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Tolkien: Frequently Asked Questions (1/2)
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William D.B. Loos
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Archive-name: tolkien/faq/part1

Posting Frequency: 28 days
Last Updated: 1994/03/28



The Tolkien Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQ), is the first of
two informational files on J.R.R. Tolkien and his writings, the other
being the Less Frequently Asked Questions List (LessFAQ). The division
of questions follows several general criteria. The FAQ leans towards
questions of interest to people who have read only _The Lord of the
Rings_ and _The Hobbit_, together with most questions on Tolkien himself
and on topics which seem fundamental to his worldview (his linguistic
games in particular). The LessFAQ contains questions of a more obscure
nature, most questions arising from posthumous works, and in general
aspects of the nature and history of Middle-earth which are important
but tangential to _The Lord of the Rings_. There is also an element of
personal arbitrariness. All available sources have been used for both
lists. Criticisms, corrections, and suggestions are of course welcome.

William D.B. Loos
***@hudce.harvard.edu


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TOLKIEN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST


Questions numbered thusly: 1) are in their final form.
Questions numbered thusly: 1] remain unrevised.
Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last
release.
** are new since the last release.


Table of Contents


I. Changes Since the Last Release (*)

II. Acknowledgements

III. Note on References and Conversion Table

IV. Commonly Used Abbreviations


V. Frequently Asked Questions

A) Tolkien And His Work
1) Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?

2) Were the languages presented in _The Lord of the Rings_ real
languages?
3) What does it mean when people (or Tolkien himself) speak of him
as having been the "editor" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?
4) How thoroughly realized was Tolkien's fiction that he was the
"translator" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?
5) Why is Tolkien's work, _The Lord of the Rings_ in particular,
so difficult to translate (into other languages of our world)?

6) Did the events in _The Lord of the Rings_ take place on another
planet or what?
7) Was the northwest of Middle-earth, where the story takes place,
meant to actually be Europe?
8) Was the Shire meant to be England?

9) What were the changes made to _The Hobbit_ after _The Lord of
the Rings_ was written, and what motivated them?

B) Hobbits
1) Were Hobbits a sub-group of Humans?
2) Did Hobbits have pointed ears?
3) When was Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday? To what date on our own
calendar does it correspond?
4) Was Gollum a hobbit?

C) Elves
1) Did Elves have pointed ears?

D) Dwarves
1) Did Dwarf women have beards?

E) Istari (Wizards)
1] Who were the Istari (Wizards)?
2] Of the Five Wizards, only three came into the story. Was
anything known about the other two?
3] What happened to Radagast?

F) Enemies
1] What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

G) Miscellaneous
1] Who or what was Tom Bombadil?
2) What became of the Entwives?


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CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The following individuals made suggestions and contributions to these
FAQ lists:


***@williams.edu (Wayne Hammond Jr)
***@erols.com (Carl F. Hostetter)
***@ERC.MsState.Edu (Paul Adams)
***@math.canterbury.ac.nz (Bill Taylor)
***@jido.b30.ingr.com (Craig Presson)

***@usit.uio.no (Simen Gaure)
***@uther.Calvin.EDU (Alan Baljeu)
***@ecf.toronto.edu (SAHDRA KULDIP)
***@sol1.lrsm.upenn.edu (Bill Sherman)
***@mistral.rice.edu (Mark Gordon)
***@oils.ozy.dec.com (Peter Hunt)
***@cesl.rutgers.edu (Robert Rosenbaum)


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NOTE ON REFERENCES

There is a certain amount of cross-referencing among the questions
on both the FAQ and the LessFAQ lists. Any questions so referred to are
specified by the list, section, and question number. Thus, the first
question in the Hobbit section of the FAQ, "Were Hobbits a sub-group of
Humans?" would be referenced as (FAQ, Hobbits, 1). Note that the
section "Tolkien And His Work" is referred to merely as "Tolkien" and
the section "General History of Middle-earth" is referred to merely as
"General". E.g. the question "Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?" is (FAQ,
Tolkien, 1) and the question "What exactly happened at the end of the
First Age?" is (LessFAQ, General, 1).

Sources for quotations have been provided in the form of volume
and page numbers; the specific editions utilized are listed in the next
paragraph. For those occasions when the proper edition is not available
(and the conversion table below is not applicable) the page numbers have
been roughly located according to chapter, sub-section, or appendix,
whichever is appropriate. For example, RK, 57-59 (V, 2) refers to
pages 57-59 of Return of the King and further locates the pages in
chapter 2 of Book V. PLEASE NOTE the distinction in the case of _Lord
of the Rings_ between *Volumes* and *Books*. LotR is comprised of three
Volumes (FR, TT, and RK) and of six Books (I - VI), which are the more
natural divisions of the story into six roughly equal parts. There are
two Books in each of the Volumes. Other sample references are below.

References to _The Hobbit_ are from the Ballantine paperback (the
pagination has been the same since the 60's. All other references are
to the HM hardcovers. Sample references follow:

Hobbit, 83 (Ch V) == Hobbit, chapter V

RK, 408 (App F, I, "Of Men", "Of Hobbits") ==
p 408 in Part I of Appendix F, the sections
entitled "Of Men" and "Of Hobbits"

Silm, 57 (Ch V) == Silmarillion, chapter V (BoLT and _The
Annotated Hobbit_ treated similarly)

UT, 351 (Three, IV, iii) == Unfinished Tales, Part Three,
Chapter IV, sub-section iii
(the Biography treated similarly)

Letters, 230 (#178) == letter number 178.

RtMe, 53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms") ==
The Road to Middle-earth, in Chapter 3,
sub-section "Creative anachronisms"


CONVERSION TABLE

In _The Atlas of Middle-earth_, Karen Wynn Fonstad provided a
Houghton-Mifflin-to-Ballantine conversion table, which is reproduced
below. The "table" is actually a set of formulae by which HM page
numbers may be converted to Ballantine page numbers via arithmetic
involving some empirically determined constants. Since these are
discrete rather than continuous functions the results may be off by
a page or so.

[NOTE: in the Fall of 1993, Ballantine issued a new edition of the mass
market paperback of LotR in which the text has been re-set, thereby
changing the page on which any given quote is located. Thus, the
following table will no longer work with the latest printings, which may
be identified by the change in the color of the covers (the pictures are
unaltered): in the previous set of printings all the covers were black;
in the new set FR is green, TT is purple, and RK is red.]

HM Page Subtract Divide By Add
------------- -------- --------- -------
FR 10 to 423 9 .818 18
TT 15 to 352 14 .778 16
RK 19 to 311 18 .797 18
RK 313 to 416 312 .781 386
H 9 to 317 8 1.140 14
Silm 15 to 365 14 .773 2

Reference: Atlas, p. 191 (first edtion), p. 192 (revised edtion)


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COMMONLY USED ABBREVIATIONS

General:

JRRT J.R.R. Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
CT, CJRT Christopher Tolkien (son; editor of most posthumous
works)

A&U, AU George Allen & Unwin (original British publisher)
UH Unwin Hyman (new name for A&U c. 1987(?))
HC HarperCollins (purchased UH c. 1992; current British
publisher)
HM Houghton Mifflin (American publisher)

M-e Middle-earth
SA Second Age
TA Third Age
SR Shire Reckoning

Middle-earth Works:

H The Hobbit
LR, LotR The Lord of the Rings
FR, FotR The Fellowship of the Ring
TT, TTT The Two Towers
RK, RotK The Return of the King

TB, ATB The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
RGEO The Road Goes Ever On
Silm The Silmarillion
UT Unfinished Tales
Letters The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
HoMe History of Middle-earth
BLT,BoLT Book of Lost Tales
Lays The Lays of Beleriand
Treason The Treason of Isengard
Guide The Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings
(published in _A Tolkien Compass_)

Other Works:

FGH Farmer Giles of Ham
TL Tree and Leaf
OFS On Fairy-Stories
LbN Leaf by Niggle
HBBS The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son
SWM Smith of Wootton Major
SGPO Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo
FCL The Father Christmas Letters

Reference Works:

Biography J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography; by Humphrey Carpenter
(published in the US as Tolkien: A Biography)
Inklings The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles
Williams, and Their Friends; by Humphrey Carpenter
RtMe The Road to Middle-earth; by T.A. Shippey
Scholar J.R.R. Tolkien, Scholar and Storyteller: Essays in
Memoriam; edited by Mary Salu and Robert T. Farrell
Atlas The Atlas of Middle-earth; by Karen Wynn Fonstad


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TOLKIEN AND HIS WORK

1) Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Englishman, scholar, and storyteller
was born of English parents at Bloemfontein, South Africa on Jan. 3,
1892 and died in England on Sept. 2, 1973. His entire childhood was
spent in England, to which the family returned permenantly in 1896
upon the death of his father. He received his education at King
Edward's School, St. Philip's Grammar School, and Oxford University.
After graduating in 1915 he joined the British army and saw action in
the Battle of the Somme. He was eventually discharged after spending
most of 1917 in the hospital suffering from "trench fever". [It was
during this time that he began The Book of Lost Tales.]

Tolkien was a scholar by profession. His academic positions were:
staff member of the New English Dictionary (1918-20); Reader, later
Professor of English Language at Leeds, 1920-25; Rawlinson and Bosworth
Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (1925-45); and Merton Professor of
English Language and Literature (1945-59). His principal professional
focus was the study of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and its relation to
linguistically similar languages (Old Norse, Old German, and Gothic),
with special emphasis on the dialects of Mercia, that part of England
in which he grew up and lived, but he was also interested in Middle
English, especially the dialect used in the _Ancrene Wisse_ (a twelfth
century manuscript probably composed in western England). Moreover,
Tolkien was an expert in the surviving literature written in these
languages. Indeed, his unusual ability to simultaneously read the
texts as linguistic sources and as literature gave him perspective
into both aspects; this was once described as "his unique insight at
once into the language of poetry and the poetry of language" (from
the Obituary; Scholar, p. 13).

From an early age he had been fascinated by language, particularly
the languages of Northern Europe, both ancient and modern. From this
affinity for language came not only his profession but also his private
hobby, the invention of languages. He was more generally drawn to the
entire "Northern tradition", which inspired him to wide reading of its
myths and epics and of those modern authors who were equally drawn to
it, such as William Morris and George MacDonald. His broad knowledge
inevitably led to the development of various opinions about Myth, its
relation to language, and the importance of Stories, interests which
were shared by his friend C.S. Lewis. All these various perspectives:
language, the heroic tradition, and Myth and Story (and a very real
and deeply-held belief in and devotion to Catholic Christianity) came
together with stunning effect in his stories: first the legends of the
Elder Days which served as background to his invented languages, and
later his most famous works, _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of the Rings_.


References: Biography; Letters; RtMe (esp. ch 1, on philology);
Inklings; Scholar.

Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr

----------


2) Were the languages presented in _The Lord of the Rings_ real
languages?

Most certainly they were, especially the Elven languages Sindarin
and Quenya. "[These were] no arbitrary gibberish but really possible
tongues with consistent roots, sound laws, and inflexions, into which
he poured all his imaginative and philological powers..." (Obituary,
in Scholar, p. 12). Furthermore, they were both derived from a
"proto-Elvish" language, again in a linguistically realistic manner.
[Sindarin was the "everyday" elvish language while Quenya was a kind
of "elf-latin"; therefore, most Elvish words in LotR were Sindarin.
Examples: most "non-English" (see FAQ, Tolkien, 4) place-names on the
map (e.g. Minas Tirith, Emyn Beriad) were Sindarin, as was the song
to Elbereth sung in Rivendell; Galadriel's lament was in Quenya.]

The language of the Rohirrim *was* a real language: Anglo-Saxon
(Old English), just as their culture (except for the horses) was that
of the Anglo-Saxons. (It was, however, not the "standard" West Saxon
Old English but rather the Mercian equivalent (RtMe, 94).) Most of
the other languages in LotR were much less fully developed: Entish,
Khudzul (Dwarvish) and the Black Speech (the language of Mordor, e.g.
the Ring inscription). Adunaic, the language of Numenor, developed in
1946 while he was finishing up LotR, was said to be his fifteenth
invented language.


References: Biography, 35-37 (II,3), 93-95 (III,1), 195 (V,2);
Letters, 175-176 (#144), 219 (footnote) (#165), 380 (#297);
RtMe, 93 (4, "The horses of the Mark");
Scholar, 12 (Obituary).

Contributor: WDBL

----------


3) What does it mean when people (or Tolkien himself) speak of him as
having been the "editor" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?

The fiction Tolkien sought to maintain was that _The Lord of the
Rings_ (and _The Hobbit_ and the Silmarillion) were actually ancient
manuscripts (written by Frodo and Bilbo, respectively) of which he was
merely the editor and translator (a situation identical to much of his
scholarly work). He never stated this directly but it is implicit in
the way in which many sections of LoTR outside the story are written.
Thus, the Prologue is plainly written as though by a modern editor
describing an ancient time. Other examples are the introductory note
to the revised edition of _The Hobbit_, the Preface to _The Adventures
of Tom Bombadil_, and parts of the Appendices, especially the intro-
ductory note to Appendix A, Appendix D, and Appendix F. Most inter-
esting of all is the Note on the Shire Records, where Tolkien further
simulates a real situation by inventing a manuscript tradition (the
suggestion was that Frodo's original manuscript didn't survive but
that a series of copies had been made, one of which had come into
Tolkien's hands).

This entire notion was by no means a new idea: many authors have
pretended that their fantasies were "true" stories of some ancient
time. Few, however, have done so as thoroughly and successfully as
did Tolkien. The most effective component of his pretense was the
linguistic aspects of Middle-earth, for he was uniquely qualified to
pose as the "translator" of the manuscripts (see FAQ, Tolkien, 4).


References: introductory note to _The Hobbit_ (precedes Ch I);
FR, Prologue, Note on the Shire Records;
RK, Appendix A, Appendix D, Appendix F;
ATB, Preface.

Contributor: WDBL

----------


4) How thoroughly realized was Tolkien's fiction that he was the
"translator" of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?

Very thoroughly indeed. The scenario was that "of course" hobbits
couldn't have spoken English (the story took place far in the past --
see FAQ, Tolkien, 6); rather, they spoke their own language, called
Westron (but often referred to as the Common Speech). Tolkien "trans-
lated" this language into English, which included "rendering" all the
Common Speech place-names into the equivalent English place-names.
The object of the exercise was to produce the following effect: names
in the Common Speech (which were familiar to the hobbits) were
"rendered" into English (in which form they would be familiar to us,
the English-speaking readers); names in other languages (usually
Sindarin) were "left alone", and thus were equally unfamiliar to the
hobbits and to us. Since the story was told largely from the hobbits'
point of view, that we should share their linguistic experience is a
desirable result (especially for Tolkien, who was unusually sensitive
to such matters).

In portraying the linguistic landscape of Middle-earth he carried
this procedure much further. The main example was his "substitution"
of Anglo-Saxon for Rohirric. The "rationale" was that the hobbits'
dialect of Westron was distantly related to Rohirric; therefore, when
hobbits heard Rohirric they recognized many words but the language
nevertheless remained just beyond understanding (RK, 65 (V,3)). Thus,
Tolkien attempted to further "duplicate" hobbit linguistic perceptions
by "substituting" that language of our world (Anglo-Saxon) which has
(more-or-less) the same relation to English that Rohirric had to the
hobbit version of Westron.

There were many other nuances in the intricate and subtle linguis-
tic web he devised (always, he carefully explained, in the interests
of "reproducing" the linguistic map of Middle-earth in a way that
could be easily assimilated by modern English-speaking readers). Thus:

a) Archaic English roots were used in those Common Speech place-
names which were given long before the time of the story (e.g.
Tindrock, Derndingle; see Guide).

b) Some of the Stoors (who later settled in Buckland and the Marish)
dwelt in Dunland at one time (Tale of Years, entries for TA 1150
and 1630 (RK, App B)); the men of Bree also came from that region
originally (RK, 408 (App F, I, "Of Men", "Of Hobbits")). "Since
the survival of traces of the older language of the Stoors and the
Bree-men resembled the survival of Celtic elements in England"
(RK, 414 (App F, II)), the place-names in Bree were Celtic in
origin (Bree, Archet, Chetwood) (see also Guide). Similarly, the
names of the Buckland hobbits were Welsh (e.g. Madoc, Berilac).

c) Among hobbits some of the older Fallohide families liked to give
themselves high-sounding names from the legendary past (an example
of hobbit humor). Tolkien "represented" such names by names of
Frankish or Gothic origin (Isengrim, Rudigar, Fredegar, Peregrin).

These matters and much else is explained in detail in Appendix F.


References: RK, Appendix F;
Guide;
Letters, 174-176 (#144), 380-381 (#297);
RtMe, 88-89 (4, "Stars, shadows, cellar-doors: patterns
of language and of history").

Contributor: WDBL

----------


5) Why is Tolkien's work, _The Lord of the Rings_ in particular, so
difficult to translate (into other languages of our world)?

Because his interest in, skill with, and love of language are man-
ifest at every level and indeed in almost every word of LotR, thereby
producing a result difficult if not impossible to duplicate.

The previous question describes how Common Speech names were
"rendered" into English. The Guide to the Names in _The Lord of the
Rings_, Tolkien's instructions for translators, does attempt to
address this. In it he goes down the list of names in the index and
specifies which should be translated (being Common Speech) and which
should be left alone. It would require skillful translation to get
even this far, but that would only be the beginning. Reproducing the
other linguistic intricacies described in the previous question would
be well-nigh impossible; for example, Rohirric would have to be
replaced with some ancient language whose relation to the language of
translation was the same as that of Anglo-Saxon to modern English.

On another level, there is the diction and style of everything
said and told. The language used has a strong archaic flavor; it is
not an exact recreation of how Anglo-Saxon or medieval people actually
spoke but rather is as close an approximation as he could achieve and
still remain intelligible to modern readers. This was not accidental
but rather was deliberately and carefully devised. (See Letters,
225-226 (#171)).

There were, moreover, variations in the style in which characters
of different backgrounds spoke the Common Speech ("represented" as
English) (e.g. at the Council of Elrond, FR, II, 2; see also RtMe
90-93). There were variations in the style of individual characters
at different times (RK, 412 (App F, II)). There was even an attempt
to indicate a distinction between familiar and deferential forms of
pronouns (which doesn't exist in modern English) by use of the archaic
words "thee" and "thou" (RK, 411 (App F, II); for an example, see the
scene with Aragorn and Eowyn at Dunharrow, RK, 57-59 (V, 2)).

Finally, there was Tolkien's poetry, which was often far more
complicated than it appeared, and which in many cases is very probably
untranslatable. (The extreme case is Bilbo's Song of Earendil, FR,
246-249 (II,1); T.A. Shippey has identified five separate metrical
devices in this poem: RtMe, 145-146).


References: RK, Appendix F, 57-59 (V, 2);
FR, "The Council of Elrond" (II, 2), 246-249 (II,1);
Guide;
Letters, 225-226 (#171), 250-251 (#190) [on the Dutch
translation], 263 (#204) [on the Swedish translation];
RtMe, 90-93 (4, "'The Council of Elrond'"),
145-146 (6, "the elvish tradition").

Contributor: WDBL

----------


6) Did the events in _The Lord of the Rings_ take place on another
planet or what?

No. Tolkien's intention was that was that Middle-earth was our
own world, though his way of stating this idea was somewhat unusual:
he spoke of having created events which took place in an *imaginary
time* of a real place. He made this fully explicit only in Letters,
but there were two very strong indications in the published _Lord of
the Rings_, though both were outside the narrative.

The first was in the Prologue. It is there stated: "Those days,
the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past, and the shape of all
lands has been changed; but the regions in which Hobbits then lived
were doubtless the same as those in which they still linger: the
North-West of the Old World, east of the Sea." (FR, 11). Since no
other reference is made to this matter either in the Prologue or in
the main narrative, it makes little impression on most readers, but
is clear enough once pointed out.

The second was in Appendix D, which presents lore on calendars in
Middle-earth. The discussion begins as follows:

The Calendar in the Shire differed in several features from ours.
The year no doubt was of the same length (*), for long ago as those
times are now reckoned in years and lives of men, they were not very
remote according to the memory of the Earth.

(*) 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds.
(RK, 385 (App D))

The quote is clear enough in and of itself, but that the year length
specified in the footnote is the precise length of our own year must
surely remove all doubt.

There follow excerpts from three letters wherein the matter is
further discussed.

'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land
without relation to the world we live in .... And though I have not
attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land-masses to
what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imagina-
tively this 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the
actual Old World of this planet.
Letters, 220 (#165)

I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary
world. ... The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which
we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials
of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of
N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little
glorified by the enchantment of distance in time.
Letters, 239 (#183)

... I hope the, evidently long but undefined, gap(*) in time between
the Fall of Barad-dur and our Days is sufficient for 'literary cred-
ibility', even for readers acquainted with what is known or surmised
of 'pre-history'.

I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary *time*, but kept my
feet on my own mother-earth for *place*. I prefer that to the con-
temporary mode of seeking remote globes in 'space'. However curious,
they are alien, and not lovable with the love of blood-kin. Middle-
earth is ... not my own invention. It is a modernization or
alteration ... of an old word for the inhabited world of Men, the
_oikoumene_ : middle because thought of vaguely as set amidst the
encircling Seas and (in the northern-imagination) between ice of the
North and the fire of the South. O. English _middan-geard_ ,
mediaeval E. _midden-erd_, _middle-erd_ . Many reviewers seem to
assume that Middle-earth is another planet!
Letters, 283 (#211)

The footnote in the first sentence of the last-quoted excerpt offers
a fascinating insight:

(*) I imagine the gap to be about 6000 years: that is we are now
at the end of the Fifth Age, if the Ages were of about the
same length as S.A. and T.A. But they have, I think,
quickened; and I imagine we are actually at the end of the
Sixth Age, or in the Seventh.
Letters, 283 (#211)

A final note is that not only is the place our own world but also the
people inhabiting it are ourselves, morally as well as physically:

... I have not made any of the peoples on the 'right' side, Hobbits,
Rohirrim, Men of Dale or of Gondor, any better than men have been or
are, or can be. Mine is not an 'imaginary' world, but an imaginary
historical moment on 'Middle-earth' -- which is our habitaion.
Letters, 244 (#183)


References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
RK, 385 (Appendix D);
Letters, 220 (#165), 239, 244 (#183), 283 (#211).

Contributors: WDBL, Carl F. Hostetter, Bill Taylor
William D.B. Loos
2004-04-09 11:57:13 UTC
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Archive-name: tolkien/faq/part2

Posting Frequency: 28 days
Last Updated: 1994/03/28




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7) Was the northwest of Middle-earth, where the story took place, meant
to actually be Europe?

Yes, but a qualified yes. There is no question that Tolkien had
northwestern Europe in mind when he described the terrain, weather,
flora, and landscapes of Middle-earth. This was no doubt partially
because NW Europe was his home and therefore most familiar to him and
partially because of his love for the "Northern tradition". As he
said himself: "The North-west of Europe, where I (and most of my
ancestors) have lived, has my affection, as a man's home should. I
love its atmosphere, and know more of its histories and languages than
I do of other parts; ..." (Letters 376 (#294)). Thus, the environment
of Middle-earth will seem familiar to dwellers of that region of
Europe (see the second letter excerpted in FAQ, Tolkien, 6 (#183)).

However, the geographies simply don't match. This was the result
not so much of a deliberate decision on Tolkien's part to have things
so but rather a side-effect of the history of the composition: the
question did not occur to him until the story was too far advanced and
the map too fixed to allow much alteration:

... if it were 'history', it would be difficult to fit the lands and
events (or 'cultures') into such evidence as we possess, archaeo-
logical or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what
is now called Europe; though the Shire, for instance, is expressly
stated to have been in this region [FR, 11]. I could have fitted
things in with greater versimilitude, if the story had not become
too far developed, before the question ever occurred to me. I doubt
if there would have been much gain; ...
Letters, 283 (#211)

... As for the shape of the world of the Third Age, I am afraid that
was devised 'dramatically' rather than geologically, or paleonto-
logically. I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agree-
ment between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my
map a little more possible. But that would only have made more
trouble with human history.
Letters, 224 (#169)

The remark that there probably would not "have been much gain" is
characteristic and perhaps indicates Tolkien's own approach, which
would seem to have been to focus on the environmental familiarity at
the "local" level (in the sense that any particular scene might have
come from somewhere in Europe) and to simply overlook the lack of
"global" identity. On the other hand, he made some attempt to address
the difficulty in the quote from the Prologue (FR, 11), where it was
said: "Those days, the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past,
and the shape of all lands has been changed...". The conclusion is
that it is a matter for each individual reader as to how important is
the lack of geographical fit and where one comes down on the continuum
between "Middle-earth was northwestern Europe" and "Middle-earth might
as well have been northwestern Europe" (or, as Tolkien might have
said, "Middle-earth 'imaginatively' was northwestern Europe"). [Thus,
recent attempts to force the M-e map to fit the map of the Eurasian
land mass, such as in _Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia_ by David
Day, should be discounted.]

In one letter he provided indications to help in visualizing the
circumstances of various locales, but this does not help in resolving
the above matter, since again northwestern Europe was used for
comparison rather than equation:

The action of the story takes place in the North-west of 'Middle-
earth', equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the
north shores of the Mediterranean. ... If Hobbiton and Rivendell
are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then
Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence.
The Mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about
the latitude of ancient Troy.
Letters, 375-376 (#294)


References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
Letters, 376 (#294), 239 (#183), 283 (#211), 224 (#169).

Contributors: WDBL, Carl F. Hostetter

----------


8) Was the Shire meant to be England?

In this case, the balance between "actually *was*" and "was based
upon" is entirely tipped towards the latter. There is no hint that
the Shire was in any sense supposed the be the country now called
England in an ancient state. On the other hand, there is plainly a
very strong resemblance between the Shire and the rural England of
about a century ago.

More precisely, the Shire plainly could not *be* England in any
literal sense: England is an island, and even changes in "the shape of
all lands" (FR, 11) is insufficient to explain such a discrepancy
(especially since even the westernmost part of the Shire was some 200
miles from the Sea). Nevertheless, the Shire was more exactly based
on England than any other part of Middle-earth was based on any part
of our world: the climate, place-names, flora and fauna, terrain,
food, customs, and the inhabitants themselves, were all English. In
effect the Shire was an idealized version of the rural England of
Tolkien's childhood. Some of his comments on the matter were:

[The Shire] is in fact more or less a Warwickshire village of about
the period of the Diamond Jubilee ...
Letters, 230 (#178)

But, of course, if we drop the 'fiction' of long ago, 'The Shire' is
based on rural England and not any other country in the world...
[Later in the same letter he implied that the Shire was "an imag-
inary mirror" of England.]
Letters, 250 (#190)

There is no special reference to England in the 'Shire' -- except
of course that as an Englishman brought up in an 'almost rural'
village of Warwickshire on the edge of the prosperous bourgeoisie of
Birmingham (about the time of the Diamond Jubilee!) I take my models
like anyone else -- from such 'life' as I know.
Letters, 235 (#181)

See also RtMe 31-33 for a fascinating suggestion that certain compo-
nents of Tolkien's early philological studies may have contributed to
his later conception of the Shire. Shippey has also suggested that
Tolkien's motivation in changing Gandalf's supper request in ch 1 of
_The Hobbit_ from "cold chicken and tomatoes" in the first edition to
"cold chicken and pickles" in the revised edition was linguistic: that
to Tolkien's extraordinarily sensitive ear "tomato" sounded out of
place in a country that was a mirror of English, since tomato only
entered the language in the sixteenth century and moreover originally
came from some Caribbean language. Likewise, tobacco, used in _The
Hobbit_, was changed to "pipeweed", and "potatos" were usually spoken
of only by Sam, who called them "taters" (RtMe, 53-54; Annotated
Hobbit, 19).
* * *

Finally, great care must be taken not to confound the idea of the
Shire's having been based on England with a concept found in Tolkien's
earliest writings, that Tol Eressea (Elvenhome) eventually *became*
England. This appeared during his early work on the Book of Lost
Tales (which eventually evolved into the Silm). Very probably it had
been supplanted even before he stopped work on the Lost Tales (1920)
(BoLT I, 22-27). In any case, it had long since been abandoned by the
time LoTR was begun in 1937, and plays no part in the 'history' of
Middle-earth as presented in LotR, Silm, _The Hobbit_, etc.


References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
Letters, 230 (#178), 235 (#181), 250 (#190);
RtMe, 31-33 (2, "Survivals in the West"),
53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms");
BoLT I, 22-27 (I, "Commentary on _The Cottage of
Lost Play_");
Annotated Hobbit, 19 (ch 1, note 7).

Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr, Bill Taylor

----------


9) What were the changes made to _The Hobbit_ after _The Lord of the
Rings_ was written, and what motivated them? [This question refers to
the major revisions made to the Gollum chapter, "Riddles in the Dark",
not to the multitude of minor changes made elsewhere.]


In the original 1937 edition of _The Hobbit_ Gollum was genuinely
willing to bet his ring on the riddle game, the deal being that Bilbo
would receive a "present" if he won. Gollum in fact was dismayed when
he couldn't keep his promise because the ring was missing. He showed
Bilbo the way out as an alternative, and they parted courteously.

As the writing of LotR progressed the nature of the Ring changed.
No longer a "convenient magical device", it had become an irresistable
power object, and Gollum's behavior now seemed inexplicable, indeed,
impossible. In the rough drafts of the "Shadow of the Past" chapter
Gandalf was made to perform much squirming in an attempt to make it
appear credible, not wholly successfully.

Tolkien resolved the difficulty by re-writing the chapter into its
present form, in which Gollum had no intention whatsoever of giving up
the Ring but rather would show Bilbo the way out if he lost. Also,
Gollum was made far more wretched, as befitted one enslaved and tor-
mented by the Ruling Ring. At the same time, however, Bilbo's claim
to the Ring was seriously undercut.

[ Care must be taken when noting this last point. There are two
issues involved, well summarized in the Prologue: "The Authorities, it
is true, differ whether this last question was a mere 'question' and
not a 'riddle' ... but all agree that, after accepting it and trying
to guess the answer, Gollum was bound by his promise" (FR, 21). Thus,
it was Bilbo's winning of the game that was questionable. Given that
he had in fact won, albeit on a technicality, he was fully entitled to
the prize, which, in the old version, was the ring. In the new
version, however, he had no claim to the Ring at all, whether he had
won or not, because the Ring was not the stake of the game. ]

The textual situation thus reached was that there now existed two
versions of the episode. Tolkien deftly made this circumstance part
of the story by suggesting that the first time around **Bilbo was
lying** (under the influence of the Ring) to strengthen his claim.
(Bilbo had written this version in his diary, which was "translated"
by Tolkien and published as "The Hobbit"; hence the error in the early
editions, later "corrected".) This new sequence of events inside the
story is laid out clearly in "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue)
and is taken for granted thereafter for the rest of the story (e.g. in
"The Shadow of the Past" and at the Council of Elrond).

_The Hobbit_ as now presented fits the new scenario remarkably
well, even though Tolkien, for quite sound literary reasons, left this
entire matter of Bilbo's dishonesty out (it was an entirely irrelevant
complication which would have thrown everything out of balance). The
present attempt to step back and view the entire picture is made more
involved by the fact that there were two separate pieces of dishonesty
perpetrated by Bilbo.

The first, made explicit, was that when he initially told his
story to Gandalf and the Dwarves he left the ring out entirely -- this
no doubt was what inspired Gandalf to give Bilbo the "queer look from
under his bushy eyebrows" (H, 99). Later, (after the spider episode)
he revealed that he had the Ring, and it must have been at this point
that he invented the rigamarole about "winning a present" (an incred-
ible action, given the circumstances). There is, however, no hint in
the text of this second piece of dishonesty (as noted above, it would
have been a grave literary mistake). Readers are therefore given no
indication that when "Balin ... insisted on having the Gollum story
... told all over again, with the ring in its proper place" (H, 163)
that Bilbo didn't respond with the "true" story, exactly as described
in Ch V. In this regard, "Of the Finding of the Ring" in the Prologue
is a necessary prelude to LotR.


References: Hobbit, 99 (Ch VI), 163 (Ch VIII),
"Riddles in the Dark" (Ch V);
Annotated Hobbit, 104 (Ch VI, note 2), 176 (Ch VIII,
note 11), 325-327 (Appendix A: the original
version is given here);
FR, "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue);
Biography, 203 (V, 2);
RtMe, 59-60 (3, "The Ring as 'Equalizer'");
The Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 75, 79-81, 84-87
(First Phase, III), 261-265 (Second Phase, XV).

Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr

----------


HOBBITS

1) Were Hobbits a sub-group of Humans?

Yes, beyond question. There were three statements to this effect.
The first, from the Prologue, is probably less definite because it was
intended to be the editor speaking.

It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits
are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than
Dwarves. Of old they spoke the languages of Men, after their own
fashion, and liked and disliked much the same things as Men did.
But what exactly our relationship is can no longer be discovered.
The beginning of Hobbits lies far back in the Elder Days that are
now lost and forgotten.
FR, 11 (Prologue)

The Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch of the
specifically *human* race (not Elves or Dwarves) -- hence the two
kinds can dwell together (as at Bree), and are called just the Big
Folk and Little Folk. They are entirely without non-human powers,
but are represented as being more in touch with 'nature' (the soil
and other living things, plants and animals), and abnormally, for
humans, free from ambition or greed of wealth.
Letters, 158 (footnote) (#131)

Firstborn, The. Title of the Elves. Translate. ('Firstborn',
since the Elves appeared in the world before all other 'speaking
peoples', not only Men, but also Dwarves, of independent origin.
Hobbits are of course meant to be a special variety of the human
race).
Guide, entry for "The Firstborn"


References: FR, 11 (Prologue, "On Hobbits");
Letters, 158 (footnote) (#131);
Guide, entry for "The Firstborn".

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams

----------


2) Did Hobbits have pointed ears?

Only slightly. Tolkien described Bilbo thusly for purposes of
illustration in a letter to Houghton Mifflin (c. 1938):

I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as
some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach,
shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; ears only slightly
pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown). The feet
from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur. Clothing: green
velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green jacket;
gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak (belonging to
a dwarf).
Letters, 35 (#27)

The Annotated Hobbit cites this letter and includes a reasonable
illustration based upon it. [Note that Tolkien's use of the word
"elvish" here refers to the elfs of popular folklore, who were often
pictured with pointed ears. The Elves of Middle-earth (except for
the Silvan Elves in The Hobbit) were at the time of this letter known
to only a few people.]


References: Letters, 35 (#27);
Annotated Hobbit, 10 (Ch I, note 2).

Contributor: WDBL

----------


3) When was Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday? To what date on our own
calendar does it correspond?

The date on the Shire calendar was September 22 (FR, 29). Both
the different definitions of the months and the different correlation
of their calendar with the seasons (the summer solstice fell on Mid-
year's Day, the day between June and July, not on June 21 as on our
calendar (RK, 388 -- Appendix D)) must be Taken into account. The
discrepancy in September is found to be 10 days, giving September 12
on our calendar as the equivalent date. (This result has some signi-
ficance for the story. Events occur ten days earlier in terms of the
seasons than the dates would suggest to us: when sleeping outdoors in
autumn, ten days can make a large difference.)

[In Appendix D Tolkien gives detailed information about long-term
inaccuracies in the Shire Reckoning, which they dealt with differently
than we do. Based on this, it is possible to conclude that the SR at
the time of the story had accumulated either two days or four days of
error, depending on how careful the Hobbits were about making long-
term corrections, which we aren't told. This result would make the
equivalent date either September 14 or September 16, but other consi-
derations raise questions about the accuracy of such calculations, so
September 12 is probably the most straightforward choice.]


References: FR, 29 (I,1);
RK, Appendix D.

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams

----------


4) Was Gollum a hobbit?

Yes, beyond all doubt. Gandalf's opinion alone: "I guess they
were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors"
(FR, 62) should be sufficient to settle this, but it is confirmed in
several other places. The Tale of Years (RK, Appendix B) has the
following entry for the year TA 2463: "About this time Deagol the
Stoor finds the One Ring, and is murdered by Smeagol." (RK, p. 368).
Since it was explained in the Prologue that Stoors were one of the
three branches of hobbits (FR, 12), it is clear that the compiler of
this entry, evidently either Merry and/or Pippin's heirs (FR, 24-25),
accepted this conclusion.

In "The Hunt for the Ring" (UT, Three, IV) it is told that Sauron
concluded from his interrogation of Gollum that Bilbo must have been
the same sort of creature (UT, 342) (indeed, Gandalf concluded the
same thing from his talks with Bilbo (FR, 63)). The following passing
reference shows that the author of "The Hunt for the Ring" accepts
Gollum's hobbit origin: "Ultimately indomitable [Gollum] was, except
by death, as Sauron guessed, both from his halfling nature, and from
a cause which Sauron did not fully comprehend ..." (UT, 337).

Perhaps Gandalf's archaic diction contributed to the uncertainty.
When a reader suggested that perhaps '(1) Smeagol's people were *not*
"of hobbit-kind" as suggested by Gandalf', Tolkien dismissed the
suggestion. He added:

With regard to (1) Gandalf certainly says at first 'I guess'
(FR, 62); but that is in accordance with his character and wisdom.
In more modern language he would have said 'I deduce', referring to
matters that had not come under his direct observation, but on which
he had formed a conclusion based on study. ...But he did not in fact
doubt his conclusion: 'It is true all the same, etc.' (FR, 63).
Letters, 289-290 (#214)


References: FR, 12, (Prologue), 24-25 (Prologue, "Note on the Shire
Records"), 62-63 (I,2);
RK, Appendix B;
UT, 337 (Three, IV, i), 342 (Three, IV, ii);
Letters, 289-290 (#214).

Contributors: WDBL, Craig Presson

----------


ELVES

1) Did Elves have pointed ears?

They were evidently somewhat pointed; more so that human ears, at
any rate. The only place this matter is addressed directly is in The
Etymologies, published in _The Lost Road_. There, the following two
entries for the element 'las' are given [Q == Quenya, N == Noldorin]:

Las (1) *lasse 'leaf': Q lasse, N lhass; Q lasselanta 'leaf-fall,
autumn', N lhasbelin (*lassekwelene), cf. Q Narquelion [ KWEL ].
Lhasgalen 'Greenleaf' (Gnome name of Laurelin). (Some think this
is related to the next and *lasse 'ear'. The Quendian ears were
more pointed and leaf-shaped than [human].)

Las (2) 'listen'. N lhaw 'ears' (of one person), old dual *lasu
-- whence singular lhewig. Q lar, lasta- 'listen'; lasta
'listening, hearing' -- Lastalaika 'sharp-ears', a name,
cf. N Lhathleg. N lhathron 'hearer, listener, eavesdropper'
( < *la(n)sro-ndo ) ; lhathro or lhathrando 'listen in,
eavesdrop'.
(The Lost Road, 367)

Some have rejected the conclusion on the grounds that these entries
were written before LotR was begun and therefore may not apply to it.
It is thus significant that the element 'las' retained both its
meanings, as is shown by examples in LotR itself, such as Legolas
('Green leaf') (TT, 106, 154), 'lassi' (== "leaves") in Galadriel's
Lament (FR, 394), and Amon Lhaw (Hill of Hearing) (FR, 410).


References: FR, 394, (II, 8), 410 (II,9);
TT, 106 (III,5), 154 (III,8);
Letters, 282 (#211);
The Lost Road (HoMe V), 367 ("The Etymologies").

Contributor: WDBL

----------


DWARVES

1) Did Dwarf women have beards?

It seems they did. In the note on Dwarf women in Appendix A it
was told:

It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no
more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad
except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb
if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes
and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart.
RK, 360 (App A)

Since beards were part of the appearance, not the garb, of dwarf-men,
we must conclude that dwarf-women did in fact have beards.

The question has been raised as to whether all dwarf *men* neces-
sarily had beards (the above conclusion depends upon this premise).
Insofar as the matter was mentioned at all, it was shown through
either direct statements or casual references that at least Thorin,
Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili, Gloin, Bombur, and Gimli all definitely had
beards (Hobbit, 20-22, 159, 186, 198; FR, 240; RK, 148); it is natural
to assume that the others did as well. While no definite statement
about the beard status of dwarf-men in general was ever presented as a
matter of lore, a thought which reflects the assumed view was given to
Bilbo early in _The Hobbit_ : [as Bilbo rode along wearing Dwalin's
hood] "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a dwarf,
as he had no beard." (Hobbit, 42) In any event, the notion of bearded
dwarves seems an assumption with fairly firm foundations.


References: Hobbit, 20-22 (Ch I), 42 (Ch II), 159 (Ch VIII),
186 (Ch X), 198 (Ch XI);
FR, 240 (II, 1);
RK, 148 (V, 9), 153 (V, 9), 360 (Appendix A, III).

Contributors: WDBL, Peter Hunt

----------


ISTARI (Wizards)


1) Who were the Istari (Wizards)?

The Wizards were Maiar (spiritual beings of lower "rank" than the Valar)
sent to Middle-earth by the Valar in human form as Messengers to help in the
struggle against Sauron: the term "incarnate angel" is approximately correct.
Being incarnated limited their power, and intentionally so, because their
mission was to organize the resitance and to inspire the peoples of Middle-
earth to help themselves, not to do the job for them. Their main temptation,
then, was to try to speed up the process by dominating other free wills -- a
principle reason for their mission was to prevent such actions by Sauron.

It was said that there were Five Wizards in the Order, but only three
came into the story:

-- Saruman ('Man of Skill') the White
[Sindarin: Curunir ('Man of Skill'); Quenya: Curumo]

-- Gandalf ('Elf of the wand') the Grey (later the White)
[Sindarin: Mithrandir ('Grey Pilgrim'); Quenya: Olorin]

-- Radagast the Brown [Quenya: Aiwendel]

Gandalf was the only one who remained true to his missison, and in the end
succeeded in bringing about Sauron's defeat. He was also the keeper of the
Elven Ring Narya, the Red Ring (the Ring of Fire).

----------


2) Of the Five Wizards, only three came into the story. Was anything known
about the other two?

Very little. No names given them in Middle-earth are recorded, just the
title Ithryn Luin, 'The Blue Wizards' (for they were clad in sea-blue) (their
names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando). When the Istari first arrived in
Middle-earth, Saruman and the Blue Wizards journeyed into the east, but only
Saruman returned. The Essay on the Istari says: "whether they remained in
the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished;
or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not not
known." (UT, p. 390)

Tolkien speaking as himself was only barely more explicit. In a letter
he said that he knew "nothing clearly" about the other two: 'I think they
went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Numenorean
range: missionaries to enemy-occupied lands, as it were. What success they
had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though
doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners
of secret cults and "magic" traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.'
(Letters, p. 280).

----------


3) What happened to Radagast?

Radagast was said to also have failed his mission, but it's tempting to
think that his "failure" was not as bad as that of the others. The Essay on
the Istari: "Indeed, of all the Istari, one only remained faithful, and he
was the last-comer. For Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many
beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and
spent his days among the wild creatures." (UT, p. 390)

Radagast certainly never became evil. The above quote suggests, however,
that his mission was not just to relate to wild creatures but also to build
bridges between them and Elves and Men. He did, in fact, have his friends
the birds gather much information, but since they were reporting to Saruman
as the head of the Council that wasn't altogether helpful. On the other
hand, it has often been suggested (though there is no direct textual evidence
of any kind) that the way Eagles kept showing up at opportune times may have
been partially his work.

We know nothing of what happened to Radagast after the end of the Third
Age. It seems conceivable, though, given the more ambiguous nature of his
failing, that he might have been allowed back to Valinor eventually.

----------


ENEMIES

1) What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

They are different names for the same race of creatures. Of the two,
"Orc" is the correct one. This has been a matter of widespread debate and
misunderstanding, mostly resulting from the usage in _The Hobbit_ (Tolkien
had changed his mind about it by LotR but the confusion in the earlier book
was made worse by inconsistant backwards modifications). There are a couple
of statements in _The Hobbit_ which, if taken literally, suggest that Orcs
are a subset of goblins. If we are to believe the indications from all other
areas of Tolkien's writing, this is not correct. These are: some fairly
clear statements in letters, the evolution of his standard terminology (see
next paragraph), and the actual usage in LotR, all of which suggest that
"Orc" was the true name of the race. (The pedigrees in _Tolkien: The
Illustrated Encyclopedia_ are thoroughly innaccurate and undependable.)

What happened was this. The creatures so referred to were invented along
with the rest of Tolkien's subcreation during the writing of the Book of Lost
Tales (the "pre-Silmarillion"). His usage in the early writing is somewhat
varied but the movement is away from "goblin" and towards "orc". It was part
of a general trend away from the terminology of traditional folklore (he felt
that the familiar words would call up the wrong associations in the readers'
minds, since his creations were quite different in specific ways). For the
same general reasons he began calling the Deep Elves "Noldor" rather than
"Gnomes", and avoided "Faerie" altogether. (On the other hand, he was stuck
with "Wizards", an "imperfect" translation of Istari ('the Wise'), "Elves",
and "Dwarves"; he did say once that he would have preferred "dwarrow", which,
so he said, was more historically and linguistically correct, if he'd thought
of it in time ...)

In _The Hobbit_, which originally was unconnected with the Silmarillion,
he used the familiar term "goblin" for the benefit of modern readers. By the
time of LotR, however, he'd decided that "goblin" wouldn't do -- Orcs were
not storybook goblins (see above). (No doubt he also felt that "goblin",
being Romance-derived, had no place in a work based so much on Anglo-Saxon
and Northern traditions in general.) Thus, in LotR, the proper name of the
race is "Orcs" (capital "O"), and that name is found in the index along with
Ents, Men, etc., while "goblin" is not in the index at all. There are a
handful of examples of "goblin" being used (always with a small "g") but it
seems in these cases to be a kind of slang for Orcs.

Tolkien's explanation inside the story was that the "true" name of the
creatures was Orc (an anglicized version of Sindarin *Orch* , pl. *Yrch*).
As the "translator" of the ancient manuscripts, he "substituted" "Goblin" for
"Orch" when he translated Bilbo's diary, but for The Red Book he reverted to
a form of the ancient word.

[The actual source of the word "orc" is Beowulf: "orc-nass", translated
as "death-corpses". It has nothing to do with cetaceans.]

----------


MISCELLANEOUS

1) Who or what was Tom Bombadil?

This question has been a widely debated, sometimes far too vehemantly.
Part of the difficulty is the complexity of Tom's literary history. Tom was
originally a doll (with blue jacket and yellow boots) owned by Tolkien's son
Michael. The doll inspired a story fragment, such as he often invented for
his children's amusement. That fragment was in turn the basis for the poem
"The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", published in 1933, which also introduced
Goldberry, the barrow wights, and Old Man Willow (the poem was the source of
the events in Chapters 6 through 8 of Book I). In a contemporary letter
(1937) Tolkien explained that Tom was meant to represent 'the spirit of the
(vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside'. (Letters, no 19)

Tolkien introduced Tom into LotR at a very early stage, when he still
thought of it as a sequel to _The Hobbit_, as opposed to _The Silmarillion_
(see LessFAQ, Tolkien, 1). Tom fit the original (slightly childish) tone of
the early chapters (which resembled that of _The Hobbit_), but as the story
progressed it became higher in tone and darker in nature. Tolkien later
claimed that he left Tom in he decided that however portrayed Tom provided
a necessary ingredient (see last paragraph). Some very cogent reasons are
produced in a couple of wonderful letters (Letters, nos 144 & 153).

As to Tom's nature, there are several schools of thought.

a) He was a Maia (the most common notion). The reasoning here is plain:
given the Middle-earth cast of characters as we know it, this is the most
convenient pigeonhole in which to place him (and Goldberry as well) (most
of the other individuals in LotR with "mysterious" origins: Gandalf,
Sauron, Wizards, and Balrogs did in fact turn out to be Maiar).

b) He was Iluvatar. The only support for this notion is on theological
grounds: some have interpreted Goldberry's statement to Frodo (F: "Who is
Tom Bombadil?" G: "He is.") as a form of the Christian "I am that am",
which really could suggest the Creator. Tolkien rejected this inter-
pretation quite firmly.

c) T.A. Shippey (in _The Road to Middle-earth_) and others have suggested
that Tom is a one-of-a-kind type. This notion received indirect support
from Tolkien himself: "As a story, I think it is good that there should
be a lot of things unexplained (especially if an explanation actually
exists); ... And even in a mythical Age there amust be some enigmas, as
there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)." (Letters,
p. 174) There are scattered references to other entites which seem to
fall outside the usual picture.

Whichever of these is correct, Tom's function inside the story was evidently
to demonstrate a particular attitude towards control and power. "The story
is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless
ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom against compulsion that
has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some
degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. But if you
have, as it were taken 'a vow of poverty', renounced control, and take delight
in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing,
and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of
power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of
power quite valueless." (_Letters_, p. 178). Tom represented "Botany and
Zoology (as sciences) and Poetry as opposed to Cattle-breeding and Agriculture
and practicality." (Letters, p. 179).

----------


2) What became of the Entwives?

No definite answer was given to this question within the story.
However, Tolkien did comment on the matter in two letters, and while
he was careful to say "I think" and "I do not know", nevertheless the
tone of these comments was on the whole pessemistic. Moreover, he
doesn't seem to have changed his mind over time. The following was
written in 1954 (in fact before the publication of LotR):

What happened to them is not resolved in this book. ... I think that
in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with
their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441)
when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land
against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin. They survived
only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits). Some,
of course, may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants
even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background
to their soldiers and metal-workers. If any survived so, they would
indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would
be difficult -- unless experience of industrialized and militarized
agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope so. I
don't know.
Letters, 179 (#144)

Note that the above reference to a "scorched earth policy" by Sauron
makes the destruction of the Entwives' land seem a much more serious
and deliberate affair than was apparent from the main story, in which
Treebeard merely said that "war had passed over it" (TT, 79 (III, 4)).

The following was written in 1972, the last year of Tolkien's life:

As for the Entwives: I do not know. ... But I think in TT, 80-81 it
is plain that there would be for the Ents no re-union in 'history'
-- but Ents and their wives being rational creatures would find some
'earthly paradise' until the end of this world: beyond which the
wisdom neither of Elves nor Ents could see. Though maybe they
shared the hope of Aragorn that they were 'not bound for ever to the
circles of the world and beyond them is more than memory.' ....
Letters, 419 (#338)

[ The reference to TT 80-81 is to the song of the Ent and the
Ent-wife, as recited to Merry and Pippin by Treebeard; the speech
by Aragorn which Tolkien quotes is from RK, 344 (Appendix A). ]


While the above comments do not sound hopeful, there nevertheless
remains the unresolved mystery of the conversation between Sam Gamgee
and Ted Sandyman in The Green Dragon. It took place during the second
chapter of FR and has been pointed to by many as possible evidence of
the Entwives' survival:

'All right', said Sam, laughing with the rest. 'But what about
these Tree-men, these giants, as you might call them? They do say
that one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the North Moors
not long back.'
'Who's *they*?'
'My cousin Hal for one. He works for Mr. Boffin at Overhill and
goes up to the Northfarthing for the hunting. He *saw* one.'
'Says he did, perhaps. Your Hal's always saying that he's seen
things; and maybe he sees things that ain't there.'
'But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking -- walking
seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.'
'Then I bet it wasn't an inch. What he saw *was* an elm tree,
as like as not.'
'But this one was *walking*, I tell you; and there ain't no elm
tree on the North Moors.'
'Then Hal can't have seen one', said Ted.
FR 53-54 (I, 2)

Now, this conversation takes place early in the story, when its
tone was still the "children's story" ambience of _The Hobbit_ (see
LessFAQ, Tolkien, 1). When it is first read the natural reaction is
to accept it as "more of the same" (i.e. another miscellaneous "fairy-
story" matter). However, once one has learned about the Ents it is
impossible to reread it without thinking of them. This impression is
strengthened by Treebeard's own words to Merry and Pippin:

He made them describe the Shire and its country over and over again.
He said an odd thing at this point. 'You never see any, hm, any
Ents round there, do you?' he asked. 'Well, not Ents, *Entwives* I
should really say.'
'*Entwives*?' said Pippin. 'Are they like you at all?'
'Yes, hm, well no: I do not really know now', said Treebeard
thoughtfully. 'But they would like your country, so I just
wondered.'
TT, 75 (III, 4)

Taken together, these two conversations make the notion that what
Halfast saw was an Entwife seem at least plausible. However, as far
as can be determined Tolkien never explicitly connected the matter
with the Entwives, indeed never mentioned it at all. So we are left
to speculate. (The fact that a creature described as being "as big as
an elm tree" couldn't be an Ent doesn't prove anything one way or the
other. It could indicate that the story is just a fabrication by a
fanciful hobbit, but it is equally possible that a fourteen foot tall
Ent might look gigantic to an unprepared hobbit and that the story was
exaggerated in the telling.)

Nor is textual analysis helpful. Tolkien himself, in a discussion
of his methods of invention, mentioned that the Treebeard adventure
was wholly unplanned until he came to that place in the story:

I have long ceased to *invent* ... : I wait till I seem to know what
really happened. Or till it writes itself. Thus, though I knew for
years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down
the Great River, I have no recollection of inventing Ents. I came
at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any
recollection of any previous thought: just as it now is. And then I
saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.
Letters, 231 (#180)

The rough drafts in HoMe confirm that Sam and Ted's conversation
was composed long before Ents ever entered the story (Return of the
Shadow, 253-254; Treason, 411-414). Thus, Tolkien could not have had
them in mind when he wrote it, and it must indeed have originally been
a random, vaguely fantastic element. On the other hand, as he said of
Tom Bombadil, who also entered the story early: "I would not have left
him in if he did not have some kind of function." (Letters, 178) The
implication is clear: everything in the early chapters which was
allowed to remain was left in for a reason. When he did so with the
Sam/Ted conversation he must have known how suggestive it would be.
But how it fits in with the darker speculations expressed in his
letters is not clear (unless he changed his mind later).

This may be a case of Tolkien's emotions being in conflict with
his thoughts. T.A. Shippey has noted that "he was in minor matters
soft-hearted" (RtMe, 173). (Thus, Bill the pony escapes, Shadowfax
is allowed to go into the West with Gandalf, and in the late-written
narratives of UT Isildur is shown using the Ring far more reluctantly
than the Council of Elrond would suggest (UT, 271-285) and a way is
contrived so that Galadriel might be absolved from all guilt in the
crimes of Feanor (UT, 231-233)). It may be that, lover of trees that
he was, Tolkien wished to preserve at least the hope that the Ents
and Entwives might find each other and the race continue. But the
unwelcome conclusions from what he elsewhere called "the logic of the
story" must have proven inescapable.


References: Letters, 178-179 (# 144), 231 (#180), 419 (#338);
FR 53-54 (I, 2);
TT, 75 (III, 4), 79 (III, 4), 80-81 (III,4);
RK, 344 (Appendix A, I, v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen");
UT, 271-285 (Three, I), 231-233 (Two, IV);
Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 253-254 (Second Phase, XV);
The Treason of Isengard, 411-414 (Ch XXII);
RtMe, 173 (7, "The Dangers of Going on").

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams, Mark Gordon
William D.B. Loos
2004-04-09 11:57:14 UTC
Permalink
Archive-name: tolkien/lessfaq/part1

Posting Frequency: 28 days
Last Updated: 1994/03/28




The Tolkien Less Frequently Asked Questions List (LessFAQ), is the
second of two informational files on J.R.R. Tolkien and his writings,
the other being the Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQ). The division
of questions follows several general criteria. The FAQ leans towards
questions of interest to people who have read only _The Lord of the
Rings_ and _The Hobbit_, together with most questions on Tolkien himself
and on topics which seem fundamental to his worldview (his linguistic
games in particular). The LessFAQ contains questions of a more obscure
nature, most questions arising from posthumous works, and in general
aspects of the nature and history of Middle-earth which are important
but tangential to _The Lord of the Rings_. There is also an element of
personal arbitrariness. All available sources have been used for both
lists. Criticisms, corrections, and suggestions are of course welcome.

William D.B. Loos
***@hudce.harvard.edu


========================================================================
========================================================================


TOLKIEN LESS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST


Questions numbered thusly: 1) are in their final form.
Questions numbered thusly: 1] remain unrevised.
Sections/questions marked: * have been revised since the last
release.
** are new since the last release.


Table of Contents


I. Changes Since the Last Release (*)

II. Acknowledgements

III. Note on References and Conversion Table

IV. Commonly Used Abbreviations


V. Less Frequently Asked Questions

A) Tolkien And His Work
1] Was there a change of tone between Book I and the rest of _The
Lord of the Rings_ ?
2] Why did Tolkien fail to publish _The Silmarillion_ during the
eighteen years which followed the publication of _The Lord of
the Rings_ ?

B) General History Of Middle-earth
1] What exactly happened at the end of the First Age?
2] In terms of the larger worldview, what exactly took place at
the Fall of Numenor?

C) Hobbits
1] Did Frodo and the others (Bilbo, Sam, and Gimli) who passed
over the Sea eventually die, or had they become immortal?
2) In _The Hobbit_, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob,
Crazy Cob, and Old Tomnoddy. What do the words mean?

D) Elves
1] Were Elves reincarnated after they were slain?
2) Was Glorfindel of Rivendell (whom Frodo met) the same as
Glorfindel of Gondolin, who was slain fighting a Balrog?
3) How were Eldar in Valinor named?

E) Humans
1] What brought on the sinking of Numenor?
2] How could Ar-Pharazon of Numenor defeat Sauron while Sauron
wielded the One Ring?
3] What happened to the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?
4] Where did the Southrons come from? Were they part of the Atani?

F) Dwarves
1] What were the origins of the Dwarves?
2] If, as has been told, only Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were
created, how did the race procreate?

G) Enemies
1] What was the origin of the Orcs?
2] What was the origin of Trolls?

H) Miscellaneous
1] Who was Queen Beruthiel (who was mentioned by Aragorn during
the journey through Moria)?


========================================================================
========================================================================

CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE

There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.


========================================================================
========================================================================

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The following individuals made suggestions and contributions to these
FAQ lists:


***@williams.edu (Wayne Hammond Jr)
***@erols.com (Carl F. Hostetter)
***@ERC.MsState.Edu (Paul Adams)
***@math.canterbury.ac.nz (Bill Taylor)
***@jido.b30.ingr.com (Craig Presson)

***@usit.uio.no (Simen Gaure)
***@uther.Calvin.EDU (Alan Baljeu)
***@ecf.toronto.edu (SAHDRA KULDIP)
***@sol1.lrsm.upenn.edu (Bill Sherman)
***@mistral.rice.edu (Mark Gordon)
***@oils.ozy.dec.com (Peter Hunt)
***@cesl.rutgers.edu (Robert Rosenbaum)


========================================================================
========================================================================

NOTE ON REFERENCES

There is a certain amount of cross-referencing among the questions
on both the FAQ and the LessFAQ lists. Any questions so referred to are
specified by the list, section, and question number. Thus, the first
question in the Hobbit section of the FAQ, "Were Hobbits a sub-group of
Humans?" would be referenced as (FAQ, Hobbits, 1). Note that the
section "Tolkien And His Work" is referred to merely as "Tolkien" and
the section "General History of Middle-earth" is referred to merely as
"General". E.g. the question "Who was J.R.R. Tolkien anyway?" is (FAQ,
Tolkien, 1) and the question "What exactly happened at the end of the
First Age?" is (LessFAQ, General, 1).

Sources for quotations have been provided in the form of volume
and page numbers; the specific editions utilized are listed in the next
paragraph. For those occasions when the proper edition is not available
(and the conversion table below is not applicable) the page numbers have
been roughly located according to chapter, sub-section, or appendix,
whichever is appropriate. For example, RK, 57-59 (V, 2) refers to
pages 57-59 of Return of the King and further locates the pages in
chapter 2 of Book V. PLEASE NOTE the distinction in the case of _Lord
of the Rings_ between *Volumes* and *Books*. LotR is comprised of three
Volumes (FR, TT, and RK) and of six Books (I - VI), which are the more
natural divisions of the story into six roughly equal parts. There are
two Books in each of the Volumes. Other sample references are below.

References to _The Hobbit_ are from the Ballantine paperback (the
pagination has been the same since the 60's. All other references are
to the HM hardcovers. Sample references follow:

Hobbit, 83 (Ch V) == Hobbit, chapter V

RK, 408 (App F, I, "Of Men", "Of Hobbits") ==
p 408 in Part I of Appendix F, the sections
entitled "Of Men" and "Of Hobbits"

Silm, 57 (Ch V) == Silmarillion, chapter V (BoLT and _The
Annotated Hobbit_ treated similarly)

UT, 351 (Three, IV, iii) == Unfinished Tales, Part Three,
Chapter IV, sub-section iii
(the Biography treated similarly)

Letters, 230 (#178) == letter number 178.

RtMe, 53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms") ==
The Road to Middle-earth, in Chapter 3,
sub-section "Creative anachronisms"


CONVERSION TABLE

In _The Atlas of Middle-earth_, Karen Wynn Fonstad provided a
Houghton-Mifflin-to-Ballantine conversion table, which is reproduced
below. The "table" is actually a set of formulae by which HM page
numbers may be converted to Ballantine page numbers via arithmetic
involving some empirically determined constants. Since these are
discrete rather than continuous functions the results may be off by
a page or so.

[NOTE: in the Fall of 1993, Ballantine issued a new edition of the mass
market paperback of LotR in which the text has been re-set, thereby
changing the page on which any given quote is located. Thus, the
following table will no longer work with the latest printings, which may
be identified by the change in the color of the covers (the pictures are
unaltered): in the previous set of printings all the covers were black;
in the new set FR is green, TT is purple, and RK is red.]

HM Page Subtract Divide By Add
------------- -------- --------- -------
FR 10 to 423 9 .818 18
TT 15 to 352 14 .778 16
RK 19 to 311 18 .797 18
RK 313 to 416 312 .781 386
H 9 to 317 8 1.140 14
Silm 15 to 365 14 .773 2

Reference: Atlas, p. 191 (first edtion), p. 192 (revised edtion)


========================================================================
========================================================================

COMMONLY USED ABBREVIATIONS

General:

JRRT J.R.R. Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
CT, CJRT Christopher Tolkien (son; editor of most posthumous
works)

A&U, AU George Allen & Unwin (original British publisher)
UH Unwin Hyman (new name for A&U c. 1987(?))
HC HarperCollins (purchased UH c. 1992; current British
publisher)
HM Houghton Mifflin (American publisher)

M-e Middle-earth
SA Second Age
TA Third Age
SR Shire Reckoning

Middle-earth Works:

H The Hobbit
LR, LotR The Lord of the Rings
FR, FotR The Fellowship of the Ring
TT, TTT The Two Towers
RK, RotK The Return of the King

TB, ATB The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
RGEO The Road Goes Ever On
Silm The Silmarillion
UT Unfinished Tales
Letters The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
HoMe History of Middle-earth
BLT,BoLT Book of Lost Tales
Lays The Lays of Beleriand
Treason The Treason of Isengard
Guide The Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings
(published in _A Tolkien Compass_)

Other Works:

FGH Farmer Giles of Ham
TL Tree and Leaf
OFS On Fairy-Stories
LbN Leaf by Niggle
HBBS The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son
SWM Smith of Wootton Major
SGPO Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo
FCL The Father Christmas Letters

Reference Works:

Biography J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography; by Humphrey Carpenter
(published in the US as Tolkien: A Biography)
Inklings The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles
Williams, and Their Friends; by Humphrey Carpenter
RtMe The Road to Middle-earth; by T.A. Shippey
Scholar J.R.R. Tolkien, Scholar and Storyteller: Essays in
Memoriam; edited by Mary Salu and Robert T. Farrell
Atlas The Atlas of Middle-earth; by Karen Wynn Fonstad


========================================================================
========================================================================


TOLKIEN AND HIS WORK

1) Was there a change of tone between Book I and the rest of _The Lord of
the Rings_ ?

Yes. Originally, the world of the Hobbit was not the same as the world
of the Silmarillion (Tolkien threw in a few names from it, like Gondolin and
Elrond, for effect, but there was no explicit connection). Thus, when he
began LotR, he thought he was writing a sequel to _The Hobbit, and the tone
of the early chapters, especially Ch 1, reflect this (it has the same
"children's story" ambience as _The Hobbit_). With the coming of the Black
Riders and Gandalf's discussion of Middle-earth history and the Ring a change
began towards a loftier tone and a darker mood, though much less serious
elements remained (e.g. Tom Bombadil). After the Council of Elrond LotR
was overtly a sequel to the Silmarillion.

Oddly, Tolkien added new details but never changed the overall tone of
Book I. He later claimed that the change in tone was intentional, that it
was meant to reflect the changing perceptions of the hobbits as they became
educated about the Wide World. This was certainly not his intention as he
was writing. On the other hand, the tone of "The Scouring of the Shire" is
very different from that of "A Long-expected Party", possibly indicating the
altered perspective of the observers.

----------


2) Why did Tolkien fail to publish _The Silmarillion_ during the eighteen
years which followed the publication of _The Lord of the Rings_ ?

No definitive answer is possible, but a several serious obstacles can be
listed. They included:

a) Technical difficulties. Tolkien's unmethodical habits of revision had
made the manuscripts chaotic; it seemed impossible to make everything
consistent. Characters introduced in LotR had to be worked in. Beyond
these detailed questions, he contemplated many alterations, even to
fundamental features of his mythology.

b) The problem of depth. In LotR, his references to the older legends
of the First Age helped produce the strong sense of historical reality.
In the Silmarillion, which told the legends themselves, this method
wouldn't be available.

c) The problem of presentation. LotR had been basically novelistic,
presenting the story sequentially from one character or another's
point of view. But the Silmarillion was and was meant to be a bundle
of tales which had more in common with the ancient legends he studied
than with LotR. He feared that if he presented it as an annotated
study of ancient manuscripts that probably many readers would have
difficulty enjoying the tales as stories.

d) No Hobbits. He feared (correctly) that many people expected another
_Lord of the Rings_, which the Silmarillion could never be.

----------


GENERAL HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH

1) What exactly happened at the end of the First Age?

The Noldorin Elves had made war on Morgoth (referred to as "the Great
Enemy" by Aragorn in "A Knife in the Dark") to recover the three Silmarils,
which he had stolen, and had been totally defeated. The Valar then used
their full power against Morgoth. In the resulting cataclysm Beleriand,
the land in which the tales of the Silmarillion took place, was destroyed
and sank under the Sea. There are thus various references to "lands under
the waves".

On the LotR map, Beleriand would have been far to the west, beyond the
Blue Mountains (Ered Luin), which also appear at the far right of the Silm
map. It is difficult to make an exact correlation because the mountain
range was much altered, having been split when the Gulf of Lune created.
Nogrod and Belegost, the ancient dwarf-cities, are located on the Silm map,
and existed as ruins in the Third Age, but where they fall on the LotR map
is not known (they were said to be "near Nenuail", which is only slightly
helpful). Lindon was definitely the same land as Ossiriand, where Beren
and Luthien once dwelt. [_The Atlas of Middle-earth_ includes a map showing
how Eriador and Beleriand lay relative to each other.]

----------


2) In terms of the larger worldview, what exactly took place at the Fall
of Numenor?

The world was changed from a flat medieval world to the round world of
today. Middle-earth was meant to be our own world (see FAQ, Tolkien, 6),
and Tolkien's overall conception was of a progression, with "Mythological
Time" changing into "Historical Time". The events accompanying the Fall of
Numenor were a major step in the process.

Originally, the "fashion" of Middle-earth was the flat world of the
medieval universe. Valinor (the equivalent of Heaven in that the "gods"
dwelt there) was physically connected to the rest of the world and could be
reached by ship. When Numenor sank (see LFAQ, Humans, 1) "the fashion of
the world was changed": the flat world was bent into a round one, with new
lands also being created; and Valinor was removed "from the circles of the
World", and could no longer be reached by ordinary physical means. The
Elves alone were still allowed to make a one-way journey to Valinor along
"the Straight Road". (An elven ship on such a journey would grow smaller
and smaller with distance until if vanished rather than sinking over the
horizon as a human ships do.)

References to "bent seas", "bent skies", "the straight road", "straight
sight", "the World Made Round", and the like all refer to the change in the
world's "fashion". (The palantir at Emyn Beriad "looked only to the Sea.
Elendil set it there so that he could look back with 'straight sight' and
see Eressea in the vanished West; but the bent seas below covered Numenor
for ever." (RK, p. 322)

----------


HOBBITS

1) Did Frodo and the others (Bilbo, Sam, and Gimli) who passed over the
Sea eventually die, or had they become immortal?

They remained mortal. Tolkien's conception was that a creature's natural
lifespan was intrinsic to its spiritual and biological nature, and that this
could not be altered save by a direct intervention of the Creator. There
were three occasions when this did happen (Luthien, Tuor, Arwen), but it did
not in the cases of Frodo & Co. Tolkien stated explicitly in more than one
letter that Frodo's journey over the Sea was only a *temporary* healing, and
that when the time came he and the others would die of their own free will.

----------


2) In _The Hobbit_, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob, Crazy
Cob, and Old Tomnoddy. What do the words mean?

Notes in _The Annotated Hobbit_ identify Attercop, Lob, and Cob as
being taken from similar words in Old and Middle English for "spider"
(indeed, the word for "spider" in modern Norwegian is "edderkopp").
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of Tomnoddy is given as "a
foolish or stupid person." (Annotated Hobbit, 170-171)

As is well known, Tolkien used "Lob" again later. During the
writing of Book IV he wrote to Christopher: "Do you think Shelob is
a good name for a monstrous spider creature? It is of course only
'she + lob' ( == 'spider' ), but written as one, it seems to be quite
noisome... Letters, 81 (#70)


References: Hobbit, Ch VIII;
Annotated Hobbit, 170-171 (Ch VIII, notes 8,9,10);
Letters, 81 (#70).

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams, Simen Gaure

----------


ELVES

1) Were Elves reincarnated after they were slain?

Yes. In addition to a number of general statements to this effect at
least two Elves are specifically said to have been "re-embodied" after being
slain: Finrod Felagund and Glorfindel (see LFAQ, Elves, 2). ("Re-embodied"
is used rather than "reincarnated" because in the case of Elves (unlike
what's usually meant in a human context) the spirit was reborn in a body
resembling the original and furthermore all its former memories would be
substantially intact).

----------


2) Was Glorfindel of Rivendell (whom Frodo met) the same as Glorfindel
of Gondolin, who was slain fighting a Balrog?

This has been a matter of great controversy. It was unplanned by
Tolkien, and therefore was something he had to decide after the fact.
The only direct information in any of the books is a comment by
Christopher in _The Return of the Shadow_ (HoMe VI):

Some notes that were scribbled down at Sidmouth in Devon in the
late summer of 1938 (see Carpenter, _Biography_, p. 187) on a page
of doodles evidently represent my father's thoughts for the next
stages of the story at this time:

Consultation. Over M[isty] M[ountains]. Down Great River
to Mordor. Dark Tower. Beyond(?) which is the Fiery Hill.
Story of Gilgalald told by Elrond? Who is Trotter?
Glorfindel tells of his ancestry in Gondolin.

... Very notable is "Glorfindel tells of his ancestry in Gondolin".
Years later, long after the publication of _The Lord of the Rings_,
my father gave a great deal of thought to the matter of Glorfindel,
and at that time he wrote: "[The use of Glorfindel] in LotR is one
of the cases of the somewhat random use of the names found in the
older legends, now referred to as The Silmarillion, which escaped
reconsideration in the final published form of _The Lord of the
Rings_." He came to the conclusion that Glorfindel of Gondolin, who
fell to his death in combat with a Balrog after the sack of the city
(II. 192-4, IV.145), and Glorfindel of Rivendell were one and the
same: he was released from Mandos and returned to Middle-earth in
the Second Age.
The Return of the Shadow, 214-215

["Trotter" was the original name of the mysterious stranger later
called "Strider" (who at this stage of the composition was a
hobbit); II and IV refer to other volumes in the HoMe series.]


A number of reasons have been advanced for not taking this at face
value. Since Christopher's report of Tolkien's conclusion was not
part of the rough drafts, the question of whether rough drafts can be
canonical does not arise in this case. The suggestion that lack of
premeditation is grounds for rejection also seems inadequate, since
many elements were introduced with little thought of future conse-
quences yet later became important parts of the mythos.

It is true that we have no examples of any other elf journeying
eastwards *to* Middle-earth during the Second Age (though some did
visit Numenor), but this is not enough to disprove the possibility of
Glorfindel's having done so. There were in fact no direct statements
either way, which means that Tolkien could have established whatever
background he wanted to any story he might have written. The previous
lack of specific information on this matter was no constraint.

The strongest objection is that the way Christopher presents this
insprires less confidence than it might because he doesn't provide any
direct quotes -- rather, he merely describes a "conclusion" that his
father eventually "came to". Evidently, Tolkien never actually wrote
his conclusion down. The matter therefore reduces to a question of
how much one trusts Christopher, and whether one supposes that he
might attach too much importance to a casual statement. The majority
of readers appear to accept that this was indeed a thoughtful
conclusion that Tolkien reached only after long deliberation (we do
know that he and Christopher discussed the matter of Middle-earth
often). A significant minority continue to reject it.

In the last analysis, of course, certainty either way is impos-
sible, since no evidence beyond the above exists. On the one hand, we
can at least say that Tolkien apparently saw no objection to the idea
that a re-embodied Glorfindel could have returned. On the other hand,
the usual caveats concerning unpublished material are even stronger
than usual in this case, since he not only might have changed his mind
before publishing but also might have done so before he wrote the
story, or while he wrote it (not an unusual occurrence). Still, there
seems a good chance that he would have stuck to the one Glorfindel
idea, since he seems not to have come to the decision lightly.


References: Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 214-215 (First Phase, XII).

Contributors: WDBL, Robert Rosenbaum

----------


3) How were Eldar in Valinor named?

They had two given names ('essi'), one bestowed at birth by the
father, the other later by the mother:

... and these mother-names had great significance, for the mothers
of the Eldar had insight into the characters and abilities of their
children, and many also had the gift of prophetic foresight. In
addition, any of the Eldar might acquire epesse ('after-name'),
not necessarily given by their own kin, a nickname -- mostly given
as a title of admiration or honour; and an epesse might become the
name generally used and recognised in later song and history (as was
the case, for instance, with Ereinion, always known by his epesse
Gil-galad).
UT, 266

On why 'Ereinion' ('Scion of Kings' (UT, 436)) was given this epesse:

It is recorded that Ereinion was given the name Gil-galad 'Star
of Radiance' 'because his helm and mail, and his shield overlaid
with silver and set with a device of white stars, shone from afar
like a star in sunlight or moonlight, and could be seen by Elvish
eyes at a great distance if he stood upon a height'.
UT, 217

[ Gil-galad's "device of white stars" is shown in entry 47 of Pictures.]

The other epesse most familiar to readers of LotR was 'Galadriel',
whose father-name was 'Artanis' ('noble woman') and mother-name
'Nerwen' ('man-maiden') (UT 229, 231). As for 'Galadriel', which
was the Sindarin form of 'Altariel' (Quenya) and 'Alatariel' (Telerin)
(UT, 266):

In the High-elven speech her name was Al(a)tariel, derived from
_alata_ 'radience' (Sindarin _galad_) and _riel_ 'garlanded maiden'
(from a root rig- 'twine, wreathe'): the whole meaning 'maiden
crowned with a radiant garland', referring to her hair.
Silm, 360


References: UT, 217, 229, 231, 266 (all Two, II), 436 (Index);
Silm, 360 (Appendix, root -kal);
Pictures, entry 47.

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams

----------


HUMANS

1) What brought on the sinking of Numenor?

The Numenor story was Tolkien's re-telling of the Atlantis legend (the
tale publshed in _The Silmarillion_ was entitled "The Akalabeth", which may
be translated as "Downfallen"). Numenor was an island far to the West, a
"land apart" given to the heroic Edain (humans) of the First Age who had
aided the Noldor in the wars against Morgoth (see LFAQ, General, 1). [The
Line of Kings of Numenor was descended from Elrond's brother Elros, who
chose to be mortal; it led indirectly to Elendil the Tall, first King of
Arnor and Gondor, and thus eventually to Aragorn son of Arathorn.]

The theological situation was the "standard" one of a Ban and a Fall.
The Numenoreans, despite having been granted a longer lifespan than other,
humans, nevertheless had to remain mortal. They had also been ordered not to
sail West to the Undying Lands (Valinor). After awhile (perhaps inevitably,
as their power and wealth grew) the Numenoreans began to envy the Elves and
to yearn for immortality themselves (so as to enjoy their situation longer).
They managed to convince themselves that physical control of the Undying
Lands would somehow produce this result (it would not have); however, they
also retained sufficient wisdom not to attempt any such foolish action.
Significantly, the more obsessed they became with death the more quickly it
came as their lifespans steadily waned.

Near the end of the Second Age King Ar-Pharazon the Golden pridefully
challenged Sauron for the mastery of Middle-earth. The Numenoreans won the
confrontation (see LFAQ, Humans, 2) and took Sauron to Numenor as a prisoner.
Still wielding the One Ring, he swiftly gained control over most of the
Numenoreans (except for the Faithful and their leaders, Amandil and his son
Elendil). As King Ar-Pharazon's death approached ("he felt the waning of
his days and was besotted by fear of death"; RK, p. 317) Sauron finally
convinced him by deception to attack Valinor. This was a mistake. A great
chasm opened in the Sea and Numenor toppled into the abyss. (Tolkien had a
recurrent dream about this event; in LotR he gave it to Faramir, who
described it in "The Steward and the King".) (See also LFAQ, General, 2).

----------


2) How could Ar-Pharazon of Numenor defeat Sauron while Sauron wielded the
One Ring?

He did not actually defeat Sauron himself. The invasion fleet of the
Numenoreans was so powerful that Sauron's *armies* deserted him. Sauron
merely pretended to humble himself; to be carried back to Numenor as a
supposed hostage was exactly what he wanted. His plan was to weaken Numenor
as a war power by maneuvering them into sending a fleet to attack Valinor,
where it would presumably be destroyed.

He succeeded up to a point, but the result was disastrously more violent
than he foresaw, and he was caught in the Fall of Numenor. Only his physical
body perished since by nature he was of the spiritual order. Tolkien: "That
Sauron was not himself destroyed in the anger of the One is not my fault: the
problem of evil, and its apparent toleration, is a permanent one for all who
concern themselves with our world. The indestructibility of *spirits* with
free wills, even by the Creator of them, is also an inevitable feature, if
one either believes in their existence, or feigns it in a story."
(Letters, p. 280).

----------


3) What happened to the Ring when Numenor was destroyed?

Nothing. Sauron carried it back to Middle-earth, though there might be
some question as to how he managed it. Tolkien said he did, and Tolkien
should know: "Though reduced to 'a spirit of hatred borne on a dark wind', I
do not think one need boggle at this spirit carrying off the One Ring, upon
which his power of dominating minds now largely depended." (Letters, p. 280).
In fact, as far as we know all the spiritual beings (Valar and Maiar) were
perfectly capable of manipulating physical objects.

----------


4) Where did the Southrons come from? Were they part of the Atani?

Yes. All humans, East, West, North, or South, were. Humans first
appeared in the east and spread westwards, with some eventually crossing
the Blue Mountains into Beleriand. The entry for Atani in the Silmarillion
index reads:

Atani 'The Second People', Men (singular Atan). Since in Beleriand for
a long time the only Men known to the Noldor and Sindar were those of
the Three Houses of the Elf-friends, this name (in the Sindarin form
Adan, plural Edain) became specially associated with them, so that it
was seldom applied to other Men who came later to Beleriand, or who
were reported to be dwelling beyond the Mountains. But in the speech
of Iluvatar the meaning is 'Men (in general)'.

[Humans were 'the second people' because Elves were the Firstborn.]

----------


DWARVES

1) What were the origins of the Dwarves?

They were made by Aule, the smith and craftmaster of the Valar. This was
against Eru's Plan: Aule had neither the authority nor indeed the power to
create other souls (the result of his efforts was a group of what amounted to
puppets). However, because he repented his folly at once and because his
motives had been good (he desired children to teach, not slaves to command)
Eru gave the Dwarves life and made them part of the Plan. The Elves were
still to be the "Firstborn", though, so the Dwarves had to sleep until after
the Elves awoke.

----------


2) If, as has been told, only Seven Fathers of the Dwarves were created,
how did the race procreate?

In the _Silmarillion_ account of the making of the Dwarves, only the
Seven Fathers are mentioned. In Letter no. 212 (p 287), however, Tolkien
speaks of thirteen dwarves being initially created: "One, the eldest, alone,
and six more with six mates." Thus, it seems that Durin really did "walk
alone" as Gimli's song said.

----------


ENEMIES

1) What was the origin of the Orcs?

A fundamental concept for Tolkien (and the other Inklings) was that Evil
cannot create, only corrupt (the Boethian, as opposed to the Manichean,
concept of evil). In Letter 153 he explained that to a first approximation,
Treebeard was wrong ("Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the
Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves." TT, p. 89) and
Frodo was right ("The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make:
not real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life to Orcs, it only
ruined them and twisted them ..." RK, p. 190). (Tolkien: "Treebeard is a
*character* in my story, not me; and though he has a great memory and some
earthy wisdom, he is not one of the Wise, and there is quite a lot he does
not know or understand." Letters, p. 190; "Suffering and experience (and
possibly the Ring itself) gave Frodo more insight ..." Letters, p. 191.)
("To the first approximation" [above] because in that same letter Tolkien
made some subtle distinctions between "creating" and "making", which cannot
be gone into here.)

Tolkien stated explicitly in that letter (and several other places) that
the Orcs are indeed "a race of rational incarnate creatures, though horribly
corrupted". Also that "In the legends of the Elder Days it is suggested that
the Diabolus subjugated and corrupted some of the earliest Elves, before they
had ever heard of the 'gods', let alone of God." (Letters, p. 191). In fact,
_The Silmarillion_ does state that Orcs were Avari (Dark Elves) captured by
Morgoth (p. 50, 94), though strictly speaking, the idea is presented as the
best guess of the Eldar, no more. Some have rejected the statements on those
grounds, that the Elvish compilers of _The Silmarillion_ didn't actually
*know* the truth but were merely speculating. But since Tolkien himself,
speaking as author and sub-creator, more-or-less verified this idea, it's
probably safe to accept it, as far as it goes.

It has been widely noted that this conception leaves several questions
unresolved. 1) Re: procreation, _The Silmarillion_ says that "the Orcs had
life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar" (p. 50),
but nevertheless people continue to raise questions. For one thing, there
was never any hint that female Orcs exist (there were two apparent references
to Orc children, but both were from _The Hobbit_ , and therefore may be
considered suspect). 2) There is the question of why, if Orcs were corrupted
Elves, their offspring would also be Orcs (rather than Elves -- a somewhat
horrifying thought). This question leads to discussions of brainwashing vs.
genetics, which are not altogether appropriate to the world of Middle-earth.
3) Finally there is the question of whether Orcs, being fundamentally Elves,
go to the Halls of Mandos when they are slain, and whether, like Elves, they
are reincarnated. (This last would explain how they managed to replenish
their numbers so quickly all the time.) There is also some reason to think
that Orcs, like Elves, are immortal. (Gorbag and Shagrat, during the conver-
sation which Sam overheard, mention the "Great Seige", which presumably
refers to the Last Alliance; it is possible to interpret this reference to
mean that they were there and actually remembered it themselves.)

----------


2) What was the origin of Trolls?

No one seems to know. Apparently, though, they were "made" (as opposed
to "created" -- see LFAQ, Enemies, 1) by Melkor. Said Tolkien: "I am not
sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits', and hence ... they
return to mere stone images when not in the dark. But there are other sorts
of Trolls, beside these rather ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which
other origins are suggested." (Letters, p. 191) "Counterfeits" here means
more-or-less that the Trolls have no independant life of their own but are
puppets animated in some way by an external Evil Will. As for the other kind
of Troll, the Olog-hai, no reference to their origin has been found, except
for Appendix F: "That Sauron bred them none doubted, though from what stock
was not known." However, they were definitely true Trolls, not large Orcs.

The Troll adventure in _The Hobbit_ should probably not be taken too
literally as a source of Troll-lore -- it seems clear that it was much
modified by the translator's desire to create familiarity. Thus, it seems
unlikely that Trolls in Middle-earth spoke with Cockney accents, just as
it seems unlikely that one of them would have been named "William".

----------


MISCELLANEOUS

1) Who was Queen Beruthiel? (Aragorn mentioned her during the journey
through Moria.)

The reference is to Book II, Ch 4 "A Journey in the Dark": " 'Do not be
afraid!' said Aragorn. There was a pause longer than usual, and Gandalf and
Gimli were whispering together; ... 'Do not be afraid! I have been with him
on many a journey, if never on one so dark; ... He is surer of finding the
way home in a blind night than the cats of Queen Beruthiel.' " (FR p. 325).

This is a striking case of Tolkien's creative process. It seems that
the name meant nothing when it first appeared: it just "came" as he was
writing the first draft of the chapter. Later, however, he "found out" whom
she "actually" was, his conclusions being reported in UT.

She was the wife of King Tarannon of Gondor (Third Age 830-913), and was
described as "nefarious, solitary, and loveless" (Tarannon's childlessness
was mentioned without explanation in the annals). "She had nine black cats
and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories,
setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor,... setting the white
cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. No man in Gondor dared touch
them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass." Her
eventual fate was to be set adrift in a boat with her cats: "The ship was
last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead
and another as a figure-head on the prow." It is also told that "her name
was erased from the Book of the Kings (`but the memory of men is not wholly
shut in books, and the cats of Queen Beruthiel never passed wholly out of
men's speech')." (UT, pp 401-402)
teepee
2004-04-09 19:09:18 UTC
Permalink
"William D.B. Loos" <***@hudce.harvard.edu> wrote >

CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE
Post by William D.B. Loos
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-04-10 01:33:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by teepee
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
Obviously not.
Can you think of anything?
teepee
2004-04-10 09:10:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by teepee
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
Obviously not.
Can you think of anything?
I'm sure there's plenty. Pete Grey and other's collective deduction that
the tapping in Moria is morse, spells AN NA ME and means 'an enemy' seems
quite worthy of inclusion, for example.

But it seems to be a Faqbot, just mindlessly firing it off every fortnight.
Kristian Damm Jensen
2004-04-11 20:13:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by teepee
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by teepee
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
Obviously not.
Can you think of anything?
I'm sure there's plenty. Pete Grey and other's collective deduction
that the tapping in Moria is morse, spells AN NA ME and means 'an
enemy' seems quite worthy of inclusion, for example.
You can't be serious.

You would add a question to the faq, that has only been asked once - to my
knowledge - in 12 years of rabt?

I'm not sure the faq-structure would benefit very much from addenda to the
FAQ, but a number of subjects might gain by un update, since new knowledge
has been gained since 1996. For starters PoME wasn't out at that time. The
question of Glorfindel *has* been settled.
--
Kristian Damm Jensen damm (at) ofir (dot) dk
"On the whole he enjoyed the gift of speech, but something told him
that this was the time to employ the even rarer gift of silence." --
Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant
Pete Gray
2004-04-11 20:50:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by teepee
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by teepee
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
Obviously not.
Can you think of anything?
I'm sure there's plenty. Pete Grey and other's collective deduction that
the tapping in Moria is morse, spells AN NA ME and means 'an enemy' seems
quite worthy of inclusion, for example.
'...and some have greatness thrust upon them.' It was Mike Perry that
started the thread, and it depends on splitting into two-letter groups
what in the text is actually a two-letter and a four-letter group (if
it is Morse, which is pure speculation). I would rate this no higher
than unprovable speculation, and since HoME only says of the drafts
for this section that there are 'scarcely any differences to be
remarked', it's hard to take it any further. Amusing, but IMO
possibly, indeed probably, no more than coincidence.
--
Pete Gray
while ($cat!="home"){$mice=="play";}
Flame of the West
2004-04-10 05:30:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by William D.B. Loos
CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE
Post by William D.B. Loos
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
We can't change the darned things and we can't stop them from
posting every two weeks.


-- FotW

Reality is for those who cannot cope with Middle-earth.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-04-10 16:15:28 UTC
Permalink
Flame of the West <***@netscape.net> wrote:
[FAQ/LFAQ by William D.B. Loos]
Post by Flame of the West
We can't change the darned things and we can't stop them from
posting every two weeks.
If someone wants to take over maintaining the FAQs, I guess one first
should try to contact William D.B. Loos by the address he gives
(***@hudce.harvard.edu), and then the administrator of the machine
given in the headers:

Originator: ***@penguin-lust.MIT.EDU
NNTP-Posting-Host: penguin-lust.mit.edu

The administrator will probably try to contact William D.B. Loos himself,
and if he doesn't answer, he will be able to stop the automated posting.

- Dirk
TT Arvind
2004-04-10 17:11:09 UTC
Permalink
Wes ðu Dirk Thierbach hal!
Post by Dirk Thierbach
If someone wants to take over maintaining the FAQs, I guess one first
should try to contact William D.B. Loos by the address he gives
Comrade Jensen did that a while ago. It appears comrade Loos (who is
very much around and contactable) is not interested in maintaining the
FAQ, nor in handing it over to someone else to maintain. This has been
solved by having the Newsgroups FAQ, and a MetaFAQ which links to the
relevant portions of each of the FAQs as well as a few pertinent essays
posted here. The result is a fairly frequently maintained and updated
FAQ set, even if the old FAQ and lFAQ are no longer maintained.
--
Meneldil

Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-04-10 17:39:36 UTC
Permalink
pertinent essays posted here. The result is a fairly frequently
maintained and updated FAQ set, even if the old FAQ and lFAQ are no
longer maintained.
So anyone with something that could be added to these FAQs, should in
fact submit them to one of the other FAQS. I believe the OP wanted to
try and submit something about this Morse Code in Moria thing, though
that might not be a very frequently-asked question.

Even if Loos doesn't want to update these FAQs, can he not make it
clearer that the document is not being updated. There is an old 'last
updated' date, but this can imply that there is nothing left to update,
rather than it just being unmaintained.

And how much overlap is there again between all the various FAQs?

Can we have a FAQ about the FAQs?? I lose track of them all!

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
TT Arvind
2004-04-10 17:52:17 UTC
Permalink
Wes ðu Christopher Kreuzer hal!
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Can we have a FAQ about the FAQs?? I lose track of them all!
There is one in the newsgroup FAQ, I think. Try comrade Jensen's FAQ
site - it has the singularly unfortunate URL http://tolkien.slimy.com
--
If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word
you say, talk in your sleep.
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-04-10 22:20:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by TT Arvind
Wes ðu Christopher Kreuzer hal!
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Can we have a FAQ about the FAQs?? I lose track of them all!
There is one in the newsgroup FAQ, I think. Try comrade Jensen's FAQ
site - it has the singularly unfortunate URL http://tolkien.slimy.com
Specifically: http://tolkien.slimy.com/MetaFAQ.html#MetaSources

The following quote (at end) answered all my questions!

The trouble is: this is not clear from the automated posting of Loos's
FAQs. There is no mention of other FAQs and it is possible to get the
impression that Loos's is the only FAQ. In contrast, Steuard's FAQ
postings mention Loos's FAQ up front, and there is no room for
confusion. Also, Steuard's FAQ _notice_ is posted every four days and so
probably reaches more people.

[START QUOTE]

"For many years, the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups have been home to a pair
of excellent Frequently Asked Questions lists about Tolkien and
Middle-earth, compiled by William D. B. Loos. These sources contain a
wealth of information, but are no longer maintained (the last update
seems to have been in July 1996). This means that quite a few issues of
current interest to the groups are not fully addressed in those
documents."
[END QUOTE]
Stan Brown
2004-04-11 02:33:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Can we have a FAQ about the FAQs?? I lose track of them all!
Look at the second URL in my sig.

Given that Steuard posts a FAQ pointer every couple of days, and I'm
not the only one who cites it in my sig, I'm pretty well amazed at
your question.
--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-04-11 03:14:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Brown
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Can we have a FAQ about the FAQs?? I lose track of them all!
Look at the second URL in my sig.
Given that Steuard posts a FAQ pointer every couple of days, and I'm
not the only one who cites it in my sig, I'm pretty well amazed at
your question.
OK. What I _meant_ to say was that I'd never read the FAQ part of the
FAQ. And that part of the reason I have now is because of the confusion
that having two FAQs being posted to the newsgroups can cause,
especially as one (Loos's) does not reference the other (Steuard's).
Stan Brown
2004-04-11 15:35:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
OK. What I _meant_ to say was that I'd never read the FAQ part of the
FAQ. And that part of the reason I have now is because of the confusion
that having two FAQs being posted to the newsgroups can cause,
especially as one (Loos's) does not reference the other (Steuard's).
For the record, I think Loos should stop posting his FAQ. He does
not otherwise participate in the newsgroup, and it just causes
confusion (as you say).

Perhaps if several people write to him suggesting that, he might
listen. He didn't when Steuard and I suggested it independently.
--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm
Dirk Thierbach
2004-04-10 19:13:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by TT Arvind
Comrade Jensen did that a while ago. It appears comrade Loos (who is
very much around and contactable) is not interested in maintaining the
FAQ, nor in handing it over to someone else to maintain.
Did he explain why? I would imagine that someone who volunteered in
maintaining the FAQs in the first place would be interested in keeping
them as accurate as possible. Or at least I think he would be fair enough
to add a remark like "These FAQs are no longer updated" to them.

- Dirk
TT Arvind
2004-04-10 21:35:00 UTC
Permalink
Wes ðu Dirk Thierbach hal!
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Did he explain why? I would imagine that someone who volunteered in
maintaining the FAQs in the first place would be interested in keeping
them as accurate as possible. Or at least I think he would be fair enough
to add a remark like "These FAQs are no longer updated" to them.
You'll have to ask comrade Jensen, I'm afraid - he's the one who
actually dealt with comrade Loos. I only know what he reported to this
ng some years ago. FWIW, I agree with what you're saying.
--
Meneldil

Dentist: A prestidigitator who, putting metal in one's mouth, pulls coins
out of one's pockets.
-- Ambrose Bierce.
Exhibitionist
2004-04-10 16:32:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Flame of the West
Post by William D.B. Loos
CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE
Post by William D.B. Loos
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
We can't change the darned things and we can't stop them from
posting every two weeks.
-- FotW
Old or not, they were a big help to me when I first came here. I'm
sure they are for others who are newbies.
I say let them fire away every 2 weeks. It 's only about a
half-dozen posts, all total, and can easily be ignored.
If your connection is so slow that it takes up too much of your time -
life is hard in the 3rd age. Time to break out the high-speed 4th
age. ;-)
Een Wilde Ier
2004-04-13 00:39:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Flame of the West
Post by William D.B. Loos
CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE
Post by William D.B. Loos
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
We can't change the darned things and we can't stop them from
posting every two weeks.
Like the Nader spam...
Stan Brown
2004-04-11 02:31:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by William D.B. Loos
CHANGES SINCE THE LAST RELEASE
Post by William D.B. Loos
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
Have you ever looked at _the_ FAQ (as opposed to Loos's worthy but
very outdated effort)?
--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm
teepee
2004-04-11 08:19:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stan Brown
Have you ever looked at _the_ FAQ (as opposed to Loos's worthy but
very outdated effort)?
I've looked at_your_FAQ if that's what you mean. But if you mean THE FAQ
that I don't know which one that might be, if indeed there can be said to be
one. My idea of a Newsgroup FAQ is something that gets posted in the group
every so often, which this one does.

The implication here is that your FAQ is obviously the definitive FAQ, which
would be a rather arrogant and egotistical assumption on your part if that
were just self-declared. Perhaps you have a different reason for this point
of view which I'm not aware of, in which case perhaps you could help be
sharing it.
TT Arvind
2004-04-11 13:05:16 UTC
Permalink
Wes ðu teepee hal!
Post by teepee
My idea of a Newsgroup FAQ is something that gets posted in the group
every so often, which this one does.
Steuard Jensen's Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ (which is what comrade Brown was
referring to, not his own Rings FAQ) does get posted every month. They
were last posted as recently as 22 March 2004. (Google groups URL:
http://snipurl.com/5myq )

Some confusion arises out of the different posting dates of the FAQs.
Unfortunately, that can't be helped. The posting date for the Newsgroup
FAQs was initially sychronised with the Loos FAQs, but of late the latter
have been posted at unpredictably different times, making synchronisation
of posting dates quite impossible. Instead, a message is posted EVERY
FOUR DAYS pointing to the official Newsgroup FAQs. This is much much
more frequent than the Loos FAQs, so I really don't see what your point
is.
Post by teepee
The implication here is that your FAQ is obviously the definitive FAQ, which
would be a rather arrogant and egotistical assumption on your part if that
were just self-declared.
He is quite justified in his statement. By general consensus amongst the
regulars at the time, Steuard Jensen's FAQs were accepted as the
'official' FAQs for a.f.t. and r.a.b.t. Hence their title: The Tolkien
Newsgroup FAQs. They are also posted to the faq ng as the FAQs for
a.f.t. and r.a.b.t. I do not think comrade Loos' FAQs enjoy quite the
same "official" status. They were originally written at a time when the
net was a much smaller place and they were intended as a FAQ about
Tolkien for net users in general. They were never a FAQ specifically for
these newsgroups, as becomes extremely obvious on even a cursory
comparison of their contents with the contents of the Tolkien Newsgroups
FAQ.
--
Meneldil

Vuja De: the feeling that you've never been here before.
Stan Brown
2004-04-11 15:41:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by teepee
Post by Stan Brown
Have you ever looked at _the_ FAQ (as opposed to Loos's worthy but
very outdated effort)?
I've looked at_your_FAQ if that's what you mean. But if you mean THE FAQ
that I don't know which one that might be, if indeed there can be said to be
one. My idea of a Newsgroup FAQ is something that gets posted in the group
every so often, which this one does.
The implication here is that your FAQ is obviously the definitive FAQ,
Nope, that's your inference, and it's not what I was implying. It
would be pretty stupid of me to imply that a FAQ focused on one
narrow subject was the "definitive FAQ".

Look at the first FAQ in my sig. That's _the_ FAQ, and hardly any of
it is my work, though I did make some suggestions as many of us do.

Or you could have looked all along at the FAQ pointers posted every
4 days. Se the subject line "Welcome! FAQs and important
information.".
--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm
Steuard Jensen
2004-04-11 22:06:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by teepee
Post by William D.B. Loos
There have been no changes since the release of 1996/07/08.
Has no one thought of anything worth adding to the FAQ's in 8 years?
As others have pointed out, I've spent rather a lot of time writing
and maintaining the Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ for almost five of those
eight years (since August 1999). I consider it to be a part of the
same FAQ "tradition" as Mr. Loos's FAQs, so your question doesn't
entirely make sense to me. :)

The problem is obviously that the old FAQs are "blind" to the new FAQ
structure here, and thus make no reference to my work. I've tried to
address that concern (and the issue of overlap and updates) somewhat
by frequently posting links to my "Tolkien Meta-FAQ", which is a sort
of unified gateway to both of the Loos FAQs, my Newsgroups FAQ, Stan's
FAQ of the Rings, and Stug's Letters FAQ; I currently think of the
Meta-FAQ as the primary (or at least best) FAQ source for these
groups. (For those who are new or who haven't been paying attention,
it's at http://tolkien.slimy.com/, which I _don't_ consider an
unfortunate name. :) It's hard to forget, isn't it? :) )

So why make a new FAQ instead of taking over the old ones? There are
basically two reasons. First, I have been in touch with William Loos
periodically, and he still has some interest in eventually going back
to work on his FAQs. (In fact, the last time I heard from him a
couple of years ago, he was hoping to start taking a more active role
in such things again. It doesn't seem to have worked out that way,
though.) If his feelings toward his FAQs are anything like my
feelings toward mine, I think he'd be pretty depressed to lose control
of them no matter how justified that were. I just hate the thought of
doing that to him.

And second, the Loos FAQs still cover a great deal of material
extremely well (well enough that I see no need to cover it in my
own). I don't know if I would have the legal or moral right to
straight out incorporate that material into my own FAQ, and of course
I'd want to edit it myself anyway (which in my mind only complicates
those questions of attribution and "ownership").

On top of that, the Loos FAQs take a rather different approach to the
whole FAQ endeavor than I have. Those FAQs include specific page
references for every quote (at least in finished entries), while my
FAQ essentially never gives them (there are just so many editions
these days, and only for the past year have I had one of the
"standard" ones corresponding to the Loos FAQs' page numbers). The
Loos FAQs give detailed attribution to everyone who helped with each
entry; I've never even known where to start in compiling such a list
(_so_ many people here have helped _so_ much... but essentially every
non-quoted word of the FAQ is my own writing). There are other
differencs in tone and style as well.

So in short, merging the Loos FAQs with my FAQ would be an enormous
challenge, and would probably result in considerable information being
lost in the transition. But I don't know that William Loos is really
willing to give up on them completely or even to designate my
Newsgroup FAQ (and/or my Meta-FAQ) as thier official successor. And
even though he's no longer active here, I have too much respect for
his work on them to disregard his natural feelings on the matter. On
the other hand, my FAQ doesn't entirely stand on its own; if his FAQs
weren't posted here anymore, I would need to do a lot of work to
include that other material. The current situation is far less than
ideal, but I don't think it's too bad.

Steuard Jensen
Dirk Thierbach
2004-04-13 16:08:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steuard Jensen
So why make a new FAQ instead of taking over the old ones? There are
basically two reasons. First, I have been in touch with William Loos
periodically, and he still has some interest in eventually going back
to work on his FAQs. (In fact, the last time I heard from him a
couple of years ago, he was hoping to start taking a more active role
in such things again. It doesn't seem to have worked out that way,
though.) If his feelings toward his FAQs are anything like my
feelings toward mine, I think he'd be pretty depressed to lose control
of them no matter how justified that were. I just hate the thought of
doing that to him.
Do you think that William would mind adding a comment like "this FAQ
is not maintained at the moment. Please have also a look at the other
FAQs." to the top of his FAQs? This means five minutes of work for
him, gives him still the option to take up work of the FAQ later on,
and would avoid most of the confusion if someone reads the "outdated"
FAQ first.

- Dirk
Steuard Jensen
2004-04-13 18:23:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Do you think that William would mind adding a comment like "this FAQ
is not maintained at the moment. Please have also a look at the
other FAQs." to the top of his FAQs? This means five minutes of work
for him, gives him still the option to take up work of the FAQ later
on, and would avoid most of the confusion if someone reads the
"outdated" FAQ first.
That might not be a bad idea (though based on my understanding of how
these things work, it might be more than five minutes of work). I
don't know if he'd go for it (and I'd have to dig for a current
contact address for him), but it couldn't hurt to ask. I'll try to
remember to do so. :)
Steuard Jensen
Morgoth's Curse
2004-06-22 07:46:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steuard Jensen
So in short, merging the Loos FAQs with my FAQ would be an enormous
challenge, and would probably result in considerable information being
lost in the transition. But I don't know that William Loos is really
willing to give up on them completely or even to designate my
Newsgroup FAQ (and/or my Meta-FAQ) as thier official successor. And
even though he's no longer active here, I have too much respect for
his work on them to disregard his natural feelings on the matter. On
the other hand, my FAQ doesn't entirely stand on its own; if his FAQs
weren't posted here anymore, I would need to do a lot of work to
include that other material. The current situation is far less than
ideal, but I don't think it's too bad.
Steuard Jensen
Doesn't it bother you that Loos is effectively ignoring your work by
not even mentioning that your FAQ is a supplement to his FAQ? I can
understand why Mr. Loos may not have time to update his FAQ, but how
long does it actually take to add a couple of lines advising people to
check Steuard's FAQ for further information? I firmly believe that
William Loos has a moral obligation to acknowledge the time and labor
and love that you have invested in these newsgroups.

Morgoth's Curse
Steuard Jensen
2004-06-22 16:45:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Morgoth's Curse
The current situation is far less than ideal, but I don't think
it's too bad.
Doesn't it bother you that Loos is effectively ignoring your work by
not even mentioning that your FAQ is a supplement to his FAQ?
Not really. :) I don't see him as deliberately ignoring my work
(indeed, he has praised at least some of it when we've spoken about
our FAQs in the past). I see him as ignoring the newsgroups entirely
(voluntarily or involuntarily), without any particular prejudace
against me or anyone else. He's not posting his FAQs by hand, they're
being posted automatically, and I think that's reasonable since
they're still valuable in many ways.
Post by Morgoth's Curse
I can understand why Mr. Loos may not have time to update his FAQ,
but how long does it actually take to add a couple of lines advising
people to check Steuard's FAQ for further information?
It would take some effort (he'd have to convince the *.answers folks
that he really was himself, for example, as his email address has
changed). And I suspect that he's got a substantial backlog of
changes large and small he wants to make to his FAQs; just making one
would beg another, and another, and soon he'd be spending all sorts of
time on it. He may not be willing to take that risk. :)

Steuard Jensen
Morgoth's Curse
2008-01-08 07:35:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steuard Jensen
Post by Morgoth's Curse
The current situation is far less than ideal, but I don't think
it's too bad.
Doesn't it bother you that Loos is effectively ignoring your work by
not even mentioning that your FAQ is a supplement to his FAQ?
Not really. :) I don't see him as deliberately ignoring my work
(indeed, he has praised at least some of it when we've spoken about
our FAQs in the past). I see him as ignoring the newsgroups entirely
(voluntarily or involuntarily), without any particular prejudace
against me or anyone else. He's not posting his FAQs by hand, they're
being posted automatically, and I think that's reasonable since
they're still valuable in many ways.
Post by Morgoth's Curse
I can understand why Mr. Loos may not have time to update his FAQ,
but how long does it actually take to add a couple of lines advising
people to check Steuard's FAQ for further information?
It would take some effort (he'd have to convince the *.answers folks
that he really was himself, for example, as his email address has
changed). And I suspect that he's got a substantial backlog of
changes large and small he wants to make to his FAQs; just making one
would beg another, and another, and soon he'd be spending all sorts of
time on it. He may not be willing to take that risk. :)
Steuard Jensen
Hmmm...come to think of it--it has been quite awhile since Loos posted
that FAQ here. I just checked Google and the last appearance was May
7, 2006. Does anybody know whether William D.B. Loos has permanently
abandoned the Tolkien newsgroups?

Morgoth's Curse
Morambar
2008-01-08 10:21:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Morgoth's Curse
Hmmm...come to think of it--it has been quite awhile since Loos posted
that FAQ here. I just checked Google and the last appearance was May
7, 2006. Does anybody know whether William D.B. Loos has permanently
abandoned the Tolkien newsgroups?
One FAQ down, three to go. :-]

Morambar
Pseudonymus al-Faqha'ter III
2008-01-12 23:03:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Morambar
Post by Morgoth's Curse
Hmmm...come to think of it--it has been quite awhile since Loos posted
that FAQ here.  I just checked Google and the last appearance was May
7, 2006.  Does anybody know whether William D.B. Loos has permanently
abandoned the Tolkien newsgroups?
One FAQ down, three to go. :-]
^M^

The Will shall triumph!
Dirk Thierbach
2008-01-08 08:58:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Morgoth's Curse
Hmmm...come to think of it--it has been quite awhile since Loos posted
that FAQ here. I just checked Google and the last appearance was May
7, 2006. Does anybody know whether William D.B. Loos has permanently
abandoned the Tolkien newsgroups?
Or maybe the computer running the cronjob to post the FAQs has been
finally shutdown? :-)

- Dirk
Steuard Jensen
2008-01-12 17:57:58 UTC
Permalink
Holy dead threads, Batman!
Post by Morgoth's Curse
Hmmm...come to think of it--it has been quite awhile since Loos posted
that FAQ here. I just checked Google and the last appearance was May
7, 2006. Does anybody know whether William D.B. Loos has permanently
abandoned the Tolkien newsgroups?
I actually posted something about this last April; the message had
subject line "FAQ posting, here and in general" and can be found at:

Message-ID: <QAwTh.84$***@news.uchicago.edu>
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/9f7af08f951b467c

In brief, it seems that the MIT FAQ-posting server went (almost) offline
in May 2006 and hasn't been heard from since. Perhaps related is the
fact that the news.answers moderators never got back to me when I
submitted a change to my posting address last spring; I've had to stop
posting my FAQ to the *.answers groups as a result.

In short, we're still here, but a good bit of the infrastructure that
had built up around Usenet for years seems to have decayed due to
neglect. I'm not quite sure what that means.

Steuard Jensen
Morgoth's Curse
2008-01-13 19:09:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steuard Jensen
Holy dead threads, Batman!
No thread is dead until the Dead Thread Faction declares it dead!
Post by Steuard Jensen
Post by Morgoth's Curse
Hmmm...come to think of it--it has been quite awhile since Loos posted
that FAQ here. I just checked Google and the last appearance was May
7, 2006. Does anybody know whether William D.B. Loos has permanently
abandoned the Tolkien newsgroups?
I actually posted something about this last April; the message had
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/9f7af08f951b467c
That must be why I missed it. Whenever I see a thread about FAQs that
was started by you, Steuard, I assume that you are talking about
_your_ FAQ. ;-)
Post by Steuard Jensen
In brief, it seems that the MIT FAQ-posting server went (almost) offline
in May 2006 and hasn't been heard from since. Perhaps related is the
fact that the news.answers moderators never got back to me when I
submitted a change to my posting address last spring; I've had to stop
posting my FAQ to the *.answers groups as a result.
In short, we're still here, but a good bit of the infrastructure that
had built up around Usenet for years seems to have decayed due to
neglect. I'm not quite sure what that means.
On a positive note, that was a part of the Usenet that nobody really
cared about. Unfortunately, I think it is symptomatic of the slow but
inevitable extinction of the Usenet. Text only forums are doomed. You
do realize that since the first Macintosh was released in 1984, an
entire generation has never known anything but GUI?

Morgoth's Curse

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