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Views on the corpus

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  • Mans Bjorkman
    Lisa Star wrote ( ) in reply to me ( ) ... I agree we are probably getting too much off-topic here, and perhaps we should consider moving this discussion
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 19, 2000
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      Lisa Star wrote (>) in reply to me (>>)

      > >I agree with you that 1) Tolkien's understanding of the texts grew as he
      > >studied them, and 2) the earlier material should not be discarded. I do
      > >*not* agree the Etymologies and the "Appendix on Runes", as they stand,
      > >are more reliable sources on the First Age than later writings,
      > >specifically _The Lord of the Rings_!
      > **In my view, it makes sense to say that they are, partly because the forms
      > of the names change, and Tolkien often retains an earlier form in a later
      > text--or Christopher Tolkien has. In what language is the word Neldoreth,
      > which I believe still appears as a name of a forest of Doriath as the name
      > is given in the Lord of the Rings? There are other issues like that, but
      > that might not be on topic if we are only supposed to be discussing
      > alphabets on this list.

      I agree we are probably getting too much off-topic here, and perhaps we
      should consider moving this discussion somewhere else. Nevertheless, I
      can't resist making a few comments on this subject here and now -- a
      very interesting subject, no matter from what perspective you study

      The problem Lisa mentions, I take it, is about elements that survive
      from one conception where they are given a plausible explanation, into
      another where they have none. I see this as no great issue; our studies
      on early history of our primary world poses similar problems. For
      instance, what does the word _erilaR_ mean? Fairly common in runic
      inscriptions, it was once agreed that "Erilar" is a man's name; but
      later findings have made it clear it must be something else. A title? If
      so, meaning what? Is there any connection with the Germanic _Heruli_
      tribe? We don't know, so we are forced to speculate. In my opinion the
      same goes for _Neldoreth_. And that's part of the fun!

      > **I think I will pursue this by producing some samples and putting them up
      > on my webpage. That will take a little while, but since I have just
      > finished a study of the grammar of Qenya (of the Lexicons), I have a lot of
      > material to work with.

      I will look forward to seeing them!

      > >So your view is that there are several equally correct conceptions of
      > >Middle-earth -- divided, perhaps, by the changes that Tolkien made over
      > >time?
      > **Divided by the different viewpoints in the different sources that he was
      > using, that is, some manuscripts might have been produced by the Sindar,
      > some by Mortals and some by Hobbits. Some might have better texts, others
      > have copying errors. Perhaps none of them are perfectly accurate or even
      > complete.

      Thus far, I agree completely with you.

      > You study the linguistics also, don't you? Do you realize how
      > complex it is? I'm not being rude in asking that, I just wondered if you
      > had considered it, or if you had, had you dismissed the complexities?

      I think I have a good grasp of its complexity. The various texts are
      usually conflicting in some, if not many or all, respects. When it comes
      to the linguistics I try to figure out what was Tolkien's latest, or
      most plausible, view on the subject (more on this below). Granted,
      sometimes that brings me back to the 1910's Qenyaqetsa, when we have no
      later source to ask.

      > >So that in one conception there are "Ilkorin" elves that use the
      > >"Runes of Beleriand" of AR, in another there are Sindar who use the
      > >Certhas Daeron as described in LR? I think this, in essence, summarizes
      > >the view I so bluntly ascribed to you.
      > **No, some *manuscripts* were written in Ilkorin in a cirth hand, others are
      > later copies made by Noldorin elves in 3rd Age Sindarin and written with the
      > tengwar. Tolkien is "translating" manuscripts and hence viewpoints of many
      > different people.

      But what cirth did these "Ilkori" use? The "Runes of Beleriand"
      described in AR, or the Cirth of LR (note that the word "cirth" is never
      used in AR)? Appendix E does describe the usage during the First Age --
      not in detail, but enough to make it clear there's a discrepancy with
      the description in AR.

      > >I agree there is no single perfect conception of Arda -- after all,
      > >Tolkien's sources were written during a period of several thousand years
      > >-- but I believe the later discoveries of the Author to be usually more
      > >accurate than the earlier, thereby superceding them. Sometimes there is
      > >indeed a choice between two late contradictory sources, but never
      > >between one late source and one early. And there's my view in a
      > >nutshell.
      > **I think you should look more carefully at this. In the latest sources
      > Tolkien rejected the entire cosmology of the Silmarillion including the
      > making of the Sun and Moon from the fruit and flower of the Two Trees. Do
      > you really want to reject all that? I certainly would not. Just to be
      > clear, I'm not objecting to it if you do, but I certainly would not.

      I would like to take my view out of the nutshell and elaborate a little
      on it. When I study the texts, I (try to) take the *whole* corpus into
      consideration, and determine the *credibility* of each manuscript. Where
      many sources agree on certain facts, they are probably true. On top on
      this I implant my own assumption that Tolkien's later findings are in
      general more accurate than the ones he did earlier in his life.

      Now, it's clear Tolkien's latest discoveries about the early history of
      Arda describe a very different cosmology than the earlier ones. We could
      assume these latest texts are also the most accurate, but on the other
      hand they contradict most every earlier statement about the nature of
      the World, and do not provide very much to fill the gaps. Therefore, I
      choose to believe rather the earlier texts.

      A parallel case is that of Amrod, Feanor's youngest son. According to a
      late source (HMe 12, "The Shibboleth of Feanor"), Amrod was forgotten
      onboard the Swan-ships at Drengist and burned with them. Yet in earlier
      texts, Amrod has been alive and well until late First Age. On the other
      hand, his and his twin brother's personal contributions during the War
      of the Jewels appear to have been insignificant, which itself might seem
      remarkable with a Son of Feanor. Amrod's anonymosity during the First
      Age thus makes me believe he maybe did die at the Ship-burning after

      > **No, you've made me laugh--always a welcome and healthy experience!

      Be it that I may give you the pleasure again! :)


      Måns Björkman "Mun þu mik!
      Störtloppsvägen 8, III Man þik.
      SE-129 46 Hägersten Un þu mer!
      Sweden An þer."
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