Thread: Travel bet. Aman & Middle Earth
Wow I can't believe nobody has jumped on this thread! Sorry for the delay Ninuath.
But absolutely! It's one of the best parts of the lore in my opinion.
Of course you have the elves initially waking in Middle Earth. Then they were brought to Valinor by the Valar. Some stayed behind and others agreed to go. This is what happens next:
The short version, and this is the VERY short version cause I don't want to spoil too much, starts with an elf named Feanor, who was among the oldest elves (also called the First Children of Illuvatar). He created these beautiful jewels called the Silmarils and was essentially corrupted by their beauty. So when Melkor, the original bad guy, came with Ungoliant to Valinor they sacked Valinor and stole the Silmarils. Feanor vowed nobody can have the Silmarils but him and so, among other reasons, went on to rally many other elves to go back to Middle Earth and reclaim them. They traveled across the sea along an icy bridge in the north, but halfway through there was dissent and the rest of the story is pretty tragic.
It wasn't too often that they traveled back and forth. But actually only Orome was an ainur, one of the main gods, and not a maia (basically demi-gods) like Melian or Gandalf (Edit: Incorrect, ainur encompasses both maia and vala, my mistake!). It's said he taught men many things in their early days, like how to hunt. But he would go back and forth in the beginning. You have instances of a few characters dying, which sends them to the Undying Lands, and then being sent back, but other than that generally anyone who went West stayed once they got there.
If you're a fan of lore I highly recommend reading The Silmarillion, even if just the first few chapters. It really gives good insight into the history of Middle Earth.
Follow you up Balrogs, read the Silmarillion mate!
I don't think Ninuath necessarily hasn't read the Silmarillion. In any case he (or she) correctly employed the term Ainur, for example, as it includes both the Valar and the Maiar, and thus Melian.
I've already responded to Ninuath about this question elsewhere (I wasn't the only one elsewhere), but here I'll just briefly note that I see no necessary restriction from visitation if, as appears to be the case, reincarnated Elves could return to Middle-earth if they desired to.
But as noted elsewhere there are certain "windows" of time in any event, considering the Change of the World especially.
Interestingly, in (the text) Glorfindel I Tolkien actually considered that Glorfindel returned as a companion to Gandalf, although he altered this for Glorfindel II in any event.
Ah my mistake! Ainur are indeed both the Vala and Maiar (looks like I need to re-read it myself). Also I wrote that late at night and meant to edit to add "If you haven't already" in front of my suggestion to read the Sil lol. But apparently that never happened. So yeah, I knew as I was writing that at 3:30am I would make some stupid mistake...But once you start you just can't stop!
It would've been fun though to have a specific character who regularly goes back and forth to communicate messages from Valinor, something like that.
No problem Balrogs. The following concerns reincarnated Elves at least (the word fea roughly translates as "spirit" in case anyone hasn't seen this Elvish word before):
"The re-housed fea will normally remain in Aman. Only in very exceptional cases, as Beren and Luthien, will they be transported back to Middle-earth..."
And in his commentary to the Athrabeth, Tolkien notes why the Elves 'normally' remained in Aman:
'They 'normally remained in Aman'. Simply because they were, when rehoused, again in actual physical bodies, and return to Middle-earth was therefore very difficult and perilous. Also during the period of the Exile of the Noldor the Valar had for the time being cut all communications (by physical means) between Aman and Middle-earth."
JRRT, author's commentary, note 3, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth
In the latest of these explanations, the matter seems quite optional:
"When they were re-embodied they could remain in Valinor, or return to Middle-earth if their home had been there."
JRRT, Last Writings, Glorfindel I, 1972
Again, I take that to mean before the removal of Aman anyway.
Galin do you know what year that second excerpt you provided was written?
Ah sorry for not dating that Balrogs. Hammond and Scull appear to generally date the Athrabeth, and its commentary with notes, to...
?Autumn 1959 - ?beginning of 1960
... as (if I read the longer explanation correctly) Christopher Tolkien tentatively dated the "Athrabeth" itself (the text of the debate between Finrod and Andreth) to 1959, although allowing that his father could have started work on it earlier, as early as 1955 maybe...
... anyway the note you asked about is from Tolkien's own commentary (his notes to the commentary about the debate). The commentary itself is described to have: "followed the making of the amanuensis typescripts of the Debate."
So generally... what Hammond and Scull said I guess