Thursday, June 20, 2019

When Tolkien Gets Weird

So, I've never made a systematic study of the final three volumes of HME, though I've dipped into them a lot over the years. I find that it's when I have a project that involves specific lesser-known items among Tolkien's oeuvre I get to know those works really well.*

My current project was chosen, in part, so that in the process of researching and writing it I wd become as familiar with this late-period material as I am with BLT I & II, HME IV-V, and the LotR volumes HME VI-IX.**

And what I'm finding is that occasionally Tolkien will make a statement that strikes me as decidedly odd. In conversation with Tolk folk, I find that even the most well-versed of them might not know all of these offhand, so vast has JRRT's published writings now become. So I thought it might be interesting to devote a short series of blog posts to a run of representative examples.

  • Feanor's seventh son never reached Middle-earth
  • Valinor is North America
  • Melkor made the Moon
  • Melkor Rapes the Sun

--John R.
current reading: snippets of many different things.
current location: Williamstown.
currently missing: two small black cats.

*for example, the essay I did on FALL OF ARTHUR, or the one on Tolkien's dwarves a few years before that, or heavy immersion into the earlier iterations of THE SILMARILLION for MR. BAGGINS.

**I have a different project lined up for later this year that will involve a lot of work with the Appendices drafting


Beth said...

"Feanor's seventh son never reached Middle-earth" -- this is from The Shibboleth of Feanor, right? I must read that someday, but I haven't had a chance to get HME Vol. 12 yet. I might end up ordering it through ILL. I do know the story, though -- IMO this version doesn't work as well from a storytelling pov, things start backfiring on Feanor & sons way too soon, while in The Silmarillion events actually work out for them for a while. I prefer the version where the twins die at Sirion.

insurrbution said...

Very curious to know what you're working on...

N.E. Brigand said...

Kristine Larsen wrote an essay whose title references number three, and I made a point to mention number four in one of the "Year's Work in Tolkien Studies" surveys to which I contributed, as an incident that might have been profitably considered by someone who'd written an article about rape in the Silmarillion legends.

Speaking of Larsen, I recall that she's said that if she were stranded on a desert island, the two books she'd want with her would be "The Silmarillion" and "Morgoth's Ring", i.e., HME X. The latter book has also been much cited by religious scholars of Tolkien.

John D. Rateliff said...

"insurrbution said...
Very curious to know what you're working on..."

Well, the title of my Kalamazoo piece is

"The Flat Earth Made Round and
Tolkien’s Failure to Finish The Silmarillion"

while my joint presentation with Bill Fliss, the Marquette Archivist, demonstrated the new processing of Marquette's LotR Manuscripts currently nearing completion. The new arrangement enables you to follow Tolkien's process of composition chapter by chapter throughout the whole book, while also being able to quickly access each draft of a given chapter for comparison of changes made in each iteration. I'm hoping people find it intuitive and useful.

Plus when I return to Kent it's time to resume work on updating CLASSICS OF FANTASY, my collection of essays on what I think are the greatest works of fantasy of all time.

With another project in its early stages (reading, thinking, taking lots of notes), not to mention some real-life complications, these shd kept me busy for a while.