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5097Re: [mythsoc] Re: Big research projects (was: Lawsuit about Tolkien)

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  • David S. Bratman
    Feb 12, 2002
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      At 12:06 AM 2/12/2002 , Michael Martinez wrote:

      >--- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
      >> Clarification (the misapprehension is understandable): my
      >> chronology is not of the Inklings' works, but of their lives.
      >> Specifically, of their mutual interactions (not the entirety of
      >> their lives). My scholarly interest here is in the Inklings as a
      >> group.
      >Sorry. My mistake. I was stealing time from work.

      Haste is not needed as an explanation: I was not sufficiently clear, and
      the context of the discussion was subcreations, not biography.

      >Anyway, that project is one where I've been asked not to disclose the
      >details or even the general concept, beyond the fact that it is
      >a "history" book and it will be quite unlike anything previously
      >published in the Tolkien field. It is a reference work for the
      >pseudo-history, not a literary analysis of the mythology.

      Reference works for the pseudo-history have been published before: Foster's
      Guide, Tyler's guide, Day's guides (pfooey), Fonstad and Strachey's
      atlases, An Introduction to Elvish, etc.

      So I await with eagerness the opportunity to learn what makes this one
      quite unlike those that have come before. It looks like I may have to wait
      a while.

      I recommend for your perusal, if you haven't already looked at it, Michael
      Stanton's _Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards_. It has its factual flubs, but it
      also has what seems to me a pretty good accounting of the subcreational
      "rough spots" in LOTR, odd things that lack explanation or need pondering.
      Including the "walking-tree" bit that was giving us such trouble a while ago.

      For others reading this, though, I must emphasize that I do NOT recommend
      Stanton's book to anyone who doesn't already know LOTR backwards and
      forwards. He is so efficient at nailing Tolkien's subtle points and
      numinous atmosphere to the page that he'll spoil LOTR readers' appreciation
      of anything they haven't discovered for themselves. Normally I don't say
      things like that - for instance, I do not think seeing the film first will
      spoil your appreciation of the book, though it may give you a false
      impression of what the book is like - but this time it's true. IMO, of
      course: caveat emptor.

      >That's a reasonable summary for what Christopher devoted MORGOTH'S
      >RING and THE WAR OF THE JEWELS to explaining, but he had to draw
      >upon "The Fall of Gondolin" directly for some parts in "Of Maeglin"
      >and "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin".

      Did he? I must have missed that. Do you have any references for this
      handy? If not, I'll put it on my mental "check up on this" list.

      >Although you're just offering an example, I would not, in fact,
      >attempt to rationalize the differences between the Celeborn
      >histories. He started out (in Christopher's estimation) as a
      >Nandorin Elf, but in the 2nd Edition he was made into a Sinda. In
      >the last year of Tolkien's life, Celeborn became an inexplicable
      >grandson of Olwe of Alqualonde, thus implying that Tolkien had
      >forgotten about or set aside the taboo among the Eldar against
      >marrying first cousins.
      >I accept Celeborn simply as one of the Sindar. Nothing else works
      >within the framework of the other texts I rely upon.

      OK, I must have misunderstood you. The origin of Celeborn is the most
      prominent example of contradictory texts of the sort that I thought you
      were including in your canon, as opposed to ones like BLT that you're
      leaving out. Can you give a better example of the sort of contradictory
      (not just vague) texts you are including as canonical?

      But my major point is that for me to find a reference work for the
      subcreation useful, I need to know what the compiler is considering
      canonical and what reliable (not always the same thing with Tolkien!), and
      to have a rational and logical distinction made. (Foster gets a pass for
      his limited canon because that's all he had back in 1978.) In your case,
      you write:

      >But let me stress again that I change canons on an almost hourly
      >basis, depending upon who I am discussing something with or writing
      >for, and what the topic is. I can't stay within the confines of a
      >single canon, and yet I cannot work with the gelatinous complexity of
      >all the Tolkien works.

      Understood; but for me to find this very practical (as opposed to
      theoretical) approach useful for detailed subcreational study, I hope you
      will supply commentary and justification of what you consider canonical and
      what reliable on various topics, even at the risk of popping out of the
      subcreational stance and into the "literary work" stance to do it. My
      instincts on what should be worked with on a given point may be different
      from yours, and others' instincts different from either of ours, so I want
      to know what sources such a work is using or not using.

      David Bratman
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