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Re: Big research projects (was: Lawsuit about Tolkien)

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  • 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 1 of 13 , Feb 12, 2002
      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 2 of 13 , Feb 12, 2002
        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 3 of 13 , Feb 12, 2002
          --- 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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