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Thread: author vs. authority

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I expect everyone's first impression of this notion to be that "turinturumart's completely lost his mind" (and I'm not sayin' I haven't; could you blame me), but then just try to look at it from a derranged Sil-atic's perspective (try it; you'll like it).

Obviously, the word "authority" seems to be related to the word "author." I do not dispute that Tolkien was the (at least original) author of all things Middle-earth. However, should we accept Tolkien's own words, first hand (as first as it can get for us), as the ultimate authority on the nature of Middle-earth, superceding all other accounts? Can we not allow for the possibility that perhaps Middle-earth has taken on a life of its own, and like a child that finally grows up and leaves home to start his/her own life, the only thing that Tolkien has to say about it is, "I hope that I brought Middle-earth up right."?

(I hope no one takes this as blashpemy.) tell you the truth i dont know >how< to take it at all..
Tolkien Enterprises and Addleshaw-Goddard will love this..
A very interesting thought...! and not one that had occured to me. I think I like the idea, though, that Middle Earth is something living and breathing that could grow and change and adapt. Maybe it has taken on new life through all the fan fiction that's been written. But who then will be the authority? If we as fans give new life to Middle Earth how will we avoid conflicting realities and events?
I modestly offer to be leader of the new Middle-earth creations. You lot may address me as Sir Lord of All.
Tolkien Enterprises and Addleshaw-Goddard will love this..

Yeah, ME is a locked up in his/it's room and is not allowed out to play.

(I don't think too many of our current members know who this lovely fellow we named Addershark is. *grrrr* Addleshaw Goddard Threaten
Tarrant (Taz) is the creator and previous owner of PT.)
Moderator Smilie This site is based on the works of Tolkien: alternate, parallel, or modified Middle-earths are limited to the Writers Guild, our Roleplaying Guilds, and our Fan Fiction section.

We do not wish to confuse anyone with non-authorized material; there is enough to speculate about in Tolkien's differing accounts of the same subject which he wrote at various stages of his life.
Tolkien will always have authority over any single author or persons take on M-E.
I think you bring up a good point, Grondmaster, albeit ambivalently supporting and opposing my crazy notion. I will defer to one of the appropriate netherregions of these forums that you suggested if I choose to indulge in any more of this heresy.

BTW, council members, I won't be offended if this thread gets moved to a forum that you deem more appropriate. Perhaps "Reading Discussion Groups" ... ? I don't know. I just thought that this topic seemed very much concerned with "The Author", so I put it here. I certainly don't think it should go in the "Roleplaying Guild", and I didn't think it would get the kind of attention that I wanted (and that it has already received) in the "Fan Fiction" forum.
I think it can stay here. I feel that Tolkien's universe lived in the Professor's mind and it lives between the book covers. You can always find it there, wast and filled with wonderful creatures and many many unanswered questions. But it is Tolkien who triggers our imagination, it is Tolkien's words that makes us cry, laugh, wonder and think. ME can't live without him, because it started with him and his spirit will always be part of it.

On a different note. The difference between Turinturumart's idea of ME being alive and well on its own and LoA's wish to own it if it does, is quite interesting.

Wiggle Smilie
Well, I have always believed Tolkien to be one great authority Middle-earth-wise, but I enjoyed his works purely for the works themselves. Before I joined these online forums, I have never bothered to research whether Tolkien was Catholic or Protestant, or that he was an expert on Anglo-Saxon languages, or all that other stuff. I did not care that ME was modelled on some British isle, or that the Shire was based on some English country... But then, of course, I joined these forums where people have to bicker about these things day and night, so I did pick up a lot of it, but to me, the greatest value of ME still lies in the Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion, the Unfinished Tales, the Hobbit.

They bring life to ME, and they are the accounts of this magical place. I do not interest myself with too much of HoME, since most of the content of HoME is just materials that Tolkien rejected, in other words, his rough drafts. They are interesting to look at, but they are not Middle-Earth, since Tolkien himself rejected them. If we were living in the world of ME, we'd see three children of Finwe, not six, and Beren would be a Man, not an Elf. And it is the canon world of ME that attracted me (I can't say the same for all of us, because there are people who actually like Middle-earth because of all the interesting little tidbits they read about how Tolkien finally arrived at the decision to make Beren a human). It was not the author, but the author's words and craft in constructing a world.

And I will adhere to Tolkien's descriptions and accounts of the places and events that took place in ME, but ME has taken on a life of its own in that it is a big world, and Tolkien didn't cover EVERYTHING in it. ANd so, for the things that he did not write of, it is left for us to imagine. For example, Tolkien never provided us with an explanation for Tom Bombadil's origins, so we can imagine whatever we wish. Tolkien did not say that the whole Finwe/Miriel/Indis case was some kind of secret complaint against Catholicism, but if you must take it that way, then feel free to. Tolkien did not say whether the Valar were angels or gods in any of his accounts of ME, therefore, he may have thought of them as angels, but you are free to think of them as gods.

I tend to see all the Letter of JRRT and other author-related writings as the author's own opinions. They're like comments an artist would publish on a masterpiece he's painted. The artist can say that he was painting a child looking out the window in England, but when you amatuers come a look at it, it might be a child looking out a window in France, or Germany, or Belgium. Whether it is in England or France or Germany or Belgium does not matter, because the important part of the painting lies in the child and the window and not in where they are located. So it is with Tolkien. He can tell you that he wrote about this-and-this with that-and-that in his mind, but the imange that ultimately appears on paper is this-and-this, contructed with an appearance and tone similar to that-and-that, but that-and-that does not appear in ME, and therefore, is not important.

Don't get me wrong, anyone. I admire adn respect and am ever grateful to Tolkien for creating such a wonderful world for us all to enjoy, but while his accounts of ME I hold to me sacred and untouchable, his opinions and comments I place less value on.
I do not interest myself with too much of HoME, since most of the content of HoME is just materials that Tolkien rejected, in other words, his rough drafts. They are interesting to look at, but they are not Middle-Earth, since Tolkien himself rejected them. If we were living in the world of ME, we'd see three children of Finwe, not six, and Beren would be a Man, not an Elf.

Finwe and Indis had five children (HME X) or four (HME XII). Tolkien did not reject the idea that Finwe had daughters as far as I'm aware. They appear in texts in MR, again in four genealogies, and a later text from the 1960's printed in PME, where Tolkien reduced the number of daughters to two.

I doubt anyone would argue that one would find Beren the Elf in Middle-earth. The History of Middle-Earth presentation contains rejected ideas because it contains so many of Tolkien's ideas, covering many years in which the stories changed and grew, including the post-Lord of the Rings years.

The published Silmarillion was never meant to be definitive or complete, or to necessarily represent Tolkien's ultimate decision (or even latest idea) about a given matter, but to bring some version of Tolkien's work concerning the Elder Days and etc. to light. There are also some decisions with respect to the '77 version that Christopher himself now regrets.
"Author" is from Latin (through Old French) auctor, related to the verb augere "to increase" (cp. "augment") and literally meaning "one who causes to grow". "Authority" is indeed etymologically linked to "author", though I don't know about your point of "should we take JRRT's statements as canon" ’ one has to take the external factors of JRRT as sub-creator as well as his internal fictionalized role as translator (into English) of the Red Book of Westmarch.

Galin, I know of CJRT's editing in "Ereinion Gil-galad son of Fingon", which is in itself an oxymoron, containing elements from different stages in the external chronology. You said CJRT regretted some decisions in the '77 Silm; do you know of any others? I mean, I know he and Guy Kay worked on the Doriath chapter, but did he say that that was one thing he regretted?
I think referring to any given collection of Tolkien's work as "canon" is waxing farcical, even as dedicated a fan as I consider myself. Do the "letters" give us a suggestion for what, if anything, should be included in the canon?
Tyrhael, I was thinking of Christopher's general statement in WJ: 'Those materials are now made available, save only in a few details and in the matter of T’rin just mentioned; and with them a criticism of the 'constructed' Silmarillion becomes possible. I shall not enter into that question; although it will be apparent in this book that there are aspects of the work that I view with regret.' The War of the Jewels

I would have to look closer at the note on The Ruin of Doriath, but with respect to a decision concerning The Shadow that fell upon Brethil (The Wanderings of H’rin) Christopher ultimately noted this much at least: 'But it seems to me now, many years later, to have been an excessive tampering with my father's actual thought and intention: thus raising the question, whether the attempt to make a 'unified' Silmarillion should have been embarked on'. Christopher Tolkien

I think one might also raise his earlier commentary concerning framework: (...) and it is certainly debatable whether it was wise to publish in 1977 a version of the primary 'legendarium' standing on its own and claiming, as it were, to be self-explanatory. The published work has no 'framework', no suggestion of what it is and how (within the imagined world) it came to be. This I now think to have been an error.' BLT I

Or later (for full context see the Foreword to BLT I): 'So also I have assumed: the 'books of lore' that Bilbo gave to Frodo provided in the end the solution: they were 'The Silmarillion'. But apart from the evidence cited here, there is, so far as I know, no other statement on this matter anywhere in my father's writings; and (wrongly, as I think now) I was reluctant to step into the breach and make definite what I only surmised.' Christopher Tolkien BLT I
Concerning The Ruin of Doriath, Christopher Tolkien ultimately explained...

'(...) 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 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.' Christopher Tolkien A note on chapter 22 Of the Ruin of Doriath in the published Silmarillion

Of course that's just the end of the note, and you've probably seen this much before Tyrhael, but I added it anyway.