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Old 10-19-2014, 02:34 PM   #1
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Tolkien The Book of Lost Tales Part I: A Readthrough

Nothing came of my post in the Chapter-by-Chapter forum trying to drum up interest in a CbC of The Book of Lost Tales, positive OR negative, and that's probably result enough to put away the idea it was a worthwhile endeavour right now. Still, I want to reread the book(s) and I want to discuss the things I read with fellow Downers--or at least to put my observations up here. Whether anyone finds something to respond to is not entirely up to me. So here's a thread to that effect.

What is the Book of Lost Tales?

The Barrow-downs is full of exceptional Tolkien fans, most of whom already know what The Book of Lost Tales, and quite a few of you have already read it, but for the sake of completeness, and in case we have any burgeoning fans who are nearer the beginning of their journey through the volumes of Middle-earth than the end, I will start by explaining:

The Book of Lost Tales Part I and The Book of Lost Tales Part II are the first two volumes of The History of Middle-earth series. Sadly (or so thought my approximately-thirteen-year-old self when I first encountered it), it is NOT a twelve-volume history of Arda; instead, it chronicles the history of how Middle-earth came to be written, from the first attempts in the 1910s through the late texts of the 1960s.

The Foreword:
The first section of The Book of Lost Tales Part I is the foreword, in which Christopher Tolkien sets the goals of the project. The thing I find the most fascinating about this section is the context in which it was written. Published in 1983, The Book of Lost Tales Part I debuted three years after Unfinished Tales and six years after The Silmarillion, only ten years after J.R.R. Tolkien's death--in other words, less time elapsed from Tolkien's death until the beginning of the HoME than elapsed during the run of the HoME--the last volume, The Peoples of Middle-earth would be published in 1996, thirteen years later. In other words, as I see things, the HoME began as a very early

And on the note of time passing, the texts begins "The Book of Lost Tales, written between sixty and seventy years ago...[/i]. Thirty-one years later, those numbers would read "between ninety and one hundred years ago." We're closing on (or have passed, depending on when you want to celebrate it) the centennial of Middle-earth's creation. Does anyone have plans to celebrate? We should really do something--maybe in 2016 or 2017.

The Foreword, which not only introduces The Book of Lost Tales but, though it was not a guaranteed thing at the time of writing, the entire History of Middle-earth series, is probably the most definitive apologia of Christopher Tolkien's literary executorship, explaining why he published the sort of Silmarillion that he did, neither taking the more creative path that one might call the Guy Gavriel Kay route, nor the pure scholarship route. He says, speaking of what had come before, "The published work has no 'framework,' no suggestion of what it is and how (within the imagined world) it came to be. This is now think to have been an error" (p.5, emphasis added).

One can agree or disagree with CT about what he *should* have done, and there are no shortage of fans who disagree with what he did after this beginning-of-the-HoME course correction, but I do not think it is possible to give him anything other than praise for being willing to say he made a mistake--a mistake that made plenty of money and plenty of gratitude from fans who wanted more of Middle-earth.

And although CT thinks he took the wrong tack, I think it is important to note that he isn't saying that The Silmarillion ought to have been more dry and academic and more like the HoME than it was. He says that "of course, 'The Silmarillion' was intended to move the heart and imagination, directly, and without peculiar effort or the possession of unusual faculties." CT admits that The Silmarillion will not be for everyone; his problem isn't with the style of the book, but with the fact that it came divorced from a proper Transmission Conceit--the aridity of the book stems from its genre as a historical redaction, but this isn't an illusion-building strength unless there's a framework to help demonstrate how and why this history has passed down.

In both defending what he has done and what he will do going forward, Christopher Tolkien can almost be read as constantly warning the reader to turn away from the book in hand. Given the complaints he's addressing, that The Silmarillion had "even produced a sense of outrage - in one case formulated to me [CT] in the words 'It's like the Old Testament!': a dire condemnation against which, clearly, there can be no appeal." In other words, The Silmarillion was not another The Lord of the Rings, and that warning applies doubly to The Book of Lost Tales.

Personally, though I find that reading The Book of Lost Tales is like taking a step back towards immediacy from the distance of The Silmarillion, and in that respect it *IS* more like The Lord of the Rings, though he is right that the framework HERE, of editorial commentary and divergent, hastily written texts, makes it difficult matter. It is, CT says, "liable to be an intricate and crabbed thing, in which the reader is never left alone for the moment."

What if...?
One thing I want to do with this posts, in addition to making observations, is to posit some what-ifs. "What if [x] had survived into the Silm?", for example. But here, at the beginning of this thread, I have a different question:

What if someone published YOUR wastepaper basket (as CT has been accused of doing)? Of course, in this case, JRRT never seems to have thrown out a draft, never requested his papers be destroyed, and told his son to do as he saw fit--and, in general, Tolkien fans have been grateful indeed for all we've been given (if greedy for even more).

That gives a lot of fodder to drawing impressions about Tolkien, but is it something YOU would want? Personally, I destroy anything I REALLY don't want people to see, but the rest of it I keep, if only because *I* will probably enjoy digging it, bad prose and all, someday. But I have the luxury of thinking there will be no audience for my wastepaper basket. If there was an audience for yours, would you be inclined to pre-emptively burn it? Can you even envision having someone you would trust to make judgements about what to share and what to burn? That part truly awes me... though perhaps, as I have no children thus far, that is an aspect of Tolkien's life I simply haven't got the experience to compare to.
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Old 10-19-2014, 04:39 PM   #2
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While it's obvious that there are many posters here possessing knowledge of Lost Tales and the HOME series as a whole that is far more exhaustive than my own, which may be a factor, I find that considerations of early vs. later ideas seem to me to cause unnecessary complications.

I have read the HOME volumes dealing with LOTR, and while I did find that knowing some things, such as the fact that Strider, the future King Elessar was in origin a 'wild' Hobbit to be illuminating, I don't feel that the knowledge was of itself much value in aiding my appreciation of the books.

In any work of fiction, and especially one such as LOTR, having such a complexity of mythos which includes not only an imaginary place, but races of beings, and even well-developed languages, that there would be a tide of changing conceptions both during the writing of the books and in considering them after publication, seems only natural.

Christopher Tolkien, I think, is sorely lacking in appreciation from too many Tolkien readers regarding the herculean task in ordering his fathers papers he voluntarily undertook,
J.R.R.T. seems to have been a man who threw very little away, if he considered that there was any possibility that it might have a future use. Since he at least had dreams of publishing his own Silmarillion, the presence of so much related rough-draft and concept material again seems to fit. What he would have done with it if given the time is simply an endlessly debatable, but ultimately unanswerable question.

In the end, CT has brought to light in as closely a finished form as possible The Silmarillion and tale of Trin Tarambar, as well of many other less polished tidbits found in Unfinished Tales. I find that those 'canonical' works are quite enough for me.
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Old 10-19-2014, 09:11 PM   #3
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I think that because fewer people have read Book of Lost Tales, and the rest of the HOME, that they were not involved in discussion. A lot of the content was also revised at later dates, making the tales less relevant, and only really important for the history of how those tales changed over time.
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:45 AM   #4
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I think that because fewer people have read Book of Lost Tales, and the rest of the HOME, that they were not involved in discussion. A lot of the content was also revised at later dates, making the tales less relevant, and only really important for the history of how those tales changed over time.
I know that many people on the Downs have read at least parts of HOME, just a lot of these people are snoring in their barrows. I cannot assign myself to that number; the most I've done was skim through a couple of the LOTR volumes looking for pictures and original manuscripts, and maybe a couple interesting details CT has put in. I wouldn't minds reading BOLT, though, but it has been an issue before because of the, hmm, scarcity of these books in conveniently located libraries, and it's an issue now both because of lack of libraries and lack of time. However, I will try follow the discussion as much as time allows, and maybe chip in a comment or two of what I think of it.

As for the wastepaper question, I rarely throw out my scraps of writing too, even though I know they are scraps. I don't think I'll ever need them, but they don't deserve the garbage can. But I'd be horrified if somebody stole them one day and published them. Heck, I wouldn't even publish things that I like! But then again, I've never written LOTR. I think authors shouldn't write to please fans, and as much as I'm thankful that CT has published my beloved First Age stories, I think that all of the sorting and publishing should be credited to his choice rather than to Tolkien fans clamouring for more.
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:24 AM   #5
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I have read the HOME volumes dealing with LOTR, and while I did find that knowing some things, such as the fact that Strider, the future King Elessar was in origin a 'wild' Hobbit to be illuminating, I don't feel that the knowledge was of itself much value in aiding my appreciation of the books.
This is a different animal I think (not that you said otherwise): with The Lord of the Rings we have the author's version of it, published for a readership at large. With the Silmarillion we do not; and for those of us who do not accept the constructed versions as canonical then external chronology (revsions and so on), no matter how complicated, or natural as far as revision is to be expected, is important for the construction of our personal legendariums.

My personal Silmarillion can even be shifting, but if I know Tolkien rejected X after Y then it becomes an important factor in my mind.

Quote:
In any work of fiction, and especially one such as LOTR, having such a complexity of mythos which includes not only an imaginary place, but races of beings, and even well-developed languages, that there would be a tide of changing conceptions both during the writing of the books and in considering them after publication, seems only natural.

Agreed.

But again for myself the notion of (for example) 'I like idea X better than Y' isn't good enough if I know Tolkien only thought of X in 1925 and rejected it twice in 1950 and again in 1968.

I agree we will quite naturally enough find revisions over the years, but I (and I think not only me if not everyone admittedly) also naturally want to know 'the story' too, and the story is not a mountain of sometimes conflicting material written at different times. I think (but could well be wrong) that your choice of the constructed versions as 'canonical' illustrates this natural desire -- I think it's part of why these versions exist actually, to provide what I call the internal experience.

But the mind is nimble

I feel I have the best of both worlds: the readers versions for one kind of experience (the constructed versions), and the information to be able to construct my personal Silmarillion or Children of Hurin based on my decisions (and those based on the texts as presented in HME at least), not Christopher Tolkien's -- but that is not to say that I disagree with a given decision Christopher Tolkien has made, necessarily, but rather to say that I am not constrained by his constraints in any case.


Enjoyment of a work is another matter. I can, and certainly do, enjoy reading a chapter from The Book of Lost Tales for example, and I like or even love some concepts within it -- that said, I yet want to know if we have Tevildo the cat in 1916 or 1968! An arguably silly example here, but in general I think I want the same thing you want, and get out of the constructed Silmarillion... I just want to also construct it, for myself, based on what I think I see Tolkien doing.

I can only construct so much of the Elder Days through the works Tolkien himself published (although maybe that much is more than some might think), but to my mind chronology has weight (when faced with no 'final' version), and it did to Christopher Tolkien too, it's just that he had other competing concerns, as always choosing the 'latest' notion or text doesn't necessarily make for the best internally consistent version, especially if on feels tasked to try to reimain an editor and not a writer.

But it seems clear to me that external chronology had a significant role to play in the making of the constructed Silmarillion and the constructed Children of Hurin. How could it not? It just isn't the only concern.

For example, in my personal Silmarillion or Children of Hurin Turin is wearing the Helm of Hador when he faces Glaurung at Nargothrond. It seems clear enough to Christopher Tolkien that this was going to be the case as far as anyone can tell (again Tolkien can surely change his mind for his own 'published' version, in theory), as opposed to the earlier idea of the Dwarf-mask...

... but I don't have to worry about 'writing it in', or deciding whether I should or not, which decision then creates the further question of what happened to the Helm of Hador later, which Tolkien considered but again did not fully 'flesh out' enough I guess. More writing? What is more 'faithful' to Tolkien, tinkering with his passages to try to work in a later text or idea, or less tinkering using an earlier but obviously rejected idea? I am not JRRT's son and don't have to worry about overstepping any personal choices Christopher Tolkien might have made based, even in part, upon the fact that he is JRRT's son...

...I can imagine Turin is wearing the Helm of Hador at this point based upon Tolkien's existing writings, and for it to be 'true' within the Secondary World I don't have to write anything more than Tolkien did, as no one is reading my 'book' but me.

But I needed Christopher Tolkien's amazing scholarship to arrive there

I'm not sure I necessarily disagree with the choice of the Dwarf-mask, and I'm not sure that's how Christopher Tolkien himself imagines the 'true' details of this encounter within Middle-earth, but he had considerations for writing a book that provides a certain type of experience for the reader...

... considerations that I do not have in any event.

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Old 10-20-2014, 05:45 PM   #6
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This is a different animal I think (not that you said otherwise): with The Lord of the Rings we have the author's version of it, published for a readership at large. With the Silmarillion we do not; and for those of us who do not accept the constructed versions as canonical then external chronology (revsions and so on), no matter how complicated, or natural as far as revision is to be expected, is important for the construction of our personal legendariums.
Absolutely--and I would differentiate things even further. Although I get plenty of enjoyment from the scholarly end of things, I think CT is more than wise to warn away people from the HoME--it isn't for everybody.

In addition to the considerations of fleshing out personal canon, which Galin has gone into, which separates the LotR-centric texts (volumes VI-IX) from the Silm-centric texts ("the rest of them"), but I would shade out even more variation in the series, and I would give different reasons for each of them:

1.) Volumes I, II, & III: The Book of Lost Tales and The Lays of Beleriand
2.) Volumes IV, V, X, XI: The evolution of the Silm texts
3.) Volumes VI-IX: The LotR texts, although I would put an asterisk next to Sauron Defeated
4.) Volume XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, which is a little bit LotR-centric (it gives the evolution of the Appendices) and a little Silm-centric (some of its texts, especially the Shibboleth of Fanor influenced the choices CT made in the published Silm). To my mind, XII is a companion volume to Unfinished Tales: the leftover bits, not exactly part of the Silm, from the post-LotR years.

I would not readily recommend the entire series to just anyone, but neither would I say "oh, just read all the non-LotR texts; you don't need those." Someone who doesn't care for the Silm would be well-advised to stay clear of categories 1, 3, & 4, but they might really enjoy looking at how the LotR came about.

As for separating out the first three volumes from the rest of the Silm-history, this is at the heart of why I wanted to do a BoLT read-through: I think the first three volumes are birds of a different feather from the others. Part of this is the textual history: "The Silmarillion" is a redaction of the legends, continuously reworked from "The Sketch of Mythology" (published in Vol. IV) through "The Qenta Noldorinwa" (ditto), through "The Quenta Silmarillion" pre-LotR (Vol. V), through the post-LotR revisions (X & XI), whereas the Book of Lost Tales and the Lays in Vol. III are stand-alone entities, complete works of art in themselves--or they would be complete, had Tolkien but finished them.

Thus, although they may be portraits of the same matter, I see The Book of Lost Tales as a complete story and entity worthy of reading in its own right. It isn't just something that should be mined for history-of-the-textual nuggets (though those abound for the reader who wants them), but a piece of art to be read for its own sake--and likewise the Lays in Vol. III. Is Rog and the House of the Hammer canon in Middle-earth? Maybe... maybe not... possibly... probably not... But there's no denying that their destruction in "The Fall of Gondolin" is a tragic read, regardless.

So I list the first three books as a separate category: the three volumes of the HoME that I would recommend for someone looking for Tolkienesque enjoyment.


(Of course, these categories are hardly without bleedthrough. "The Wanderings of Hrin" in XI, or "The Fall of Nmenor"--even considered only as a precursor to the Akallabth--are not solely to be seen as parts of the Silm, and I would not want to suggest that the BoLT isn't foundational to any real understanding of how the Silm came to be--but I think The Book of Lost Tales can be read much differently from the later HoME volumes and is worth pursuing as such.)
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Old 10-20-2014, 08:59 PM   #7
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A

1.) Volumes I, II, & III: The Book of Lost Tales and The Lays of Beleriand
2.) Volumes IV, V, X, XI: The evolution of the Silm texts
3.) Volumes VI-IX: The LotR texts, although I would put an asterisk next to Sauron Defeated
4.) Volume XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, which is a little bit LotR-centric (it gives the evolution of the Appendices) and a little Silm-centric (some of its texts, especially the Shibboleth of Fanor influenced the choices CT made in the published Silm). To my mind, XII is a companion volume to Unfinished Tales: the leftover bits, not exactly part of the Silm, from the post-LotR years.

I agree with you that it's hard just to not say, 'Don't read 4-9' because of the relevant information to certain topics in each volume.

I've read the first 5 volumes, and the first 3 are highly recommended. 4 and 5 are less exciting, but still contain a lot of useful information about Middle Earth's origins and Numenor.
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Old 10-22-2014, 05:43 PM   #8
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I always intend to participate in a complete reading and discussion but then I start lagging behind until eventually it's months later. Then it's even more difficult to pick up right in the middle after a lengthy hiatus. It might help that I have not read any of the tales (in full) that are in BoLT. So, I'm glad you started this Form and seeing where it goes.

A couple of points from the Foreward...

It was pointed out by CT an appeal of LoTR is the "glimpses" that you get in the story, providing depth and magic. Inside this epic fantasy tale is glimpses to a faraway past that gives you history and depth. I think to a casual book reader these "glimpses" are an appealing part of the magic, but the more complete tales (when The Silm was published) might break the magic. For me, the magic isn't broken whether it's the "glimpses" in LoTR or the longer versions.

I've always had Sam's perspective that CT brings up in the Foreward "I like that!" The glimpses in LoTR had me thinking "I like that" "I want to know more about that." I think the problem with Sam's perspective though, is you run into a danger of certain "glimpses" not being all that appealing to you. What I mean is, Gondolin, Nargothrond and the fall of Numenor, as glimpses were fascinating and as deeper tales were just as interesting (to me). However, certain parts didn't, like the flight of the Noldor or the silmarils. As glimpses, they're fine because it provides the reader with history and depth, but as more complete stories, they can be rather difficult.
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:59 PM   #9
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Interesting point, Boro. Now that I think of it, a lot of The Sil and UT was actually complemented the glimpses from LOTR quite nicely (I think the coming of Eorl to the Celebrant is one of the best examples out there), but I think that some glimpses are better left as glimpses. The thing I did not like was the structuralized, umm, how should I say it? hierarchy? organization? of the "supernatural" beings, their role in the world, and that stuff. The "macro" stuff. At first, I actually was glad to have that background, because hey, which one of us never wondered who was Gandalf really and what's out there in the West and who's that Elbereth person. Same as the age-old question of the identity of ol' Bombadil. A couple years ago I switched gears completely; things were starting to lose their magic, and the story started getting bogged down with technicalities (well, if Eru and the Valar really had XYZ powers and responsibilities, then why did they or did they not do ABC...). I think I much prefer ol' Tom as just Tom, without clarification on his origins. Likewise, I like the Valar in LOTR better than the Valar of The Silm - more mysterious, less defined, more powerful - more spiritually powerful. You hear the Elves singing of Elbereth, and you sense their awe, and you imagine stars, and a presence that made those stars - it's a lovely glimpse that enriches both the history and the spirituality of LOTR. Elbereth as the Valie who fashioned stars out of the light of the Two Trees... kinda cool, but it loses its mystery, and the richness falls apart. Debates of who is an Eruhini and who is not, and if Ents and Dwarves have an afterlife, and all those other technicalities - really, I wish I hadn't read all that because, truth be told, as curious as I am, some details are better left unknown. It's a different world where you can feel all that's meant to be felt regarding a world but that we don't feel in RL for some reason; it's not a scientific paper where everything has a cause and effect and must be explained. Some things just are. Let them be.

To bring this rant to a close, I think that one of the reason the setting of LOTR stands out from a lot of other medieval fantasy settings is that it has a good balance of definitiveness (things don't happen completely out of nowhere... except the Eagles maybe ) or mystery (magic is magic and that's the end of it - it can be felt, but not explained). Sometimes it's good not to know. Curiosity dies if it's completely satisfied, and that curiosity that you're left with after being given a small peak into the life and history of ME is what gives LOTR the richness. Answer the questions, the curiosity is gone, and so is the interest.
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Old 10-23-2014, 01:12 PM   #10
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Just a quick post to say I am in on this..ashamed to say I haven't really looked at UT since at least before Galadriel was born so high time..but I need to read..
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Old 10-23-2014, 01:29 PM   #11
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Count me in...on...ummm...whatever it is you are talking about.

Honestly, I haven't read HoMe all the way through since Cirdan's puberty, but I'll chip in ever and anon. It seems BoLT (and HoMe as a whole) are those types of reference volumes from which you regurgitate a paragraph and volley it at someone during a debate, yet never spend time rereading in total.
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Old 10-23-2014, 01:49 PM   #12
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For me I bought the first 4 volumes as they emerged in paperback and struggled and then I did a lt degree at a time when Tolkienism as a love that dared not speak its name save perhaps in linguistics. I have read, the history of LOTR volumes through and also a lot of the peoples of MEand Morgoth's ring. But yes I otherwise treat them as reference more than a pleasure read .. unlike UT which is possibly my favourite single volume, though of course it is rather dependent on the ealrlier published works
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:01 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
For me I bought the first 4 volumes as they emerged in paperback and struggled and then I did a lt degree at a time when Tolkienism as a love that dared not speak its name save perhaps in linguistics. I have read, the history of LOTR volumes through and also a lot of the peoples of MEand Morgoth's ring. But yes I otherwise treat them as reference more than a pleasure read .. unlike UT which is possibly my favourite single volume, though of course it is rather dependent on the ealrlier published works
Ew, paperback. I always wait for the hardcover to get the books.
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:23 AM   #14
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Don't sneer. Buying the paperbacks then was a significant cost for me and I don't think I even saw a hardback. Hard no doubt to believe in the day of Amazon and e readers but it was illegal to discount books bac then.I also find large hardbacks cmbersome to read unless at a desk.
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Old 10-24-2014, 01:44 AM   #15
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Don't sneer. Buying the paperbacks then was a significant cost for me and I don't think I even saw a hardback. Hard no doubt to believe in the day of Amazon and e readers but it was illegal to discount books bac then.I also find large hardbacks cmbersome to read unless at a desk.
I read electronic versions where I can these days, but I too have the same feelings about soft- versus hard-cover. I like hardcovers for the durability and the look on the shelf, but other than that...

Semi-on-topic: BoLT I and II are the only volumes of HOME which I've never reread, and, perhaps irrationally, I'm still not keen on revisiting in person. Largely because of a vague but disturbing memory of a Tinfang Warble poem that makes me shudder a little whenever it comes to mind.

Ok, yeah, that last bit was snark-in-cheek, but the general thrust is accurate enough. Still, I can't deny the possibility that this opinion I formed perhaps 20 years ago might be unfair, so I'm happy to see a thread like this.
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Old 10-24-2014, 06:34 AM   #16
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Largely because of a vague but disturbing memory of a Tinfang Warble poem that makes me shudder a little whenever it comes to mind.
The only thing I know about this Tinfang is that there was a cryptic clue about him way back when that was only solved when somebody systematically went through the index of HOME.
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Old 10-25-2014, 06:59 PM   #17
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Tolkien Chapter I: The Cottage of Lost Play

"To these words did Eriol's mind so lean, for it seemed to him that a new world and very fair was opening to him, that he heard naught else till he was bidden by Vair to be seated."

And as Eriol gets his first introduction to the world of the Lost Tales (not yet called known as Middle-earth), so do we, and his reaction reminds me of my first forays into Middle-earth in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: a new world and very fair opening to me. Mind you, even to the Middle-earth veteran, coming to the Book of Lost Tales can be a bit like coming on a new world, so different yet similar is it to what would come later.

At the meta-level, "The Cottage of Lost Play" establishes the forms that will be the norm through Volumes I & II of the HoME: Tolkien's original text, with a brief introduction, followed by footnotes, followed by a list of name-changes, followed by Christopher Tolkien's commentary on the text, then ending with related poetry. I feel that this last point should be highlighted somewhat. Properly speaking, the poems included with The Book of Lost Tales are not part of the Lost Tales; rather, they are CT's first steps towards the HoME as a comprehensive series of ALL the materials related to Middle-earth (even if he will fall slightly short--the Osanw Kenta, for example, and sundry philological notes would not make it into the HoME).

Unlike all the chapters of the Book of Lost Tales that will follow, "The Cottage of Lost Play" has no direct correlative part in the published Silmarillion, because it fulfills the function that Christopher Tolkien thinks to have been the chief mistake in his handling of the later Silm: it fulfills the role of the framing device. Eriol is the interlocutor between us and the tales of the ancient world, and this chapter shows how the device will be used: all the stories shall be TOLD to Eriol. This is a familiar trope from the LotR, where Aragorn tells the tale of Beren and Lthien, where Bilbo tells the tale of Erendil, where Legolas tells the tale of Amroth and Nimrodel, and where Sam and Frodo look forward to when we shall hear their tale (from Tolkien, as it will happen).

There are other tropes in this chapter that immediately--and perhaps more obviously--recall The LotR. For example, the Cottage of Lost Play itself seems very much like a type of Rivendell. It is easy to read the description of Rivendell in The Hobbit as applying to the Cottage: the "house was perfect whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all." In particular, the routine of the household, which we see in "Many Meetings" after Frodo finally wakes, seems familiar. In the LotR, Elrond's household goes to the Hall of Fire to hear tales told after a great feast, while in the Cottage, Lindo and Vair's household goes to the Room of Logs (again, the idea of fire) to hear tales after a great feast.

The Lonely Isle itself seems familiar, which is not what you would necessarily expect coming from the 1977 Silm--very little action is set there and what little there is told very perfunctorily; the reader is left to imagine the isle as desired or, if you're me, to imagine it hardly at all. But the Lonely Isle of the BoLT is quite the opposite: rather than a periphery location of little concern in the tales, it is literally and figuratively at the centre of the tales. Not only is this where the Tales are told, but the Isle seemed destined to play a role in the future of the tales (as did Eriol himself). Regarding the centrality of the isle, here is what is said of Kortirion, its capital:

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Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien
Know then that today, or more like 'twas yesterday, you crossed the borders of that region that is called Alalminr or the "Land of Elms," which the Gnomes call Gar Lossion, or the "Place of Flowers." Now this region is accounted the centre of the island, and its fairest realm: but above all the towns and villages of Alalminr is held Koromas, or as some call it, Kortirion, and this city is the one wherein you find yourself. Both because it stands at the heart of the island, and from the height of its mighty tower, do those that speak of it with love call it the Citadel of the Island, or of the world itself.
--emphasis added

It is hard to imagine the later Tol Eressa, land of the resettled Exiles, as containing "the Citadel... of the world itself"--and equally hard for me to imagine the Elves of the later legendarium claiming it as such! But the Elves here do, and we are given such a more in-depth picture of the island that it seems quite a bit more possible. And as far as that picture goes--and the reason I say it seems familiar--the Lonely Isle reminds me a lot of the Shire. No doubt this is because both the Shire and the Lonely Isle are written by Tolkien as Englands, of a sort. This is part of the whole purpose of the Lost Tales, at least at one point in its history: Eriol (from Heligoland, the European homeland of the later Angles) is a proto-Anglo-Saxon, coming on England--and farie, for it is farie--for the first time.

Although "The Cottage of Lost Play" is about the framework for the tales rather than the tales themselves, Tolkien does not start here--as the published Silmarillion does--from the very beginning. Instead, we get several references to events of the Tales, events we (like Eriol) are not to know the fullness of until much later. Among these I would include the references to Erendel, especially in the backstory of Littleheart the Gong-warden: "He sailed in Wingilot with Erendel in that last voyage wherein they sought for Kr. It was the ringing of this Gong on the Shadowy Seas that awoke the Sleeper in the Tower of Pearl that stands far out to west in the Twilit Isles."

Kr, mentioned in that text, is another lodestone pointing to a major element of the BoLT legendarium, and the account of the Koromas/Kortirion leads to talk of Meril-i-Turinqi and her family, which is rather more family that Ingw is given in the later texts, and his part seems to have been larger and more rebellious in the hinted at story of "the days [when] hearing the lament of the world Inw led them forth to the lands of Men"--our first glimpse of what would come to be called the War of Wrath.

And then of course there is limp, the drink of the Eldar, which Eriol does not get to drink. Limp will prove more important to Eriol's story (unwritten though it is) than miruvor did to Frodo's, but other than being marvellous drinks of the Elves, the two could not be more common. Indeed, I see more similarity with [i]lembas[/b]. Both lembas and limp are reserved to the Queen (Galadriel--or Melian rather, since this is information from the notes to the Narn-i-Chn-Hrin--in the first case; Meril-i-Turinqi in the latter) and both have what could be called metaphysical effects. But the similarity ends there. I don't always like the comparison, but I am willing to grant that there are grounds for saying lembas is a type of the Eucharist; there is no way I can imagine to make a similar claim for limp--unless one wants to say that it is the Forbidden Fruit of Eden and that Eriol is seeking the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Even more difficult to imagine than limp in Rivendell or Lothlrien is the fact that the inhabitants have to shrink in order to enter the Cottage. This is a bit of whimsy (CT makes a direct comparison to "Goblin Feet" in the commentary) that would later be almost antithetical to Tolkien.

One minor question: when did Eriol learn the elf-tongue? Or, to put it another way, what language are they speaking in this tale? I assume--and I might be drawing off half-digested knowledge of later chapters--that they are speaking Elven (what would later be called Quenya), but as far as this chapter goes, there's no real evidence that I recall. For that matter, the Elves seem remarkably blas about this human wandering around in their midst.

No doubt I should keep in mind that the history of the Lonely Isle was quite differently conceived then and that Nmenor and its cataclysm had not even been conceived, but all the same, from his own complete curiosity, it does not seem to me that Eriol had ever heard anything about this isle and there is nothing to suggest that other Men are abroad--even if the barriers to their arrival are not at all as lofty as those that Gandalf brings Bilbo and Frodo through in the later conception.


What if?
There are all sorts of "what ifs" one could consider here, especially regarding what a similar framework might have looked like in a post-LotR Silm. As already noted, the Lonely Isle became much more difficult for mere mortals to reach--and even if you got there, good luck getting BACK to Middle-earth. A far more likely approach, if Tolkien wanted to preserve the mood might have been to set it at Rivendell.

A major note of what-if lingers about the poem. "The Trees of Kortirion," CT tells us, looks to have been revised nearly a half-century after its original composition, probably about 1962 for a possible inclusion in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. And we're not talking about the ORIGINAL version here, I want to emphasize; we're talking about a version completely overhauled in the wake of the LotR, which--had it been published--would have had equal canonical stature to any of the other Bombadil poems (I give them coval status with The Hobbit myself).

This is astounding--to me, anyway--because the revised, ca.1962, poem is still about a city titled "Kortirion." Is this still the Elvish name for Warwick-in-England? Or is it still the central city of Tol Eressa? What about the whole "Kor" part of its name? Kr, we will see more fully later, was the name in the BoLT of the city that the Silmarillion calls Tirion. Did Tolkien still envision "Kor" existing, perhaps as an alternate name for Tirion? Or is it simply part of the name of this other city, with a different--and nowhere elaborated--etymological history? It's hard to imagine that Tolkien didn't at least have a private half-answer in his thoughts to this question.

I also have another question to ponder--assuming there isn't enough discussion-meat already in this post--one comes down to linguistic taste: how do you feel about the Book of Lost Tales terminology? And I don't mean the prose here (though that is far game to discuss); I'm thinking more of the vocabulary: the use of "fairies" as a synonym for "Elves," the use of "gnomes" at all. I get a huge kick out of Tombo the gong myself, though it does not "feel" very Middle-earth to me.
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:11 PM   #18
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I have never read BOLT, so I apologize if my questions and comments are very obvious, but please bear with me.

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"To these words did Eriol's mind so lean, for it seemed to him that a new world and very fair was opening to him, that he heard naught else till he was bidden by Vair to be seated."
Quick note - in this Vaire related to the one we all know as one of the Valar? I know Tolkien reused many discarded names, often for completely different characters. But if I picked one of the Valar to tell a story, it would be Vaire. Like, if she would have been a Greek goddess instead of a Valie, she would have been the goddess of history. It would make total sense for stories - and what is history, if not stories? - to be told in her house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formy
And as Eriol gets his first introduction to the world of the Lost Tales (not yet called known as Middle-earth),
Well, this is the first time I hear this name for ME, and I think it works quite well as a synonym. I think many a reader has thought or felt about ME like that - as if it's a world of lost tales - but maybe just hasn't phrased it exactly like that. The World of Lost Tales is what an outsider like myself might call Middle-earth; the locals would probably never call themselves that, but readers are (much to their regret) not locals.

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Originally Posted by Formy
I also have another question to ponder--assuming there isn't enough discussion-meat already in this post--one comes down to linguistic taste: how do you feel about the Book of Lost Tales terminology? And I don't mean the prose here (though that is far game to discuss); I'm thinking more of the vocabulary: the use of "fairies" as a synonym for "Elves," the use of "gnomes" at all. I get a huge kick out of Tombo the gong myself, though it does not "feel" very Middle-earth to me.
Once again, I can't comment very much on this having never read the book, but I have seen several such excerpts (thanks to you educated Downers ). The use of gnome and fairy really bugs me. It does not bring the right image to mind. Especially the word gnomes - Russian has adopted that word to refer to little people (like garden gnomes), and in LOTR the word is actually used to signify Dwarves. Gnom Gimli is a perfectly sound combination. Gnom Legolas makes me doubt my sanity. Each time I have to remind myself that gnomes are Elves, or at one point I think it referred specifically to the Noldor, but either way they are not Dwarves and are nothing like Dwarves (and each time I encounter that word first thing that comes to mind is something akin to Andvari, but also eager to make mischief and craft things like a LOTR Dwarf.).

And on top of that there's the common modern meaning of "gnomes" and "fairies" - a meaning significantly different from what it once used to be. On one hand the choice of name is a bad thing, since the modern image interferes with how the reader understands the character. But on the other hand, for careful readers it revives the idea that fairies and princesses and etc are not what Disney makes them out to be, but the lore behind them is much deeper (and quite different!). Seriously, though - have you never heard of a child saying "that can't be Cinderella, she doesn't have a blue dress"? The same goes for fairies. They don't have to be little winged sparkly things fluttering around, and people need a reminder of that.
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:06 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I have never read BOLT, so I apologize if my questions and comments are very obvious, but please bear with me.
No need to apologise! That's what this thread is for.

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Quick note - in this Vaire related to the one we all know as one of the Valar? I know Tolkien reused many discarded names, often for completely different characters.
It's one of the reusings, I'm afraid.

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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
But if I picked one of the Valar to tell a story, it would be Vaire. Like, if she would have been a Greek goddess instead of a Valie, she would have been the goddess of history. It would make total sense for stories - and what is history, if not stories? - to be told in her house.
Actually, now that I think about, having spun out the connection, I wonder if Tolkien's choice of reusing the name for the Vala Historian wasn't influenced by a similarity of roles.

Vair in the Lost Tales is the wife of Lindo and the Cottage of Lost Play is their household. And, as indicated in my post above, I think the cottage compares well to the Last Homely House. Comparing it to the Halls of Mandos... maybe not so much.

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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
Well, this is the first time I hear this name for ME, and I think it works quite well as a synonym. I think many a reader has thought or felt about ME like that - as if it's a world of lost tales - but maybe just hasn't phrased it exactly like that. The World of Lost Tales is what an outsider like myself might call Middle-earth; the locals would probably never call themselves that, but readers are (much to their regret) not locals.
True--as a name for the legendarium, ME isn't 100% precise: too much of it takes place in Valinor. In case you're wondering, the Lost Tales use "the Great Lands" (itself an emendation from generally using "the Outer Lands") in place of using "Middle-earth" to refer to the lands of men east of the sea.

I like the implications of "the Outer Lands," and I actually meant to bring it up when talking about how Kortirion is called the Citadel of the World, because it corroborates the idea that, in the Lost Tales, the Lonely Isle may have been lonely, but it was at the heart of things, not the periphery.

Once again, I can't comment very much on this having never read the book, but I have seen several such excerpts (thanks to you educated Downers ). The use of gnome and fairy really bugs me. It does not bring the right image to mind. Especially the word gnomes - Russian has adopted that word to refer to little people (like garden gnomes), and in LOTR the word is actually used to signify Dwarves. Gnom Gimli is a perfectly sound combination. Gnom Legolas makes me doubt my sanity. Each time I have to remind myself that gnomes are Elves, or at one point I think it referred specifically to the Noldor, but either way they are not Dwarves and are nothing like Dwarves (and each time I encounter that word first thing that comes to mind is something akin to Andvari, but also eager to make mischief and craft things like a LOTR Dwarf.).

And on top of that there's the common modern meaning of "gnomes" and "fairies" - a meaning significantly different from what it once used to be. On one hand the choice of name is a bad thing, since the modern image interferes with how the reader understands the character. But on the other hand, for careful readers it revives the idea that fairies and princesses and etc are not what Disney makes them out to be, but the lore behind them is much deeper (and quite different!). Seriously, though - have you never heard of a child saying "that can't be Cinderella, she doesn't have a blue dress"? The same goes for fairies. They don't have to be little winged sparkly things fluttering around, and people need a reminder of that.[/QUOTE]

There's a lot of things that could be spun off into a separate thread from these (and most) CbC-type discussions, so in time-honoured fashion, I'm going to do just that for "Gnomes and Fairies"--not least because Tolkien kept up the habit until at least the publication of [i]The Hobbit/i] (I do not remember offhand if the earliest LotR drafts still used them, but I think so) and because now I have translations questions.

SEE HERE FOR THAT THREAD
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Old 10-26-2014, 10:26 PM   #20
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I definitely get the Rivendell feeling when reading about Vaire and Lindo's place. There's something to an author establishing a "home." And not just a home in the sense of a physical residence, with walls and rooms...etc, but a "home" for the reader. Some place of rest and relaxation, cheer, tales, warmth, food. A place that conjures up these senses and emotions for the reader.

I think the success of The Lord of the Rings can be tied to The Shire being home. It's strongly established from the get go and Tolkien spends practically half of Book 1 in The Shire. Some might think that makes the story too slow, but in my opinion it creates a foothold for the reader. The Shire is meant to feel like "home," to the reader, and be just as bitter and difficult for the reader to leave as it is for Frodo in the story. So if the Cottage was in some way inspiration for Rivendell, as the "Last Homely House," that's good to draw on our feelings of home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by G55
Quick note - in this Vaire related to the one we all know as one of the Valar? I know Tolkien reused many discarded names, often for completely different characters. But if I picked one of the Valar to tell a story, it would be Vaire. Like, if she would have been a Greek goddess instead of a Valie, she would have been the goddess of history. It would make total sense for stories - and what is history, if not stories? - to be told in her house.
No, I'm fairly sure this is a case of Tolkien re-using a name. Although, that doesn't mean there is no connection. I think it's clear when settling on Vaire, as one of the Valar, Tolkien was in some way drawing back to Vaire, the elf in Lost Tales:

Quote:
"...nor, since Nienna is the wife of Mandos, has Vaire the Weaver, his wife in the later story, appeared, with her tapestries that portray 'all things that have ever been in Time,' and clothe the halls of Mandos 'that ever widen as the ages pass' - in Lost Tales the name of Vaire is given to an Elf of Tol Eressea." ~CT Commentary on the Coming of the Valar
Quote:
Eriol saw now that they were in a short broad corridor whose walls halfway up were arrassed; and on those tapestries were many stories pictured whereof he knew not at that time the purport. Above the tapestries it seemed there were paintings, but he could not see for gloom, for the candle-bearers were behind, and before him the only lights came from an open door through which poured a red glow as of a big fire. ~The Cottage of Lost Play
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Old 10-27-2014, 03:59 AM   #21
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I definitely get the Rivendell feeling when reading about Vaire and Lindo's place. There's something to an author establishing a "home." And not just a home in the sense of a physical residence, with walls and rooms...etc, but a "home" for the reader. Some place of rest and relaxation, cheer, tales, warmth, food. A place that conjures up these senses and emotions for the reader.

I think the success of The Lord of the Rings can be tied to The Shire being home. It's strongly established from the get go and Tolkien spends practically half of Book 1 in The Shire. Some might think that makes the story too slow, but in my opinion it creates a foothold for the reader. The Shire is meant to feel like "home," to the reader, and be just as bitter and difficult for the reader to leave as it is for Frodo in the story. So if the Cottage was in some way inspiration for Rivendell, as the "Last Homely House," that's good to draw on our feelings of home.

Whenever I think of Rivendell, or the Shire, I think of a cheerful, peaceful, and calming place. Whenever something is associated with these places, I just get washed over by an overwhelmingly positive feeling.
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Old 10-27-2014, 07:23 AM   #22
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Posted by Formendacil:
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Vair in the Lost Tales is the wife of Lindo and the Cottage of Lost Play is their household. And, as indicated in my post above, I think the cottage compares well to the Last Homely House. Comparing it to the Halls of Mandos... maybe not so much.
But isn't it here were in these later times Olore Male ends while in Mandos ended in all times Qalvanda? Okay, there should be differences since the meaning of transport is quiet different (dream and death).

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Old 10-27-2014, 11:36 AM   #23
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One minor question: when did Eriol learn the elf-tongue? Or, to put it another way, what language are they speaking in this tale? I assume--and I might be drawing off half-digested knowledge of later chapters--that they are speaking Elven (what would later be called Quenya), but as far as this chapter goes, there's no real evidence that I recall. For that matter, the Elves seem remarkably blas about this human wandering around in their midst.
Yes, in The Music of the Ainur ('intro' of sorts) Eriol states that he had learned:
Quote:
'that one fair tongue which the Eldar speak about this Isle of Tol Eressea -- but I marvelled to hear you speak as if there were many speeches of the Eldar: are there so?"

'Aye,' said Rumil, 'for there is that tongue to which the Noldoli cling yet -- and aforetime the Teleri, the Solosimpi, and the Inwir had all their differences. Yet these were slighter and are now merged in that tongue of the Island Elves which you have learnt.'
The early Qenya Lexicon is noted 'in the dialect of Kortirion'. I can't say that every early text will give the same account of tongues, necessarily, in all details, but in any event Eriol is talking to Rumil who had himself already 'worried at whiles even over the tongues of Men'

I suppose, within the context of the Cottage chapter, Eriol had learned during his journeying before he arrived at the Cottage? At the moment I can't recall if this is noted anywhere. Anyway, in a later 'Elfwine scenario', Elfwine arrives in Tol Eressea to find that his own tongue is spoken there.
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:33 PM   #24
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A major note of what-if lingers about the poem. "The Trees of Kortirion," CT tells us, looks to have been revised nearly a half-century after its original composition, probably about 1962 for a possible inclusion in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. And we're not talking about the ORIGINAL version here, I want to emphasize; we're talking about a version completely overhauled in the wake of the LotR, which--had it been published--would have had equal canonical stature to any of the other Bombadil poems (I give them coval status with The Hobbit myself).

I would have given it coeval status with all author-published works

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This is astounding--to me, anyway--...

I find it very interesting too!

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... because the revised, ca.1962, poem is still about a city titled "Kortirion." Is this still the Elvish name for Warwick-in-England? Or is it still the central city of Tol Eressa? What about the whole "Kor" part of its name? Kr, we will see more fully later, was the name in the BoLT of the city that the Silmarillion calls Tirion. Did Tolkien still envision "Kor" existing, perhaps as an alternate name for Tirion? Or is it simply part of the name of this other city, with a different--and nowhere elaborated--etymological history? It's hard to imagine that Tolkien didn't at least have a private half-answer in his thoughts to this question.
Cor still works for 'round' things in an Elvish scenario. In the late 1930s the base KOR- meant round, and kr was a: 'round hill upon which Tna was built'. This connection to roundness, at least, survived into The Lord of the Rings, noting the Elvish word cormacolindor 'Ringbearers', and Tolkien might have retained the idea that a hill could be named for its roundness, as he had early on.

Anyway in this last version of the poem it is the 'Edain' who built Kortirion, and we have (I think) fading companies of Elves, which leads me to think we are not upon Tol Eressea here.

I imagine that Avallone replaced Kortirion as the major city of Eressea. Kortirion was 'central' to the Island if I recall correctly, and (if I again recall correctly) I think there is a hint that the Eressean tree hailed from the midst of the Isle... but I can't locate any late references that speak to Kortirion surviving as a city, from an external perspective.

Perhaps Gondolin was enough of a memory of Tirion in the later scenario? The earlier scenario was: 'Now this city they called Kortirion, both in memory of their ancient dwelling of Kor in Valinor, and because this city stood also upon a hill and had a great tower tall and grey that Ingil son of Inwe their lord let raise.'

But Gondolin was made in memory of Tirion anyway, and it was built upon an 'island-hill'.



Although I think an external connection to Warwick still exists, I'm not sure how this poem could be part of the Red Book and actually refer to an Elvish-named Warwick.

Perhaps that's part of why it was not used in 'Adventures' in the 1960s? It brings up questions of authorship and timing if it is really ultimately about Warwick in England. Could it be a place in Middle-earth built by the Edain... that survived? Still, I think 'England' surviving from the destruction of Beleriand was out by this relatively late date.

In short I'm confused
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:33 PM   #25
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I would have given it coeval status with all author-published works
I wonder if you meant to say "coequal", rather than "coeval"?

coeval means "having the same age or date of origin" implying that all these works were written at the same time.

coequal means "equal with one another; having the same rank or importance."
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:49 PM   #26
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I wonder if you meant to say "coequal", rather than "coeval"?

coeval means "having the same age or date of origin" implying that all these works were written at the same time.

coequal means "equal with one another; having the same rank or importance."
As the one who first brought the word up--Galin was responding to my post--I'll admit I tend to misuse "coval," but even granting that I did, it's something of an apt mistake in this case, because "having the same age or date of origin" is a relevant matter in this case, because "The Trees of Kortirion" is a revision dating to the 1960s--in other words, its of an age with all the other post-LotR writings, even if the original version was contemporary of the Book of Lost Tales.

(My point of it being coval with The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and The Hobbit was, admittedly, more focused on co-equality than contemporaneity, but I was referring to the canonicity of each, and in this I am grounding canonicity in the age of the texts--remember, the final version of The Hobbit in Tolkien's lifetime was promulgated in the mid-1960s. And depending on the extent to which you give weight to the dating of a text, the assignment of its canonicity is a point where coval and coqual can get stickily intertwined.)

((A further aside: I blame Tolkien for both my knowledge and my misuse of the word "coval"--I am 99.999% certain I learned it in the context of "Manw was coval with Melkor in the mind of Ilvatar" --paraphrasing-- and this is illustrative of the point, perhaps, whereby age and equality intermingle. It gives nuance to the text that I did not pick up on as a teenager to note that Tolkien is saying that Manw and Melkor are "of the same age" in the mind of their creator, but the reason this is relevant in the text is because Manw and Melkor are both mightily powerful and important Valar, and while it may be a mistake on teenaged-me's part to read the text as being a direct proof of their co-equality, nonetheless their contemporaneity IS a proof of their similar status--not least because it does not seem to me that there should be time--and thus contemporaneity at all--in the mind of Eru, but also because "coval" is essentially a synonym of "peer."))
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:01 PM   #27
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I, too, read "coeval" as "equal in power" when I first read Silmarillion (also as a teenager when it first came out). It was only later I learned more about "coeval" and I think now that Tolkien really did understand it's nuance and use it intentionally meaning that they were "created" together as (dare I suggest) non-identical twins - one of whom had greater gifts but was motivated by increasing his own position and power, while the other was wiser and more humble (more willing to seek the glory of his father, rather than his own).

Actually, I wonder now if Tolkien's knowledge of the twins Esau & Jacob may have informed his subcreation of Melkor & Manwe. [note, I don't say inspired - but may have provided insights he used in giving them their qualities]

A few related quotes:
  • "Mightiest among (the Ainur) is Melkor" (implying mightier than Manwe - though not, necessarily, more noble in spirit).
  • "In the powers and knowledge of all the other Valar (Melkor) had part". Not said of Manwe - implying Melkor has more raw strength and knowledge than Manwe.
  • "Manwe and Melkor" were bretheren in the thought of Illuvatar" even though "mightiest of those who came into the World was, in his beginning, Melkor."
  • In the Valaquenta it's interesting that Tulkas is the strongest of the Valar (implying stronger than Manwe) even though Melkor is called the Mightiest of the Ainur (therefore also of the Valar who were a subset of Ainur) - hence stronger than Tulkas (at least, in his beginnings). Implying again that Melkor was stronger than Manwe.

Also, I seem to recall something in one of the HoME books about Manwe, after Melkor's first defeat at Utumno, being surprised how easily Melkor was beaten - not realizing how his power had become disbursed in the mastering of Arda and expecting him to be FAR more powerful then himself.
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:57 PM   #28
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[*]In the Valaquenta it's interesting that Tulkas is the strongest of the Valar (implying stronger than Manwe) even though Melkor is called the Mightiest of the Ainur (therefore also of the Valar who were a subset of Ainur) - hence stronger than Tulkas (at least, in his beginnings). Implying again that Melkor was stronger than Manwe.[/LIST]
Do you think there's a distinction here between pure brawn and overarching force?
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:50 PM   #29
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Also, I seem to recall something in one of the HoME books about Manwe, after Melkor's first defeat at Utumno, being surprised how easily Melkor was beaten - not realizing how his power had become disbursed in the mastering of Arda and expecting him to be FAR more powerful then himself.
Yep it's in Morgoth's Ring:
"So that they come at last to Utumno itself and find that 'the Morgoth' has no longer for the moment sufficient 'force' (in any sense) to shield himself from direct personal contact. Manw at last faces Melkor again, as he has not done since he entered Arda. Both are amazed: Manw to perceive the decrease in Melkor as a person; Melkor to perceive this also from his own point of view: he has now less personal force than Manw, and can no longer daunt him with his gaze."
But this is a later development, coming as it does from the 1955 essay 'Melkor Morgoth' in which Professor Tolkien states outright "Melkor must be made far more powerful in original nature" and "Later, he must not be able to be controlled or 'chained' by all the Valar combined."
I must admit that I'm not one hundred per cent about this, but is it not the case that originally Manw and Melkor were conceived of as being equally powerful, then at a later stage Melkor became more powerful than him? Until of course he was conceived of as being more powerful than all the Valar put together. And by 'the Valar' does it mean just the Valar, or all Ainur?

I get the impression Professor Tolkien felt that for the 'metaphysical maths' to work regarding Morgoth constantly imbuing his essence into his servants, the earth, etc, and still be at least somewhat formidable, his original power would have to be extraordinarily great.
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:49 AM   #30
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I have to admit I didn't think about the word really, in my response.

I didn't mean to cofuse the discussion in any case
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Old 10-31-2014, 01:50 PM   #31
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Do you think there's a distinction here between pure brawn and overarching force?
I do think there is, so the Tulkas/Melkor/Manwe comparison (at least) is less than clear (could be some mixing of apples & oranges). Good point.

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but is it not the case that originally Manw and Melkor were conceived of as being equally powerful
Well, I'm not sure if anything Tolkien wrote directly points to them being equal in might at any point in the story development - if you know of one, I'd be interested in it.

I wonder what we would have grown up thinking about their relative power if Tolkien had never used the word "coeval". Would we have gotten the idea of equal might somewhere else? Or would we have grown up thinking of Melkor as the single most mighty Ainu (the arch-prince, as it were) whose power went to his head?

For my part, I've sort of grown up thinking of Melkor as Lucifer to Manwe's Michael (or Gabriel?) - given Tolkien's Catholic background - so it could be I'm influenced by that.

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I didn't mean to confuse the discussion in any case
I never thought you confused anything - just gave an opportunity for discussion of an obscure (to modern minds) word - which I kind of enjoy
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Old 10-31-2014, 05:51 PM   #32
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Do you think there's a distinction here between pure brawn and overarching force?
Well, pure brawn fits into the 'who would win a fight', whereas actual power is more 'who has more reach, and more power of more things'.

Tulkas is basically all brawn. Melkor had legitimate power, and although he was defeated, that only angered him, rather than ruined his plans completely.

Melkor appears to be among the smartest of the Valar, and it was specifically stated in one of the books that Melkor had the most power and knowledge after learning from Eru Illuvatar.
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:13 AM   #33
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I never thought you confused anything - just gave an opportunity for discussion of an obscure (to modern minds) word - which I kind of enjoy
Thanks! However it's not confuse but cofuse... did the 'quote function' change the spelling?

I mean, don't tell me it's not a word (it might not be, b'just don't tell me)!
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:29 PM   #34
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Thanks! However it's not confuse but cofuse... did the 'quote function' change the spelling?
I mean, don't tell me it's not a word (it might not be, b'just don't tell me)!
No, that was my mental spell-checker :/. Since you used "cofuse" intentionally, I assume you meant mingling (fusing) the separate discussions. Good choice of word (whether real or not)!
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Old 11-01-2014, 10:09 PM   #35
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No, that was my mental spell-checker :/. Since you used "cofuse" intentionally, I assume you meant mingling (fusing) the separate discussions. Good choice of word (whether real or not)!
I was confused by that as well. It makes a lot more sense now.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:32 PM   #36
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Dark-Eye Chapter II: The Music of the Ainur

Chapter II of The Book of Lost Tales begins with what will be a feature of each chapter going forward: the "Link." This is J.R.R. Tolkien's own terminology, the full title here is Link between Cottage of Lost Play and (Tale 2) Music of Ainur. Since the link is Eriol's story of his time on the Lonely Isle, during which he comes to learn more and more about the history of the fairies, the entirety of "The Cottage of Lost Play," though it includes a comparatively brief tale recounting the history of the cottage itself, is really more to be considered the first "link" than one of the chapters in the same sense as the others. If so, "The Cottage of Lost Play" is the link between the Real World of the readers and the entirety of the mythology.

So there would be some truth in the matter if you wanted to say that the "Music of the Ainur" is the true beginning of the original legendarium; certainly, this is the position in the later version of the tales occupied by its lineal descendent, the Ainulindal. Actually, the relationship between "The Music of the Ainur" and "The Ainulindal" is a fascinating one, and I will quote CT himself to show why:

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Originally Posted by Christopher Tolkien in the Commentary on The Music of the Ainur
In later years the Creation myth was revised and rewritten over and over again; but it is notable that, in this case only and in contrast to the development of the rest of the mythology, there is a direct tradition, manuscript to manuscript, from the earliest draft to the final version; each text is directly based on the one preceding.

...

There were indeed very many changes, which can be followed stage by stage through the successive texts, and much new matter came in, but the fall of the original sentences can continually be recognized in the last version of the Ainulindal, written more than thirty years later, and even many phrases survived.
I'll be honest--although this fact intrigues and fascinates me, the product of the matter is that this is one of the more boring chapters in the BoLT to read and the material to discuss, at least in terms of comparison, is a bit harder to come by. But that doesn't mean there's nothing.

After all, there's the "Link." I remember when I first read The Book of Lost Tales, I was excited to see, in the flesh and blood, the appearance of a character who had appeared only as a dusty reference in The Silmarillion. I'm referring, of course, to Rmil. There's nothing in the later legendarium to suggest that he joined the Exiles (though 9/10s of the Noldor did, so it's hardly implausible), that he was a thrall in Angband, or settled after the War of Wrath on the Lonely Isle. All we really know is that he was a sage on whose work Fanor improved.

I find it interesting that Rmil says of himself that "Know you that the Noldoli grow old astounding slow, and yet have I grey hairs in the study of all the tongues of the Valar and Eldar." The narrator had earlier said of one of Eriol's guides to bed on his first night that "One of these... was old in appearance and grey of locks, and few of that folk were so."

I bring this up because one of the notes I made in "The Cottage of Lost Play" that did not end up in my post on that chapter had to do with the aging of the Elves. That chapter said of those in the Hall of Fire: "In one thing only were all alike, that a look of great happiness lit with a merry expectation of further mirth and joy lay on every face. The soft light of candles too was upon them all; it shone on bright tresses and gleamed about dark hair, or here or there set a pale fire in locks gone grey."

The aging of the Elves is given more play in the BoLT than it will get in the LotR, despite that fact that a major motif in both books is the slow fading and withdrawal of the Elves. In the LotR, only Crdan displays the physical signs of aging (Celeborn's silver hair, I've always assumed, is not hair gone grey, but the hair of his youth also, as seems to be typical of his kin among the royal house of the Teleri.

(Sidebar on aging: Rmil says the Noldoli age slowly. I've never been inclined to read this as him saying the Gnomes differ from the other Elves in this respect... but should I reconsider that?)

Speaking of Teleri and Noldoli, CT's commentary on the "Link" gives us a handy table that I will attempt to reproduce here:

Lost Tales
... ... ...
Silmarillion
Teleri
... ... ...
Vanyar
(including Inwir)
Noldoli
... ... ...
Noldor
(Gnomes)
Solosimpi
... ... ...
Teleri

Tolkien's reuse of the name "Teleri" (the second reuse we've encountered, after "Vair") can make the whole discussion of the different branches of the Eldar even more confusing than they start as.

My earlier question, of what language they are speaking to Eriol is answered in this chapter, as Galin already quoted, but the timeline of how long Eriol's been on the isle remains very vague and context in which he learned Elfin has been glided over. THAT he has learned it we are told, WHERE and FROM WHOM is not.

I noticed a few terminology sorts of things that I'll list off (I have no "point" to any of them, beyond observation):

1. Rmil's speech seems to be littered with a bit more Elfin than what is reported of the others (who are all supposed to be speaking Elfin anyway...): "when tirpti lirilla here comes a bird, an imp of Melko" and he speaks of Mar Vanya Tyaliva rather than the Cottage of Lost Play. It gives him a distinct character but its an inconsistent application of the translator conceit, I think.

2. "Gods" could (should?) probably join the discussion of "fairies" and "Gnomes" regarding words used in the BoLT and not much in the later works.

3. "The wastes of the time" ought to be the title of a fantasy novel. Rmil uses the term, saying "very mighty are the things you ask, and their true answer delves beyond the uttermost confines of the wastes of time." As a noun, "waste(s)" is fairly rare--possibly because it connotes an empty, vast expanse of land or sea. Still, the use of "wastes" to describe the expanse of time is a typically Tolkienian use of the term, one that makes me think of the connection between space and time--and its kind of weird to think about, because "space/time" is the sort of science-fiction/theoretical physics sort of concept I don't usually associate with a linguist during World War I--but, there you have it, it's still a valid connection to make anyway, because we know Tolkien was a reader of sci-fi (at least a decade later).


There are no poems at the end of this chapter and there are no obviously "what if" questions occurring to me--partly because of the close similarities between this Music of the Ainur and the last Music of the Ainur (for the is, of course, what "Ainulindal" means) are so strong.
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:15 PM   #37
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Tolkien's reuse of the name "Teleri" (the second reuse we've encountered, after "Vair") can make the whole discussion of the different branches of the Eldar even more confusing than they start as.
Tolkien did get into the habit of reusing names he liked, like renaming Bladorthin to Gandalf. While the whole Eldar's origin story remains the same, you are not wrong when you say it makes it more confusing. The transition between the Silmarillion and BoLT is often quite difficult, as the name are all different, very few the same.
I have no issues with the reuse, as remembering the change is not too difficult, but there are some other changes and things that confuse me, one of which being the changing of names without telling the reader. There were a few of these, and they really set off the pace, leaving you scratching your head as to what is happening. I will admit, I did close my book gently, but firmly, in frustration of these 'silent changes'.

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"The wastes of the time" ought to be the title of a fantasy novel. Rmil uses the term, saying "very mighty are the things you ask, and their true answer delves beyond the uttermost confines of the wastes of time." As a noun, "waste(s)" is fairly rare--possibly because it connotes an empty, vast expanse of land or sea. Still, the use of "wastes" to describe the expanse of time is a typically Tolkienian use of the term, one that makes me think of the connection between space and time--and its kind of weird to think about, because "space/time" is the sort of science-fiction/theoretical physics sort of concept I don't usually associate with a linguist during World War I--but, there you have it, it's still a valid connection to make anyway, because we know Tolkien was a reader of sci-fi (at least a decade later).
I never thought of that as a sci-fi sort of thing. I interpreted it a very different way. I read it as though Rumil was telling us that the true answers were lost long ago, and that it was impossible to try at retrieve them, unless you could relive the past and be there to hear it for yourself. The use of 'wastes' brought me to believe that Rumil was speaking quite negatively, lamenting the loss of valuable information. I never considered that it could've been the 'space' part of space/time. I can see the connection between 'wastes of time' and sci-fi after reading wastes like that, but it seems too obscure to be true. It's more likely that it was meant for Rumil to sound negative that nobody can tell Eriol anything, rather than it being lost forever, probably in the infinite.

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Old 11-02-2014, 06:15 PM   #38
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I never thought of that as a sci-fi sort of thing. I interpreted it a very different way. I read it as though Rumil was telling us that the true answers were lost long ago, and that it was impossible to try at retrieve them, unless you could relive the past and be there to hear it for yourself. The use of 'wastes' brought me to believe that Rumil was speaking quite negatively, lamenting the loss of valuable information. I never considered that it could've been the 'space' part of space/time. I can see the connection between 'wastes of time' and sci-fi after reading wastes like that, but it seems to obscure to be true. It's more likely that it was meant for Rumil to sound negative that nobody can tell Eriol anything, rather than it being lost forever, probably in the infinite.
I'm not trying to argue that Tolkien is doing anything particularly scientifictional. Mostly, I wanted to remark on the coolness of a phrase that caught my eye as I was reading. And then, before I wrote anything, I figured I'd think the phrase through--and double-check the definitions of "wastes"--and the fact that it's normally applied to space rather than time struck me as an appropriate encapsulation of Tolkien's way of doing things: it's a very archaic-sounding phrase, and indeed it is an older, less-freqent use of the word to refer to dimensions of space, but it's still a twentieth-century image that it creates, substituting time for space.

Not that I'm saying Tolkien was necessarily thinking about all this--he may have just been having Rmil make a subtle joke about "wasting time."
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:51 PM   #39
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I'll be honest--although this fact intrigues and fascinates me, the product of the matter is that this is one of the more boring chapters in the BoLT to read and the material to discuss, at least in terms of comparison, is a bit harder to come by. But that doesn't mean there's nothing.
In terms of comparisons between the Music of the Ainur in BoLT and the Music of the Ainur in The Silm, I agree. The chapters on their own, I think, are anything but boring. The creation myth stands, to me, as one of the most beautifully crafted chapters in The Silmarillion. Tolkien's creation myth is Music...the descriptions of instruments, voices, the Theme of Iluvatar and Melkor's discursive, contrasting Theme is fascinating reading. For a creation myth of a fantasy world, Tolkien using "Music," and continuing with that theme, is rather marvelous. It makes the entire creation story believable, to think of a world that is created and woven out of "Music."

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Originally Posted by Form
3. "The wastes of the time" ought to be the title of a fantasy novel. Rmil uses the term, saying "very mighty are the things you ask, and their true answer delves beyond the uttermost confines of the wastes of time." As a noun, "waste(s)" is fairly rare--possibly because it connotes an empty, vast expanse of land or sea. Still, the use of "wastes" to describe the expanse of time is a typically Tolkienian use of the term, one that makes me think of the connection between space and time--and its kind of weird to think about, because "space/time" is the sort of science-fiction/theoretical physics sort of concept I don't usually associate with a linguist during World War I--but, there you have it, it's still a valid connection to make anyway, because we know Tolkien was a reader of sci-fi (at least a decade later).
Then in the Music text, Rumil uses "deeps of time":

Quote:
'Hear now things that have not been heard among Men, and the Elves speak seldom of them; yet did Manwe Sulimo, Lord of Elves and Men, whisper them to the fathers of my father in the deeps of time.'
Another word, when used a noun, describing vastness, space but being associated with time. Tolkien uses "deeps of the Sea" and "depths of the Sea" a few times in this chapter. I agree with Tar-jex in "wastes of time" suggesting negative, something lost in the vast expanse of time. Where "deeps of time" suggests something positive, or full. Typically I associate depth with substance, or fullness. So, we have two instances where words describing space are tied to time. The first suggests emptiness (or something lost?) and the second I think of "deeps of time" suggests fullness.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:45 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
I'm not trying to argue that Tolkien is doing anything particularly scientifictional. Mostly, I wanted to remark on the coolness of a phrase that caught my eye as I was reading. And then, before I wrote anything, I figured I'd think the phrase through--and double-check the definitions of "wastes"--and the fact that it's normally applied to space rather than time struck me as an appropriate encapsulation of Tolkien's way of doing things: it's a very archaic-sounding phrase, and indeed it is an older, less-freqent use of the word to refer to dimensions of space, but it's still a twentieth-century image that it creates, substituting time for space.

Not that I'm saying Tolkien was necessarily thinking about all this--he may have just been having Rmil make a subtle joke about "wasting time."
In a forum where we're known for over-analyzing things, I'm pretty sure we're over analyzing it. I bet it just would've been a sentence that sounded pretty cool and Tolkien thought, 'Hey, this sentence sounds just right. I like the way the words fit. No point in ever editing it.'
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