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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:04 pm 
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The technical content represents a staggering amount of hard work (I oughta know....) and it's almost unfair that the bulk of it comes in the tables, which take up so little ink and contain such a vast amount of information. Especially valuable, as well, are the mentions in the main text of source-matter left out of the Sil, which doesn't lend itself to tabular form very well.

In short, Bravo! Bravissimo!

I do have disagreements when it comes to some of the opinions V expresses: no surprise here, since I've raised most of them before here or by e-mail. For right now I'll just address the issue of the 'theory of transmission.', since that in the narrower context of the Akallabêth was actually the topic of my maiden HoF posting!

It seems to me very clear indeed that the 'frame' or 'transmission theory' went through dramatic changes in Tolkien's later life, and that these were marked phases, one replacing the other in succession. The first and by far the oldest of these was Aelfwine story, which was still alive and well in the early 1950's, and a part of the text of Ainulindalë and Akallabêth etc. However I think it demonstrable that the Anglo-Saxon connection which dated from the Lost Tales had been decidedly rejected by the late 1950's. It simply can't be consistent with the next phase, the 'Númenórean vector'. In this stage, associated with the late revisions and the Myths Transformed etc, Tolkien saw the Sil material as having been garbled, filtered through and blended with Mannish myths and misperceptions and so passed down to us- and this simply couldn't be squared with the Lore of Eressëa, where Pengolodh would have transmitted the untainted Elvish 'truth.' The one replaced the other, and couldn't have coexisted in the same volume.

But the Númenórean vector was not the last word on the subject, either; although we're used to thinking of Tiolkien's major work on the story as having ceased about 1960, he never stopped thinking about it, or tinkering with it. I submit that by the mid-1960s it had given way to (or morphed into) the 'Rivendell vector.' Back then

I wrote:
This raises the interesting possibility that by the mid-60s Tolkien had evolved a rather subtle view... that the Breaking of the World really *did* happen, but Men are too blind/pragmatic/unimaginative/out-of-touch with the Valar to conceive of such a cataclysmic Divine intervention- so they refused to believe it. In other words, Arda globed from the beginning is an incorrect Mannish myth, concocted because Men keep falling back on, well, scientific method rather than faith and revelation.


I believe this can be traced. The first hint appears in (probably) the early '60s, with the statement in "The Line of Elros" that Elendil wrote the "Downfall of Númenor, which was preserved in Gondor.". This is of great interest because, as I observed back then, the Akallabêth is explicitly a fusion of the "Elvish" Fall of Númenor and the "Mannish" Downfall of Anadune- it represents in fact the Mannish legend corrected in light of 'true' Elvish lore learned by the Dúnedain. But not, as I supposed then, by Elendil I don't think, or the Gondorian tradition. Elendil would have been the vector for the direct Númenórean version, DA; the corrected version which Tolkien called "Dunedainic" circa 1965 would have to have been connected with the House of Elrond and the remnants of Arnor. Which leads us to...

The mid-Sixties: There are very, very few writings from this period, but there are two very important statements in this regard. One, which Vor cites, is that according to Dick Plotz Tolkien told him, in 1966, that Bilbo's 'translations from the Elvish' were The Silmarillion. The other, which I don't think Vor picked up on, was the fact that the 'three volumes bound in red leather' were added to the LR text in the Revised Edition of 1965. A third, and illuminating, is the 'Akallabêth wrapper,' which as I have said demonstrates the morphing of the 'Númenórean' vector into an Elvish-Dunedainic vector.

In sum: I think CT was absolutely correct to excise the references to Aelfwine/Pengolodh: these had been decisively superseded in the years following the LR's publication and the concept of the Eressean vector rejected. I think, also, that the 'Númenórean vector' was at least unstable if not rejected completely by Tolkien's last years, and in any case can't be squared with the clear indications of the Rivendell- or Bilbo- vector: The House of Elrond would not have perpetuated garbled Mannish errors!


Last edited by solicitr on Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:44 pm 
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solicitr wrote:
In sum: I think CT was absolutely correct to excise the references to Aelfwine/Pengolodh: these had been decisively superseded in the years following the LR's publication and the concept of the Eressean vector rejected. I think, also, that the 'Númenórean vector' was at least unstable if not rejected completely by Tolkien's last years, and in any case can't be squared with the clear indications of the Rivendell- or Bilbo- vector: The House of Elrond would not have perpetuated garbled Mannish errors!


I'm going to respond to this from both a "Middle-earth studies" perspective and a "Tolkien studies" perspective.

First of all, I thoroughly disagree with the statement that the "Númenórean vector" was untenable because "The House of Elrond would not have perpetuated garbled Mannish errors." That would be like saying that Edith Hamilton wold not have perpetuated garbled Roman myths, because she knew that Icarus could never have flown too close to the Sun, etc. Surely Elrond and the other loremasters (including even Bilbo) would want to preserve the lore of Númenor intact? That is not a viable argument, particularly given Tolkien repeated and uncontradicted late statements that the mythology (and particularly the Quenta) was a Mannish work, a compilation probably made in Númenor. That statement is related to the Shibboleth, which dates from 1968, so I don't see how you can say that the Númenórean vector was somehow superseded.

In fact, even the "Eressean vector" was never fully rejected. Even in the post-LOTR work on the mythology, that context was still actively in place in such works as the Ainulindalë, and the Akallabêth, and there is no indication that Tolkien ever planned to strip them of that context. One can speculate as to what he might have done, but I don't think that there is anything that clearly indicates that he would have done so (unless Christopher has information to that effect that he has not published).

To me, what Tolkien actually did write is more important than what we speculate he might have written. And I continue to believe, as I wrote in the concluding chapter, that "including these different contexts would have enhanced the work, giving it more of a sense of reflecting an older tradition that Tolkien was simply reporting, not creating."

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:07 am 
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True, the 'Eressëa vector' was still alive circa 1950 or so, but it was certainly superseded later. It simply couldn't coexist with the 'Númenórean vector,' which was unquestionably the new Official Line by the late 50's. They are mutually exclusive. The fact that Ainulindalë was never revised after Text D doesn't alter that. I'll maintain that Aelfwine was definitely gone.

The duration of the 'Númenórean vector' is I'll concede more problematic. There just isn't very much material post-1960 or so from which to draw conclusions. IMHO, the preponderance of the evidence lies with Bilbo and Rivendell. That may or not be inconsistent with Númenor. One could conceive of Bilbo making extensive use of whatever Arnorian texts were preserved in Elrond's library. I certainly can't say beyond a reasonable doubt that Númenor was out of the equation; especially since within T's published frame the principal manuscrupt of the Red Book was the work of a scribe of Gondor.

But Aelfwine was dead; and if Tolkien decided instead that the textual line of the legendarium passed through Atalante, he unfortunately never wrote a hint of a frame-story in which that was to be incorporated- save, perhaps, Bilbo's work.

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To me, what Tolkien actually did write is more important than what we speculate he might have written.


One thing he did write, fairly late (early 60s), was that the Akallabêth (or its predecessor) was the work of Elendil- not Pengolodh.

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That is not a viable argument, particularly given Tolkien repeated and uncontradicted late statements that the mythology (and particularly the Quenta) was a Mannish work, a compilation probably made in Númenor. That statement is related to the Shibboleth, which dates from 1968


What statement are you referring to? I can't find any mention in the Shibboleth or its notes which mentions the Quenta at all (save CT's commentary). I'm not saying it isn't there, just that I can't find it. The only 'late' statements I can find relating to Númenórean transmission date to the period 1958-60.

But of course, the path of any Númenórean text would have to pass through Middle-earth and the Exile Kingdoms.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:42 am 
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solicitr wrote:
True, the 'Eressëa vector' was still alive circa 1950 or so, but it was certainly superseded later. It simply couldn't coexist with the 'Númenórean vector,' which was unquestionably the new Official Line by the late 50's. They are mutually exclusive. The fact that Ainulindalë was never revised after Text D doesn't alter that. I'll maintain that Aelfwine was definitely gone.


I don't see that as a necessarily true, as to the Ainulindalë. The Númenórean vector was certainly the Official Line as to the Quenta, as well as the Akallabêth (you are quite correct about that), but that doesn't mean that the Ainunindale (and the Valaquenta) couldn't have a different history and context.

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What statement are you referring to? I can't find any mention in the Shibboleth or its notes which mentions the Quenta at all (save CT's commentary). I'm not saying it isn't there, just that I can't find it. The only 'late' statements I can find relating to Númenórean transmission date to the period 1958-60.


PoMe, p. 357, n. 17. See also p. 390, again n. 17, for another very late note referring to the influence of Mannish myths on The Silmarillion. And see AR, p. 238 for my citations of these notes.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:21 am 
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That would give Occam a rather bad shave, don't you think? Two separate textual traditions, one involving the mysterious survival of the Red Book and either Bilbo's or some Dúnadan's Silmarillion, and completely separately an Anglo-Saxon mariner millennia later stumbling into Tol Eressëa for the prologomena of the same work? And this Elvish source not conflicting at all with the garbled 'Mannish' tradition descended from Gondor?

Besides, we have clear evidence of Tolkien replacing one vector with the other: the Akallabêth as written is presented in the Pengolodh/Aelfwine frame, but T later changed its ascription to a Númenórean author- twice. So in this case at least we have evidence of one superseding the other.


-------------


I see though on one point that I was mistaken: the Númenórean vector lasted right up to the end. In which case we may be dealing with a Númenor > Rivendell vector, culminating in Mr Baggins' scholarship.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:35 pm 
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Oh, I agree that the Anglo-Saxon mariner preserving the lore aspect was untenable. But I still think that Tolkien would have preserved the aspect of some works having been written by Elvish loremasters like Pengolodh and Rúmil, but preserved in Rivendell and passed on by Bilbo. I should have been clearer.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:51 pm 
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Sure, positing Rúmil the "Sage of Tirion" as the author of the Annals might have worked, or Pengolodh as a compiler of the history of Beleriand- but of course with Aelfwine excised. But I doubt it. This creates problems with T's later determination that the legendarium (contained in whatever documents) was a Dunedainic compilation filtered through Mannish conceptions. That really doesn't square at all with authorship by an Elf of Tirion who never met a Man in his long life... nor explain how his work ever made it across the Sea. If the work is Mannish, the texts can't have been written by Elves.

Given all of this, and the complete absence of any actual account of how the transmission might have occurred (save through Rivendell/Bilbo), I can understand CT's reluctance to take a guess, much less indulge in 'reconstruction' (ie pure invention).

I once suggested to him that future editions of the Silmarillion might contain an 'internal' title-page, along the lines of


Translations from the Elvish


by B. Baggins, Esq.
Late of Bag-end, Underhill, The Shire

Taken from the histories preserved in the House of Elrond,
as supplemented by the recollections of the Wise



But he declined, notwithstanding his published assertion that the Bilbo-vector was his father's ultimate thinking on the matter. The sad fact is that with no frame, the Silmarillion has no anchor in time, when it would have been aided by placing the reader at the dawn of the Fourth Age, "alongside Sam in Moria."

I suspect that the core of the matter is that, given CT's rethinking of the decisions he made under time pressure in 1975-77, and without the understanding of the manuscripts which he gained (and shared with us) over the next twenty years, any 'correction' of the 1977 edition would mean its wholesale rewriting from scratch- in this he's rather like his father.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:14 pm 
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I agree.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:06 pm 
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Oh, I agree that the Anglo-Saxon mariner preserving the lore aspect was untenable.


I love this messageboard. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:20 pm 
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solicitr wrote:

Translations from the Elvish


by B. Baggins, Esq.
Late of Bag-end, Underhill, The Shire

Taken from the histories preserved in the House of Elrond,
as supplemented by the recollections of the Wise



That would be very cool, actually.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:40 pm 
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solicitr wrote:
Sure, positing Rúmil the "Sage of Tirion" as the author of the Annals might have worked, or Pengolodh as a compiler of the history of Beleriand- but of course with Aelfwine excised. But I doubt it. This creates problems with T's later determination that the legendarium (contained in whatever documents) was a Dunedainic compilation filtered through Mannish conceptions. That really doesn't square at all with authorship by an Elf of Tirion who never met a Man in his long life... nor explain how his work ever made it across the Sea. If the work is Mannish, the texts can't have been written by Elves.


As to the Quenta, and also the Akallabêth (as Tolkien himself conceded), I quite agree. But the Ainulindalë and Valaquenta are self-evidently Elvish works, as they are written. They would need to be revised significantly in order to show any significant Mannish influence. Nor do I think it would have been necessary. Having the different works have different "histories" highlights the sense of this being a true mythology, a compiliation of different (and sometimes competing or even contradictory) sources.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:58 pm 
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I don't know that the Ainulindalë really remained, in T's later thought, Elvish. After all, it's flat-world, and in conception (as well as date) fits well with the various iterations of the Atlantis story, which T decided ultimately were Elvish > Númenórean > blended "Dunedainic."
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They would need to be revised significantly in order to show any significant Mannish influence
Not at all. The very fact that the former is flat-world and incorporates the 'late' Sun and Moon was to Tolkien's later view evidence of its Mannish nature; the Elves of Eressëa knew better.

The problem for us is that the last version of the piece T ever wrote dates from 1950 or so, when Aelfwine was still operative, and T never returned to it in the period post-58 when the Númenórean vector had arisen. This is true also of the accounts of Atalante; and it's striking to observe the parallels in thinking between Ainulindalë C* and the Downfall of Anadune, and Ainulindalë C/D and the Akallabêth. We happen to have, almost by chance, two pieces of evidence that T decided to cancel the Akallabêth's attribution to Pengolodh, but one would never know it from the text itself.

While Valaquenta is later, it contains no statement as to its provenance; however it's worth pointing out that the expanded entries on Olórin and Sauron imply a date at or soon after the end of the Third Age, and from the perspective of Middle Earth.


I suppose one could posit that the Ainulindalë and Valaquenta were Elvish compositions preserved at Rivendell that Bilbo translated, while drawing on Dunedainic authors for the rest; but that still leaves no room for Pengolodh. Once Aelfwine disappears, there's no mechanism by which a specifically Eressean tradition could return to the Great Lands. "What we have in the Silmarillion etc. are traditions... handed on by Men in Númenor and later in Middle-earth (Arnor and Gondor)."

That "etcetera" is interesting. The beginning of this comment (Myths Transformed I) runs "It is now clear to me that in any case the Mythology must actually be a Mannish affair," and contrasts the 'truth' known to the Eldar with "Mannish myths and cosmic ideas' in the specific context of the astronomical myth and the creation of the Sun and Moon. This of course implicates the Ainulindalë most directly, and by "Mythology" T clearly is referring not to the Quenta alone, but to the legendarium as a whole. Thus it's interesting that in the two late notes you cite, Vor, T in both cases writes of The Silmarillion, which I don't think is necessarily to be equated by that late date with the Quenta alone, but quite possibly, even probably, with the projected volume containing the complete mythology.

----------------------

So CT was confronted with an insoluble conundrum, really: the only 'frame' which existed in actual texts was the Aelfwine/Pengolodh story, but this was, I am certain, completely rejected and obsolete. On the other hand there were definite statements that the material, or most of it, was Mannish, but without any account of how or why. In other words, CT couldn't create such a frame without "overstepping the bounds of the editorial function." While I think the 2nd Edition reemphasis of Bilbo's work is good evidence, it doesn't rise to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. So CT was left with a Hobson's choice: go without a frame, or basically make one up out of whole cloth. No good options, really.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:19 pm 
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Oooooh. I had forgotten that Pengolodh was (sometimes) considered a Noldo of Gondolin, who survived the sack and made it to Sirion, and eventually to Eressëa. So I suppose one could posit that some of his writings from before his departure could have been preserved in Lindon and Imladris through the ages.

But that still wouldn't get around the 'Mannish' features of the Ainulindalë.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:35 pm 
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What do you consider the "Mannish" features of the Ainulindalë? It is very much told from an Elvish perspective (including the portions that were moved into Chapter One of the Quenta).

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Because it's explicitly flat-world and new-sun- the key 'Mannish myths and misconceptions' of Tolkien's later thought.

There is as well the problem that whereas the 'Ainulindale-extension' which CT moved to Ch. 1* is Pengolodh's (an answer to Aelfwine's question), the Ainulindalë proper is (in in its own text) attributed to Rumil- a Noldo of Valinor who never left.

I think what I'm getting at is not that there is a clear 'theory of transmission' (ToT) which CT should have deduced and emphasized, but rather that the ToT as Tolkien left it is confused and incoherent, and ultimately insoluble.

-----
*I've never had a problem with that decision, restricting the Ainulindalë to Rúmil's composition, and grouping Pengolodh's commentary/narrative with the rest of the material attributed (through the early Fifties) to him.

I do however have a quibble with the title "Of the Beginning of Days," since of course there were no days in the eras of the Lamps and the Trees!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:23 pm 
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solicitr wrote:
Because it's explicitly flat-world and new-sun- the key 'Mannish myths and misconceptions' of Tolkien's later thought.


Okay, I see what you are saying. That is true enough. But the text itself is so clearly written from an Elvish point of view, referring to the Children as the "First Born" and the "Followers", and talking about what is told among the Eldar, etc. There are a lot of things that I don't agree with Tolkien about, but the issues that he expressed with the nature of the flat-earth concept (and the astronomically absurd business of the making of the sun) is one. I just don't see how eliminating those concepts would somehow make his mythology more "true" to the real world. Indeed, I very much like your concept, soli, that you reiterated at the beginning of this discussion, "that by the mid-60s Tolkien had evolved a rather subtle view... that the Breaking of the World really *did* happen, but Men are too blind/pragmatic/unimaginative/out-of-touch with the Valar to conceive of such a cataclysmic Divine intervention- so they refused to believe it. In other words, Arda globed from the beginning is an incorrect Mannish myth, concocted because Men keep falling back on, well, scientific method rather than faith and revelation."

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There is as well the problem that whereas the 'Ainulindale-extension' which CT moved to Ch. 1* is Pengolodh's (an answer to Aelfwine's question), the Ainulindalë proper is (in in its own text) attributed to Rumil- a Noldo of Valinor who never left.


I don't see that as a problem. Rúmil's work could easily have been brought to Middle-earth, even though he never came here.

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I think what I'm getting at is not that there is a clear 'theory of transmission' (ToT) which CT should have deduced and emphasized, but rather that the ToT as Tolkien left it is confused and incoherent, and ultimately insoluble.


And what I am getting at (though perhaps not very well), is that the confusion is not really a problem, but instead contributes to the sense of mystery and grandness of the mythology, and that it wasn't necessary for CT to work so hard to eliminate it in the name of an unachievable "consistency".

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-----
*I've never had a problem with that decision, restricting the Ainulindalë to Rúmil's composition, and grouping Pengolodh's commentary/narrative with the rest of the material attributed (through the early Fifties) to him.


I don't have a big problem with it, either. As I say in the book, I think a strong argument can be made in favor of this decision. But it still makes me a little uneasy, simply because it is taking a piece of one work, and claiming that it is a part of the other. But that was certainly well within CT's purview.

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I do however have a quibble with the title "Of the Beginning of Days," since of course there were no days in the eras of the Lamps and the Trees!


That is a quibble! Would you have preferred that he use the title of the subsection of the Annals that some of the chapter is taken from, "Of the Beginning of Time and it's Reckoning?" More accurate, for sure, but a bit unwieldy.

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And after all, Genesis talks about "days" before the Sun was created! :D

(The obvious dodge is that the Trees' cycles were "days.")

I can see a certain value in leaving some organic inconsistency and realistic messiness in the published work. But how would this be achieved? Rúmil's work, the Elvish Genesis, could have been brought back by the Exiles - but Aelfwine is right out, and somehow Pengolodh would have to be identified, and, and, and. I suppose certain 'authors' could be attributed, hmmmmm....

maybe a fictive Bilbo preface, where he says things like "Of Túrin Turambar" is my prose epitome of Dirhavel's long poem Narn i Chin Húrin, and the Ainulindalë of Rúmil is one of the few songs the Noldor brought out of Valinor into exile" and so on. But it would all be very fanficcy, and beyond an editor's scope. OTOH leaving the original pieces of contradictory frames in place would have been simply incoherent.


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Would you have preferred that he use the title of the subsection of the Annals that some of the chapter is taken from, "Of the Beginning of Time and it's Reckoning?"


How about just "Of the Beginning of Time?" Or, "Of the Beginning?"


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solicitr wrote:
OTOH leaving the original pieces of contradictory frames in place would have been simply incoherent.


Or it would have added to the sense of unexplained vistas that is largely missing from the published Silmarillion and that helps make LOTR so appealling. :)

In any event, I think there is wide agreement (even including by CT himself) that including some reference to this work being part of Bilbo's "Translations from the Elvish" would have been helpful.

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 Post subject: "Helpful" how, exactly?
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
including some reference to this work being part of Bilbo's "Translations from the Elvish" would have been helpful.


Sorry, but I have to ask: "helpful" how exactly? I read The Silmarillion about a year after it was published, and long before any part of HoMe was published; but I never once found myself thinking, "Gee, this really needs a story frame and a theory of transmission". My enjoyment of the work (and yours too, according to your own account) was in no way hindered by the lack of a frame. And why should it be?


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