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Old 12-18-2018, 03:46 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Question Transmission theory - what if it's ALL true?

There are four main transmission theories mentioned in Tolkien's work:

-The Lost Tales, told to Eriol/Aelfwine by the elves of Tol Eressea, and written down by him in the Golden Book of Tavrobel.

-The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings..., Bilbo's Translations, a volume of Hobbitish commentary and genealogy, and some Gondorian history, all bundled together as the Thain's Book copy of the Red Book of Westmarch.

-A vision of the fall of Numenor, as fictionalised in the Notion Club Papers. We know the Great Wave was an actual dream-vision of Tolkien's, and we also know he wrote multiple stories about mentally time-travelling to Numenor (see: The Lost Road).

-Numenorean versions of the Quenta Silmarillion and associated documents, per Myths Transformed.

The Translations from the Elvish project I believe spent a while arguing over which version to follow, but what if they're all true? What if Tolkien was working from four different sources?

-The Numenorean texts could well have been bundled with the Red Book. Either they took the place of Bilbo's Translations, or - my preferred option - Bilbo the poet mostly translated the epic poems: Leithian, the Narn, and a Lay of Earendil that covered the Fall of Gondolin through to the War of Wrath.

-The timeline fits!
--Tolkien finds the Golden Book, written in Old English, at Great Haywood in 1916/17. He begins his translation work, writing out the Lost Tales.
--He finds the Red Book in the mid-to-late 1920s. The first thing he translates is some of the poems - perhaps Bilbo's Westron features some kind of highlighting of names (like Egyptian cartouches) which allows him to easily spot 'Tinuviel' or 'Turambar'.
--Following the Beleriand chain, he jumps to the Numenorean texts and tries to translate the Quenta Silmarillion. He ends up re-translating it over and over throughout his life.
--In the '30s, perhaps looking for something easier, he works on 'There and Back Again', written in Bilbo's familiar style.
--In 1937 he sets to work on the 'Downfall of the Lord of the Rings', but struggles initially with the differences between Frodo's and Bilbo's writing. The more Elvish bent of the 'Downfall' helps him get to grips with the similarly-Elvish Quenta, however, so both continue to improve.
--In the late '30s, he has a vision of travelling back to Numenor, and attempts to write pieces of it down; the Lost Road is the first effort, followed by the Notion Club Papers in the '40s, and later direct retellings of the Adunaic stories he saw.

The best/most bizarre aspect of this? It means that the Lost Tales are the most accurate history of the First Age. You thought Beren and Luthien fought Sauron? Nope, that's a Numenorean Faithful retelling meant to link their enemy to the Dark Lord. They actually fought a giant cat. What can you do?

Actually, Beren is the place where this kind of falls apart. Beren in the Lost Tales is an elf, but Aragorn - who grew up with Beren's great-grandson - tells us that he was mortal. Except... the Red Book is specifically noted to include Gondorian corrections, including the addition of the tale of Aragorn and Arwen. Could it be that they simply added that section in wholesale, for the Gondorian market? It definitely fits...

The other issue, still with Beren, is the Lay of Leithian. The poetic Narn matches the Lost Tales version pretty well, and the Lay of Earendil was never translated, but the Lay of Leithian is a retelling of the later, Numenorean-Quenta story, not the original Eressean Tale. What do we conclude?

-More Numenorean meddling. Kind of unsatisfactory, and would they really muck about with the poetry?
-The Lay is actually a late text (Arnorian?), following the Numenorean account. But then why would Elrond keep it alongside the First Age Narn?
-Tolkien mistranslating or filling in a missing chunk. But surely we can trust Tolkien to be a faithful translator!
-Or... maybe no-one really knows the story properly. Doriath was pretty sealed-in, and Elwing was pretty young when she left; if no-one who actually knew her grandparents survived, maybe the Eressean version is garbled. And while we're at it: who wrote the Lay? My pet theory is that it's Mr Namedrop himself, Tinfang Gelion the definitely-as-good-as-Daeron. That would mean it was written in Ossiriand (beyond the Gelion, hence the name), and probably based on a lot of guesswork and creative interpretation. Beren specifically is noted as not being very sociable after his return.

So it all just about works.

Why go into all this? Because I just love the idea that all the talk of finding the most realistic version of Tolkien is completely wrong - that the 'true' story is the utterly bonkers Lost Tales account, with its colour-coded elves, giant cats, dwarves who are incarnations of time, and Melkor being chased up a big tree.

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Old 12-21-2018, 05:20 PM   #2
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Well if the legendarium is true, that means a lot of cool things happened. Also we'd probably be able to find evidence of numenor under the ocean.
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Old 12-24-2018, 06:49 PM   #3
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I haven't really thought through all the details, but I like this theory. I've always liked to believe everything Tolkien wrote could be considered "canon" and the inconsistencies are due to translating from different sources.
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Old 01-02-2019, 07:18 AM   #4
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Well if the legendarium is true, that means a lot of cool things happened. Also we'd probably be able to find evidence of numenor under the ocean.
Slight topic shift, but sure: if the entire body of the Legendarium comes from genuine historical documents, what non-documentary evidence would we expect to find?

1. The Changing of the World. A massive event like the sinking of Numenor and the world being made round would leave a huge scar on the planet. Something like, maybe... the mid-Atlantic Ridge? Is this where Iluvatar spliced the new, spherical world together?

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

2. Multiple humanoid species in the fossil record. In addition to H. sapiens, Tolkien would lead us to expect a gracile elvish form (though these might be tricky to find, immortality being what it is), a more robust Orcish form, and a diminutive Hobbit/Dwarf form. And, what do you know: there are multiple rugged hominids in the fossil record (notably Neanderthals), and at least one half-sized species (Flores Man, nicknamed Hobbits). There's even evidence of Neanderthals cross-breeding with humans - the half-Orcs of Saruman.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

(We wouldn't expect to find trolls, of course - they turn to stone in sunlight. Dragons could be found, but they mostly lived in Beleriand - pardon me, Broseliand - which is under the North Atlantic. On which note...)

3. Evidence of sunken lands in the North Atlantic (ie, Broseliand). Legends of this kind abound, for instance the Lowland Hundred of Welsh myth. Notably, however, both the shallows around the Isles of Scilly (off Cornwall) and the English Channel itself were once above the sea. It might even be possible to connect Scilly to one of the Broseliandic islands (Tol Fuin, for instance), except for the next point.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

4. The relocation of the British Isles in Saxon times. The Golden Book is quite clear on this: Britain, including such locations as Warwick and Great Haywood, was over in the Undying Lands until about the 500s AD. Which seems problematic, given how well attested the Roman ownership of the islands is.

Or... is it? Mapping the locations in the Golden Book, we find that they're all in the west of Great Britain. Clearly, the elves crashed an Eressea made of Ireland, Wales, and south-west England into a more slender island that was already there; the 'Roman' evidence from those parts is actually Elvish. As a bonus, this explains why the Romans never bothered to invade Ireland: it didn't actually exist at the time.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

5. Memory of a land of bliss across the Western Sea. How many do you need? The Irish, the Greeks, there's no end of these stories. The Slavic heaven was located 'far away beyond the sea, at the end of the Milky Way' - a perfect description of Valinor.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

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Old 01-02-2019, 07:34 AM   #5
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2. Multiple humanoid species in the fossil record. In addition to H. sapiens, Tolkien would lead us to expect a gracile elvish form (though these might be tricky to find, immortality being what it is), a more robust Orcish form, and a diminutive Hobbit/Dwarf form. And, what do you know: there are multiple rugged hominids in the fossil record (notably Neanderthals), and at least one half-sized species (Flores Man, nicknamed Hobbits). There's even evidence of Neanderthals cross-breeding with humans - the half-Orcs of Saruman.
I think Neanderthals are closer to Dwarves. I mean, are Tolkien's Orcs really "robust"? I think of them (apart from Sauron and Saruman's specially-bred soldier-Orcs) as undersized and wretched.

I associated burly Orcs more with things like Warhammer and WarCraft.
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:02 AM   #6
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I think Neanderthals are closer to Dwarves. I mean, are Tolkien's Orcs really "robust"? I think of them (apart from Sauron and Saruman's specially-bred soldier-Orcs) as undersized and wretched.

I associated burly Orcs more with things like Warhammer and WarCraft.
You may be right.

In which case, Homo naledi is probably the Orcs. ^_^

And if you don't like that one, I'll go with 'their subterranean dwellings make preservation unlikely'. ^_~

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Old 01-02-2019, 08:51 AM   #7
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gandalf85 wrote: I haven't really thought through all the details, but I like this theory. I've always liked to believe everything Tolkien wrote could be considered "canon" and the inconsistencies are due to translating from different sources.

I think Tolkien certainly wanted a multi-perspective legendarium, but creating such a thing is an art in itself, and glomping everything together (admittedly an over simplified description here, for brevity) ignores this.


While I find this fun and interesting to think about as a what if, in the end I can't accept this view of the legendarium. For me it turns something I find important, and something I think Tolkien found important, into a haphazard, unconsidered heap of inconsistencies -- and possibly a mountainous heap when one really starts paying attention.
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Old 01-10-2019, 10:37 AM   #8
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I think Tolkien certainly wanted a multi-perspective legendarium, but creating such a thing is an art in itself, and glomping everything together (admittedly an over simplified description here, for brevity) ignores this.


While I find this fun and interesting to think about as a what if, in the end I can't accept this view of the legendarium. For me it turns something I find important, and something I think Tolkien found important, into a haphazard, unconsidered heap of inconsistencies -- and possibly a mountainous heap when one really starts paying attention.
This is certainly a valid point, and to address my own idea critically, the Legendarium of the Book of Lost Tales changed repeatedly during the writing of it. So to adopt this approach in practice, you'd first need to conjure up a consistent 'canonical' BoLT - which Tolkien never wrote.

But... I still think that treating all Tolkien's writings as authentic ancient texts opens up a wealth of possibilities. To return to Beren, this setup gives us three wildly differing accounts of his romance with Luthien - the version told on Eressea, the poem held by Elrond, and the Numenorean account of the Quenta. Christopher Tolkien has done an admirable job of showing how and why the story developed between them - but as fans, I think there's immense potential in asking why, in-universe, the story was changed in these ways.

Is the Eressean version an aberration, heavily bowlderised for the children at the Cottage of Lost Play - one in which the tricky subject of elf-mortal relationships is sidestepped? Or did Elrond and Elros conspire to create a fictional, mortal Beren, to give themselves a link to the First House of Men? Have the Eresseans obliterated any mention of werewolves - or have the Numenoreans injected Sauron into a tale that he had no part in, to justify their wars against him? Or are these differences not deliberate, but a failure in transmission, with the stories actually being different reconstructions from the rumours out of Doriath and Ossiriand? (And that, in turn, would tell us about the mindsets of the people doing the reconstructing...)

Don't get me wrong - I will always stand by the 'canonical' Legendarium as the best, and if theorising about anything in it, 9 times out of 10 I'll be talking purely about that. But sometimes it can be fun to look at things from a different angle - the very multi-perspective legendarium you describe.

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Old 11-30-2019, 12:05 PM   #9
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Some interesting points and conjectures.

The making of a flat earth into a round earth would not have been possible without much deformation of the earth's crust. That would leave far more scars than just a couple of mid-ocean ridges. It would have seriously distorted geography and destroyed many things both man-made and natural. If you peel an orange and then try to spread the peel flat on a surface you cause the peel to tear, but you also rely on the peel's natural flexibility in adapting to the new shape. Without that flexibility and ability to stretch or compress, the tears would have to spread fractally over the entire surface. Making a round earth flat is the reverse of that and similarly requires both tearing and stretching and compression. Maybe the crust of the earth has that flexibility (or would briefly have been given it by Manwe), but suppose the foundation of your house suddently grows or shrinks by some millimetres, what then of the rest of the house? It will probably lose some stability. The closer you get to the polar regions, the greater the deformation. If you get a chain of buildings collapsing across the world, that would surely leave some memory in history or archaeology.

Furthermore, a flat earth opens many physical problems, such as how that can be reconciled with our understanding of gravity.

I thus propose that that never happened. Maybe the Earth was always round but people didn't realize it. What maybe did happen was that Arda was previously on the earth's surface and was removed to some other location. This would have required other lands or seas to have been created to fill its place. Maybe there was once more land in what is now the Atlantic?
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Old 11-30-2019, 08:43 PM   #10
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Furthermore, a flat earth opens many physical problems, such as how that can be reconciled with our understanding of gravity.
I don't see that in itself as a barrier. Our understanding of physics is based ultimately on our observations and extrapolations from therein. What we have never encountered is (obviously) not reflected in our models of the universe. Doesn't mean it can't happen, or doesn't exist. Our model of reality is only true until we encounter something in reality to contradict it; the lack of the encounter does not yet prove the infallibility of the model.

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The making of a flat earth into a round earth would not have been possible without much deformation of the earth's crust. That would leave far more scars than just a couple of mid-ocean ridges. It would have seriously distorted geography and destroyed many things both man-made and natural. If you peel an orange and then try to spread the peel flat on a surface you cause the peel to tear, but you also rely on the peel's natural flexibility in adapting to the new shape. Without that flexibility and ability to stretch or compress, the tears would have to spread fractally over the entire surface. Making a round earth flat is the reverse of that and similarly requires both tearing and stretching and compression. Maybe the crust of the earth has that flexibility (or would briefly have been given it by Manwe), but suppose the foundation of your house suddently grows or shrinks by some millimetres, what then of the rest of the house? It will probably lose some stability. The closer you get to the polar regions, the greater the deformation. If you get a chain of buildings collapsing across the world, that would surely leave some memory in history or archaeology.
Hmm. Is there any mention of catastrophe anywhere else in ME except for Numenor itself when the Straight Road was closed?

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I thus propose that that never happened. Maybe the Earth was always round but people didn't realize it. What maybe did happen was that Arda was previously on the earth's surface and was removed to some other location. This would have required other lands or seas to have been created to fill its place. Maybe there was once more land in what is now the Atlantic?
Interesting idea. What if it's the other way around - Valinor was removed from the round planet and ME remained?

If I may be forgiven for ignoring physics for the benefit of fantasy fiction, what if neither place was removed in the physical sense but was instead removed to a parallel existence, in a "Mists of Avalon" or Doctor Who type of way? Two worlds, physically superimposed but existing in different planes of reality.
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Old 12-01-2019, 05:32 AM   #11
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I don't see that in itself as a barrier. Our understanding of physics is based ultimately on our observations and extrapolations from therein. What we have never encountered is (obviously) not reflected in our models of the universe. Doesn't mean it can't happen, or doesn't exist. Our model of reality is only true until we encounter something in reality to contradict it; the lack of the encounter does not yet prove the infallibility of the model.
Granted.

I think that the changing of a flat earth to a round earth would not have been possible without some change in the laws of physics. So anything that happened before that change need not be explainable with our present understanding.

This raises the interesting perspective of what it is like to live in a place where the laws of physics suddenly change.


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Interesting idea. What if it's the other way around - Valinor was removed from the round planet and ME remained?
Sorry, that is what I meant. My fingers were faster than my brain.

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If I may be forgiven for ignoring physics for the benefit of fantasy fiction, what if neither place was removed in the physical sense but was instead removed to a parallel existence, in a "Mists of Avalon" or Doctor Who type of way? Two worlds, physically superimposed but existing in different planes of reality.
I guess that this is more or less what Tolkien had in mind (even if maybe he wouldn't have seen it that way). The question though is, what precisely does it mean when two worlds exist in parallel and there are some sort of portals between them. Is this parallellism physical or is it metaphorical?

Some scientists believe there may be wormholes in space-time meaning you can somehow get from one place to another through such a wormhole.

Some scientists believe that the laws of physics and mathematics were created, or came into existence, at the Big Bang. There may thus be other universes, created in their own big bangs, where totally different laws apply.

Now just imagine if there was a wormhole from our universe into some other such universe. If you went through such a wormhole you would transition to some other set of laws. In reality that would probably be the end of you as the atoms and molecules that hold you together in this universe might well do something totally different in that other universe (or the concept of atoms might not even exist). But suppose somehow that didn't happen ....
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:18 PM   #12
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It is likely that a universe where Planck's Constant is slightly different would be very... uncomfortable for those traversing your hypothetical wormhole.

As an aside, an old friend of mine is firmly convinced that all of the changes mentioned in Morgoth's Ring were, in fact, what Tolkien intended. In other words, Ea was always round, Orcs were not corrupted Elves, etc. If asked, he would expound upon how the mythologies would have been revised to accommodate these changes.

I do not recall how my friend came down on the "transmission" methodology that Tolkien would ultimately have settled upon. In my view, Tolkien himself never decided. If you look, one can find hints that JRRT had never even completely rejected the Aelfwine/Pengoloth idea
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:32 PM   #13
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As an aside, an old friend of mine is firmly convinced that all of the changes mentioned in Morgoth's Ring were, in fact, what Tolkien intended. In other words, Ea was always round, Orcs were not corrupted Elves, etc.
I can't say "all" the changes -- or rather, I won't necessarily say all the changes, given the complexity of the matter -- but concerning these ideas, I agree.

Or one could argue, for instance, that Tolkien's world was both once flat, and always round, depending upon a given tradition.


Quote:
If asked, he would expound upon how the mythologies would have been revised to accommodate these changes.
If asked, I would rather blather about how certain notions were to be saved -- by altering the transmission theory and making the Legendarium a multi-perspective collection.

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I do not recall how my friend came down on the "transmission" methodology that Tolkien would ultimately have settled upon. In my view, Tolkien himself never decided. If you look, one can find hints that JRRT had never even completely rejected the Aelfwine/Pengoloth idea
As far as I recall (at the moment [!]), Elfwine "sailed" after the later 1950's phase, to be, in my opinion, slowly replaced by the Bilbo/Numenorean tradition.


Ramble Alert


In 1962 a Numenor element is ultimately published in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil: "...No. 14 also depends on the lore of Rivendell, Elvish and Nśmenorean, concerning the heroic days at the end of the First Age; it seems to contain echoes of the Nśmenorean tale of Tśrin and Mim the Dwarf."

And in The Lord of the Rings (revised edition in the 1960s), Bilbo becomes part of the transmission of texts dealing with the Elder Days -- not only through Tolkien's newly added "Note On The Shire Records", but also in a new statement found in Appendix A, The Return of the King.

Also, here's an interesting revision I think: Quenta Silmarillion (the LQ2 text): "Of their lives was made the Lay of Leithian, Release from Bondage, which is the longest save one of the songs of [the Noldor>] Nśmenor concerning the world of old;..."

Another late note: in note 17 to The Shibboleth of Feanor (written in 1968 or later) it is stated that the Silmarillion is not an Eldarin title or work, but a compilation, probably made in Nśmenor: "... which includes (in prose) the four great tales or lays of the heroes of the Atani, of which "The Children of Hurin' was probably composed already in Beleriand in the First Age..." and concludes (concerning the compiled Silmarillion, and the four great tales in prose, and seemingly the account of Feanor and his making of the Silmarils). "All however are "Mannish works."

Tolkien's parenthetical note above "in prose" is interesting here with respect to The Lay of the Children of Hśrin, as Dķrhaval wrote in verse and his work was said to be rendered into prose -- by Elfwine according to the "older" transmission idea -- but a prose version is now possibly made by an unknown Nśmenórean.

1968 Published in Vinyar Tengwar 48, we find the Synopsis of Pengološ's Eldarinwe Leperi are Notessi: "The following account is an abbreviation of a curious document, preserved in the archives of Gondor by strange chance (or by many such chances) from the Elder Days, but in a copy apparently made in Nśmenor not long before its downfall: probably by or at the orders of Elendil himself, when selecting such records as he could hope to store for the journey to Middle-earth. This one no doubt owed its selection and its copying, first to Elendil's own love of the Eldarin tongues and of the works of the loremasters who wrote about their history; but also to the unusual contents of this disquisition in Quenya: Eldarinwe Leperi are Notessi: The Elvish Fingers and Numerals. It is attributed, by the copyist, to Pengološ (or Quendingoldo) of Gondolin, and he describes the Elvish play-names of the fingers as used by and taught to children."

Pengološ lives on, Bilbo is a new Elfwine "Elf-friend" (among others).

1971: "This general idea lies behind the events of The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, but it is not put forward as geologically or astronomically "true"; except that some special catastrophe is supposed to lie behind the legends and marked the first stage in the succession of Men to dominion of the world. But the legends are mainly of "Mannish" origin blended with those of the Sindar (Gray-elves) and others who had never left Middle-earth." JRRT, Letter 325

Possibly as late as 1972 Last Writings Note 17: "Here he wrote that the idea [the idea being that Elvish reincarnation might be achieved by rebirth as a child] "... must be abandoned, or at least noted as a false notion, e.g. probably of Mannish origin, since nearly all the matter of The Silmarillion is contained in myths and legends that have passed through Men's hands and minds, and are (in many points) plainly influenced by contact and confusion with the myths, theories, and legends of Men."

So why go there in the 1960s? My answer goes back to a statement from Christopher Tolkien made in Myths Transformed, but just briefly here, I would say that going there saves parts of the older mythology for Quenta Silmarillion, again QS itself existing within a diverse Legendarium.


Total speculation: I'm not sure an Elvish, or purely Elvish Quenta Silmarillion existed. No doubt there were purely Elvish materials in Rivendell, and many songs and stories by the fire and in its gardens and so on. . . and living Elves too of course! And we can see one of Bilbo's works in Errantry/The Song of Earendil -- which differs from a translation of course . . . but in theory, Bilbo could also be responsible for translating "The Awakening of the Quendi" for an Elvish example, even if it's an Elvish fairy tale mixed with counting lore -- something I think Bilbo might like to tackle and make available in the Common Speech.

Seems a Bilbo-ish choice to me, anyway
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Old 01-18-2020, 03:57 PM   #14
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transmission theory

I've been thinking for a long time about a quite different way of thinking about Tolkien's sources.

From HoME, it is clear that he did a great deal of rewriting. There were many things he was unsure about. Many things he only "realized" late in the process.

This does not work as a process of translation from fixed texts. Nothing about the writing process in HoME reads like a translator puzzling out a mysterious alphabet, or trying to decipher broken or faded text.

Rather, it reads very much like a person who is working from oral material, and who repeatedly goes back to his living sources to hear more. Much of it, in fact, reads like overheard material, with no ability to directly interview the narrators.

And indeed, Tolkien presents his most thorough material as oral tales. Tales told in the Cottage and told in Rivendell, told by Aragorn at Weathertop, told to Bilbo by Gandalf, and so on. Everything in the Red Book began as oral history.

What is more, Tolkien repeatedly describes how non-Elvish speakers are able to understand Elvish - the meaning somehow penetrates. Which is to say, that if Tolkien had heard the tales in their original Elvish, he would have understood them, though their exact phrasing would be lost in translation.

Tolkien also describes how people in our world reach Tol Eressea - it helps to be a child, and then one can reach it either through the Way of Dreams or the [apologies - I've forgotten the name of the physical route]. There is every reason to believe that Tolkien, as a child, heard the tales in person in the Cottage of Lost Play, and then, being the unique person he was, continued to travel to Tol Eressea by the other route.

Now, Tolkien was ready to "pretend" that he had found ancient manuscripts - he wasn't afraid of getting locked up for that. But he was wise enough not to bluntly state that he had written the tales from personal experience with real elves. Though if you read his accounts, he often hints to just such a thing.

It is conceivable that the reason so much of his writing is still locked away is that it is full of his personal experiences in ME, and the late, much missed CRRT didn't want the world to lose respect for his father as a crackpot.

In any case, Eol/ Elfwine is Tolkien. And the entire legendarium is a compilation of tales he was told or overheard himself, plus a few things that may have been written. And when he found a plot hole in the story he was trying to write up, he went back for more information. But getting back to ME wasn't something he could do reliably. He couldn't always get where and when he wanted. Sometimes he could interact with the MEians, and sometimes he was not-quite-present. Sometimes he understood a story clearly, and sometimes he wasn't at all sure he had understood it right. Sometimes he heard different versions and wasn't sure how to reconcile them.

His being able to reach ME depended on how "childlike" he was, and this faded with time. Probably in older age, he couldn't get there at all, at which point he began to consider the reframing of his "mythology."

And even prior, when he was still able to travel to ME, he didn't feel obligated to write everything up exactly as he heard it. For LoTR, he certainly made up lots of dialogue and details for the sake of a story that would go over well in our world. He may also have changed things for the sake of the story. Most likely, the number and identity of the hobbits who traveled with Frodo to Rivendell, which was in such flux as he wrote, was eventually written up for story purposes, not for faithfulness.

It is possible that as his ability to travel to ME grew and shrank, he might have been able to be present, or not-quite-present, in person for some of the action. He might have reported some of the Hobbit from first-hand experience, for example.

Anyway, I have long felt that it would be a very profitable project to comb through HoME and the History of the Hobbit with the tools of literary analysis to try to resolve which pieces are first-hand knowledge, which are authentic oral history, which are bits he made up, and so on.

Unfortunately, I have no time to dedicate to such a project, which is why I haven't posted it till now, though I've been thinking about it for a number of years. But if anyone wants to take up the challenge, it would be fascinating to sort out.

And when his other writings are made available, we can see if I was right.
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Old 01-19-2020, 06:29 PM   #15
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This guy claims Atlantis was real and presents evidence for his theory. Pretty sure its this one.


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Old 01-20-2020, 09:17 AM   #16
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Mindil, a thoughtful first post, very fitting within the theme of this thread.

I would doubt that Tolkien was the Aelfwine from Lost Tales or his other writings. But to the extent that Aelfwine translates to "Elf Friend" in modern English, it would be fitting to call Tolkien an AELFWINE.

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Old 01-21-2020, 04:56 AM   #17
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I have a very, very strict filter on my internet, and for years it blocked the registration confirmation email - don't know why. So I couldn't post at all and gave up trying. This week I figured I'd give it another try, and I don't know why it worked now, but here I am.

As for Tolkien being Aelfwine, my take is this:

In this world, Tolkien was an author, editor and translator (as am I, but not on his level). He produced good literature. That requires being selective and adaptive - i.e. editing - in what one produces.

Even assuming that the legendarium refers to something real - an assumption I like to take for aesthetic purposes - it is uncontestable that Tolkien must have adapted the material to make it suitable for presentation to readers in our world. In his appendices, he even discusses some such adaptations.

What I wish I could do, and hope some other fans will undertake to do, is to try to pick apart the "authentic" material from the literary inventions. By using the drafts of the texts and Tolkien's biography, I started to do that a few years ago, but saw the project was way to large to do alone, and now I can hardly contribute to it.

In any case, my assumption (based on the material, but I forget how I got to this), is that there are a small number segments of the legendarium that Tolkien witnessed personally, in a way that allowed him to interact with the events (he "fell into ME"); a larger number of segments that he witnessed personally in ghost form, as it were; about the same number of segments that he heard first-person accounts about, in live form; a few more first-person accounts that he heard in ghost form; a great many that he heard second-hand accounts about in live form; quite a few that he heard second-hand accounts about in ghost form; and finally a chunk that he saw written, either live or ghost. All these experiences happened in ME, at various ages, from childhood till late middle age, at which point he became unable to travel to ME anymore.

If this becomes a strong thread of its own, I'll try to go back and see how I concluded this, but it was at a stage when I was reading HoME and the like quite closely. In any case, sorting out which sort of exposure created which parts of the legendarium, and which parts were mildly or heavily adapted for storytelling purposes was a goal that I thought very worthy of a forum that was producing the New Silmarillion.

For a tiny example of what I mean, consider how Tolkien could have thought that Strider/ Trotter was a hobbit for so long. Clearly, he had not seen Trotter at that stage of the writing; he must only have heard about him. And he must have heard about him from someone who felt no need to clarify anything about who Trotter was. The whole "gold that does not glitter" part, as we see in HoME, was added by Tolkien much later, after he himself discovered that Trotter was Aragorn. It may have happened, or it might have been added by Tolkien to spare his readers the kind of mistake that he had made. The original story Tolkien heard about the Prancing Pony incident must have been told by someone who felt that Trotter's identity was so well-known there was no need to explain it. This would be long enough, but not too long, after the War of the Ring that the story was a favorite tale in general circulation.

Still, why assume it was a hobbit? Perhaps Tolkien heard the tale told by hobbits - but we don't find Common Speech understandable by outsiders; Tolkien must have heard the tale told by elves. Or perhaps, after hearing so much elvish and common speech in his First Age researches, he was able to understand Common Speech? In which case, if Trotter was presented in the Prancing Pony story, told by hobbits, as someone who became a close friend of the hobbits, with a hobbit-like name, Tolkien might have just assumed that he was a hobbit, too. For a while, he tried to reconcile Trotter's personality with hobbit-nature by thinking he was [I forget the name], the renegade hobbit that had been over-influenced by Gandalf.

Tolkien clearly got the story in batches - we are always seeing "the tale as foreseen from Lorien" and such. Possibly some segments were cut off by Papa Hobbit sending his attentive listeners off to bed, at which point, ghost-Tolkien lost his link to ME, and only reconnected at some other point in the tale. It was only when he learned the Rivendell segment that he realized that Trotter was a Dunadan. Even then, he kept the name Trotter for a long while. Most likely, the Common Speech name could be translated either way, as Strider or Trotter. When Tolkien thought it was a hobbit, the translation Trotter felt more appropriate. Much later, he rethought the translation, realizing that no one would have nicknamed Aragorn Trotter, and that the proper meaning must have been Strider.

If anything, this mistake provides evidence that Tolkien must have been working from authentic material, because nothing about the hobbit Trotter character fit "Trotter" as a nickname. The character should have had a nickname more like Hiker or Adventurer. The only reason Tolkien could have called him Trotter was because his nickname really was the CS for Strider/Trotter, and Tolkien did the best he could with it, for a hobbit, since Strider would work even less well for a hobbit. Once Tokien realized that Trotter was Aragorn, everything fell into place.

Anyway, this kind of thing can be done all through the legendarium. I had a bunch of insights about Saruman and why Tolkien at first thought that a giant tree would have captured Gandalf instead. Similarly, why Tolkien was so unsure whether Beren was a man or elf. About the different Earendil versions. I don't remember most of them anymore. So much for a long-shuttered filter.

But there is no doubt that Tolkien as a child sat in the Cottage of Lost Play, and that he managed to return to Tol Eressea as a young adult, quite in defiance of usual custom. He found the way through the lane (whatever its name is) when he was a child in (wherever his mother took them), and later, when he spent hours alone in his room, he was traveling to ME either live or in "dreams." That for publication purposes he created an imaginary character Aelfwine - well, what would you do? The rest of BoLT is real, with limited editing. LoTR, of course, was heavily edited, and the Hobbit perhaps even more.

That's all I can spare for a while. I'll check in sometimes to see if this goes anywhere. Thanks for the compliment.

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Old 01-21-2020, 05:26 AM   #18
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A few other random thoughts:

Tolkien clearly understood Sindarin well, by the end, but he might have missed things at the beginning, and there is no reason to think he ever understood Common Speech perfectly. He gives no examples of it in his appendices. He seems to have understood pure Adunaic better than CS, and that not as well as Sindarin.

So his reliability can be filtered through that lens.

The style of the writing can hint to the original narrators Tolkien heard the stories from. Book 1 of LoTR was clearly told primarily by hobbits. "Shadows of the Past" is clearly a pastiche of material from many sources, but the rest till the Prancing Pony is in distinct hobbit style. The chase of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli across Rohan seems more a Rohannish style than Gondorian, Hobbit or Elvish - possibly it comes from the tale of the Ring as told in Rohan. Eomer, who found their feat so astonishing, and in whose lands in happened, might have included it as worthy of note in the larger tale.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:56 AM   #19
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mindil - these are some absolutely brilliant posts. One thing that ties in very nicely with this theory is the way Tolkien tried to introduce Numenor - both of his first(?) attempts to write the story were time-travel narratives. The Lost Road starts with a blatant Tolkien stand-in named an equivalent of Aelfwine, and travels back through metaphysically linked bearers of the name to Numenor and Elendil. The Notion Club Papers has two members of the Fake Inklings not only receiving messages from ancient Numenor in their dreams, but eventually travelling... back?... there.

Going from The Lost Road specifically, 'Ronald Tolkien' could be glossed in English as 'wise ruler/foolhardy'. There are a lot of potential characters he could 'link' to who are named after wisdom (notably Finrod and Fingolfin in the First Age)... and one notable Fool of a Took. ^_^

Come to think of it, 'wise fool' is a riddling pun on 'Samwise'. Once he made the link to two of the Fellowship's Hobbits, the story must have practically written itself.

(Is the break in writing at Moria because the war made it too hard to feel childlike? Oh, there is so much scope with this idea!)

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Old 01-21-2020, 01:57 PM   #20
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While I clearly have lots of ideas, I have no idea at all why Tolkien so badly wished ME to be part of this world's past. There is no way to make that true. If ME really exists, and if Tolkien witnessed it in various ways, it can only be an alternate reality. Why was that such a hard idea for him? The time travel of Lost Road etc. was such a waste of a direction, in my opinion, and I can't parse it. But it might also have come at a time when his crossing worlds wasn't going so well.

Anyway, I'm grateful for your support, Huinesoron and Mithadan, and if anyone takes these ideas anywhere, and they start to develop, I'll hopefully be able to continue to contribute.

Best,
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:42 AM   #21
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The art of world building infused with a mesure of purposed internal confusion [JRRT, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, Unfinished Tales]:

"When Celeborn and Galadriel became the rulers of the Elves of Lorien ( . . .) the name of Galadriel became associated with trees, an association that was aided by the name of her husband, which also appeared to contain a tree-word; so that outside Lorien among those whose memories of the ancient days and Galadriel's history had grown dim her name was often altered to Galadhriel. Not in Lorien itself."

Especially noting "outside" Lorien and among those whose memories of Galadriel's history had grown dim -- makes sense. A considered explanation, given both the internal history and the forms of the name.

__________

Here are the names (not even sure if I found every variation, but anyway) of Celeborn and Galadriel as found in the drafts of The Lord of the Rings:


Tar and Finduilas
Aran and Rhien
Galdaran and Galdrin
Galathir and Galadhrien

[and resuming with
Galadriel's name]

Galdrien
Galadrien
Galadriel


Are each of these variant forms to be explained internally? Again I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, especially if done for fun, but when I said (above) mountain of inconsistencies -- fan-made inconsistencies -- if we are going to add draft texts for The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit?), them I'll repeat what I said above but change mountain to "mountain range".


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Old 01-30-2020, 01:04 PM   #22
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I'm a big fan of my own theory ().

Tolkien heard the names in Elvish, which he understood the way many of his characters understood Elvish - by some osmosis intrinsic to Elvish.

On each return to our world, sans the osmosis, he had a terribly hard time remembering the actual words and names, though he had a joy of a time remembering the linguistic characteristics and meanings of the words and names. So he set himself a lifetime task recreating Elvish from its patterns.

He wanted the most linguistically authentic names he could devise, as well as the ones that would ring in the ear most similarly to his impressions of the originals. But since he knew that capturing the actual originals was hopeless, he didn't fret over his many scrapped attempts. Rather, he continued to be fascinated by the challenge.

Whether you prefer to believe that Tolkien visited ME in some reality, or in dreams or meditations or extremely vivid imagination, my working premise (because I think it's such a cool premise) is that he believed his impressions of ME were real, or real enough to warrant attempting to reproduce them "authentically," and he made a sharp distinction between things he tried to reproduce and things he knew he was making up for literary convenience.

Names he scrapped quickly can therefore be viewed as ones he found unsatisfactory, and those he kept longest as most satisfactory - but satisfying which criteria? Galadriel probably had to match a linguistic pattern of relating to both light and trees, but Gandalf had rather to suit its role as a folkname among hobbits. These are rather different criteria with different resolutions. And they lead to different questions:
In the ME that Tolkien experienced (by whichever route), did all speakers of the Common Speech really call Gandalf the same name? Or were there different nicknames in the Shire, in Rohan and in Dale, etc. Did Tolkien consciously decide, when he settled on Gandalf as the best stand-in for whatever the hobbits called him, that for simplicity's sake he should have all CS speakers call him that, too, even though he knew otherwise?

Can we suppose that Bladorthin (Gandalf in the early Hobbit drafts) was most satisfying linguistically, but that eventually Tolkien had to concede that it failed so utterly sociologically that he had no choice but to pick something out of our folklore to match the folkloric quality of Gandalf's true hobbit nickname?

I would assume "yes" to the last two questions, and I find many other interesting resolutions in light of this approach.
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Old 01-30-2020, 02:13 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
Here are the names (not even sure if I found every variation, but anyway) of Celeborn and Galadriel as found in the drafts of The Lord of the Rings:


Tar and Finduilas
Aran and Rhien
Galdaran and Galdrin
Galathir and Galadhrien

[and resuming with
Galadriel's name]

Galdrien
Galadrien
Galadriel


Are each of these variant forms to be explained internally? Again I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, especially if done for fun, but when I said (above) mountain of inconsistencies -- fan-made inconsistencies -- if we are going to add draft texts for The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit?), them I'll repeat what I said above but change mountain to "mountain range".

Who's getting rained on? This looks like a challenge! I shall leave mindil to handle their theory and instead return to mine:

-Tar and Finduilas are probably a Gondorian marginal note in the Red Book. 'Tar' is obviously abbreviated from 'Alatariel', while Finduilas is the other woman of the House of Finarfin. Obviously Gondorian legend associated both names with Lorien, and ultimately assigned 'Tar' as the male name; the Red Book told them the true story, and a helpful scribe noted the 'Gondorian names' in the margin. On his first pass, Tolkien thought they were a correction!

-Aran and Rhien suggest that the Lorien portion of the Red Book was damaged; 'Rhien' is Tolkien's tentative reading of '-riel', all he could see of Galadriel's name. Similarly, Aran is '-o[b]orn'. Perhaps this is why he took the marginal note as his initial names!

-Galdaran and Galdrin: the latter is another attempt to read 'Galadriel'. 'Galdaran' is best understood in light of:

-Galathir and Galadhrien: 'Galathir' is a perfectly good name for a Sinda; quite likely Tolkien found it, assumed it meant the same person as '-aran', and attempted to use that fact to reconstruct the name in the previous item. Luckily, he then found an undamaged instance of the name 'Celeborn', avoiding the whole blind alley.

The remaining 'Galadriel' variants are just more attempts to reconstruct her name from the damaged portions. The fact that it took so long suggests he might ultimately have found her in a different source - possibly somewhere later in 'The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King'.

~hS had a Russian document autotranslate as 'the bathroom of the chemical safety system' today, so is all about translation mishaps
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Old 01-30-2020, 02:27 PM   #24
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Nice work, Huinesoron.
I'm glad, three years ago, I finally found this thought-out Tolkien site.

And mindil is a she.
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Old 01-30-2020, 06:18 PM   #25
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It wasn't really a challenge, but okay

The point was merely another example of why I'd change "mountain" to "mountain range" -- meaning (what I would think would be) a very notable amount of fan-made inconsistencies/confusions -- explained by the same fans that "made" them in the first place (and whether or not a given argument/explanation seems "compelling enough" can be fairly subjective, so I won't go there).


In other words, I would imagine that these two examples, Trotter/Galadriel, are only the tip of an enormous berg of ice -- if one really starts with page one of HOME and considers names, changing ideas both large and small (some so bewildering even CJRT had a bit of trouble untangling them), and whatever and so on . . . and especially, for whatever reason, "you" (as in anyone) want to include draft materials for The Lord of the Rings as well!

All I can say is good luck. Again, to my mind rejected drafts/ideas are not part of the art of world-building, and considering Tolkien's own choice (for one example), to abandon a few pages expounding upon the name Elros (and so on) after he realized he had already characterized ros as a Sindarin word, not a Beorian word, and in print (not in drafts). . .

. . . well, Shirly Tolkien could have bent over back"words" to explain the seeming discrepancy there; but then again there is the consideration of art, or to bring the matter into the kitchen, the taste of the soup: too much "pepper in the soup" and the chef just might be grumbled at by his patrons -- and for whatever reason Tolkien wouldn't even let this "ros detail", itself "hidden" in a corner of the appendices of ROTK, be confuddled.

That said, in any case, it's not my project/idea/fun-thing-to-do . . . and obviously no one needs my permission for anything . . . so if it's for you (plural), have fun!


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Old 02-01-2020, 04:59 AM   #26
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1420!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Slight topic shift, but sure: if the entire body of the Legendarium comes from genuine historical documents, what non-documentary evidence would we expect to find?

1. The Changing of the World. A massive event like the sinking of Numenor and the world being made round would leave a huge scar on the planet. Something like, maybe... the mid-Atlantic Ridge? Is this where Iluvatar spliced the new, spherical world together?

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

2. Multiple humanoid species in the fossil record. In addition to H. sapiens, Tolkien would lead us to expect a gracile elvish form (though these might be tricky to find, immortality being what it is), a more robust Orcish form, and a diminutive Hobbit/Dwarf form. And, what do you know: there are multiple rugged hominids in the fossil record (notably Neanderthals), and at least one half-sized species (Flores Man, nicknamed Hobbits). There's even evidence of Neanderthals cross-breeding with humans - the half-Orcs of Saruman.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

(We wouldn't expect to find trolls, of course - they turn to stone in sunlight. Dragons could be found, but they mostly lived in Beleriand - pardon me, Broseliand - which is under the North Atlantic. On which note...)

3. Evidence of sunken lands in the North Atlantic (ie, Broseliand). Legends of this kind abound, for instance the Lowland Hundred of Welsh myth. Notably, however, both the shallows around the Isles of Scilly (off Cornwall) and the English Channel itself were once above the sea. It might even be possible to connect Scilly to one of the Broseliandic islands (Tol Fuin, for instance), except for the next point.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

4. The relocation of the British Isles in Saxon times. The Golden Book is quite clear on this: Britain, including such locations as Warwick and Great Haywood, was over in the Undying Lands until about the 500s AD. Which seems problematic, given how well attested the Roman ownership of the islands is.

Or... is it? Mapping the locations in the Golden Book, we find that they're all in the west of Great Britain. Clearly, the elves crashed an Eressea made of Ireland, Wales, and south-west England into a more slender island that was already there; the 'Roman' evidence from those parts is actually Elvish. As a bonus, this explains why the Romans never bothered to invade Ireland: it didn't actually exist at the time.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

5. Memory of a land of bliss across the Western Sea. How many do you need? The Irish, the Greeks, there's no end of these stories. The Slavic heaven was located 'far away beyond the sea, at the end of the Milky Way' - a perfect description of Valinor.

STATUS: CONFIRMED.

hS
The memory of the War of Wrath is preserved in the placename Cape Wrath, off the north-east coast of Scotland. IOW, it is adjacent to the region south of the Arctic, where Angband lay. The Ice Bay of Forochel preserves the location either of the Helcaraxe, or, more likely, of Utumno.

That shows that the Forodwaith preserved the memory of the War of Wrath for thousands of years after the fall of Angband.
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Old 02-01-2020, 07:34 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
It wasn't really a challenge, but okay

The point was merely another example of why I'd change "mountain" to "mountain range" -- meaning (what I would think would be) a very notable amount of fan-made inconsistencies/confusions -- explained by the same fans that "made" them in the first place (and whether or not a given argument/explanation seems "compelling enough" can be fairly subjective, so I won't go there).


In other words, I would imagine that these two examples, Trotter/Galadriel, are only the tip of an enormous berg of ice -- if one really starts with page one of HOME and considers names, changing ideas both large and small (some so bewildering even CJRT had a bit of trouble untangling them), and whatever and so on . . . and especially, for whatever reason, "you" (as in anyone) want to include draft materials for The Lord of the Rings as well!

All I can say is good luck. Again, to my mind rejected drafts/ideas are not part of the art of world-building, and considering Tolkien's own choice (for one example), to abandon a few pages expounding upon the name Elros (and so on) after he realized he had already characterized ros as a Sindarin word, not a Beorian word, and in print (not in drafts). . .

. . . well, Shirly Tolkien could have bent over back"words" to explain the seeming discrepancy there; but then again there is the consideration of art, or to bring the matter into the kitchen, the taste of the soup: too much "pepper in the soup" and the chef just might be grumbled at by his patrons -- and for whatever reason Tolkien wouldn't even let this "ros detail", itself "hidden" in a corner of the appendices of ROTK, be confuddled.

That said, in any case, it's not my project/idea/fun-thing-to-do . . . and obviously no one needs my permission for anything . . . so if it's for you (plural), have fun!

This is soooooo not my project, and yet I found myself pondering it on the train last night.

I think all we need to posit is that Tolkien wasn't quite as honest as we give him credit for. What if the EARLIEST versions are always the ones closest to the vision and the later forms (that we think of as the "real" story) are Tolkien rewriting history?

For example, what if the hobbits really were met by a Hobbit named Trotter in Bree? Trotter-the-Hobbit seems to disappear around Moria. What if he died there? Strider shows up in Lórien--makes sense, if we can trust the Received Version's assertion that Galadriel seems to have favoured his suit and given him the Elessar then. Perhaps Tolkien is just trying to dramatically simplify the number of characters by conflating the similarly-named characters. Did he perhaps think it was nonsense that a Hobbit wearing clogs could have kept the Witch-king and four companions at bay? Or was he confused when Trotter leaves the story at Moria and a human shows up?The evidence shows he kept the name "Trotter" for the human character for a while.

What this might mean for the Silmarillion is that Tevildo really was a giant cat. Did he conflate Tevildo with Thū, or was Thū his way of saying "well, this is really nonsense--no one's going to buy a giant cat keeping Lśthien captive!" Or is Thū/Sauron a different character (by the way, if this WERE Tolkien's method, no one can complain that Peter Jackson conflates Glorfindel and Arwen--Tolkien might have done the same if he weren't sexist) that Tolkien conflates?

The many, many names changes are very easy to explain away this way: the oldest form is probably the true one, but we all know how seriously Tolkien took his linguistic aesthetics. Bingo Bulger-Baggins probably is "Frodo"'s real name, but Tolkien clearly said "well, that's never going to fly" and stole Frodo's name ("because, after all, the connection to the Germanic Froda is delicious").

By the way, if we assume the visions were truest EARLY, then we can perhaps explain why Tolkien moved away from really writing stories to writing "philosophical" works: there were two great bursts of visions: the Lost Tales material in the 1910s and the Third Age material in the 1930s/1940s. Perhaps there were some smaller visions here or there, but most of the work in the off-years can be explained as his attempt to fill in the gaps extrapolating from what he knew, rather than seeing directly, which perhaps explains the great apparently inconsistency between the Lost Tales First Age (note that he never seems to have seen its ending) and the LotR Third Age.
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