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Thread: Messages from Celeborn in Aman

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Bottom of Page    Message Board > Writers Guild > Messages from Celeborn in Aman   << [1] [2]

I think, in any event, had Tolkien lived, I don't think he would have let the first cousin thing stand, it's inconceivable. I thought he did it by accident, but on purpose!? Did he ever give any reason at all why he wanted them to be closely related?

 

Not that I know of.

He was in total control over his legendarium, I don't know why he agonized over so much of this, he could do anything with his material. He could solve any problem with the stroke of a pen.

 

Well, perhaps you don't mean 'anything' in any case, but I wouldn't say anything -- or at least not so easily. Already published text is a different animal, and in The Problem Of Ros for instance, we see Tolkien forgetting a detail already in print (while writing the solution), then realizing that 'most of this fails' when he remembered Cair Andros. 

Since there seem to be many versions of the genealogies of Celeborn and Galadriel, I think that Christopher would be justified in using the one that did the least violence to the characters of those two Elves.

 

Hmm, why not leave it as it is? If I recall correctly, Celeborn's lineage is not noted in The Silmarillion beyond 'kinsman of Thingol' which was published by JRRT and served well enough for The Lord of the Rings.

(...) Christopher did a great job of collating the Silmarillion, it wouldn't exist without him, but maybe future editions of that work should be amended by him, or another Tolkien, to reflect some of the most glaring inconsistencies to be found in what was then published and what was written after. The Hobbit was greatly changed.

 

But The Hobbit was changed by Tolkien himself, to fall in line better with The Lord of the Rings; and here we are dealing with consistency with respect to two author-published works.

What should go into a one volume version of The Silmarillion is a very complicated question; but for example, I would argue that the version of Galadriel and Celeborn's history chosen by CJRT was correct, as it is the version which best agrees with Tolkien-published material.

If on the other side of the coin, I might agree that Gil-galad's parentage could have been left ambiguous. CJRT later thought he probably should have taken that path (as he chose for The Children of Hurin later, incidentally)...

... but even then, if Gil-galad's parentage might have been a 'mistake' even according to CJRT, another question might be: how problematic it is within the tale itself -- as opposed to knowing that Gil-galad as a son of Fingon was only one of Tolkien's ideas, and not his last -- which is an external consideration.

 

Generally speaking, I would say that the approach for the 1977 Silmarillion was not necessarily to try to incorporate every latest note or text (if the latest note or text could actually be determined with respect to a given matter), but to strive for a self-consistent version -- a version consistent with already published work -- or as 'consistent' as could be achieved in any case.

The 1977 Silmarillion is a version for readers. Not 'the' version, as that could not be known, but a version, and constructed (like the recent Children of Hurin) so it could be experienced as it was meant to be experienced. It's obviously not a scholarly presentation of disparate or evolving sources and ideas, which would provide a very different experience for the reader -- as this is the second presentation of The Silmarillion, as found in The History of Middle-Earth volumes.

They could at least say that Celeborn was born in Aman. This would not harm the Silmarillion, and would make it more accurate.

 

This would make it less accurate in my opinion, as Tolkien published (twice) that Celeborn was Sindarin.

Celeborn the Sinda of Doriath is a good example of a choice by CJRT that I very much agree with!

Well, you're right in saying that most of these details (genealogical or not) make not a whit of difference to the basic plot of the story. I always liked the idea that Celeborn was born in Aman, but the Professor never wrote extensive matching text for this. Most of the fans ho-hum all the writing after the published Silmarillion, and are content to let that work stand as is. It is only for the connoisseurs of trivia that these matters have any import. If Celeborn had been a much more important character, it might have become crucial to know exactly where he was born and what exactly his ancestry was. But, as good a character as he is, he is a supporting player; the details of his life shall forever remain topics of abstruse debate.

Speaking for myself I don't ignore later writings. I imagine that an Elf named Amros (Amarthan), the 7th son of Feanor, died as Losgar for instance -- but (unlike the Celeborn matter) that doesn't conflict with anything JRRT published, even if CJRT had his own reasons for not incorporating it into the 1977 Silmarillion.

I personally love the later material not incorporated into the published Silmarillion. You seem to have read a lot more of it than I have, but I plan to read it all eventually. I only wish everything could be reconciled into a coherent whole; but this would involve picking and choosing between many variants of text which contradict each other, and only the Professor, tragically no longer with us, could realistically do that. Christopher got muddled when he attempted it, as would anyone except Tolkien himself (actually, he got muddled too). It was his exclusive creation, and only he knew what he meant by it. He himself was unaccountably loath to probe into some of the more fascinating mysteries of his world. I guess he felt that if he fully explained everything, all the mystery would be lost; a magician dislikes revealing his tricks. But, as far as the convoluted and contradictory genealogies are concerned, I think he finally concluded (erroneously!) that no one but himself would care, and made only a half-hearted attempt to complete it. He was a tinkerer who loved to revise and constantly change his work. Maybe he thought if he made his work too overtly Christian-influenced that he would alienate secular youth, who cared only for Sword and Sorcery (hence the eternal debate if the Valar were gods or angels). The human mind rebels when told it cannot solve a problem, and people will persist in trying to make sense of things that the author didn't have time to sort out. The continuing argument will always be which is better: the Latest Ideas or the Original Ideas which made more sense. Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy both sets of ideas. I think he left it to the discretion of the reader to try to reconcile them or not, as they pleased. 

(...) The human mind rebels when told it cannot solve a problem, and people will persist in trying to make sense of things that the author didn't have time to sort out. The continuing argument will always be which is better: the Latest Ideas or the Original Ideas which made more sense. Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy both sets of ideas. I think he left it to the discretion of the reader to try to reconcile them or not, as they pleased.  

 

As your 'he' here seems to be JRRT, do you mean Tolkien himself? 

In any case I would put it this way: variations that simply result from a writer changing his mind over the years are not unexpected -- but are not necessarily intended for reader's eyes however, thus not intended for the reader to try to reconcile or not, as he or she pleases.

Shifting genealogies and Celeborn's variant history (for examples, as these have been under discussion here) have simply become known through CJRT, not through the author of course, and what Tolkien would have published for his readers is a different animal I think.

Yes, no doubt the Professor didn't intend much of the later material to see the light of day, since they were his working drafts. Christopher saw a demand for it, and released it. I'm glad he did, because it  gave us a fascinating insight into the author's creative processes.

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