Re: Internal historical aspect of the five Catholic prayers in Quenya
- --- In email@example.com, Boris Shapiro <elenhil@u...>
> Should we analyze the texts as a unique piece ofThe question Boris had raised long ago is very interesting. Quenya
> Seventh Age Quenya (probably as spoken in Valinor) and are we
> to get anything interesting from that?
is a language being the expression of the Quendian-culture and
Quendian-mythology in whatever context we use it. The words _Eru_,
_menel_, the expression _i ëa han Ëa_ belong to the mythology
of Tolkien's sub-creation, his _mythopoeia_. In fact every act of
Tolkien's _logopoeia_ is the exploration of his myth. It is the way
every "real" language works (and Tolkien's languages having their
own mythology, their "sub-creative" context are like real langages,
and very unlike the languages of the Esperanto-type).
The prayers (presented in VT 43 and 44) come from the period of the
1950s, when the mediator between the real history and the mythical
history of the Elves and Men was Aelfwine/Elendil (cf. "Dangweth
Pengolodh" in XII:395 from c. 1951-1959). Cannot the Quenya
prayers be the translation made by Elendil (who was to live in 10th-
11th C.) himself? Yes and no. Yes, because on that time there were in
existence already: "Pater Noster", "Gloria Patri (Doxologia
Minor)", "Sub Tuum Praesidium". No, because "Ave Maria" and "Litany
of Loreto" are much younger (their final form was achieved in 16th C.).
In "Qenya Lexicon" we find many words which show that the Elves
(in the conceptual phase of the "Book of the Lost Tales") knew some
elements of the Christian faith. There are terms for Holy Spirit,
Trinity, monks, nuns and monastery. I wonder if Tolkien, translating
the prayers into Quenya (and into the language of the Quendian
mythology - I would call it Christian inculturation into the
mythopoeic context) - had in mind such a possibility that these
prayers could play any role in his fictitious history. Anyway even
if it was "only" a linguistic exercise it is worth an analysis of
how the Quenya terms work incorporated into the Christian context.
- In the post 655 (13/04/2004) Ryzard Derdzinski, replying to Boris Shapiro,
questions if the catholic prayers presented in VT 43 and 44 could have been
translations made by Aelfwine/Elendil (who was to live in 10th-11th C.). The
reply was yes and no, because some prayers were already in existence on that
time (Pater Noster, Gloria Patri, Sub Tuum Praesidium), but the others are much
younger (the final form of Ave Maria and Litany of Loreto was achieved in 16th C.).
As Ryzard notes, the question of authorship of the different parts of
the Quendian mythology, on the internal point of view, is always and
interesting but a complicated matter. Internal authorship shifted during
the external evolution of some tales and he sometimes merged the real
and fictional world (like in the LR Appendix where he appears as the
translator of the red Book, not as the author of the novel).
The place of the Catholic prayers in the main work is of course very
special since they do not, _a priori_, belong to the Quendian
mythology. But, as Ryszard remarks pertinently, "Quenya is a language
being the expression of the Quendian-culture and Quendian-mythology in
whatever context we use it" and "every act of Tolkien's _logopoeia_ is the
exploration of his myth". So, the only fact that the prayers were written in
Elvish connects them with the Quendian mythology, even if it creates a kind
But I think this paradox might perhaps be removed or at least find
In his post, Ryzard notes that we find many words in the "Qenya Lexicon"
which show that the Elves (in the conceptual phase of the "Book of the
Lost Tales") knew some elements of the Christian faith (terms for Holy
Spirit, Trinity, monks, nuns and monastery).
In a first version of the present post post (which was returned for
revision !), I remarked that there are several words in the Lexicons
that referred to our 'real, modern, world' and I quoted _Andesalke_,
Salkinôre_ 'Africa' (QL/31, 84), _kalimba(n)_ '"Barbary", Germany',
_kalimabardi_ 'the Germans' (QL/44), _Îverind-_ 'Ireland' (QL/43),
_iPonôrir_ 'the Northlands (Scandinavia)' and _ponôre_ 'Norway' (QL/74).
I tought that these names could give some clues about the authorship of the
Lexicons, but as Carl Hostetter has pointed out in his private reply to my
first post, "there's nothing in there that necessarily refers to our 'real,
modern world'. None of the nations mentioned there were unknown in
even Classical times, and all have their equivalents in classical
Greek and Latin. That Tolkien translates them with modern country
names instead of their Greek, Latin, or even Anglo-Saxon names
is completely in accord with every other gloss in the Lexicons".
This made me think of something else : if the Lexicons are the work of
Aelfwine/Elendil during his sojourn in Tol Eressea, the original
manuscript would have been written in Old English. Hence, the actual
version of the Lexicons must have been translated in modern English
(excatly the same way as the LR is presented as the translation of the
Red Book in English, merging real and fictional world).
Some words in the Lexicons are given with Anglo-Saxon, Latin or Greek
glosses. This suggests, either that these non-English references were
left intentionally by the translator or that the Lexicons are much
latter, dating from the XXth century, and are the work of a man with
very good linguistic knowledge that had some knowledge of the Quendian
world and mythology.
We can find in Tolkien's work some characters that fit this portrait,
characters that lived in our modern age and who had dreams or visions
of the mythical world of the Elves: Audoin and Alboin Errol of "The
Lost Road" (V/36-106, c. 1936-37) and Arundel Lowdham of the Notion
Club (IX/145-330, c. 1945-46). Even if he never finished none of his
time-travel stories, the fact that Tolkien began two stories of this
kind seem to show that Tolkien took this narrative process to heart.
Of course, the mediators cited before are older than the prayers,
externally speaking (30s and 40s vs. 50s), but a philologist like
Lowdham might have been fully qualified to try a translation in
"Avallonian" of some known catholic prayers (and even several attempts
for some of these prayers !).
Finally, we have a third possibility. We could think of some Elves who
would have chosen to stay in the mortal lands and who would have
withered to become spirits (a very old conception dating from the
_Lost Tales_). Theses spirits may have contacted some open-minded
humans and instructed them about the matter of the Elves, their
history and their languages. Theses spirit-Elves could even have
taught their tongues to a well-known English philologist of the XXth