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Christopher Tolkien wrote this in a note on the story of the ruin of Doriath in the Silmarillion:

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This story was not lightly or easily conceived, but was the outcome of long experimentation among alternative conceptions. In this work Guy Kay took a major part, and the chapter that I finally wrote owes much to my discussions with him. It is, and was, obvious that a step was being taken of a different order from any other ‘manipulation’ of my father’s own writing in the course of the book: even in the case of the story of The Fall of Gondolin, to which my father had never returned, something could be contrived without introducing radical changes in the narrative. It seemed at that time that there were elements inherent in the story of the Ruin of Doriath as it stood that were radically incompatible with ‘The Silmarillion’ as projected, and that there was here an inescapable choice: either to abandon that conception, or else to alter the story. I think now that this was a mistaken view, and that the undoubted difficulties could have been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the bounds of the editorial function.

As I understand, this story was completely or largely conceived by C. Tolkien and G. Kay. My question is what these "incompatible elements" that are referred to, would be?

Also, interestingly, G. Kay noted this on his work on the Silmarillion with C. Tolkien:

Quote:
“As much as anything else the invitation [to help Christopher] grew out of his perception that the editing would be essentially a ‘scholarly’ exercise and the model in his mind, I suspect, was that of the academic and his graduate student assistant. The actual process turned out to be radically otherwise…” 

“The irony is that the Silmarillion editing ended up being at least as much if not significantly more a creative exercise than a scholarly one. The purely scholarly books are the ones that he’s been producing subsequently. The difference between those two is a measure of the difference in the nature of what the editing was all about.”

One might ask oneself how much their creative input in creating a narrative made the work diverge from what JRRT had intended.

CJRT sets out the problems in his commentary to The Tale of Years (slightly edited here by me):

'Apart from a few matters of detail in texts and notes that have not been published, all that my father ever wrote on the subject of the ruin of Doriath has now been set out (...) If these materials are compared with the story told in The Silmarillion it is seen at once that this latter is fundamentally changed, to a form for which in certain essential features there is no authority whatever in my father's own writings.


There were very evident problems with the old story. Had he ever turned to it again, my father would undoubtedly have found some solution other than that in the Quenta to the question: How was the treasure of Nargothrond brought to Doriath? There, the curse that Mîm laid upon the gold at his death 'came upon the possessors in this wise. Each one of Húrin's company died or was slain in quarrels upon the road; but Húrin went unto Thingol and sought his aid, and the folk of Thingol bore the treasure to the Thousand Caves.'

As I said in IV.188, 'it ruins the gesture, if Húrin must get the king himself to send for the gold with which he is then to be humiliated'. It seems to me most likely (but this is mere speculation) that my father would have reintroduced the outlaws from the old Tales (11.113-15,222-3) as the bearers of the treasure (though not the fierce battle between them and the Elves of the Thousand Caves): in the scrappy writings at the end of The Wanderings of Húrin Asgon and his companions reappear after the disaster in Brethil and go with Húrin to Nargothrond (pp. 306-7).


How he would have treated Thingol's behaviour towards the Dwarves is impossible to say. That story was only once told fully, in the Tale of the Nauglafring, in which the conduct of Tinwelint (precursor of Thingol) was wholly at variance with the later conception of the king (see II.245-6). In the Sketch no more is said of the matter than that the Dwarves were 'driven away without payment', while in the Quenta 'Thingol... scanted his promised reward for their labour; and bitter words grew between them, and there was battle in Thingol's halls'. There seems to be no clue or hint in later writing [in The Tale of Years the same bare phrase is used in all the versions: Thingol quarrels with the Dwarves'] unless one is seen in the words quoted from Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn on p. 353: Celeborn in his view of the destruction of Doriath ignored Morgoth's part in it 'and Thingol's own faults'.


In The Tale of Years my father seems not to have considered the problem of the passage of the Dwarvish host into Doriath despite the Girdle of Melian, but in writing the word 'cannot' against the D version (p. 352) he showed that he regarded the story he had outlined as impossible, for that reason. In another place he sketched a possible solution (ibid.): 'Somehow it must be contrived that Thingol is lured outside or induced to go to war beyond his borders and is there slain by the Dwarves. Then Melian departs, and the girdle being removed Doriath is ravaged by the Dwarves.'


In the story that appears in The Silmarillion the outlaws who went with Húrin to Nargothrond were removed, as also was the curse of Mîm; and the only treasure that Húrin took from Nargothrond was the Nauglamîr - which was here supposed to have been made by Dwarves for Finrod Felagund, and to have been the most prized by him of all the hoard of Nargothrond. Húrin was represented as being at last freed from the delusions inspired by Morgoth in his encounter with Melian in Menegroth. The Dwarves who set the Silmaril in the Nauglamîr were already in Menegroth engaged on other works, and it was they who slew Thingol; at that time Melian's power was with-drawn from Neldoreth and Region, and she vanished out of Middle-earth, leaving Doriath unprotected. The ambush and destruction of the Dwarves at Sarn Athrad was given again to Beren and the Green Elves [following my father's letter of 1963 quoted on p. 353, where however he said that 'Beren had no army'] and from the same source the Ents, 'Shepherds of the Trees', were introduced.
 

This story was not lightly or easily conceived...'

 

We can see that Thingol was likely not to be slain in his halls for instance -- in the only long prose version of these events ever completed, he was not -- although that story was very very old, hailing from The Book of Lost Tales! and although subsequent mentions were brief enough, Tolkien's notation seems to point to something like this still being in play.

 

This example is arguably somewhat unique with respect to 'overstepping the bounds of the editorial function', meaning that Christopher Tolkien felt he was forced to create something not really attested in the extant writings. One could argue that he 'created' in the process of selection and arrangement, but with this example we have invention of a different sort I think.

Alas that Tolkien abandoned the Grey Annals, Quenta Silmarillion, and The Wanderings of Hurin too early, leaving only much earlier or brief treatments for the Fall of Doriath (among other things) to work with, or brief notes like that found in the later Tale of Years.

I don't remember Hurin taking the Nauglamir from Nargothrond... after leaving Nargothrond, didn't he go to the place of Turin's death where he then sat down with Morwen to die?

I thought the Dwarves stole the Nauglamir, which then was retrieved by Beren and worn by Lúthien.

Also interestingly, I seem to recall that wearing the Nauglamir may have shortened Lúthien's life as a mortal in Beleriand.

I don't remember Hurin taking the Nauglamir from Nargothrond... after leaving Nargothrond, didn't he go to the place of Turin's death where he then sat down with Morwen to die?

 

In the 1977 Silmarillion after Hurin's release he went to Hithlum, then unwittingly betrayed where Gondolin was, then found Morwen, then went to Nargothrond. There he slew Mim and bore out of Nargothrond (out of all that hoard) the Nauglamir -- which is here said to have been made for Finrod long years before. This includes the invented details from Christopher Tolkien. However in Tolkien's account...

... in Quenta Noldorinwa (QN 1930), after Hurin's release he gathered outlaws and went to Nargothrond. There the outlaws slew Mim and his folk (though Hurin would have stayed them), but Mim had cursed the gold and the outlaws died or were slain upon the road -- but Hurin sought Thingol's aid, and they bore the treasure to Menegroth. There Hurin reproached Thingol: 'Receive thou', said he, 'thy fee for thy fair keeping of my wife and kin.'

Hurin ultimately left to search for his wife, though here it is not said that he found her (in this early conception he does not betray Gondolin as well); and Thingol ultimately summoned the Dwarves that they might fashion the hoard into fair things, and it is now (in contrast to the invented story above) that they make the Nauglamir whereon to hang the Silmaril.

So this was 'the Silmarillion' as it stood in 1930, and the revision to the Quenta Silmarillion of the mid to later 1930s has a gap (compared to the earlier QN), so that this part of the tale remained as in QN. In the 1950s Tolkien never really got around to updating the later chapters of Quenta Silmarillion (minor changes aside), though he did touch upon matters in The Wanderings of Hurin for example, or The Tale of Years.

I thought the Dwarves stole the Nauglamir, which then was retrieved by Beren and worn by Lúthien.

 

Basically yes; the textual history of this event aside, the 1977 Silmarillion story here generally hails from one of Tolkien's letters.

In The Tale of Years Melian escaped with the Nauglamir and brought it to Beren, and the Dwarves were ambushed by the sons of Feanor (thus the Silmaril was not taken by the Feanoreans) -- but as noted, a letter of 1963 revises this, and the Nauglamir, thus the Silmaril, is saved by Beren and so on.

 

Also interestingly, I seem to recall that wearing the Nauglamir may have shortened Lúthien's life as a mortal in Beleriand. 

 

This has a somewhat confusing history, but interestingly The Tale of Years notes that it was believed that Luthien and Beren passed away when the Silmaril came to Doriath, and: 'mayhap the Silmaril hastened their end, for the flame of the beauty of Luthien as she wore it was too bright for mortal lands.'

Earlier versions (concerning this matter) would take some explaining!

I dont have a problem with Christopher Tolkien Editing, adding content where needed or making changes to full fill or finish his Fathers writings.  If anyone on Earth has the right to complete or re work JRRT's works it definately would be him.  I imagine growing up CT would have been saturated in the writings of Middle Earth and would certainly know his Fathers thoughts on where each story was heading along with the ultimate goal of each story and how the tapestry of tales would work together.  I actually wish he had started much earlier so we could have more and more works to collect and muse upon, after all CT is no spring chicken.

I doubt very much that if CT had not started work on the Sil that we would have any more material to Love and absorb than The Hobbit & The Lord Of The Rings...

There is, I think, a lack of certainty with respect to some of the issues discussed above concerning the Ruin of Doriath, as demonstrated by Christopher Tolkien's own commentary.

 

And while a measure of uncertainty is understandable enough, Christopher Tolkien's own regret concerns certain of these alterations, as he felt he could have brought this story to its conclusion in a way that held closer to the extant versions (however early), and textual hints JRRT left behind.  

Good point Galin, having said that, I actually like the structure of the destruction of Doriath, and earlier on the return of Hurin.  I think it fits nicely with the curse placed upon Hurin, his eventual (albeit accidental) betrayal of Turgon in Gondolin, the slaying of Mim by Hurin, the Nauglamir given to Thingol, and the eventual fulfillment of the Silmaril curse on Thingol and Doriath.  I would love to see a sequel written to follow "The Children Of Hurin" regarding the dramatic events which followed.  This could fill in a lot of gaps left begging in the Silmarillion regarding the destruction of Doriath by the Dwarves.  This section was really glossed over quickly, and considering there are references to "The Dark Days" throughout the Lord Of The Rings & The Hobbit I think these troubles deserve a book of their own.  Equally a book regarding the relationship between Celebrimbor  and Durin's folk would be appreciated greatly.

Christopher Tolkien has never really taken up the mantle of author in my opinion. Originally a scholarly look at the Silmarillion was intended, and Charles Noad states that it was Guy Kay's idea to produce a finished narrative...

 

'Given that it was Kay’s idea to produce a finished narrative rather than a scholarly version (indeed, he has since gone on record as being against the publication of Tolkien’s unfinished texts in the History), I would submit that the published Silmarillion owes a good deal in the matter of editorial decision-making to his input. Let me be clear here. I am not saying that we can lay all the presumed ‘failings’ of the published Silmarillion at Kay’s feet, thereby removing all responsibility for its apparent ‘defects’ from Christopher Tolkien. But I am saying that the presence at a critical juncture in preparing the publication of the ‘Silmarillion’ material of this creatively gifted young man had a significant effect on the shaping and editing of that material. One would like to know more.'  Charles Noad.  Charles Noad

 

I doubt CJRT ever intended to write about Middle-earth in the same way, for example, as one might find with Frank Herbert's son and the Dune series. 

Having read The Letters I take a different view. I believe from the massive amount of communication between father and son, the discussing of it all, Christopher's thoughts being shared, any concerns he had with any of his father's work even to maps and such, all this and much much more I am too tired to get into at the moment, I believe that his father would not have objected to the treatment despite Chris's subsequent feeling it ought not to have gone thru. If you put all things into the belief system of JRR and that part of him that ultimately became the published works, well then I think he might , just might have been of the opinion that ' he was meant to write what he did how he did despite his own misgivings of parts of The Hobbit' and his son was 'meant' to take up the mantle and do just what he did despite his own misgivings.'

From reading the countless letters to one another I am absolutely convinced his father ultimately would have trusted his son absolutely. period. So I myself cannot worry about it.

Agreed Lee Lee, your words are very touching regarding the family Side of the Tolkiens. It's nice to hear. I've seen an interview with CT & his sister Pricilla and it was wonderful. She recalls of story time with her family and talks of her doll Tom Bombodil, Wonderful

Sorry I missed the beginning of this thread - can I ask the members of the group who've given quotes (by CT, Noad, Kay etc) to say where these quotes come from, so I can look them up and see them in context? Thanks.

(galin, I know you generally give v. good citations).   :-)  

As for Christopher's work on Silm, he has, as noted by others, every right to do as he wishes with his father's unpublished writings. JRR recognized Christopher's love for, and abilities in, his fiction and non-fiction works, and left all his unpublished materials to Christopher in his will, in order for Christopher to act on his behalf as his literary executor. I have a copy of Tolkien's will (it's a public document). Here's the relevant part:

"5. I GIVE my library and all my manuscripts typescripts notes and all other articles connected with my work as an author (hereinafter together referred to as "my literary assets"  to my trustees upon the following trust that is to say:

(a) Upon trust to allow my son Christopher full access to the same in order that he may act as my literary executor with full power to publish edit alter rewrite or complete any work of mine which may be unpublished at my death or to destroy the whole or any part or parts of any such works as he in his absolute discretion may think fit and subject thereto."

So Christopher could have burnt the lot, if he'd wanted to. But of course, that is not what either man had in mind. Ronald Tolkien trusted his son's sound judgment in these matters, and his faith in Christopher has been more than justified. As JRR's friend and publisher Rayner Unwin wrote:

"...no other author has ever had the advantage of a literary executor with the sympathy, the scholarship, and the humility to devote half a lifetime to the task of unobtrusively giving shape to his own father's creativity. In effect one man's imaginative genius has had the benefit of two lifetimes' work."

('Elder Days of Elder Days'  in 'Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth' ed. Flieger & Hostetter 2000, pp.3-6)

 

From reading the countless letters to one another I am absolutely convinced his father ultimately would have trusted his son absolutely. period. So I myself cannot worry about it. 

 

But trusting Christopher Tolkien, even given the wording of Tolkien's will as provided by geordie, is a very different thing from what Christopher Tolkien decided for himself, with respect to the extant texts and how to present his father's Middle-earth in general.

 

It seems clear to me that Christopher Tolkien did not take up the mantle of author, and likewise clear enough (if not stated specifically in these words) that he never claimed to be writing the version that was meant to be written.

 

To my mind this was never the overarching purpose of the 1977 Silmarillion in the first place, just like it was never the purpose of The Children of Hurin.

 

I don't think CJRT himself would even accept the idea that the 1977 Silmarillion is Tolkien's intended version of the Silmarillion, or perfect despite his own misgivings. And this is not a negative criticism of CJRT but to praise him -- I think he puts his father's work first and foremost, and above himself (in a sense), and doesn't pretend that the Silmarillion is the same animal as say, one of Brian Herbert's invented Dune tales.  

 

 

Geordie, that quote from Charles Noad about Guy Kay comes from his contribution to the Scholars forum over at the Tolkien Fanatics forum, titled 'Three Tolkien Book Reviews'

Hi Geordie, the interview I saw was part of (I think) a BBC portrait of JRRT.  It was some time ago and the footage of the Tolkiens was quite old... 

I take a very non analytical view point regarding posthumous releases of JRRT's work.  Who are we to judge... and as far as I'm concerned the stories live on through JRRT's family and the Tolkien society.

I would much prefer to be reading new or updated stories regarding Ea rather than edited re writes over and over.  I look forward to hopefully more in the future.  Having said that to each their own...

I take a very non analytical view point regarding posthumous releases of JRRT's work. Who are we to judge...

 

Christopher Tolkien doesn't take this approach: scholars and writers both realize criticism comes with the territory. And the fact that CJRT knowingly made criticism (good and bad) of the constructed Silmarillion possible, should do no harm to the stories living on, in my opinion.

 

I would much prefer to be reading new or updated stories regarding Ea rather than edited re writes over and over. I look forward to hopefully more in the future. Having said that to each their own... 

 

Well Christopher Tolkien has already made it clear that there isn't enough material to put together the long prose Fall of Gondolin for example, or the tale of Beren and Luthien -- enough material for him anyway -- and since he is clearly enough not interested in writing new material or in updating older versions of stories... well let's put it this way, I tend to doubt there's anything in the works related to Middle-earth...

 

... not from his hand in any case, and regardless of his age.

I  absolutely one hundred per cent agree Brego, after all the two men loved each other so dearly. The way that John Ronald ended his letters, sometimes saying 'your very own father' with such warmth one could feel it lift off the paper. And, if the father gave such expanse to the son after his leaving the grey havens I have no doubt his father would applaud the son, after all if we remember from the beginning his love affair was with the Silmarillion and he did not finish it. His son took the torch as it were, like Isidor with the attacking Sauron after the fall of his father and he finished the race. what is the difference between what Christopher did and what Frodo did, finishing the story his uncle Bilbo started. It may have wandered into different areas, but it was a continuing of the same story line.

Also, I am reminded of another father son team who ended up collaborating and now the son continues and that is Dick Francis and his loving son Felix. It is wonderful to see blood of each generation carry on the work of the previous. Of course if Christopher or Felix held animosity toward their fathers, it would then have been a travesty but such is not so.

what is the difference between what Christopher did and what Frodo did, finishing the story his uncle Bilbo started. 

 

A notable difference in my opinion, as Christopher Tolkien never claimed he was writing about Middle-earth as an author, and himself rejected that mantle -- not that the two scenarios are the same in any case, since Frodo, within the conceit, is not inventing the story. 

 

Leelee, of course father and son loved each other; and loving Christopher Tolkien I think JRRT would respect the choice Christopher made...

 

... in my opinion the choice of a scholar who put the work before himself, and who didn't hide from criticism under a mantle he had never accepted. Tolkien should be proud in my opinion, and my guess is that he is extremely proud.

Well Christopher Tolkien has already made it clear that there isn't enough material to put together the long prose Fall of Gondolin for example, or the tale of Beren and Luthien -- enough material for him anyway -- and since he is clearly enough not interested in writing new material or in updating older versions of stories... well let's put it this way, I tend to doubt there's anything in the works related to Middle-earth... 

Galin you cannot win this argument because we are not arguing at all.  We are simply saying that some people dont care about whether CT is a writer or not, or if indeed he deserves to continue the legacy, or if he wants to....  I have mentioned in previous threads that I would love for another Author, Tolkien or not, to be chosen by the Tolkien Society to continue or fill in gaps.  There is a huge market for this obviously and I would much rather read fresh new tales and fleshed out chapters of the original story.  Some of us do not worry about every quote, letter, contradiction (there are many), re write, name change etc etc....  The basic framework is there and could be used as a foundation of something more.

The professor himself said, a number of times that after his passing he would love that his creation would live on and evolve like a tapestry being added to and cherished, which it is.  I know you will come back with a quote and or contradictory quote from somewhere or another regarding his change of mind in regards to this, Ive seen them before and to be honest I really dont care.

Galin you cannot win this argument because we are not arguing at all. We are simply saying that some people dont care about whether CT is a writer or not, or if indeed he deserves to continue the legacy, or if he wants to...

 

Well I'm not trying to win 'this argument' but am myself simply saying that it's unlikely (and why it's unlikely) for 'more' Middle-earth related material to be published by the Estate, including material like The Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin...  in specific response to your: '    I look forward to hopefully more in the future'    

 

The professor himself said, a number of times that after his passing he would love that his creation would live on and evolve like a tapestry being added to and cherished, which it is. I know you will come back with a quote and or contradictory quote from somewhere or another regarding his change of mind in regards to this, Ive seen them before and to be honest I really dont care. 

 

 

Yet where did JRR Tolkien say or write that he wished other authors and writers would expand upon the world of Middle-earth? As far as I recall at the moment, Tolkien did not change his mind about this. 

 

 Can you provide these quotes you refer to? 

Whoops - I see I might have given the wrong impression. Let me be clear - I applaud Christopher's work on his father's posthumous writings, but I've no wish to see any stories based on M-e  which may be made up by Christopher, or anybody else. As Galin says, there is no more, and I'm glad about that.

 Brego - thanks for letting us know the source of your info - I have a copy of that tape, it's very good.  I do have a query, though - you wrote:

"I have mentioned in previous threads that I would love for another Author, Tolkien or not, to be chosen by the Tolkien Society to continue or fill in gaps. "

- well, not so much a query as a statement - I'm a member of the Tolkien Society, and we don't have any say in anything like this. We're just a group of fans, that's all. 

 

 

 

Wow Geordie I had no idea that there were members of the TS on this wonderful site. I respect both your and Galins thoughts of no further writings. I However have a different view & think it would be a great idea and would follow JRRTs message on life and on Mans treatment of the world we live in. Readers of today, especially youth need to understand that we are not here to use and abuse our planet, vegetation and creatures or for that matter each other. For me this is what the Middle Earth stories are all about and we would all benefit from expansion of the stories for a new Century. Perhaps I'm dreaming, but I have a hunch that this is what the Proffessor would want.