943"Of Dwarves and Men"
- Oct 28, 2006It 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
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?
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