On Fri, 2 Apr 2004 19:21:43 -0500,
Post by Shanahan Post by Tar-Elenion Post by Shanahan Post by AC
Myth's Transformed has all sorts of troubling bits to it, including
the notion of a round Earth *before* the sinking of Numenor and the
sun and moon in existence before the Trees.
I can't imagine anyone taking the published Silmarillion as canon.
Morgoth's Ring is the later stages of the mythology, not the earlier
Cool, thanks for the info. I do need to fill in those gaps in my
However, I still view both the earlier and the later stages of the
mythology as non-canon. Fascinating, and wonderful to read, but so
much of it contradicts LotR that I assign more "truth-value" to LotR.
What of the 'later stages of the mythology' contradicts LotR?
Well, the bits about the origin of the Orcs, which we've been discussing,
Even the published Silmarillion doesn't give a definitive answer. There are
extremely important issues that weighed upon Tolkien's mind in the later
years, particularly in dealing with the redemption of Orcs.
Post by Shanahan
Just a personal preference, not necessarily based on logic.
There's nothing wrong with having a preference, it's just that you seem to
have some rather incorrect notions about how the published Silmarillion was
produced. Christopher Tolkien didn't have a mostly finished work that
needed tidying up, he had a substantially *unfinished* work that he had to
glue together. What is worse, after LotR, Tolkien suddenly took a grain of
an idea about the world being round from the creation and proceeded to turn
the mythology upside down. He occupied probably the last major creative
period of his life with this round-earth mythology and the 2nd edition of
The reason, in my opinion, that HoME exists is as an apologia by CJRT, a way
of explaining why he did what he did to produce a published Silmarillion,
when no entity really existed that was close to that state. But he tells us
right from the beginning, in the introduction to Silm, that this was as much
a work of the son as the father. The Silmarillion was never finished. The
last chapters were little more than the annal entries and the Fall of
Doriath was composed by CJRT and Guy Kay Gavriel, because no actual
narrative form of that chapter existed save the one from the Lost Tales at
the very beginning.
Because the Silmarillion was so disjointed, scattered in time and space,
CJRT did his very best to find out what the final views of his father were.
However, he was still forced to pull together various pieces, to meld a
cohesive whole out of multiple versions from various periods of development.
A few months ago I traced down, during a debate on Elvish immortality, a
passage that CJRT had, with some editing, moved from the Ainulindale to the
published chapter "The Beginning of Days". This is a good example of the
kinds of things that had to be done to massage portions of the text.
Before I go any further, I wish to say that I am criticizing CJRT or that
all the Silmarillion was produced in that fashion (many parts were wholesale
included from the 1930s and post-LotR version with little amendment), but I
think it is important when dealing with issues of canonicity of the
published work to consider how it was constructed. What follows is a
portion of the post in question.
Just to show you that the notion of Elvish re-embodiment existed from the
very beginning in 1916-1917 to the very end of Tolkien's life, here is a
section from The Music of the Ainur, the earliest version of the
Ainulindale (which was likely written between 1918 and 1920).
"It is however of one with this gift of poewr that the Children of Men dwell
only a short time in the world alive, yet do not perish utterly for ever,
whereas the Eldar dwell till the Great End unless they be slain or waste in
grief (for to both these deaths they are subject) nor doth eld subdue their
strength, except it may be in ten thousand centuries; and dying they are
reborn in their children, so that their number minishes not, nor grows."
BolT I - The Music of the Ainur
Then in the 1930s we see the next version of the Ainulindale which follows
closely the original Music of the Ainur. This is called "B" version by
"Whereas the Eldar remain until the end of days, and their love of the world
is deeper, therefore, and more sorrowful. But they die not, till the world
dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief - for to both these seeming
deaths they are subject - nor does age subdue their strength, unless one
grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered in the
halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence often they return and are reborn in their
The Lost Road - Ainulindale
The essays from Myths Transformed date from the 1950s as well. I think I
have sufficiently demonstrated that Elvish immortality is one that is
constant from beginning to end.
As far as I can tell, the text found in the published Silmarillion appears
to be an edited form of the text that appears in the last version of the
Compare the published text to the one above:
"For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste
in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does
age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries;
and dying they are gathered in the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they
may in time return."
The Silmarillion - The Beginning of Days
So, you see, your interpretation of what happens to Elves when their spirits
come to Mandos is due to editorial compression by Christopher Tolkien, and
not due to any intent of JRRT. It is important to understand that the
published Silmarillion was put together by CJRT from a number of different
versions, and in the interests of narrative and structural unity he was
forced to do things of this kind. This one seems a little odd in that the
text was lifted from the 1948 Ainulindale and placed into this chapter with
some compression, thus editing out a rather important portion of the
original text "whence often they return and are reborn in their children"
and creating the potential for misinterpretation as to what happens to Elves
At any rate, it has been an interesting little exploration, since I hunted
right back to the Sketch of Mythology (in the early 1930s) forward looking
for the source of the passage in the published Silm. Now I better get back
to writing the summation of the Prologue of LotR for the Chapter of the
You can find the entirety of this post at
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the published work, though a
breathtaking, staggering work in its own right, was the product of
painstaking construction from numerous pieces by CJRT. Tolkien himself
never resolved a number of important issues; never giving us a full
narrative retelling of the War of Wrath or of Earendil's voyages. Nor did
the good professor ever resolve the sticky situation of how exactly the
Dwarves of Nogrod came to ensnare and kill Thingol.