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11723RE: [mythsoc] Joseph Pearce

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  • David Bratman
    Mar 11, 2004
      At 02:01 PM 3/11/2004 -0600, Jay Hershberger wrote:

      >Pearce's view of the HoME as "secondary" means--as I understood him--that it
      >should not be regarded as on the same level as Tolkien's published works,
      >including the works of minor fiction and essays. Pearce regards the
      >published Silmarillion as being included in the "primary" canon with H and

      I don't know what "Tolkien's published works" means here, because HoME is
      published works, and if it means "works published by Tolkien" it should
      exclude _The Silmarillion_. As for "'primary' canon", what your canon
      includes depends on what you want a canon for. To exclude HoME from any
      study of Tolkien's literary thought or creativity would be a huge mistake.

      >We never finished our conversations about this, especially regarding
      >how CT's edition of the Silmarillion is somehow different in "weight" than
      >the HoME.

      Weight for what purpose? For some purposes it weighs more, for others less.

      >My observation (not Pearce's) is that, even with the publication of HoME
      >(and I am slowly collecting them all!), until all of the manuscripts and
      >papers are made available independently of CT, including the redundancies he
      >chose to leave out of HoME, we must rely on CT's judgements.

      This is tautological, but it's also untrue. Many manuscripts are available
      for scholarly study, especially LOTR which is at Marquette and open to
      general use, and one can judge CT's editorial ability from that. The idea
      that we must reserve opinion until we can read every scrap of paper for
      ourselves is absurd.

      >Not that CT's
      >judgement is somehow suspicious or unreliable, but that his familial
      >connection to his father, the family, and the estate, etc., does factor into
      >his work.

      And so do plenty of other things, and so would they for some other scholar
      with no familial connection at all. The idea of expressing any kind of
      special concern because he's the son of the author, that therefore wouldn't
      apply if he weren't, is loathsome.

      >But even CT's scholarship, editing, commentary, etc., will be, at some point
      >in the future, up for critical review (perhaps already has in some

      There is considerable scholarly discussion of CT's editorial work (more of
      HoME than of _The Silmarillion_) in the volume _Tolkien's Legendarium_
      edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter. You might begin with my
      essay in that volume, which specifically discusses the structure imposed on
      HoME by the editor, and his qualifications for the job.

      >Perhaps after all is revealed and examined ad nauseum,
      >the judgement will be that CT did a terrific service to his father's
      >literary legagy,

      Why wait? That conclusion is obvious now.

      >and that his edition of the Silmarillion cannot be in
      >anyway improved. I seem to recall CT once stating that he might do things a
      >bit different now.

      What he might have done differently is in regards to having undertaken the
      project in the manner he did at all, not in its details. This is discussed
      in the foreword to volume 1 of HoME. A full understanding of how _The
      Silmarillion_ was constructed can be obtained from studying vols. 4-5 and
      10-11 of HoME.

      - David Bratman
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