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 Post subject: Question about Elves..
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:09 pm 
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Hello everyone. :) This is my first post and first thread on this discussion board. My name is Gilgaearel Baen and I warn you that English is not my first language as I'm an Elf after all.
I have a query about Elves attitude though, that I hope to be answered by the more wise of my kin.
And here is my question:
Why did the Elves feel so sad towards the option to move back to Valinor?
Valinor is presented as a beautiful place, a green land, safe from Orcs and others such creatures, where elves can live the rest of their immortal lives there without the danger to be slain, fade etc.
Noldor elves should be the ones that ought to be not only willing to move there but some how enthusiastic for being allowed to go back there, by the time that their exile on Middle Earth ended ( at the end of the third Age) but the rest of the Elves too, Sindar or Silvan etc. shouldn't have had any problem either, especially by the time that they could move back there whenever they liked.
But Tolkien presents their return to Valinor like a rather bitter and inevitable event that brings them sorrow, something that doesn't make that much sense to me no matter how many times I have read Tolkien's books.
So I would appreciate if someone could give me a good explanation about why the Elves were not that willing to move there and they didn't attempt to do that earlier, ( those that could and were asked to do after all) during the Second Age for instance.
What was their problem?!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:20 pm 
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Hi Gidgaearel, welcome to the Hall of Fire. I think the answer to your question is simply that the Elves have a deep love and connection with the land of Middle-earth and are loath to break that connection. At the same time, the world is changing and the age of Men rapidly approaching, and their passing into the West is a form of their fading. I'll be curious to see if others have any thoughts on this interesting subject.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:38 pm 
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Hi Voronwë.. Well... their deep love and connection doesn't make either any sense. Middle Earth was a place where they were continuously in trouble. They had to deal with Orcs, Dragons, Balrogs, Morgoth, Sauron, Mordor, Dwarves, spider, everything and anything was against them. Let alone that everything on Middle Earth grew old and died at some point. Middle Earth was in a state of continuous change, something that didn't match that well with the immortality of the Elves and something that troubled them further when they made the rings with the intention to retain everything at the immortal, unchanged state that they were in.
That was the reason they made the rings. In order to retain everything unchanged.
The normal would be to go back in Valinor, I least those who could do so. But they didn't. And when it came the time for all Elves to move back there, they didn't like the idea... :?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:35 pm 
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Well, I've developed a deep love for the land that I live in despite many hardships and much evil. And I have only been around for a scant 50+ years. The Elves spent thousands of years developing their connection with the mountains, rivers, trees, etc. Does it make logical sense that they would not be anxious to return to (or go to) the paradise of the Undying Lands? No, of course not. But Tolkien did not work only on the level of logic. And of course, it is not so simple as to say that they did not want to go. From my own namesake to Legolas Greenleaf, the Tales are full of examples of Elves in whom the sea-longing is awoken by little more than the sound of the cries of gulls, which is nothing more than the desire to find the Straight Path into the West.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:57 am 
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Hi, Gilgaerel, and welcome.

Voronwë is a lore master when it comes to Tolkien, and I have little to add to what he said. So let me ask you instead, why do you think Tolkien wrote it the way he did?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:18 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
Well, I've developed a deep love for the land that I live in despite many hardships and much evil. And I have only been around for a scant 50+ years. The Elves spent thousands of years developing their connection with the mountains, rivers, trees, etc. Does it make logical sense that they would not be anxious to return to (or go to) the paradise of the Undying Lands? No, of course not. But Tolkien did not work only on the level of logic. And of course, it is not so simple as to say that they did not want to go. From my own namesake to Legolas Greenleaf, the Tales are full of examples of Elves in whom the sea-longing is awoken by little more than the sound of the cries of gulls, which is nothing more than the desire to find the Straight Path into the West.


They were connected but always in the concept of their immortality. For as long as they could retain their environment unchanged. Middle earth wasn't their "place" as all other species, men, dwarves, animals and the environment that they lived in, had limited lifespan. That becomes very clear in all of the books. All elves have some kind of sorrow, Tolkien describes all of his elf characters as fair, ageless, untouched by time and in a state of sorrow.
The other day I thought that, this was perhaps the reason why the Elves were mostly connected with the trees. Because trees live for hundreds and some for thousand years.

The sea-longing existed during the Second Age too, but the elves didn't leave either. They used their rings of power to retain their strongholds and places, and remained isolated in their own communities. The Noldors didn't have the right to go back, but what about the Sindars and the Silvans that were actually of Teleri origin?


Frelga wrote:
Voronwë is a lore master when it comes to Tolkien, and I have little to add to what he said. So let me ask you instead, why do you think Tolkien wrote it the way he did?


Hi Frelga. :)
Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but he didn't have any control on how his son edited his material for the Silmarillion. I think that if Tolkien himself had to edit the Silmarillion, by gathering and editing himself whatever he wrote for this book, he would have changed or adjusted probably some story lines in order not to contradict with what he wrote or he was suggesting that were happened on the other books.

Let me give you another example of how some stories have.... continuity errors! It is something that I noticed the other day while I was reading the Chronology part at the end of the Lord of the Rings.

Arwen was born at the year 241 of the Third Age.
And Aragorn was born at the year 2931 of the same Age.
So Arwen was 2690 year older than Aragorn, something that makes her... quite an old maid even for elven standards according to what Tolkien wrote in his Laws and Customs of the Eldar about the Elves that supposedly got married at a rather young for their standards age. So how did it happen and Arwen was unmarried ( such beautiful and high born lady!) for 2710 years, until she met Aragorn during his twenties?

The romantic element of her abandoning her immortality for Aragorn's love doesn't have the same impact if you realise that she had already lived for 2710 years. When he died after another 150 years she was already 2860 y.o. Not in her first youth, even for elven standards!

Details you are going to tell me, but then again it is the details that make the difference. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:27 pm 
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As Voronwë noted, suffering in a land can help form attachments: "Yet not all the Eldalie were willing to forsake the Hither Lands where they had long suffered and long dwelt; and some lingered many an age..." JRRT, conclusion to Quenta Silmarillion, The Lost Road And Other Writings


Quote:
They were connected but always in the concept of their immortality. For as long as they could retain their environment unchanged.


I think it's a bit more complicated. In Tolkien's world we have plenty of Elves who refused the original summons to the West (Avari "Refusers"), and Elves who had been in the West, fared to Middle-earth, and were allowed to return again (the Exiled Noldor, except for Galadriel) and yet remained without promise of any rings of power.

Quote:
Middle earth wasn't their "place" as all other species, men, dwarves, animals and the environment that they lived in, had limited lifespan. That becomes very clear in all of the books. All elves have some kind of sorrow, Tolkien describes all of his elf characters as fair, ageless, untouched by time and in a state of sorrow.


Generally speaking, it's true that the relatively quick ageing of the world around them becomes a grief to the Elves, but what might this then say about their love of home? Galadriel says (although granted, she is using Nenya to stave off the unwanted effects of time), given the possibility of the destruction of the One: "The love of the Elves for their land and their works is deeper than the deeps of the Sea, and their regret is undying and cannot ever wholly be assuaged. Yet they will cast all away rather than submit to Sauron: for they know him now."

Quote:
The sea-longing existed during the Second Age too, but the elves didn't leave either. They used their rings of power to retain their strongholds and places, and remained isolated in their own communities. The Noldors didn't have the right to go back, but what about the Sindars and the Silvans that were actually of Teleri origin?


The Exiled Noldor, except for Galadriel, did have the right to return in the Second Age, but it's some one thousand five hundred and ninety years before the Mirdain complete the Three, and only ten years later that Celebrimbor perceives the designs of Sauron (and so, I assume the Three are taken off). The Three were in use in the Third Age "while Sauron slept" (Appendix B)... the question of Círdan aside here.

Tolkien notes of the Sea-longing and the Noldor: "But it was impossible for one of the High-Elves to overcome the yearning for the Sea, and the longing to pass over it again to the land of their former bliss." JRRT, The Road Goes Ever On

Quote:
Let me give you another example of how some stories have.... continuity errors! It is something that I noticed the other day while I was reading the Chronology part at the end of the Lord of the Rings.


Before I move on to the Arwen matter, I don't consider any continuity errors to be true "errors" unless a seemingly clashing description/detail/what-have-you has been author-published.

Or... canon!

(that last bit's for you Voronwë :poke: )

;)

Quote:
So Arwen was 2690 year older than Aragorn, something that makes her... quite an old maid even for elven standards according to what Tolkien wrote in his Laws and Customs of the Eldar about the Elves that supposedly got married at a rather young for their standards age. So how did it happen and Arwen was unmarried (such beautiful and high born lady!) for 2710 years, until she met Aragorn during his twenties?


Technically Arwen was not an Elf but one of the Half-elven, but that aside, Laws and Customs of the Eldar was not published by JRRT himself. And for example, I think there's late evidence that Tolkien abandoned his idea in L&C concerning the Elven maturation rate in Middle-earth.

Or, Christopher Tolkien at least seems to think his father might have abandoned the concept (also in L&C) concerning the Noldorin Chosen-names, for instance. And in L&C, Tolkien had yet to revise his thoughts about Elvish reincarnation...

... in short, L&C's an interesting text; I use it (see below), but in my opinion Tolkien need not feel bound to any one idea in it, the next day, nor ten years later (if he even remembers "X" ten years later, that is).

Also, if you don't fall in love until you are around nineteen or twenty Elvish-Long-Years old, you might not marry no matter what the custom is. I'm not sure I would call that a continuity error even considering the relevant description in L&C as a "must be", so to speak.

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The romantic element of her abandoning her immortality for Aragorn's love doesn't have the same impact if you realise that she had already lived for 2710 years. When he died after another 150 years she was already 2860 y.o. Not in her first youth, even for elven standards!


One could see it that way, I admit, but I think one could look at the same circumstances and argue that it has a nice impact, arguing that Arwen had had a taste of "immortality", and had seen/at least been aware of, the swift death of mortals, and still abandoned an Elvish fate for Aragorn. Or, an Elf might see Arwen's choice as a way to escape "immortality"!

In Middle-earth, the Elven "limited immortality" can itself become a burden, but yet -- if I may now refer to a section of the... ah... "questionable text" L&C (LOL!) -- we even have some Elves who will live long enough in Middle-earth so that their bodies actually fade to memory.

Ahem... cough. If that last bit's truly true for you ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:27 pm 
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How bound, I wonder, did Tolkien himself feel to things that he himself had published? I'll have to give that some thought.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:37 am 
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I think that "The Problem of Ros" is indicative of how Tolkien viewed the importance of texts that had been published versus texts that hadn't. He considered the meaning of Elros to have been "fixed by mention in The Lord of the Rings", whereas the story attached to the meaning of Maedros and Amros (included in the chapter "The Shibboleth of Fëanor") was merely "desirable to retain". And despite coming up with a rather detailed explanation, he later wrote "most of this fails" because of the meaning of Cair Andros given in Appendix A. As Christopher puts it: this "forced [his father] to accept that the element of -ros in Elros must be the same as that in Cair Andros".


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:25 am 
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True Eldo, thus in my personal Silmarillion: ros "foam spray" is Sindarin (not Beorian), and the other ros "red, brown, russet" allows the tale of Maedros and the two Amros brothers to be retained. I choose Maedros over Maedron as well, as I can't tell which is later in any case.

Concerning the matter in general, I'll add Christopher Tolkien commenting on the Galadriel/Celeborn historical knot (Unfinished Tales).

Quote:
"It may be noted here that Galadriel did not appear in the original story of the rebellion and flight of the Noldor, which existed long before she did; and also, of course, that after her entry into the stories of the First Age her actions could still be transformed radically, since the Silmarillion had not been published."


Aside from Christopher Tolkien seemingly forgetting (for a moment here) that The Road Goes Ever On had been published (as it contains some history about Galadriel), his general statement rings very true to me, allowing Tolkien his niggling nature mostly with respect to still private writings.

Quote:
"Are there any "bounds to a writer's job" except those imposed by his own finiteness? No bounds, but the laws of contradiction, I should think."

JRRT draft letter 153 to Peter Hastings


But what are contradictions? CJRT notes the easy fact that Galadriel's tale could be "radically" altered since so much of her history was still private.

Write even a short story and note how fast what you write molds what you write... throw it all away and start again if you like, and publish a very different version... but if you want that believable secondary world experience to really work... you can't now not mind what you readership has been magicked into.

And yes, Tolkien did alter certain things that were already published. Why, in my opinion, is already published work still "canon" to him? For example, I look at the way he (inventively) keeps the explanation internal: Bilbo lied a bit due to the One Ring, but Bilbo's version still exists as part of the legendarium

GRR Martin makes use of the "unreliable narrator"... and Bilbo here is unreliable about how the One was found. And of course, Tolkien need not "go there" if no reader has ever read the first edition, but JRRT cannot simply ignore this especially notable example with silence... well, he could... but he wisely doesn't, in my opinion.

As often enough, Tolkien is not wholly consistent. He allows his niggling self to win out, here and there, even with details already in print (I have more to say about this but not right now), but even when he does this, to my mind he still illustrates what he "must" consider as a writer: the bounds of contradiction matter, when you have readers.


Quote:
"It was the "moon-runes" that Elrond declared (at the end of the chapter A Short Rest) to have been invented by the Dwarves and written by them with silver pens, not the Runes as an alphabetic form -- as my father noted with relief. I mention all this as an illustration of his intense concern to avoid discrepancy and inconsistency, even though in this case his anxiety was unfounded."


Christopher Tolkien, note 8, Of Dwarves And Men, The Peoples of Middle-Earth


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:39 am 
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Well, in a sense there is no fully "canonical" Silmarillion, due to the fragmentary nature of that body of work. I recently read the Lost Tales version of Fall of Gondolin for the first time. It's quite good and probably the most elaborate battle Tolkien ever wrote, think it develops Idril's character more than later versions too. At the same time, it has some rather obvious contradictions to the later legendarium, most notably the big armies of Balrogs and Morgoth's war machines - though the metallic worms are quite interesting in their own right. So it has been superseded, and yet has a lot that no later version can replace. I'm sure the completed Unfinished Tales version would have been amazing.

Then there's plenty beyond the Silmarillion's Great Tales. What is the "canonical" status of The Wanderings of Húrin, for example - a great story that shows Tolkien's versatility, but even if the Silmarillion had been finalized could it have fit in there? Aldarion and Erendis? Did Tolkien have any plans for the publication of these kind of things? (Christopher missed an opportunity by not putting Wanderings in CoH as an appendix, IMO)

The only things in the legendarium that are definitively fixed are The Hobbit and LotR, though there is certainly still a very solid core for the rest of the mythology. A decent amount of which is broadly outlined in LotR.

Glorfindel's re-embodiment, by the way, seems like another clear example of Tolkien making some fairly large shifts to the mythology to make it fit with something he had published. Even if it was originally just a mistake (?).


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 7:44 pm 
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kzer_za wrote:
Glorfindel's re-embodiment, by the way, seems like another clear example of Tolkien making some fairly large shifts to the mythology to make it fit with something he had published. Even if it was originally just a mistake (?).


In a late text Tolkien basically suggested that he missed "reconsidering" the name before The Lord of the Rings was published...

... you know, since the book was written so fast and published so quickly... ;)

... in part because the name was invented in a language called "Gnomish", not Sindarin. But even this late thought, to me anyway, doesn't mean he definitely would have altered the form back then, in any case, or changed the name outright.

And in my opinion it can hardly be considered a mistake to have an Elf named Glorfindel in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien would later suggest that this was a Sindarin name, archaic in form (not more modern *Glorfinnel).

And Elven reincarnation, as an idea in general, had existed early in Tolkien's writing.


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