View Single Post
Old 10-12-2021, 05:39 AM   #21
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
Huinesoron's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: The north-west of the Old World, east of the Sea
Posts: 3,391
Huinesoron is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Huinesoron is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Originally Posted by Galin View Post
So far, in my head anyway, Tolkien's "final" thought here is based on the "nette remark" (I had thunk so before NOME actually, given that this was published in VT) -- and now in combination with XVI (from NOME), but if you think the two are internally consistent I'd like to see more of your argument as to why.
Unfortunately my claim is weakened (though not destroyed) by a misreading of the text. Most of "Eldarin hands..." is spent discussing Common Eldarin, and so the meanings and details it gives can be attributed only to that period when the elves spoke CE. So, for instance, "No distinction was felt between right and left by the Eldar" could be treated as referring only to the eldest days, if one were really concerned by the conflict with Maedhros' "learned to wield his sword with his left hand".

But the "nette remark" isn't one of these: it's referencing the Quenya word nette, a descendent of the CE neter. So I was wrong.

The reason I wasn't completely wrong is that the main text goes on to highlight how old a word "nette" is - appearing very closely in Sindarin and Telerin. So it could still be a word from the period of the March, which means that "the growth of Elvish children after birth was little if any slower" could still mean "in the period when this word was formed" - ie, the March.

Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
However, in trying to assign weight to various things Tolkien wrote down, one can't go exclusively by chronology, because it's certainly the case that T had in his mind, and committed to paper, everything from considered ideas worked out in great detail with full commitment, to on the other hand passing notions he jotted somewhere and soon rejected or forgot. To me the "nette remark" smacks more of the latter than the former.
This is an important point to remember when trying to mind-read Tolkien. And ultimately, despite all the work he put into them, I think all his First Age timelines fall into the "transient" category: he was perfectly happy to change the dates, and indeed the entire dating system, repeatedly. (Heck, at one point in NoME he even considered changing the published, LotR Tale of Years!) So the 'definitive timeline' concept is one Tolkien never really had in his later years.

Originally Posted by Aiwendil View Post
In fact, we know that by about the time of the writing of "The Shibboleth of Feanor", Tolkien had either rejected or forgotten* much of what he had developed over the course of the many "Time and Ageing" texts of c. 1959, since in the two texts given in ch. XIX, "Elvish Life-Cycles", he presents a completely different approach to Elvish longevity in the form of cycles of renewal. On its own, this doesn't specifically invalidate the date he had arrived at for Galadriel's birth, but taken together with the new element of Galadriel's hair as inspiration for the Silmarils, it certainly suggests very strongly that Tolkien did not consider the final form of the c. 1959 chronology to be fixed or correct.

*It is fairly clear that in the writings from this time period, Tolkien had occasional lapses of memory. Nonetheless, I think it unlikely, given the amount of time he had evidently devoted ten years earlier to working out the details of Elvish growth and ageing, that this can be attributed simply to forgetfulness.
Okay, yeah, I totally misread the date on 1.XIX and had it down as yet another 1959 piece... Okay, quick timeline on Elvish aging:

- 1959a: NoME 1.IX,X. Growth from birth was 1:144 in Aman, 1:100 outside; Galadriel is said to be 20 at the exile, or "in years about 20 x 144 = 2880". Pregnancy was briefly calculated to be 900 months (75 years). At another point, growth-years were 1:10 in Middle-earth, 1:100 in Aman, and 1:50 for Aman-born elves in Middle-earth.
- 1959b: NoME 1, most text before 1.XV. 9-12 year pregnancy, maturity at 1:12 rate, and then 1:144 (sometimes 1:100 in Middle-earth). In some texts, in later Ages the mature rate quickened even more: 1:48 "in these latter days" (1.IX). At a later date, Tolkien specifically noted that the increased rate should not happen.
- 1959c: NoME 1.XVI,XVII. 1 year pregnancy, to maturity at 1:1 rate, then at 1:144. Tolkien states that slower growth is "unlikely".
- 1965: NoME 1.XVIII. In Middle-earth, "the Growth Years were relatively swift". 3 year pregnancy, grow to 24 at 1:3 rate, then 1:144 after that. The return to Middle-earth was at these rates.
- 1967-8: NoME 2.III, the "nette remark". Growth after birth is "little if at all slower than that of the children of Men". If referring to a specific time-period, it's probably the Great March, but could be Third Age (the "writer" seems to be Gondorian).
- 1969: NoME 1.XIX, Text 1. Elves age in cycles, and none had actually entered a new cycle before the end of the Third Age.
- 1970: NoME 1.XIX, Text 2. "birth, childhood to bodily and mental maturity (as swift as that of Men)". Cycles, with the first being the bearing and raising of first set of children, followed by a "youth-renewing" and then a second set of children. This renewal weakened over time, until by the end of the Second Age such renewals were rare.

It's clear that elves in Middle-earth, probably both before and after the sojourn in Aman, should be viewed as having a 1-year gestation, 24 years to full-grown, and then a 1:144 rate thereafter. The outstanding question is whether Tolkien intended this to apply in Aman, under the Trees. Every time he wrote separately about that period, he gave it a longer growth rate; but the specific note in 1.IX saying "No quickening" would seem to negate this. On the other hand, the 1965 1.XVIII seems to imply a quickening took place: "The [Growth-Years] were relatively swift, and in Middle-earth = 3 loar". And the 1970s 1.XIX indicates that elves were reaching "old age" sooner as time passed, implying some form of quickening still existed.

The view that Galadriel was "young and eager" at the exile was long-held; her specific age of 20 is mentioned in multiple texts from 1959, as well as the 1965 text. I think it's dangerous to assume Tolkien tossed this out when he came up with the hair story, especially since the Shibboleth itself discusses her ill-will towards Feanor in conjunction with "from her earliest years".

Given that the 1:3 rate is from a text mostly discussing Middle-earth, I think we have to assume that it was forgotten entirely. That makes the only options for growth in Aman either 1:1, or 1:12. At 1:12, Galadriel would be born around 5233, giving 240 years for Feanor to be inspired, harass her, make some jewels, make a sword, get kicked out, and come back. That's... feasible.

It would mean that the Silmarils took ca. 1 growth-year to make, which is nicely poetic; and that Feanor was exiled for 1 growth-year, ie, "go away for as long as it took Miriel to bear you".

(Unless there's a later source for how long either of those things took; I think both those dates come from the Annals of Aman.)

Have you burned the ships that could bear you back again? ~Finrod: The Rock Opera
Huinesoron is offline   Reply With Quote