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Re: Internal historical aspect of the five Catholic prayers in Quenya

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  • lambendil
    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
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 18, 2004
      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
      of paradox.

      But I think this paradox might perhaps be removed or at least find
      plausible explanations.

      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),
      _i•Ponôrir_ '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

      Sébastien Bertho
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