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6263Tolkien on Elf beards (was Re: Two questions)

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  • michael_martinez2
    Aug 7, 2002
      --- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
      > At 05:55 PM 8/4/2002 , Susan wrote:
      >
      > >1. JRRT says somewhere, does he not, that the Elves are
      > > beardless? And yet near the end of "The Grey Havens," Cirdan
      > > the Shipwright is described as having a long beard. He's Elven,
      > > no? Can anyone resolve this?
      >
      > There's an implication buried somewhere, probably in _Unfinished
      > Tales_, that Elves are beardless, and that's the way they're
      > certainly normally seen. Yet this is something on which Tolkien
      > must have changed his mind at some point, for at some other time
      > he wrote that Cirdan has a beard.

      This whole "bearded Elves" issue has caused a great deal of
      discussion through the years. Happily, it can all be resolved with a
      few citations....which I am unable to provide, because I'm about to
      leave work and don't know when my Internet access at home will be
      restored. Still, here is what I can recall on my own. Treat it as a
      rough summation of the facts, subject to correction at a later time.


      The passage in UNFINISHED TALES is found in the chapter on Galadriel
      and Celeborn and is in one of the appendices. It concerns Prince
      Imrahil's Elvish ancestry, and Christopher Tolkien paraphrases some
      late-life essay of his father's. Many readers have taken this as the
      final word in Elf beards.

      But it's not. A couple of issues back, VINYAR TENGWAR published some
      additional material for "The Shibboleth of Feanor". In one of the
      notes associated with this material, JRRT writes that Nerdanel's
      father was remarkable for having grown a beard in the Second Cycle
      (of his life).

      The reader is left to infer that all male Elves normally grow beards
      when they reach their Third Cycle (no clues, yet, as to what defines
      a cycle of life). Cirdan, by inference (rather than implication,
      since the note does not mention him), must have long since reached
      his Third Cycle by the end of the Third Age.

      Since Denethor sports a long white beard, and since the statue of the
      Gondorian king by the crossroads (where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum watch
      the army from Minas Morgul pass by) has a beard, it must be accepted
      that Dunadan men DID grow beards, but perhaps because of their Elvish
      ancestry (THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE-EARTH says that the Stewards
      were "ultimately of royal origin"), some of the Dunedain did not grow
      beards until THEIR Third Cycle (or some Dunadan/half-elf equivalent
      of the full Elvish Third Cycle).
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