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943"Of Dwarves and Men"

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  • F.S.
    Oct 28, 2006
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      It has long appeared to me that as printed in _The
      Peoples of Middle-earth_ (XII:295-320), the essay 'Of
      Dwarves and Men' is strangely circular in disposition.
      Christopher Tolkien notes that it 'takes up in the
      middle of a sentence in a passage discussing knowledge
      of the Common Speech' -- more specifically, discussing
      the Common Speech as a means for interspecial
      communication -- and the text ends (without a full
      stop) in the middle of a discussion of the Common
      Speech; more specifically, with a sentence on the
      Common Speech as a means for interspecial

      Furthermore, Christopher Tolkien points to a break in
      the essay where, after three and a half pages of
      manuscript, the typescript draft begins (XII:320 n.
      9). Naturally one wonders whether the manuscript pages
      were, in fact, originally the last pages of a draft
      version of the essay, moved to the beginning at some
      later time. (There could be a simple explanation to
      why this was done. Having coverered the topics of the
      Atani and their languages, the Drúedain, the
      Halflings, Faramir's 'Middle Men', and the lingua
      franca, Tolkien may have found himself returning to
      the Dwarves: 'the Dwarves however were a special
      case'. If this was so, then he may have decided that
      the sections on the Dwarves were better kept together
      and so moved the last pages. This would also explain
      why no subtitle 'I' appears [cf. XII:324 n. 34], if
      the essay having been so arranged never was retyped.)

      However, when queried about the original documents
      Christopher Tolkien kindly responded that the first
      typescript words (XII:298 line 2, 'Only occasionally
      ...') follow in the same line of text, so to speak, as
      the last manuscript words 'in the Fëanorian Script' in
      such a way as to show very clearly that the author
      simply laid down his pen at that point and turned to
      his typewriter.

      Nevertheless, I wonder whether more could be said on
      the matter. If the three and a half manuscript pages
      -- except, perhaps, for the last (few) sentence(s)? --
      originally comprised the end of the text, then the
      essay would have opened with a discussion of the use
      of runes in the Book of Mazarbul and on Balin's Tomb
      -- and this would agree with Tolkien's note on the
      covering page that the essay arose 'from consideration
      of the Book of Mazarbul' (XII:295).

      In my opinion the typescript part on Dwarven runes
      (XII:298-301), where several phrases were later struck
      out and corrected, definitely has the appearance of a
      rough draft, while the section that follows
      ('Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men') seems
      more finished. One deleted note from the first part
      was taken up almost verbatim in the latter (see
      XII:300 n. 21 and cf. the last paragraph on XII:302).
      Perhaps the essay was pieced together of several
      separate texts, some of them rewritten from (partly)
      lost drafts, all written more or less at the same

      There is another curious fact about the essay as
      printed. After the section on the relations of the
      Longbeards and Men, ending with a paragraph on what
      came to pass in the Second Age (XII:304-5), there
      follows a paragraph on change in the language of the
      Eldar in Middle-earth (as opposed to that of the Eldar
      in Valinor), as seen by Elvish loremasters. This
      paragraph seems to have virtually nothing to do with
      what precedes it, and it is followed by a clear break
      (where later the subtitle 'The Atani and their
      Languages' was pencilled in). Could it be that the
      part on the Atani and their languages was once
      preceded by a text on the Elves and their languages,
      i.e. on Quenya and Sindarin, and that the stray
      paragraph is a remnant of this text? In any case I
      think it possible that Tolkien bundled together a text
      that he had written on the Atani with one or more
      texts on the Longbeard Dwarves to form an essay 'Of
      Dwarves and Men', but perhaps we will never know
      exactly which the constituent parts originally were.

      I note with interest though that the upcoming _J.R.R.
      Tolkien Companion and Guide_ by Hammond & Scull
      contains a section entitled 'Of Dwarves and Men'
      (http://bcn.net/~whammond/Guide topic list.doc).
      Perhaps we will find some answers there?

      /Fredrik Ström
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