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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am 
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I don't think that Men of Andreth's time ever had Estel since it, Estel, requires a naked trust and a belief that the Creater is wholly good and, as such, had their best interests at heart.


Some of the Men of Andreth's time had Estel, and did not lose it. Those of the Old Hope. I always find it so touching how Finrod wants Andreth to be among them, and her despair all the more heartbreaking.

'They say, they feign?' said Finrod. "Are you then not one of them?'

'How can I be, lord? All wisdom is against them. ...'


:cry:
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:41 am 
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truehobbit wrote:
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It´s because it´s so personal that it makes the grander theme of Death and Deathlessness much more accessable to me

Ack, pity your time ran out - I'd like to hear more on why it makes it more accessible to you, I don't think I understand that!


I think it´s because I can understand, on a very personal level, how bitterness and despair can arise from the sorrow of "love lost": how losing someone you love, through death, or a myriad of sundering forces like time or space or fate, can impact on an entire personal "world view". I think we have to remember that Andreth has believed for many, many years, that Aegnor deserted her because he thought he was "above" her. She, in her own mind, has been betrayed, used and tossed aside, probably for another of the Elvish race. The thought feeds the shadow that already touches her heart as one of the "Guests", making it impossible, as Voronwë has pointed out, for her, as one of the Wise of her people, to embrace estel. All those years walking in darkness and despair because of a broken heart, of losing the only and greatest love of her life. This is so "human", isn´t it? Perceiving the world according to our own inner workings, our own personal experiences; defying the wisdom of others because our hearts are so injured they cannot be wholly healed.

This is exactly how I always imagine Arwen to feel at Aragorn´s death. For all the wisdom she has carried within her because of the legacy and "lore" of her people, the experience of watching her beloved die and leave her is so absolutely devastating that it erases her long held estel and replaces it with a terminally wounded heart. When she desperately calls out his name, "Estel" at the moment of his death, it´s like she´s trying to somehow find this Hope, this Trust, within herself again, but can no longer reach it.

I find it very interesting that Tolkien chose to wrap this astonishing work, which delves deeper and more intimately into the theme of Death and Deathlessness than anything else he wrote, in a love story. Much like he did in Aragorn´s and Arwen´s tale in the Appendices, the theme is explored through the brief connection of "two solitudes": man and woman, mortal and immortal, hope and despair. Perhaps it´s because he knew that it is through losing who we love, or what we love, that we are faced with the greatest question we can ask about our own lives: why are we doomed to love, only to lose what we love?

Hmmmmm.....I just re-read what I´ve written here and am wondering at it´s lucidity. Unfortunately, I have to leave now, as I have a date with a sunset! I´ll continue pondering exactly what I want to add, and hopefully tomorrow will bless me with more articulate words.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:58 am 
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Ath, take my word for it, it is wonderfully lucid. :love:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:09 am 
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An interesting discussion. I hope you don't mind if I join in, and I hope this forum can tolerate a little negative criticism of our favourite writer.

Because I can't say I agree with the gushing praise given so far of the Athrabeth as a story. Personally, I find it bordering on the sentimental (although there are nice touches such as the candle and moth metaphor which Brian mentioned.) And you have to ask how effective a piece of work it is, when the pages of notes are almost as long as the story itself.

But it is certainly exceedingly interesting. It shows Tolkien working as he often did; writing almost as if someone else was holding the pen, and then tearing apart, analysing, questioning and niggling it to pieces. The notes clearly reflect Tolkien's struggle to reconcile his Christianity with the demands of the story. The history of the older Middle-earth is pre-Christian, so there was no conflict there, but how could the eventual fate of Men and Arda be described in terms which did not include Christ? And yet, if Christ was explicitly mentioned, how could this be anything but a parody of the real world?

But I think JRRT is remarkably successful in finding the balance. It is fascinating to see the delicate touch with which he has Finrod allude to Eru's coming to defeat Melkor, the Christian paradox of God being simultaneously "outside" and "inside" the world, and to the incarnation of God in Christ as Man, Saviour: ...the Eldar completed but not ended could abide in the present for ever, and there walk, maybe, with the Children of Men, their deliverers... We can also see here something of the justification of Christopher Tolkien's decision to abandon his father's "Old Testament"-style Second Prophecy for the End of the World, for that published at the end of the Silmarillion; a solution which leaves room for Christ incarnated as Man, and which is outside the knowledge of the Valar and the Elves. (For more on that subject see here.)

It's also fascinating to watch the different versions of the story teeter back and forwards on the brink of naming Morgoth as the cause of Man's mortality, and the implications that would mean for the relative powers of Morgoth and Eru. The attitude of some Men, that mortality is not their natural state , foreshadows the Númenórean search for eternal life of which they have been "unfairly" deprived, and which was caused by Powers beyond their control.

An intriguing work, for its metaphysics, if not to my personal taste as a story. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:39 pm 
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Thank you for the link, scirocco ... most interesting and very thorough indeed. (as a matter of fact I bookmarked the link so I can go back and absorb more ... your scholarship is impressive)

Could you elucidate on why you find the Athrabeth bordering on the sentimental? Do you not find the story of Aegnor and Andreth both tragic and beautiful? Or do you consider it melodrama?

Quote:
But it is certainly exceedingly interesting. It shows Tolkien working as he often did; writing almost as if someone else was holding the pen, and then tearing apart, analysing, questioning and niggling it to pieces. The notes clearly reflect Tolkien's struggle to reconcile his Christianity with the demands of the story.


My personal opinion is that Tolkien's theme of Death and Deathlessness (Death as a Gift) was his way of trying to reconcile a negative reaction to death (think of how many friends he lost in WWI) with the Christian idea of death as a doorway into Heaven. Quite frankly, I don't think he succeeded too well. Intellectually, I can grasp the concept but emotionally it has no meaning for me.

Or perhaps that's just me. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:44 am 
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I think that the Athrabeth is extremely successful in achieving its main dramatic purpose, which as both Sassy and I have pointed out was to exhibit the generosity of Finrod's mind, his love and pity for Andreth, and the tragic situations that must arise in the meeting of Elves and Men.

I guess you have to be a Finrod swooner to find it really moving; I certainly qualify. :) I don't find it sentimental at all; I find it extraordinarily moving, particularly the last two words.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 1:51 am 
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Ath wrote:
I think it´s because I can understand, on a very personal level, how bitterness and despair can arise from the sorrow of "love lost":
[snip]
All those years walking in darkness and despair because of a broken heart, of losing the only and greatest love of her life. This is so "human", isn´t it? Perceiving the world according to our own inner workings, our own personal experiences; defying the wisdom of others because our hearts are so injured they cannot be wholly healed.

Thanks for explaining, Ath!
I completely agree with your description of Andreth and I understand that very well, too - but it made me actually understand the whole thing less!
It may make the subject of death more accessible, but I thought it was changing the setting of the story a lot!
I started out thinking that Andreth was kind of speaking for all Men. She's the wise-woman, Finrod asks her about what Men think because he can expect her to be the summary of human knowledge and thought - and then it turns out she's just speaking from personal experience. I loved the story of her blighted love, but it seemed to make her unsuitable for the role she should have played (at least in my impression of the first part of the story). As her personal story unfolds, it becomes obvious that she is not speaking for all Men.

It was interesting to read and discover my own doubts about her ideas rising as I was beginning to realise how her dark and hopeless world-view is the personal and individual opinion of this one woman at least as much as the general view of mankind!

Ath wrote:
Perhaps it´s because he knew that it is through losing who we love, or what we love, that we are faced with the greatest question we can ask about our own lives: why are we doomed to love, only to lose what we love?

Hmmh, that's not a question that had presented itself to me through this story, I must say.
I don't think there ever is the thought of "doomed to love" (which would seem to imply that it would be easier if we didn't start loving in the first place) - the loss of love in Tolkien's works rather seems to me to raise the question of loss and how to live with it.

Hi scirocco! :wave:
scirocco wrote:
An intriguing work, for its metaphysics, if not to my personal taste as a story

Yes, I wouldn't say it's the story that's thrilling - though the love-story element that comes in at the end is very good, I think, adding a refreshing personal touch - I think it's a thrilling read as a philosophical discourse.
Having two characters discuss a philosophical problem is a technique to convey the pros and cons of a subject that has been used since antiquity - only in most cases even this dialogue-nature doesn't do much to make it lively and entertaining! ;) Tolkien succeeds very well, I think, to make the discourse thrilling to follow.

scirocco wrote:
It's also fascinating to watch the different versions of the story teeter back and forwards on the brink of naming Morgoth as the cause of Man's mortality

So, would you say that Tolkien had not quite made up his mind on this?
Because that was such a confusing part of this text, I thought - what rowan said a while ago offered a way out for me, namely that Morgoth only gave them the fear and insecurity.

scirocco wrote:
It shows Tolkien working as he often did; writing almost as if someone else was holding the pen, and then tearing apart, analysing, questioning and niggling it to pieces. The notes clearly reflect Tolkien's struggle to reconcile his Christianity with the demands of the story.

I hadn't thought of this before, but now you say it, yes, I think that's exactly what is happening. :)

Voronwë wrote:
I think that the Athrabeth is extremely successful in achieving its main dramatic purpose, which as both Sassy and I have pointed out was to exhibit the generosity of Finrod's mind, his love and pity for Andreth, and the tragic situations that must arise in the meeting of Elves and Men.

Hmmh, I'm not so sure this is the main dramatic purpose.
It is certainly a defining element of the story (and a beautiful one at that!), but not, IMO, the reason the story was written.
The main dramatic purpose, I think, is to show the predicament of Men and Elves - both have received different bits of "comfort" for their doubts and fears, but they don't know what to do with it - in getting together for the first time it looks as if they could fit the different pieces of the puzzle together to gain new insights:
Quote:
'Yes, Wise-woman, maybe it was ordained that we Quendi, and ye Atani, ere the world grows old, should meet and bring news one to another, and so we should learn of the Hope from you: ordained, indeed, that thou and I, Andreth, should sit here and speak together, across the gulf that divides our kindreds, so that while the Shadow still broods in the North we should not be wholly afraid.'

For me, this was the key-passage of the whole text.

But it's true that under this interpretation the whole love-story takes on a strange aspect: it appears to be a completely new story, a diversion, a deviation from the original idea...

Doesn't it seem to anyone that the story changes with the appearance of the love story?

Maybe all I said just shows that I should get reading the rest of the comments and notes... ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:36 am 
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Voronwë wrote:
Quote:
I think that the Athrabeth is extremely successful in achieving its main dramatic purpose, which as both Sassy and I have pointed out was to exhibit the generosity of Finrod's mind, his love and pity for Andreth, and the tragic situations that must arise in the meeting of Elves and Men.


Hobby wrote:

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Hmmh, I'm not so sure this is the main dramatic purpose.
It is certainly a defining element of the story (and a beautiful one at that!), but not, IMO, the reason the story was written.


As I said on the previous page and as V., has said ... and as you will no doubt discover for yourself as you read further into the notes ... Tolkien states ....

Actually, though it deals with such things as death and the relationship of Elves and Men to Time and Arda, and to one another, it's real purpose is dramatic to exhibit the generosity of Finrod's mind, his love and pity for Andreth, and the tragic situations that must arise in the meeting of Elves and Men.

In retrospect, after having read through completely about three times with numerous forays off into specific paragraphs, I see how the love story is a vehicle for the philosophical discourse. Although, admittedly on the first reading, I felt as though the entire conversation had taken a sharp turn to the left ... and then I became completely captivated by the images thrown up to me from the page.

Quote:
But it's true that under this interpretation the whole love-story takes on a strange aspect: it appears to be a completely new story, a diversion, a deviation from the original idea...

Doesn't it seem to anyone that the story changes with the appearance of the love story?


Not really, no. What I think is, it makes Andreth's bitterness explicable. It gives us the reason for her lack of trust and her wariness of the Elves ....
and makes the final hope that Finrod leaves her with all the more touching...
But you are not for Arda. Whither you go may you find light. Await us there, my brother -- and me.

:bawl:

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:10 pm 
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Ack! I wish I could jump back into this discussion NOW, but I`m on a computer with a keyboard that is so alien to me, I can´t even figure out how to command up necessary punctuation.....it took me nearly 20 minutes to figure out how to find the exclamation and quotes marks while I was writing an e mail (notice lack of dash :x )...and that was purely by accident. :help:

I`ll come back later when I can actually get onto a computer here that has a keyboard that first, I can decipher....and second, actually works without sticking or skipping. :rage:

"Hasta luego"! :horse:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:22 pm 
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New keyboard..............old ideas. :halo:

scirroco wrote:
Because I can't say I agree with the gushing praise given so far of the Athrabeth as a story. Personally, I find it bordering on the sentimental (although there are nice touches such as the candle and moth metaphor which Brian mentioned.) And you have to ask how effective a piece of work it is, when the pages of notes are almost as long as the story itself.


But it´s not a story. It´s two characters engaged in an intricate and intimate exchange of ideas that are systematically peeled back, layer after layer, to reveal a theme that to my mind is at the very centre of the human experience: love and loss. For me, as I said in an earlier post, The Athrabeth was an extremely effective work before I ever read the commentaries and the notes on the commentaries. I very much agree with you that Tolkien seems to have written this piece "from the heart" first, and then presented himself with the task of working through a deeper analysis that connects it to the foundations (changeable as those may be) of his greater work. And actually, that´s exactly how I respond to it - first and foremost, "from the heart". Why? Because it wraps the grander and more remote ideas that support his theme of Death and Deathlessness within the honest intimacy of the words between two friends.....no plot to drive, no setting to describe.....just words that attempt to explain not only the thoughts and theories of these wise representatives of the two kindreds, but also their own personal wells of emotion, as they attempt to find a commonality to their experiences, to find, I do believe, themselves, each in the other.

I think it´s important to remember that it is not only Andreth´s love for Aegnor that becomes, in the end, the very heart of the work - it is also Finrod´s love for him. This is what they really share, isn´t it? When you peel back all those layers of discourse about sundering fates, and inescapable Death, and hope and pity and despair, it really comes down to two people who share this most mysterious and cherished and burdensome of gifts: the love of another, and the inevitable loss that MUST come with that love. This, I think is why Finrod can find such empathy for Andreth. He knows that when his brother dies, he will lose him "forever" (or at least until the ending of Arda): he will not walk with him again in Aman, which we are reassuringly told he will do with his father in a passage from the tale of Beren and Lúthien. This will be "it" for all three people bound up in their love for each other: three separate fates unless the "Great Hope" of Arda Remade indeed comes to pass.

Sentimental? Well, how can one speak of losing a lover or a brother without sentiment, without emotion, without tears? But I suppose I am seeing the term in its more positive connotation, rather than as a synomym for the maudlin or overwrought. Like Voronwë, I see the work as one with great emotional power, true and honest to the human condition. For me, there is not one moment in the conversation that doesn´t feel absolutely "real".

To my mind, if the Athrabeth had merely been an intellectual treatise on the ultimate fates of Elves and Men, a dispassionate discourse between two great minds unfettered by the blessing of love and the burden of loss, it would not have been as effective a vehicle to drive home to the reader the meaning of both the gulf and the bridge between the two kindreds, which ultimately, is symbolic of our own very human condition. Because we all know that there is some sort of gulf between life and death, mortality and immortality, known and unknown; we know it, and FEEL it down to our very bones. And we all seek to bridge that gulf; with questions of faith, or of pure intellect, and with the sharing of ideas wrapped in both.

Love and loss. For me, this has become the most personally compelling theme I have met (and still meet) in Tolkien´s works time and time again. It´s what breaks my heart and then mends it, only to break it once again. It´s the image of Éowyn standing before the Witchking, Sam watching the ship disappear into the West, Legolas singing of the Sea-longing, Lúthien weeping at the feet of Mandos, Arwen crying out in despair at the moment of Aragorn´s death. Thinking about it now, would the final moments of Arwen´s and Aragorn´s story be so powerful, would their tale of love and sacrifice be so compelling, if Arwen did NOT despair at the end? For Arwen is us, is she not? Like Andreth is us. Doomed to love and doomed to watch our love pass beyond us. Doomed to fear for those we love, and doomed to mourn their loss. Doomed to question "why" and doomed to never really "know" the answer. It´s why, I think, that Tolkien returns to this idea over and over again - because without love, what does it really matter that we live and die?

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Thinking about it now, would the final moments of Arwen´s and Aragorn´s story be so powerful, would their tale of love and sacrifice be so compelling, if Arwen did NOT despair at the end? For Arwen is us, is she not? Like Andreth is us. Doomed to love and doomed to watch our love pass beyond us. Doomed to fear for those we love, and doomed to mourn their loss. Doomed to question "why" and doomed to never really "know" the answer. It´s why, I think, that Tolkien returns to this idea over and over again - because without love, what does it really matter that we live and die?


:love: :cry: :love:

An incredible post, Ath!

Thank you.

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and :love: from one shameless Tolkien geek to another. Do you know how lucky and blessed I feel to know that we are walking these paths together? :hug:

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Ath, I find myself sitting here in the evening just waiting for your elegant posts. Many's the moment that something you've posted here has kept me from doing or saying something rash elsewhere ... just having the 'higher view' of the people on this board has helped me keep persepctive.

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:love:

Ditto.

My life is so much richer for travelling these roads with you and Voronwë ... and everyone.

It's like Frodo said of Bilbo, isn't it .... He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary.

/end osgiliation.

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A very flattering comparison, Sass! - that we are to one another like the rivers in a Tolkien story. Most of them were guardians of special lands, weren't they, before flowing into to the sea. :hug:

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:love:

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I've been wanting for some time to say a bit about the 'Tale of Adanel' and to try to put it in context.

To summarize, in this Tale, before the early Humans ever experienced Death, they heard a Voice (that of Eru), but it refused to answer their questions, basically saying "don't try to grow up too fast." But then Melkor appeared to them in fair form, and gave them many gifts and seemed to teach them many things. Melkor taught them that the Voice was the voice of Darkness, and taught them to fear the Voice. Then they worshipped Melkor and he made them bow down to him, and brought few gifts and taught no longer. And the Voice only was heard once more, stating

Ye have abjured Me, but ye remain Mine. I gave you life. Now it shall be shortened, and each of you in a little while shall come to Me, to learn who is your Lord: the one ye worship, or I who made him.

And then humans began to die. But Melkor was not displeased, and told them that if they did not do his will, they would die all the sooner, by his hand. All things turned against Man, the Earth and Fire and Water, and they were afflicted by weariness and hunger and sickness. They yearned for their previous life, but continued to do Melkor's bidding, to avoid his wrath. But some openly stated that it was Melkor who was the Darkness, not the Voice, and declared him their Enemy. These few were slain, or hunted down and burned alive, and a few Men grew strong and cruel, and had great favor from Melkor. And the few of those who declared Melkor the Enemy that escaped

came at last to the land's end and the shores of the impassable water;and behold! the Enemy was there before them.

This Tale should not be properly thought of as part of the Athrabeth. Tolkien makes it clear (in Note 9, which discusses this Tale*), "that Andreth was actually unwilling to say more" then is told in the Athrabeth proper. He says that "[l]onger recensions of the Athrabeth, evidently edited under Númenórean influence, make her give, under pressure, a more precise answer (about the nature of the Disaster that resulted in Man becoming Mortal). He points out that this Tale is explicitly a Tale of the House of Hador, and that the Numenorians "were largely, and their non-Elvish traditions mainly, derived from the People of Marach, of whom the House of Hador were the chieftains."

The idea of this tale being part of a version of the Athrabeth "edited under Numenorian influence" sets up an intriguing possibility. The Numenorian's obsession with Death is of course well documented. I find the thought that this Tale of Death being imposed on Man by Eru as a punishment for worshipping Melkor being a creation of the Numenorians in their obsession with Death to be quite compelling. I can easily picture the Numenoreans in exile in Middle-earth who "made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of their sons" creating this legend as a way of explaining that they never should have been "cursed" with Death in the first place.

But just as soon as Tolkien raises this intriguing possibility, he largely shoots it down, and then replaces it with any even more intriguing possibility.

The legend bears certain resemblances to the Númenórean traditions concerning the part played by Sauron in the downfall of Númenor. But this does not prove that it is enritely a fiction of post-downfall days. It is no doubt mainly derived from actual lore of the People of Marach, quite independent of the Athrabeth [Added note: Nothing is hereby asserted concerning its 'truth', historical or otherwise.] The operations of Sauron naturally and inevitably resembled or repeated those of his master. That a people in possession of such a legend or tradition should have later been deluded by Sauron is sad but, in view of human history generally, not incredible.

So it is clear that this Tale should be thought of as part of independent tradition from the Athrabeth, and not really considered to be Andreth's actual words, nor should it be considered a "true" story. What I find most intriguing (okay, second most intriguing) about this passage is the suggestion that it makes that the particular flaw that Sauron was able to tap into to cause the downfall of the Numenorians existed already in the specific ancestors of the Numenorians, the House of Hador, the chief members of whom (Húrin Thalion and Túrin Turumbar) were particularly cursed by Melkor. It makes the story of the Numenorians all the more complex and compelling.

But what I truly find most intriguing about this how insightful it is that about some basic facets of human nature. I think this very much taps into some of the issues that Teremia raised in her thread about human suffering and how incomprehensible it is that humans are able to treat other humans with such cruelty. I'm having trouble enunciating any further thoughts about this insight, so I will leave it for another time or (hopefully) someone with greater vision then I possess (:love:), and simply end with these cryptic words of Tolkien's:

Indeed if fish had fish-lore and Wise-fish, it is probable that the business of anglers would be very little hindered.


* All additional quotes are also from Note 9 to the commentary of the Athrabeth, which appears in Morgoth's Ring at pp. 343-344, except the one quote from LOTR which should be recognizable to most here from both the book and the film.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:34 am 
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What an excellent and thought-provoking post, Voronwë! :love: You've raised some issues that I'm going to have to think over carefully before adding my two cents. As I said before, I've had some real difficulties with the Tale of Adanel, but perhaps this is because, as I think you point out, it is not presented in the familiar voice of the "Loremaster" that Tolkien assumes for the Sil, but in another voice altogether (at least to my "reader's ear"). It is a dark and desperate voice, I think, tinged with superstition (I know there's a better word than this, but I just can't find it at the moment) and almost dripping with fear, and it makes me feel..........uneasy as I read it - like a child listening to a tale of terror being told around a campfire and becoming more and more aware of the shadows closing in, and a coldness creeping into her heart. It is quite unlike any other response I've had while reading Tolkien.

And I think it's time to start asking myself why that is. :horse:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:41 am 
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You raise some very good points, Voronwë. I've always struggled to understand how Tolkien would have wanted the Athrabeth presented in The Silmarillion (he did leave specific instructions that it should be included, which Christopher Tolkien did not comply with, interestingly enough.)

But I think you're right, the Tale of Ardanel must be regarded as separate. It would have to be presented as a Mannish legend if at all; it couldn't be true as such. As was pointed out on TORC just yesterday, if Men became mortal as a result of worshipping Melkor, it could hardly be construed as a Gift! More like a Punishment. And that of course, is totally contradictory to the clearly developed motifs of Aragorn and the "good guy" Numenoreans calmly accepting Death and being given the grace to go at their will.

So the only conclusion I can see that works, is that the Tale of Ardanel is indeed another of Morgoth and Sauron's lies, as Tolkien suggests. From which I can only conclude that Man's mortality did not "really" come about from worshipping Melkor.

No wonder Christopher Tolkien didn't include this in the Sil. I don't think the world in 1977 (expecting LOTR Part II) was ready for this much complication!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 2:31 pm 
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Thanks, scirocco. Praise from the praiseworthy is praise indeed! :)

Its hard to imagine how the Athrabeth would have fit in the Silmarillion, but it is clear that that work would have looked a lot different had Tolkien succeeded in publishing it himself.

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