the book completely I would have of course seen that, but I'm working through it slowly, dipping in and out, in conjunction with a SIL "discussion group" elsewhere. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:58 pm 
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Ah, I see. And you are encouraging all of them to get copies of Arda Reconstructed too, I'm sure. ;)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:45 pm 
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Of course! :)

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 2:08 pm 
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Elen, Michael Martinez has been pushing his "winged speed" argument for years, and it's no more valid now than it was during the Great Balrog Wings Flame War of the 90's.

Specifically to your supposition- CT has AFAIK always stayed well clear of the balrog-wings controversy, and certainly wouldn't have edited a line simply to (vaguely) affect a debate that did not yet exist in 1977!

It's a worthwhile counter to note that another JRRT line that didn't make it into the '77 text is the statement that, prior to the Winged Dragons in the Last Battle, Morgoth had never attempted to deploy flying creatures.


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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 2:13 pm 
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Solicitr, thank you for clarifying that... although I did make the comment with my tongue firmly in my cheek :)

I would also like to point out that I wasn't trying to resurrect the fore-mentioned debate, I am not interested in whether the Balrogs were flightless or not. It just so happened that I noticed the change of phrasing when looking to see if Tolkien had added any more detail to that particular scene in earlier versions of it! :)

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:30 pm 
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Here is a note on a "minor change" (but nothing to do with Balrogs). From AR p. 227, concerning the last paragraphs from "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin":

Quote:
More problematic is a statement (which Christopher notes had been added by Tolkien) that Tuor dwelt ever after on his ship or resting in the harbors of Tol Eressëa (see SoMe, 155 n. 3). This omission is unfortunate. It leaves Tuor and Idril's fate unresolved, and leaves open a question regarding whether Eärendil and Elwing were really the first to break the ban against Men setting foot on Valinor (and against the Noldor returning to Valinor). The omitted portion makes it clear that Tuor and Idril did not in fact set foot on Valinor. It should not have been left out.


I wonder if Christopher Tolkien in making this change was thinking of his father's 1954 draft letter to Peter Hastings (#153), in which he writes of Tuor that "'it is supposed' (not stated) that he as an unique exception receives the Elvish limited 'immortality'" (p. 193). Perhaps C.T. felt that the words "not stated" called for withholding the note from the earlier Quenta, even if that included its own caveat "or so it hath been said".

EDITED to add:
This 2006 discussion at the Planet Tolkien forum raises another point about Tuor's status: Glorfindel ought to have known whether or not Tuor and Idril ever arrived in Aman (given that he died to save them, he is unlikely to have overlooked the matter), and seen to it that Bilbo got it right in his book.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:38 pm 
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Thanks, N.E.B. Very interesting thought, as always.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:04 pm 
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Quote:
'The naming of Círdan, Celeborn, Galadriel, and Gil-galad among those who choose to remain in Middle-earth is added (though based, of course, on their later presence in Middle-earth as told in The Lord of the Rings), and in the statement "with him was Elrond Half-elven" the meaning of "him" is changed from Maglor to Gil-galad (see Lost Road, 332). This has the effect of reducing the connection between Elrond and Maglor as his foster father, and is particulary noteworthy, given Maglor's role in stealing the remaining Silmarils.'

p. 235, Arda Reconstructed


Could this change be a 'nod' of sorts to references that Maglor cast himself into the Sea, and (or) to letter 211? I think the arguably latest reference might be that Maglor slew himself, noted in at least two places, the later one appearing in the revisited Lay of Leithian.

In a sense Maglor did 'forsake' Middle-earth -- though obviously CJRT went with the (to my mind) somewhat 'legendary' fate of Maglor singing lonely and in regret for who knows how long (just to note it here, after this is described, on the next page Maglor is noted as one of the Eldalie unwilling to forsake Middle-earth, as among these '... were Maglor as hath been told; and with him for a while was Elrond')


Also, although the fostering of Elros and Elrond is noted in the 1977 Silmarillion of course, according to letter 211 (1958), am I off the path that there was no fostering here? Although admittedly, the meaning of Elrond did not remain *Elf of the Cave (as it seems to mean here) and with Tolkien, story and nomenclature can go hand in hand, so to speak.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:20 pm 
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Good catch on the revisited Lay. Where is the other reference to Maglor casting himself into the sea? It could be a nod to that/those references, although I think it is more likely simply a simplification. Add it to the multitude of questions that it would be nice to ask, but which we are likely never to get a firm answer to (unless perhaps the "History of the Silmarillion" is some day published).

As for letter 211, I don't see anything in the short discussion of Elrond and Elros that contradicts the story that they were not fostered. It just says "there they were found: Elrond within the cave and Elros dabblling in the water." What am I missing?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:30 pm 
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The other Maglor reference is in letter 131 (the Waldman letter) 'The Last two sons...' and so on.

Quote:
As for letter 211, I don't see anything in the short discussion of Elrond and Elros that contradicts the story that they were not fostered. It just says "there they were found: Elrond within the cave and Elros dabblling in the water." What am I missing?


Probably nothing :D

I thought it might read: Elrond and Elros were carried off by the sons of Fëanor, but were not slain, and were left like babes in the wood -- and there they were found (doesn't say by whom) and so forth.

Found by a Feanorean? but I took it to mean that the sons of Fëanor carried them off but didn't slay them.

Or does that not make sense? not that this is necessarily correct even if it does make sense! Maybe I need to look at the letter again.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:44 pm 
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But since it does say who found them, it could as easily have been Maglor who found them as anyone else, couldn't it?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:05 am 
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That's possible, but Maglor being a son of Fëanor (obviously): why say Elros and Elrond were carried off by the sons of Fëanor, not slain but left in the woods, and then 'found' by... a son of Fëanor?

And why leave them in the first place? I thought this seemed to echo a version of the fate of Dior's sons, but if so, to leave out that Maglor repented for example (and went back and 'found' them)... well it just seems strange phrasing to me so far. If one didn't know they were fostered (hadn't read the Silmarillion)...

... though maybe it says that somewhere else in the letter, and I've just been reading this one part! Incidentally I started wondering about this more when I read part of a profile of Maedros on the net:

Quote:
(...) and Maedhros and Maglor took the twin sons of Elwing, Elrond and Elros, and brought them up as their sons, and great love grew between them, though Maglor was closer to Elrond and Elros then Maedhros, whose heart was sick with the oath.

After the victory over Morgoth by the Host of the Valar and the capture of the Silmaril, Maedhros and Maglor demanded that the Silmaril's should be given to them, but Eonwë who commanded them to come before the Valar and repent of their evil deeds. And although Maglor wanted to yield, Maedhros had the greater wisdom, maybe and counselled that mayhap they would bring a seed of evil in Aman and the Valar may not have the power to release them from their oath. Therefore they abandoned Elrond and Elros (Letters of Tolkien) in a cave, and slew the guards and stole the Silmaril.



I think the chronology is off here, but it looks (to me) like an attempt to explain both the fostering and the leaving in the woods.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:12 pm 
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I think the statement in Letter 211 is too cursory of a summary to read too much into it, beyond what it actually says.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:38 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
I think the statement in Letter 211 is too cursory of a summary to read too much into it, beyond what it actually says.


OK, but I would include that one also need not (necessarily) read a fostering into this because we know the form of the tale as it existed elsewhere. Perhaps there's later evidence of the fostering in any event, but The Tale of Years mention appears to be earlier, and at the moment I don't remember anything else here (I checked the letter itself and it doesn't seem to be mentioned).

Arguable evidence that Tolkien might have abandoned this tale is the revised meaning of the name Elrond, for instance, but still, I think however cursory, what this letter actually says is notable. Interestingly, in The Problem Of ROS, Eluréd and Elurín are said to be 'slain' by the sons of Fëanor. Here Christopher Tolkien notes:

Quote:
The original story was that Dior's sons 'were slain by the evil men of Maidros' host (see IV. 307). Subsequently they were 'taken captive by the evil men of Maidros' following, and they were left to starve in the woods' (V. 142); in a version of the Tale of Years the perpetrators were 'the cruel servants of Celgorn' XI. 351.


Even a word might imply a change of idea. If the sons of Dior were slain -- meaning not left in the woods to starve but simply slain -- then leaving Elros and Elrond to starve would not be specifically redundant with their fate. Granted, this essay is much later than the letter in question in any case.

This is speculation, yes, but I assume by your relative silence regarding my interpretation (at least), that you might agree it's a reasonable enough reading, and not senseless. Of course who found them according to my reading?

I don't know :D


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