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Re: [mythsoc] Re: Lawsuit about Tolkien

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    In a message dated 2/11/02 2:32:59 PM Central Standard Time, ... Unlike Hobbits: they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 11, 2002
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      In a message dated 2/11/02 2:32:59 PM Central Standard Time,
      michael@... writes:

      > People love the
      > speculations

      Unlike Hobbits: "they liked to have books filled with things that they
      already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions." (PROLOGUE,
      Part 1)


      Diamond Proudbrook
    • michael_martinez2
      NOTE: I am trying to snip liberally for the sake of brevity, such as I am able to contrive at this late/wee hour. ... Sorry. My mistake. I was stealing time
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 12, 2002
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        NOTE: I am trying to snip liberally for the sake of brevity, such as
        I am able to contrive at this late/wee hour.

        --- 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.

        > Clarification requested: it's not clear to me from your description
        > what exactly you're writing, in either of your two projects. A
        > basic history textbook, in the first case? A series of
        > ethnographic/historical encyclopedia-style articles, in the other?

        Since the first project is shelved, perhaps permanently, I don't mind
        discussing it. The second project, unfortunately, is not mine to
        explain. I was approached for the second project by a gentleman who
        has worked with Dean Koontz and Stephen King, and who wanted to
        recruit a team of people to do a book about Middle-earth. We have a
        proposal which is being refined and will be submitted to a major
        publisher. Some outside opinions have been sought, and are being
        sought, in the hope that the project will be pitched with as much
        support from inside the Tolkien community as possible (and I realize
        that most of the people on this list have not heard about this
        project before -- many of you would certainly qualify among those
        whose opinions would be helpful, but I am not soliciting the
        opinions, except where I may have some contact with people).

        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.

        I dare not say more.

        The ORIGINAL project was basically a collection of essays on the
        various kingdoms, tribes, peoples from the return of the Noldor up
        through the Fourth Age (as much of it as could be documented). Each
        essay was accompanied by end notes explaining most of the obscure
        details (types of weapons used by soldiers, who was married to whom,
        movements of peoples, where all this stuff could be found, etc.) and
        in some cases explaining some of my reasoning (why I picked one
        interpretation of the texts over another). Each essay was concluded
        with a chronological table showing the years in which significant
        events occurred.

        The essays discuss -- as much as possible -- economics, law, social
        customs and anything else which Tolkien might have made reference
        to. Rarely used names were thrust to the forefront of the narrative
        (such as Marachians for the House of Hador, Beorians for the First
        House, etc.). It's a history text, straight forward, a bit dull in
        places, perhaps. It covers geography and occasionally delves into
        motives of various movers and shakers, as well as potential
        consequences. I had also planned to include about 30 illustrations,
        maps, although I never was able to find an illustrator who could draw
        exactly the kind of maps I wanted.

        Some portions of that history project have been published in small
        ways. I submitted my "History of the Kingdom of Hithlum" to the
        journal OTHER HANDS a few years ago. I later on wrote an essay about
        the peoples of the Second Age for that journal but based it on the
        history book's notes. (I think both those pieces were picked up by
        one or more other small journals, but I don't recall the details).
        And last year, when I was pressed for time after I moved to Texas and
        took a job, I published on Suite101 what was to be one of the
        appendices. This was the three-part "History of the Last Alliance of
        Elves and Men", which originally was solicited by the Arda journal's
        last editor. He never finished the volume he was working on, and
        though I had decided early on to make that account an appendix in the
        history book, it worked out well enough as a Suite101 essay.

        I suppose that, if I ever give in to my readers' requests and publish
        a sequel to Visualizing Middle-earth, I could include the Last
        Alliance essays. I did submit a proposal for a sequel to a small
        press, but I don't think it included those three pieces.

        Just off the top of my head, I had a chapter devoted to the Noldor in
        the First Age, a chapter for the Sindar in the First Age, a chapter
        for the Noldor in the Second Age, a chapter for the Sindar in the
        Second Age, a chapter for the Edain in the First Age, a chapter for
        the Edain the Second Age (mostly Numenor, but not entirely so), and
        chapters for Arnor and Gondor, as well as chapters on the Dwarves and
        other peoples.

        I based two other Suite101 essays, "Them Dwarves, Them Dwarves"
        and "Them Dwarves, Them Dwarves, Part II" on my research for the
        Dwarven material.

        I spent about two years working on that project. When Chris Zavisa
        approached me about the current project, I showed him the proposal
        for the original history book. A small press had actually expressed
        an interest in it a few years ago, but then went out of business.
        While he agreed that the research covered what he wanted, he
        explained his concept to me more fully and I decided it would be
        better to write an entirely new text to fit with his design better.
        The rough draft for the proposal simply blew my socks off. I only
        wish I could speak about it in greater detail, but I have to let the
        wheels turn and see what comes back.

        And though I have not said to whom the proposal will be submitted, it
        is not necessary for anyone to provide me with names and addresses,
        or warnings. Let it suffice to say that someone of greater stature
        than I, who has already worked with the Tolkien Estate, is involved
        with the project. I doubt we will try to go forward with anything
        that would be opposed by the Estate, but they have not (to my
        knowledge) seen the proposal yet.

        Actually, I'm not sure how far along it has advanced. My work for
        the proposal is finished and I'm now working on the primary text. So
        I am out of the loop, except for occasional "Oh, by the way..." news
        from Chris.

        > >THE BOOK OF LOST TALES ... served as a model for parts of the
        > >various Silmarillion texts, and Christopher mined it for material
        > >he felt was required to complete "A" Silmarillion text.
        >
        > My impression, without having specially studied the matter, was
        > that the 1977 Silmarillion text was constructed out of post-LOTR
        > material with considerable back-up taken from the late 1930s
        > Silmarillion texts, but that nothing was taken by CT from the Lays
        > (except for one quote) or BLT. But perhaps I am mistaken.

        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".

        >>... Nor do Kortirion, the half-elven Beren, or the evil
        > >Tinwelint [belong in Middle-earth].
        >
        > Indeed they don't, but the question of where to draw the line is a
        > vexing one. Working from just what you call the "credible history"
        > viewpoint, I've seen at least four canons used:
        >
        > 1) The Hobbit (revised), LOTR, and the 1977 Silmarillion are
        > canonical; everything else is not. This approach has been hotly
        > defended by some on the old Tolkien Bitnet list. It seems to me
        > unnecessarily limiting.

        Technically, I don't work from a single canon. I have found it
        impossible. But, generally speaking, I try to work from this one:

        The 2nd edition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, as updated with final
        corrections (the "Douglas Anderson edition", as some put it).

        The 3rd edition of THE HOBBIT, as presented in THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT
        (although Anderson suggests there is a technical fourth edition,
        IIRC).

        THE ROAD GOES EVER ON, 1st edition (does not include "Bilbo's Last
        Song")

        THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL

        THE SILMARILLION

        and portions of UNFINISHED TALES. I have lately begun to draw upon
        much of the pre-publication material intended for the appendices
        which Christopher published in THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE-EARTH.

        A complete consistency cannot be achieved, if one seeks to include
        all relevant material. Middle-earth, from the time Tolkien decided
        that LoTR would be more than just a sequel to THE HOBBIT, went
        through what I have identified as three phases of development (and a
        fourth one was planned, started upon, but never brought to
        completion):

        1) Initial composition, the 1st edition (1937-48, 1950-52)

        2) Post-LoTR texts, including material intended for and eventually
        used in THE SILMARILLION, but also including some of the UNFINISHED
        TALES texts (mid-1950s to early 1960s)

        3) Ace Books-inspired revisions. The 3rd Edition HOBBIT and 2nd
        Edition LoTR, in my opinion, introduced changes which Tolkien felt
        were needed to justify the new copyright, and which probably
        reflected or launched his third phase of development. This last
        phase is the most difficult to document, but includes some of the
        later material in UNFINISHED TALES, MORGOTH'S RING, and THE WAR OF
        THE JEWELS.

        That more-or-less coincides with your second option.

        I cannot accept the inclusion of everything. It's bad enough when
        Tolkien stops what he is doing in Middle-earth and starts over. But
        to bring in the earlier Silmarillion mythology and the Lost Tales
        mythology is, in my opinion, completely absurd. Some people just
        don't see any reason to distinguish between the England-based stories
        of BOLT and the 1960s material, and I've given up trying to explain
        the innumerable differences to them.

        If this point of view arose originally from the literary analysts, I
        should just point out that I've often disagreed with them on many
        points anyway.

        > 4) Some of the contradictory material but not others, your
        > approach. For my part, whether I'd find a comprehensive work on
        > the subcreation, written from this viewpoint, to be useful would
        > depend on how the dividing line was justified. What's the
        > difference between accepting the different origins of (say)
        > Celeborn, as described in Unfinished Tales, as all being "genuine"
        > (if vague and conflicting), but not accepting the different origins
        > of Beren, as described in BLT and the Silmarillion? The
        > justification can be made, it's made all the time in primary world
        > historiography, but it needs a solid intellectual foundation.

        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.


        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. One might as well include ROVERANDOM's
        episode with the Bay of Elvenhome, or Smith of Wootton Major's walks
        through Faerie, in the Middle-earth canon as THE BOOK OF LOST TALES.
        They are only slightly more remote from the Middle-earth mythology
        than BOLT, and some people might argue they are somewhat closer.
      • michael_martinez2
        Not that I think anyone is taking notes, but I omitted two other ... I do also usually draw upon THE WAR OF THE JEWELS and MORGOTH S RING, although some of the
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 12, 2002
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          Not that I think anyone is taking notes, but I omitted two other
          titles from the list of my base canon:

          --- In mythsoc@y..., "michael_martinez2" <michael@x> wrote:
          >
          > Technically, I don't work from a single canon. I have found it
          > impossible. But, generally speaking, I try to work from this one:
          >
          > The 2nd edition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS
          > The 3rd edition of THE HOBBIT
          > THE ROAD GOES EVER ON, 1st edition>
          > THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL
          > THE SILMARILLION
          > and portions of UNFINISHED TALES. I have lately begun to draw upon
          > much of the pre-publication material intended for the appendices
          > which Christopher published in THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE-EARTH.

          I do also usually draw upon THE WAR OF THE JEWELS and MORGOTH'S RING,
          although some of the material in these books conflicts with other
          sources.

          And in very rare cases, I have looked through THE TREASON OF
          ISENGARD, THE WAR OF THE RING, and SAURON DEFEATED for insight. I
          don't think I've relied much upon THE RETURN OF THE SHADOW.

          Finally, "Lay of Leithian" is simply timeless. Although there
          conflicts between details in the "Lay" and later books, it's just too
          important a source text to pass up. I may not give precedence to
          what I find in the "Lay", but I still look through it for relevant
          details on a lot of subjects.
        • David S. Bratman
          ... Haste is not needed as an explanation: I was not sufficiently clear, and the context of the discussion was subcreations, not biography. ... Reference works
          Message 4 of 13 , 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
          • michael_martinez2
            ... Maeglin ... this ... I m at work again. :) THE WAR OF THE JEWELS explains the processes he used to create those chapters. Of Maeglin was more like a
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 12, 2002
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              --- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
              > At 12:06 AM 2/12/2002 , Michael Martinez wrote:
              > >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.

              I'm at work again. :)

              THE WAR OF THE JEWELS explains the processes he used to create those
              chapters. "Of Maeglin" was more like a negative-use than an actual
              use. That is, he tried to create a coherent story while glossing
              over various names he felt should not have been used in it
              (Glorfindel and Ecthelion, for example, would have been responsible
              for losing Aredhel). "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin" relies
              extensively upon the fragmentary "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
              (a post-LoTR text published in UNFINISHED TALES) up to the point
              where it breaks off (Tuor's arrival at Gondolin). From that point
              onward, the only detailed source Christopher had available was "The
              Fall of Gondolin", so he engaged in some radical compression.

              These two chapters do appear to be weak, after reading the
              explanations Christopher offers for how he constructed them. But
              they are much more satisfying than "Of the Ruin of Doriath", which
              departed from JRRT's briefly stated ideas radically.

              > 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?

              I use the second history of Celeborn and Galadriel (in UNFINISHED
              TALES) as my primary source for information regarding events in
              Eregion and the War of the Elves and Sauron, even though in this
              second history Amroth is their son (and not the son of the ubiquitous
              Amdir/Malgalad).

              I also use a lot of the information in "Quendi and Eldar", even
              though some of the points made there contradicted earlier material.
              One case deals with Eol's relationship to Thingol. I think that,
              in "Quendi and Eldar", he is a Tatyarin Elf (an Avar) who has somehow
              become a part of Thingol's realm. Hence, his resentment of the
              Noldor is explained by an aside which states that the Tatyarin Avari
              felt the Noldor (their western cousins) were arrogant. I'm not sure,
              but I think Tolkien eventually restored Eol to the Sindar. I tend to
              disregard the tradition of Eol as a Tatya, but I accept other points
              regarding the Tatyar.

              > >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.

              The book will represent a variety of perspectives and
              interpretations. I don't necessarily agree with them all. I am the
              primary author, but mine is not the only voice which will be evident
              in the book. Although I have set a fairly definitive canonical
              standard for myself, I've already run into a couple of situations
              where I have had to accept compromise. But it was true compromise,
              with both parties making some concessions to the others.

              I suppose we run the risk of being criticized for creating a work by
              committee. But the other people involved in the project are
              contributing things which are simply beyond me. And I think that, in
              the end, this book (if published) will earn a high degree of
              credibility because it won't be perceived as one person's point-of-
              view or interpretation. People will undoubtedly find things to
              object to -- that is inevitable. But what we are doing has not
              really been attempted before (at least -- nothing like it has ever
              been published -- I suppose there could have been many failed
              attempts).

              I can only hope people will appreciate the effort once they see it.
              Early reaction to the proposal has been completely enthusiastic. I
              just have to go forward believing that we'll be able to sustain the
              enthusiasm sufficiently to get the project to completion. After
              that, it will be up to the readers to make the final call.
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