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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:06 am 
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I had two parallel thoughts today that touched on the subject of this thread. One I posted in another thread. The other was something that I read in Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth. I'm going to try to combine them here into a coherent post.

As I said in the other thread, for me the various components of Tolkien's legendarium each illuminates each other in different ways. As does reading Tolkien's own thoughts about his subcreation in his letters, as well as the thoughts of others, expressed both in scholarly works by "experts" such as Shippey and Flieger and in these discussions. I'm currently reading Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth for the first time (I know, it's hard to believe). Shippey is uniquely qualified to expound upon how Tolkien's philological prowess underlied his entire body of work. In a sense, Tolkien's belief that, as Shippey puts it, words "are like a stalactine, interesting in itself but more so as part of something growing" was the root of his entire expanding universe. But that is not the point I wanted to make.

The point I wanted to make is this. In the journal in which Tolkien had his first poem - Goblin Feet - published (Oxford Poetry 1915), his close friend G.B. Smith, who was killed the following year in World War I, also had a poem published. As Shippey points out, this poem is extremely "Tolkienesque":

This is the road the Romans made,
Ths trac half lost in the green hills,
Or fading in a forest glade
'Mid violets and daffodils.

The years have fallen like dead leaves
Unwept, ouncounted and unstayed
(Such as the autumn tempest thieves)
Since first this rad the Romans made.


Think of Tolkien's repeated theme of the Road Goes Ever on and on, and even more of Galadriel singing Ai! laurië lantar lassi surinen! - Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind! And numberless as the wings of trees are the years ... . Well, in his last letter to Tolkien before he was killed, G.B. Smith wrote the following: "May God bless you, my dear John Ronald, and may you say the things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them."

And he did.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:25 pm 
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The thing that holds the work of JRRT apart from other "large" fictional constructs is the ratio of published canon to unpublished material. The inconsistencies between and among both actually ADD to the verisimilitude, I think: that's the way of myth. Disparate threads get woven together into a larger whole that looks different depending on the angle one approaches it from. The marvel of it is that all the threads came from the mind of one person, albeit one so steeped in so many myths that source material was hardly lacking.

And the underlying ubi sunt? or for JRRT, hwær cwom? is one of those threads, certainly. It was a strong current in medieval times, even early on, as the petty feudal lords looked back with longing to Rome and its perceived glory:

Quote:
This masonry is wondrous; fates broke it
courtyard pavements were smashed; the work of giants is decaying.
Roofs are fallen, ruinous towers,
the frosty gate with frost on cement is ravaged,
chipped roofs are torn, fallen,
undermined by old age. The grasp of the earth possesses
the mighty builders, perished and fallen,
the hard grasp of earth, until a hundred generations
of people have departed. Often this wall,
lichen-grey and stained with red, experienced one reign after another,
remained standing under storms; the high wide gate has collapsed.

--The Ruin


But for JRRT the words of another OE poem, The Wanderer, may have come closer to home, given his loss of Smith and virtually all his other friends in WWI:

Quote:
Sorg bið geniwad
þonne maga gemynd
mod geondhweorfeð;
greteð gliwstafum,
georne geondsceawað
secga geseldan;
swimmað oft on weg

Sorrow is renewed
when the mind surveys
the memory of kinsmen;
He greets them joyfully,
eagerly scans
the companions of men;
they always swim away.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:27 pm 
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That is beautifully sad Ax. :) :( :) :(

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:00 am 
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I had another thought today about the curious nature of Tolkien's Expanding Universe: the role that Númenor played in bridging the different elements of the legendarium.

As is well-known, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis agreed together that since there was so little of the type of stories that they enjoyed, they would have to try their hands at writing their own. They decided that one would write a "space travel" story, and the other would write a "time travel" story, and they "tossed up" to decide who would do which. The results of that seemingly random "toss up" were profound. Lewis, of course, went on to write his "space travel" trilogy, which is probably his finest fiction (I'm not a big fan of Narnia). Tolkien did not have the same kind of quick success. Taking on the task of writing a time trave story brought to his mind the Atlantis legend that he had been obsessed with since childhood, having been plagued with dreams of the inelectable wave drowning the great island. In preparation for writing that time travel story, The Lost Road, Tolkien wrote the first version of the Númenor story, The Fall of Númenor, written from an Elvish perspective. He then wrote several chapters of The Lost Road before abandoning it, and taking on the task of writing a sequel to The Hobbit.

Even though Tolkien never completed the time travel story, the development of the Númenor story provided the perfect link between the new hobbit story and the already developed mythology. And it provided the answer to the vexing question of who Trotter the wooden-shoed hobbit ranger really was.

Then, in the mid to late forties, before LOTR was finished, Tolkien turned back to the time travel idea, converting and expanding on some of the ideas explored in The Lost Road in a new story, The Notion Club Papers. In conjunction with that, he wrote a new, considerably longer version of the Númenor story, The Drowning of Anadûnê, written from a Mannish perspective. When he returned to LOTR, the further development of the Númenor story provided additional details to helped finalize that work.

Finally, in conjunction with his work on the appendices to LOTR, Tolkien wrote the Akallabêth, the final version of the Númenor story. This work combined elements of both The Fall of Númenor and The Drowning of Anadûnê. This (along with the work Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age) provided the final bridge between tales of the first age (and before) and LOTR.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:50 am 
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Ah yes, Númenor, the story that was never really written ;).

I love how Tolkien's stories grow and influence each other. I am not the only reader who has found the Arkenstone very similar to another jewel....both in its description and in the way people react to it.

The Arkenstone

This fanfic seeks to create a new history for the Arkenstone. I was greatly amused.

Fanfiction and Fan art are obviously ways we all expand on the stories and express our love for them. All that we write or draw is not exactly a valid expansion of the story (any more than the movie is - I'm watching RotK on TV right now :)...and it's at the point where Frodo says "Go Home" to Sam). But I think that this creative side goes along with the scholarly side to expand upon the story now that Tolkien is no longer writing it.

Making the movies forced people to design costumes for all the characters. Aragorn couldn't just be grim with grey eyes and dressed in weather-stained clothes. Legolas had to look and move like an elf, not just have 'a fair face' and good eyesight. Likewise, every artist must give a character a specific look - face and clothes to match.

If I write a tale set in the Halls of Mandos, I have to deal with Námo as a character, not simply as the Doomsman. It is an excuse to consider what motivates a Vala. My portrayal of him is not entirely accurate, of course, but it is...something. (Lessons from the Mountain) Tolkien gave us a taste of the thinking of each Vala in their debate over Míriel. How they can all be 'good', but see the world in different ways.


One thing that was not Tolkien's choice was the lack of a framing device in the presentation of the Silmarillion. He didn't write a satisfactory one that could be used with the published Silmarillion himself, but I imagine he saw Bilbo taking the place of Aelfwine/Eriol.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:08 am 
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Mith, in The History of the Hobbit, John Rateliff makes quite a credible argument that the Arkenstone really was intended to be the Silmaril of Maedhros, or at least that Tolkien wanted to leave open the possibility that it was.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:26 am 
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I was more amused that Maedhros seemed to have survived his experience than with the original idea. I think that anyone re-reading the Hobbit, already being familiar with the Silmarillion, will see the connection.


I brought up fan fiction and fan art in particular because the question of making money entered into this discussion. I do not think that doing something without pay makes it (automatically) more authentic. I think that love for the subject matter is what counts, mixed with skill. No one doubts that Alan Lee, John Howe or Ted Nasmith love Tolkien's works...but they do get paid to paint pictures from them. They are also much more skilled as artists than most fans.

Someone who paints a generic fantasy painting and slaps Tolkien's name on it is perhaps a bit less authentic, whether their work is professional or amateur.

I think that while Tolkien's canon is rich, it is also closed. What we contribute to it is interpretation only. But if something in our interpretation resonates with other fans....well then, perhaps we got it right, after all.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:31 am 
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To me, that's the whole purpose and delight of good fanfic and good fan art, work that's done well and with heart: Yes, that's what I saw! or Wow, I never saw it that way before! Tolkien's work is what it is; as you say, Mith, it's closed. But that doesn't mean there's no point in speculating about the parts he doesn't show us.

But mainly for me the pleasure of good fan art and writing is the restless mind and the love of Middle-earth playing off of each other:

What if this happened?

Why did that happen?

Who was he, really?
:)

If Tolkien could have lived forever, there'd be no fanfic. I think he would have answered all the questions. I think he wanted to, for himself if for no one else.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:08 am 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
If Tolkien could have lived forever, there'd be no fanfic. I think he would have answered all the questions. I think he wanted to, for himself if for no one else.


I wish he did! But I don't think it is possible to answer ALL the questions. It is a task comparable to describing every life and story in our-Earth, through all the history.

I don't write fanfic, although I've read quite a few that I enjoy, some of it by HoFers (:wave: Mith :) ). A (very) few stories are really quite as good as the original, and I do not say it lightly. Look up The Last Ship on TORC if you don't believe me. I do RP, and TORC-style RPing (AKA collaborative fiction) is yet another way to expand the universe. Some of it is, as Prim describes, Who/What/Why type, but most is simply respectfully using Tolkiens history and geography to play out barely related stories. I submit that both are legitimate paths for the universe-expansion.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:42 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Mith, in The History of the Hobbit, John Rateliff makes quite a credible argument that the Arkenstone really was intended to be the Silmaril of Maedhros, or at least that Tolkien wanted to leave open the possibility that it was.


I can see that the genesis for creating the Arkenstone started with the Silamarils, but I can also see no plausible way for it to actually be one of them. The House of Fëanor would have made that mountain anything but lonely were that true. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 3:38 pm 
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Holbytla wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Mith, in The History of the Hobbit, John Rateliff makes quite a credible argument that the Arkenstone really was intended to be the Silmaril of Maedhros, or at least that Tolkien wanted to leave open the possibility that it was.


I can see that the genesis for creating the Arkenstone started with the Silamarils, but I can also see no plausible way for it to actually be one of them. The House of Fëanor would have made that mountain anything but lonely were that true. :)


That's what Galadriel befirending Gimli was actually about. Subvert a loyal member of the Lonely Mountain aristocracy. After a few years wandering about Fangorn and Aglarond, Legolas suggests a trip to Erebor. The pair nick the Arkenstone and return it over the sea.

Job done.

Very deep black ops.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 3:57 pm 
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Holbytla wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Mith, in The History of the Hobbit, John Rateliff makes quite a credible argument that the Arkenstone really was intended to be the Silmaril of Maedhros, or at least that Tolkien wanted to leave open the possibility that it was.


I can see that the genesis for creating the Arkenstone started with the Silamarils, but I can also see no plausible way for it to actually be one of them. The House of Fëanor would have made that mountain anything but lonely were that true. :)


Yes, that is a common response to the question. But the problem is that, like so many other people, you are approaching it based on the story in the published Silmarillion (published, of course, 40 years after The Hobbit was written. What Rateliff did was go back and look at the state of the story at the time that The Hobbit was written. The speculation makes more sense when viewed through that prism.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:52 pm 
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Well I guess you can't have it both ways. That door was long ago closed.

The reality is, the story was changed. So either you disregard the whole Fëanor leaving the Undying Lands and the oath, (not to mention the entire reason for the War of the Ring) or you accept that there is no way the Arkenstone could ever be a Silmaril. Unless of course you prefer Bingo and Trotter.

Certainly Tolkien could have made the Arkenstone a long lost Silmaril, but he did not.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:53 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
Primula Baggins wrote:
If Tolkien could have lived forever, there'd be no fanfic. I think he would have answered all the questions. I think he wanted to, for himself if for no one else.


I wish he did! But I don't think it is possible to answer ALL the questions. It is a task comparable to describing every life and story in our-Earth, through all the history.


I intend to spend a good part of my eternity pestering the poor soul. I just hope his thought at the end of his essay on Faerie Stories is true, and that it will be like stepping into Niggle's Parish rather than looking at a painting or just talking about it. :D


And some RPing is really just for fun. Tygarya and I are writing a romance between her persona and Maedhros, and it involves a Silmaril in Minas Morgul at the end of the Third Age (she fished Maglor's out of the Sea), and peace treaties between Gondor and the East, oh...and Legolas moving to Ithilien. So, while we certainly borrowed Tolkien's characters and settings (and even Laws and Customs of the Eldar), none of us think what we are doing is anything other than silly. We gave the Silmaril magical powers just for the fun of it. Rwhen gets Aragorn, Tygarya gets Maedhros, and rowanberry gets Celegorm. It's a carryover from MoME, which is complete silliness.


No no no, Holby - diamonds survive in magma. Surely silima does as well. All that has to happen is that, after being thrown into the chasm, the stone pops up under the Lonely Mountain many years later. Voila, lost silmaril! And in one (very early) version of the story, the surviving Sons of Fëanor are actually okay with turning the gems back over to the Valar - events at the end of the First Age were always vague.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 5:08 pm 
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Fine it was the Arkenstone and the elves were more than happy to let the dwarves keep it. Not to mention Smaug.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:23 pm 
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Holbytla wrote:
Well I guess you can't have it both ways. That door was long ago closed.

The reality is, the story was changed. So either you disregard the whole Fëanor leaving the Undying Lands and the oath, (not to mention the entire reason for the War of the Ring) or you accept that there is no way the Arkenstone could ever be a Silmaril. Unless of course you prefer Bingo and Trotter.

Certainly Tolkien could have made the Arkenstone a long lost Silmaril, but he did not.


It depends on what inquiry you are making. If the question is, based on the state of the legendarium as it exists now, the answer is clearly that the Arkenstone is not a long lost Silmaril. If the question (a purely academic one, I agree) is what was Tolkien's intention at the time that he was actually writing The Hobbit, the answer may be different. Not everyone finds such academic questions interesting, but I certainly do.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:14 pm 
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Isn't it also plausible that Tolkien "borrowed" from his own stories about the Silmarils when he created the Arkenstone, just as he "borrowed" from ancient stories about Odin to create Gandalf?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:03 pm 
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I wrote:
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I can see that the genesis for creating the Arkenstone started with the Silamarils, but I can also see no plausible way for it to actually be one of them.


Of course that statement is made with hindsight. It would have been pretty cool if the Arkenstone had been a silmaril and the Hobbitt was Bilbo's hand in bringing about the end of the great story that started long ago. Actually he was in that same great story, but this would have been more direct.

And the Noldor could have helped redress past crimes by renouncing it as Galadriel had renounced the ring. I suppose the Thorin and dwarve part of the story sort of worked itself already.

So yeah it is a plausible speculation to talk about given where the story was at that time. It only unravels if that open possibility of Tolkien's tries to remain alive.

Personally I think all of the stories would have been better served if they had been written in order. The Hobbit had a lot of possibility were that true and LOTR would have been seamless. We have what we have and can only imagine what may have been.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:03 pm 
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Dave_LF wrote:
Isn't it also plausible that Tolkien "borrowed" from his own stories about the Silmarils when he created the Arkenstone, just as he "borrowed" from ancient stories about Odin to create Gandalf?


This is how I see it - the Arkenstone was based on the silmarils, which is not quite the same thing as saying that the Arkenstone is a silmaril.


And after the death of Celebrimbor near the end of the Second Age, there were no more Fëanoreans to get all bent out of shape over the location of the jewels, anyway.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:21 am 
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MithLuin wrote:
Dave_LF wrote:
Isn't it also plausible that Tolkien "borrowed" from his own stories about the Silmarils when he created the Arkenstone, just as he "borrowed" from ancient stories about Odin to create Gandalf?


This is how I see it - the Arkenstone was based on the silmarils, which is not quite the same thing as saying that the Arkenstone is a silmaril.


And after the death of Celebrimbor near the end of the Second Age, there were no more Fëanoreans to get all bent out of shape over the location of the jewels, anyway.


Dependign on how you view the Legendarium Galadriel took the Oath, which is why she was under the Ban, which IIRC was lifted because she renounced the Ring.


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