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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:28 pm 
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Bumping this to say that the Kindle edition of The Children of Húrin is on sale today only (March 19) in the U.S., for $1.99.

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


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:03 pm 
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This is my personal favorite story from the First Age in spite of its darkness. I was really excited when this book was published, but was disappointed by some of the particular choices that Christopher Tolkien made in its editing. However, since I had long been dreaming of a beautiful illustrated stand-alone edition of the Turín saga such as this, I love The Children of Hurín nevertheless.

From the late 90s and into the very early 2000s I began to study and and to do some work on the story of Turín. Even though I imagined that Christopher Tolkien must be the only person who by rights should attempt such a thing, I nevertheless tried to make several complete versions of the Turín Saga for my own personal enjoyment (and for that of a few family members as well). I knew my versions could never be published and neither would I have ever considered posting them online because in my view that would be a violation of the rights of the Tolkien Estate.

My first effort was done by literally cutting and pasting together photocopies from the Narn of Unfinished Tales and from Chapter 21 of The Silmarillion. It took rather a good deal of thought to fit various snippets from UT’s appendix to the Narn into the body of the text.

The next version I did was on a PC and it was to edit into a single text the two versions of the alliterative poem from The Lays of Beleriand including several of JRRT’s textual variations which CT had included in the comentary and endnotes, typing it all out by hand. To finish that version of the story (which cuts off just after Turín arrives in Nargothrond) I included a short section from the "Sketch of The Mythology" from HoME Vol. IV because that would represent the rest of the story as JRRT then imagined it. I printed it out and bound it with print-outs of several illustrations by JRRT (such his marvelous watercolor of Beleg finding Flinding [Gwindor] in the forest of Deadly Nightshade.)

I think the only detailed version of the narrative from the capture of Turín by orcs until his arrival at Nargothrond is the one in the alliterative Lay. And loving, as I do, the atmosphere in the Lay describing the forest of Deadly Nightshade and the events at Ivrin and the journey to Nargothrond, I eventually decided to try my hand at rendering into prose that whole section of the Lay and integrating it with the material from the Sil as well as from The War of The Jewels (which by that time I had read) to use as the central section of another longer prose version. I didn’t use photocopies this time, but typed it on a PC. For illustrations I used those of Howe and Nasmith. I again printed it all out and bound it as a book. Now that was a long labour! I guess I finished it about the year 2001.

Even if some might think all this to be a violation of copyright, I believe instead that it stands within the domain of fare-use because it was just for myself and my family, and of course I had bought all the books (twice: both in hardcover and in soft.) At that time I thought Christopher Tolkien would never feel inclined to publish this saga as a stand-alone book, and I felt pretty sure my own version was the only complete version I’d ever get to read. I’m glad to say I was wrong. But C. Tolkien’s choices were not my choices and that is actually very interesting to me.

Points where my version differs:

1. It is called The Curse of Morgoth, not The Children of Húrin. (See page 373 of Morgoth’s Ring.)

2. After the title pages, there is an illustration I found online from a medieval manuscript of the constellation of Orion. It is very interesting to me because it depicts Orion not as a bowman but as a swordsman. I placed as a caption beneath it an excerpt from The Annals of Aman for the years 1000-1150 which speaks of the creation of the constellation Menelmakar, the swordsman of the sky and the sign of Turín Turambar and the Last Battle at the end of Days (I too am a fan of the Second Prophecy of Mandos.) I included this because I think this dark story could do with a suggestion of the possibility of final redemption. It seems to me that JRRT always saw Turín in that context.

3. I am one of the few who still thinks there’s a possible role for the figure of Aelfwine in the transmission of the lore of the Elder Days, and so I included as a preface a part of the ‘A’ text on the work’s supposed translation from Anglo-Saxon, and the whole ‘B’ text of “Aelfwine and Dírhaval” from WoTJ. I believe that the device of “frame” is important, and I feel the lack of it in both The Sil and in the published version of The Children of Húrin.

4. The opening section of the Narn is included just as it was published in UT, for example with the section about the history of the Helm of Hador (which was omitted in The Children of Húrin).

5. As mentioned above, I included a detailed narrative from Taur-nu-Fuin to Nargothrond. My method was to take the files I had typed out from the Lay and to rearrange the word order, omit a good deal of the rather plentiful adjectives and adverbs (in my opinion fine for the Beowulf-like style of the Lay), update names and spellings, and to integrate details from other texts from WoTJ and The Sil and UT. I now see I could have done a much better job with this section smoothing the style into prose. The hodgepodge ended up pretty unsatisfactory as I look back on it now, and if I had it to do over again I would be even more severe in the omission of adjectives and in the rearrangement of word order in order to make a final text a bit more uniform in style.

6. Beleg and Gwindor find Turín with the Helm of Hador set on his head in mockery by the orcs. The Helm is stowed and borne secretly to Nargothrond. (See WoTJ pg. 140 on this.)

7. My version of The Nargothrond section presents Turín as falling in love with Finduilas as depicted in The Grey Annals from WoTJ. I suppose that C. Tolkien has some good justification for why he may think that in his father’s final view Turín doesn’t fall in love with Finduilas, but I don’t know what that is and so I went with the version of the story that I prefer. Also, Turín wears the Helm of Hador into the battle of Tumhalad (WoTJ pg. 140.) Turín’s dialog with the dragon includes (as noted on page 143 of WoTJ) his lifting up the visor and looking Glaurung in the eye in response the dragon’s taunting making Turín’s pride clearly the cause of his falling under the spell.

8. Turín takes his own life not at Cabed-en-Aras but at the mound of Finduilas. In both UT and WoTJ Chrisotpher Tolkien mentions his father’s noted intention of changing the narrative thusly.

I guess if I were to do this whole project over again I could improve it a lot by using the best of both versions and then including The Wanderings of Hurín as well. But I wouldn’t want to leave off the story just after Hurín’s exit from Brethil. I’d want to follow him to Nargothrond and from there to Doriath. But JRRT never did write a later version of all that and I’d have to invent a lot, which brings me to another topic: the infamous Chapter 22! But I digress…


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:36 pm 
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I'd be very interested to read your version. Do you have an electronic file you could share? As noted above, there's no real copyright worry as everyone here probably already owns the Sil, HomE, UT and CoH.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:48 pm 
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Wow, Turumarth, what an effort you put in. And no, I don't think you have any worry about alleged copyright violation so long as you strictly keep it to yourself and your family. Which is a shame in a way, because I suspect that I would enjoy your version very much indeed. Probably my biggest disappointment with the published version of CoH was the failure to incorporate the Helm of Hador into the battle at Tumhalad. My second greatest disappointment was the failure to incorporate portions of the Wanderings of Húrin to close the tale. However, I am glad that Christopher neither went forward with his father's stated intention of turning Sador Labadal into one of the Drúedain, or frankly, to have Túrin's suicide take place at the mound of Finduilas. I'm not convinced that either of those two changes improve the story.

As I am sure you know, the story of Túrin is the most convoluted of all of Tolkien's writings, and the one that we know the least about, as Christopher makes clear in both UT and WotJ that it the one area that he did not attempt to completely present in HoMe, as there was such a tangled web of different writings that were left in "confusion and uncertainty." I am still hopeful that some day in the future whoever is left in charge of the literary estate after Christopher may attempt a fuller accounting of that tangled web. Although if Christopher was unable to do it, it may simply be impossible.

ETA: Sorry, Al, but I disagree with your assessment that sharing the version with people here would not violate copyright, even if they own the existing versions. That unfortunately is irrelevant to the question of whether copyright is violated, and any wide distribution of the work as Turumarth has described it would very likely be considered a copyright violation by the Tolkien Estate, even if no money is exchanged. l therefore have to ask that no such requests be made here publicly. As much as I would like to read Turumarth's version, I am not going to request that he provide it to me. Of course, what individuals do privately is up to them, but I will ask that people not request this in the public forum.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:55 pm 
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Hmmm. Hypothetically, would setting some of Tolkien's words to music, recording it and posting on youtube constitute a copyright violation? Hypothetically, of course.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:12 pm 
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Yes, I believe so. The Tolkien Ensemble, the Swedish group that has done just that, has done so under license from the Estate.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:48 pm 
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I hope someone tells the filkers....

I second Voronwë on copyright, though. Web hosts view that very rigidly to protect themselves from liability and have been known to pull the plug on offending sites without warning or appeal.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:20 am 
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Perhaps I should apologize. To be clear, I wasn’t hoping to get any new readers for my version. And it’s a moot point anyway: due to neglect on my part as well as to the advance of technology, the PC where these files may have been stored was junked some time ago, and any other files were on floppies which were tossed in the bin as well. I just have the hard copy now. Secondly, I now see many flaws and errors in it and wouldn’t actually want other people to read this version as it stands.

By the way, I value different opinions and when I have time I would soon like to post some thoughts on a few points in relation to the Turín Saga and I hope to hear what others may think about:

1. The Annals of Aman concerning the constellation Menelmakar and the Second Prophecy of Mandos.

2. Turín and Finduilas.

3. So-called Fate, and so-called Fee Will.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:31 pm 
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You might be interested in these old threads:

The Second Prophecy (and related subjects)

Fate and Free Will

Fate and Free Will in LOTR and the Silmarillion

I presented a paper to MythCon (the conference of the Mythopoeic Society) a number of years ago that created quite a stir. It is a subject very near and dear to my heart. The following year, there was a huge debate on Fate and Free Will between Verlyn Flieger and Carl Hostetter.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:22 am 
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Voronwë, very interesting. This is one of the reasons I hesitate to post, because I know there's already been a huge amount of discussion on just about everything and I need to read through a lot of posts before I can really comment on a topic. However on this relatively short thread I hope to discuss these issues as they relate specifically to the Turín Saga, and from there to my reasons for the choices I made with my redaction. I will try to read those threads first, though!

About Mythcon: I have only ever attended one. That was in Berkeley California in August 2001. Were you there that year? I remember meeting Carl Hostetter and David Bratman and Erica Challis (co-founder of theonering.net) I met a number of other really interesting people whose names have slipped from memory. Perhaps I met you, or other posters on this board.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:41 am 
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The first MythCon that I attended (and presented a paper to) was in fact in Berkeley, but six years later. I was a bit terrified when a friend kindly pointed out that Carl was sitting in the back along with three of the other members of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, Christopher Gilson, Arden Smith, and Patrick Wynne. I've never been very good at pronouncing Elvish names. But I managed to get through it.

You should feel free to comment on any thread that interests you, or just read at your leisure.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:23 am 
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Yes, absolutely. Nothing could be better.

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


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:21 pm 
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It seems that Voronwë and I independently arrived at more or less the same conclusion that C. Tolkien may have been mistaken in thinking that "The Second Prophecy of Mandos" was definitively abandoned by JRRT. I also feel it could have been retained as being part of those aspects of the mythology that were derived from the Edain rather than the Elves. I didn't include the 2nd Prophecy of Mandos in The Curse of Morgoth, but chose to precede the story with a reference from The Annals of Aman which speaks of Menelmakar (Orion) as the sign of Turín's future amarth (doom in the possibly good sense). Could the The Annals of Aman also be seen ultimately as not a purely Elvish document? I think that could be so.

The tale of Turín is a tragic and dark kind of fantasy story. But I think JRRT saw Turín as being, or at least representing, a whole lot more than just the hapless (but also culpable) victim of a curse. It is a strange fact that within Middle-earth the name of Turín is listed among the greatest of the great heroes in spite of all the terrible things he did. At the Council, Elrond said to Frodo, "...and though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Turín, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them." And in "The Choices of Master Samwise" JRRT wrote of Shelob, "...those hideous folds could not be pierced by any strength of men, not though Elf or Dwarf should forge the steel or the hand of Beren or of Turín wield it." But accomplishing one truly great deed, the killing of Glaurung, doesn't seem to me enough to outweigh all the evil Turín also worked. Nevertheless he is an enduring hero. Why? Why indeed should the Edain see in Menelmakar a great sign set in the heavens by Varda of the downfall of Morgoth at the hand of Turín?

It is a bit mysterious, isn't it? I included this detail as a kind of preamble to the story not only because I wanted to balance off its darkness with a suggestion of light, but also because I wanted to hint at the great mystery that seems to surround Turín, a mystery that to me reflects that of human existence itself.

I hope to post further thoughts at a later date...


Last edited by Turumarth on Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:34 pm 
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I hope you will!

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


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:05 am 
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(Apology: I am sorry I am always so long-winded. I try to be clear, and I try not to be discourteous. This style of writing helps me do that. But it might be tiresome...)

I've always seen Tolkien as a "Catholic" author since I grew up in a family who viewed him that way. After finishing the last few volumes of HoME years ago, I felt that he was a very very Catholic author. After that I "lost my faith", but without thereby becoming hostile to belief and to the Church. So, my family was into Tolkien? Yes, here are just a couple of the more interesting examples: my dear aunt, twin sister of my mother, is a Catholic nun and has a PhD in philosophy and as a matter of fact was working on her doctorate at Marquette, a Catholic university, when the Tolkien manuscripts needed to get their first attempt at being put into some kind of order. She volunteered to do it and got to hold in her hands the pages from the Book of Mazarbul as well as the many other pages of that "word-hoard". And my cousin, eldest daughter of my mother's other sister, was the first in the family to read Tolkien and as a twelve-year-old she wrote to JRRT between the publication of tTT and tRotK and received a letter from him saying he had been delayed in replying because of a trip to Gondor. (It seems that means he had been busy working on the appendices.) Perhaps I digress and appear to be bragging. Sorry, but what I want to say is that I was basically brought up on Tolkien understood with a rather Catholic bias. And I still tend to view him that way, in spite of the fact that I am now an agnostic. I don't believe anymore. But I still see some value in belief, even if for me religion and mythology are now basically indistinguishable. JRRT's mythopoeic insight (in the poem addressed to C. S. Lewis) that "truth" can be conveyed in a special mode by "lies breathed through silver" I now apply not only to Tolkien's Legendarium but also to his Catholicism. So I worry that what I hope to post about Turín and related matters could be irksome to both believers and nonbelievers alike. This post is all by way of introduction to what I want to say about free will, fate, the fall, and the matter of Finduilas. But it will have to wait for some other post(s) when I have more time.


Last edited by Turumarth on Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:48 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:21 am 
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If you think that is long-winded, you should meet our friend nerdanel. ;) Really, it is not something to apologize for; what you have to say is very interesting indeed. And I don't think the subject of fate and free will has been tackled here with an emphasis on Finduilas' part of the Tale, so I look forward to that greatly.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:53 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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And my cousin, eldest daughter of my mother's other sister, was the first in the family to read Tolkien and as a twelve-year-old she wrote to JRRT between the publication of tTT and tRotK and received a letter from him saying he had been delayed in replying because of a trip to Gondor.


Perhaps he really meant to say Osgilliath.

:D

Really interesting post. It's been ages since I read the Sil and, though I loved it, I frankly hardly remember any of it anymore, but I am still finding your posts quite enjoyable. :)

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 Post subject: The Children of Húrin
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:41 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
If you think that is long-winded, you should meet our friend nerdanel. ;) Really, it is not something to apologize for; what you have to say is very interesting indeed. And I don't think the subject of fate and free will has been tackled here with an emphasis on Finduilas' part of the Tale, so I look forward to that greatly.


I second Voronwë entirely, except that I must object to the application of the epithet "long-winded" to our friend Nerdanel's posts. They are simply comprehensively exhaustive, and in my view we need more of that kind of thing around here.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:50 pm 
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Perhaps unlike some readers of Tolkien, I for one think it is perfectly valid to interpret much of his work in the light of his Catholic beliefs (which I no longer share). For me, Tolkien’s notion that his legendarium should not explicity contain the Christian mythos does not at all preclude the (to me obvious) fact that the Christian faith is nearly everywhere in Tolkien implicitly pointed to, given space for, and sometimes even symbolized or foreshadowed, whether intentionally or not. So, here goes…

Human Free Will vs. Elvish Free Will and the figure of Turín:

For me, it is inconceivable for Elves not to possess individual freedom of the will. They are listed among the “Free Peoples”. The choices of Elves have repercussions on the future events of the world just as much as the choices of Men do. But Men have the freedom to shape their own destiny above and beyond the confines of the Music while the free will of the Elves operates within a smaller domain: the spacial and temporal confines of Arda, of which only the beginning ages were foreshown in the Music. In other words Men may chose to go to either “heaven” or “hell”, but whatever good or evil Elves do, they stay (until its end) within the World which is neither “heaven” nor “hell”.

There was much that Ilúvatar foreknew that was not in the music. In Catholic doctrine God foreknows what free beings (angels and humans) will chose but that in no way means that God predetermines what they will chose. There is a Catholic meaning for the word “predestination” but it is not the Calvinist one.

In the Legendarium, Men early fell under the dominion of Morgoth. But for JRRT, the Christian mythos concerning the incarnation of God in human nature was the great historical fact lying in the future for Tolkien’s subcreation, which is not an alternative world at all, but just an alternative legendary past of the actual world. Man, though darkened, is destined to become the vessel of Divinity in Human Nature. This is something that was new and outside what was foretold in the Music, but which seems to me to be mysteriously connected with the newness of the theme concerning the children of Ilúvatar. Men who are fallen (and not the Elves) can partake in the ultimate freedom of union with the Divine Nature.

Now to Turín: although he suffered under the specific Curse of Morgoth upon his family (similarly to the way all humanity suffers under the hereditary curse of Adam) he was still nevertheless free to chose his own actions (as Pearly Di the starter of this topic pointed out in the first post.) For both the Legendarium and for Catholicism, darkness and doom, freedom and transcendence are all associated in the mysterious nature of Man.

Turín the man, Turín the compassionate, Turín the murderer, Turín the dragon-slayer, Turín the Swordman of the Sky destined to defeat the Lord of Darkness, Turín the “master of doom by doom mastered”, seems to represent all these dark and light qualities in himself. It is as if he were a figure of both Adam the sinner and Christ the redeemer simultaneously.

So for me, Turín is an allegorical figure. JRRT said that he “cordially” disliked allegory if by allegory we mean a one-to-one correspondence of things consciously intended by the author. But beside allowing room for “applicability” JRRT himself sometimes interpreted his own work allegorically, as he did for example with “Smith of Wooton Major”.

The kind of allegorical interpretation of Tolkien I’m talking about is I hope not so much like that of such works as “Pilgrims Progress” but rather like the ancient Christians interpreted the “Old Testament”. For example, Adam, although a sinner, was in some sense a “type” of Christ, and Christ was called the New Adam. Or the incident of the affliction of the Israelites by serpents and their healing by Moses lifting up the brass serpent was seen as a “type” of sin and redemption. Eg. “He became sin.” “He conquered Death by Death.” But not only the “Old Testament” was seen in this way. The figure of Sigurd and the Dragon (one of the sources for the character of Turín) was long ago carved on church doors because it was seen as a pagan “type” of Christ.

Now, about Finduilas:

In my very speculative view of the story Turín could have freely chosen differently on any one of several occasions, and each time if he had made the better choice he could have escaped the curse of Morgoth. As we know there were three unions of the Edain and the Eldar. It is my view that these unions were destined to be three. But one of the Edain so destined, Turín, freely chose differently (and wrongly) perhaps out of a misplaced loyalty to Gwindor. So, I think that if Turín had married Finduilas, he would have escaped the Curse, and in particular he would not have married his own sister. Furthermore, I imagine that if Turín had wed while in Nargothrond his attitude would have softened, and the bridge over the river Narog would not have been built and Turín might have achieved the death of Glaurung climbing the cliffs of the Narog not the Teiglin. For me the ending with Turín going to the mound of Finduilas to slay himself signifies that he recognized that his “true” love should have been her. In this view of things, the union of Aragorn and Arwen is seen as a kind of replacement which finally fulfills in a later age the destined number of three, an interplay of both freedom and fate.

If I am a non-believer, why am I still so interested in these kinds of psuedo-theological musings? First of all, it’s because even if I do not accept the literal truth of religions, for me they can still have mythopoetic meaning just as other non-historical myths do. Also, on the subject of determinism vs. free will there may be some debate even from a scientific perspective. For example there is the "nature versus nurture" controversy. And there are some scientists who seem to suggest that the laws of physics pre-determine everything that happens and free-will is just an illusion. On the other hand, to me things like string theory or certain aspects of quantum mechanics imply a kind of non-determined freedom in things.

In conclusion, for me the Saga of Turín profoundly reflects the mix of darkness and light within the human heart as well as the mysterious interplay of conditions beyond our control with the choices we we humans make.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:01 pm 
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Perhaps unlike some readers of Tolkien, I for one think it is perfectly valid to interpret much of his work in the light of his Catholic beliefs (which I no longer share). For me, Tolkien’s notion that his legendarium should not explicity contain the Christian mythos does not at all preclude the (to me obvious) fact that the Christian faith is nearly everywhere in Tolkien implicitly pointed to, given space for, and sometimes even symbolized or foreshadowed, whether intentionally or not. So, here goes…


I would go so far as to say that it would be impossible to interpret Tolkien's work not in light of his deeply-held Catholic believes, regardless of the reader's own religious beliefs. It is true that Tolkien was critical of Lewis (and for that matter, Arthurian legends) for explicitly incorporating the Christian mythos, which he felt was fatal to the process of creating a secondary world, for the simple reason that it then became inseparable from the primary world. But that does not mean that his beliefs do not color his work. Indeed he himself wrote in a 1958 letter "I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories)" and in a 1965 letter, "I don't feel under any obligation to make my story fit with formalized Christian theology, though I actually intended it to be consonant with Christian thought and belief." And of course he famously wrote in 1953 to Father Robert Murray that "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." He was very conscious, I think, to make his writings accessible to people of different beliefs, but there is no question in my mind that he was expressed his own fundamentally Catholic beliefs.

I'll have to read the rest of your comments more carefully before commenting further.

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