117[LDB]? "Canonical" Quenya and Quettahostanie
- Jul 23, 2002[Not sure if this should have LDB in the Subject: or not; I figure I'll
play it safe. --KDM]
I've just been looking through the archives of the messages sent to this
list before I joined. There was a lot of discussion that week! Of
particular interest to me was William Welden's essay in message number 35,
titled "Quenya of _Namaarie_ (long)". (See
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor/message/35 for the full text).
To paraphrase one of Mr. Welden's points, he notes the distinction between
"things Tolkien wrote [in Quenya]", and what he calls "canonical Quenya",
the latter being defined as things which Tolkien intentionally published
or sent to correspondents.
For those who have been evaluating _Quettahostanie_, I'd like to point out
that the concept of "Attestation Levels" encoded in the system does make a
fairly similar distinction, though it draws its boundary lines in slightly
different places. The full description of Quettahostanie's Attestation
Levels can be found at:
In particular, Quettahostanie considers forms published in the
_Silmarillion_ to be "canonical" as well, working on the theory that JRR
was involved in the early stages of its preparation, and *intended* to
publish those forms, but was simply interrupted in his intent by the
unfortunate event of his own death. I'm also assuming that Christopher,
having worked with his father extensively, had a good idea of what his
father was up to, and minimized his own contributions to the work in
deference to his father's memory and intent.
These are, however, *assumptions*.
I'd like to see if people here think they're reasonable -- in short, should
the Silmarillion (and its appendix) be considered a source for "canonical"
Quenya (what Quettahostanie lists in the "Published" level), or should its
offerings be demoted to "Unpublished"?
For what it's worth, making the change would not be too difficult; it would
involve altering the text in the description, then a quick search through
the database for any element with "Silm" in its Attestations field.
Elements found in that search that didn't have some other canonical
attestation would then get switched to "Unpublished".
(I'm leery of automating the process completely, since I'm quite sure that
subtleties would crop up that would *require* a human's judgement.)
"No sound to break, no moment clear
When all the doubts are crystal clear;
Crashing hard into the secret wind..."
"Cuts You Up"
[For what it's worth: I find the whole concept of "canonical" _anything_
to be highly dubious when applied to Tolkien's work. The fact that
something was published while he was alive was in fact of surprisingly
little deterrence to his desire and willingness to change things in
the underlying system; it just meant that he had to reinterpret what was
already published in some more or less plausible manner -- nor is it at
all clear that even he could always remember or discover what his
original interpretation had been! -- or justify a change in terms of his
subcreation (a la Frodo's "mistake"). As for _The Silmarillion_, there
are many cases where Christopher Tolkien altered spellings and forms
editorially, and then came to think better of it. For this reason (among
others) my personal practice is, wherever possible, to _always_ cite forms
found in those texts that were incorporated in _The Silmarillion_ from the
original texts as presented in _The History of Middle-earth_. If we are to
speak of such things, _HoMe_ is by far the more "canonical" work,
representing what Tolkien actually wrote, without the literary editing and
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