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Topic: The Fall of Gondolin--could it be a stand alone story?

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Nov 19, 2014
The Fall of Gondolin--could it be a stand alone story?

I know that The Silmarillion is complex.  One story--The Children of Hurin has been published as a stand alone story.  In my last thread I posed the question if Beren and Luthien could be a stand alone story?  One of the other great stories in The Silmarillion is the Fall of Gondolin.  What do others think?  Could this too be a stand alone story?



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James R Allister
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The Fall of Gondolin as a separate story (a very early one, too) with much detail appears in the Book of Lost Tales II; the part covering the coming of Tuor to Gondolin was rewritten and is part of Unfinished Tales as you sure know. Pity it stopped there. Quite a few points would call for clarification. The story of Idril and Maegin would be one (but I personally would want the whole Aredhel and Eol's story to be told there too, since it is of a great importance). In particular, the marriage between cousins is said not to be allowed, yet other sources say that such limitations only applied in certain cases - definitely not to theirs (I will have to find that source - on travel now). Another thing would be the number of Balrogs... And was it Maeglin or Hurin (inadvertently) who betrayed the location of Gondolin? It is only in the early story that we learn how exactly Ecthelion killed Gothmog (I believe we only have one line on that in the Sil).

It however comes to mind that Tolkien himself 'singled out' three stories, and while he viewed both the Narn and the Lay of Leithian as two of those (not sure 'stand-alone') stories, the third one was, if I remember correctly, a combination of the Fall of Gondolin with the Earendil's journey to Valinor; I am pretty sure that the latter part was explicitly mentioned, and perhaps separating it from the Fall wouldn't be his view. Anyway I will have to check that too.


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Lórellinë

Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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There's a fair bit of extra stuff in Unfinished Tales about Tuor, Vorondil etc. I'd imagine a story could be cobbled together and made into a new book. I wonder if Christopher Tolkien does have any plans for future books like this. Wish there was a way of knowing. A book about Beren and Luthien and another about the Fall of Gondolin would accompany the Children of Hurin nicely.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Maybe the "AKALLABETH : The Downfall of Númenor" might be a stand alone ... or maybe another trilogy



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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I'm not sure what is meant exactly by stand alone story, but I would say The Fall of Gondolin is certainly one of the 'three' (or four) Great Tales that Tolkien intended to tell in long form. The Great Tales were intended to be told in either long prose form or in long verse form, or even both for a given tale; and the long forms were intended to stand along with the Silmarillion chapters as part of the greater legendarium. 

 

In other words, the long prose forms were not simply the 'finished' chapters of Quenta Silmarillion -- Quenta Silmarillion was supposed to contain shorter versions of these tales, as part of the Quenta Silmarillion tradition. Thus in theory The Fall of Gondolin could be handled just like The Children of Hurin (long prose version) constructed by Christopher Tolkien...

 

... except that, in answer to Bilbo's question, in Christopher Tolkien's estimation there isn't enough of the other Great Tales (Beren and Luthien, Fall of Gondolin, Voyage of Earendil) in any later, updated forms, to be able to construct such a version. Christopher Tolkien (just turned 90) has at least stated that he will not attempt to construct a long prose version for any of the other Great Tales.

 

Tolkien worked both in the early and 'later' 1950s on the Children of Hurin long prose version -- so, while unfinished, it had 'enough' material for the recently constructed version (again in Christopher Tolkien's estimation). One thing that hasn't been published so far is the updated long prose Beren and Luthien (early 1950s), but apparently it's basically a prose rendering of the updated long version in verse, which was published. This long prose text was, like The Fall of Gondolin, (sadly) abandoned early on in the story.

 

Why did Tolkien abandon so many new Silmarillion related starts after he had 'finished' writing The Lord of the Rings? Perhaps because he learned that Milton Waldman's publishing company would not be publishing The Silmarillion along with The Lord of the Rings in the 1950s (as Tolkien had hoped), and Allen and Unwin declined this as well. Of course Tolkien settled on Allen and Unwin publishing just The Lord of the Rings at this time... and then he set to work on getting this ready for publication.

So that could have been a notable cause, at least at this point anyway, for putting any major work on the Elder Days aside for a time.

 

'Another thing would be the number of Balrogs... And was it Maeglin or Hurin (inadvertently) who betrayed the location of Gondolin? It is only in the early story that we learn how exactly Ecthelion killed Gothmog (I believe we only have one line on that in the Sil).'

 

I have a few comments about these points, although I'll add 'not that you said otherwise' before all of them.

I'm not positive the number of Balrogs was going to be revealed in a theoretical updated (finished) Fall of Gondolin. I can say however, that when Tolkien began his long prose updated Fall of Gondolin in the early 1950s, he still imagined very many Balrogs existing. But when he wrote his very late texts on Maeglin, he had already penned his note about drastically reducing the numbers of Balrogs.

Who knows? But even in the one passage where Tolkien altered the implication of a 'host' of Balrogs (in the Annals of Aman -- it was Christopher Tolkien who altered other examples for the 1977 Silmarillion), the actual number did not go into the tale itself, but remained in the marginal note.

 

The Ecthelion point (pun intended) is interesting because even though Tolkien abandoned his updated fall of Gondolin quite early (Tuor reaching the city, plus notes), he yet included a description of Ecthelion's helm -- which we know from the old version was instrumental in the slaying of Gothmog.

As for the betrayal of Gondolin, I think the tale had switched to: Hurin inadvertently betraying Gondolin while Maeglin's part was to aid with the details of Morgoth's attack. If I recall correctly this is the later idea, except that it wasn't fully fleshed out in Quenta Silmarillion itself, and Christopher Tolkien thus chose a kind of a mix of early and late ideas for the 1977 Silmarillion...

 

... but yes, none of this really answers what would have certainly been!

 

I believe Alex Lewis produced an updated prose version of The Fall of Gondolin, based on the old, long version given in The Book of Lost Tales, and later texts. This was (possibly, can't fully recall at the moment) given as a gift to Tolkien's daughter, although I think there was more than one copy made...

... but in any case, obviously it's not Tolkien authorized. I have never read it myself, although I would if given the chance, out of interest.



-- Edited by Galin on Saturday 29th of November 2014 04:47:59 PM

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Excellent post, Galin, and welcome back! :smile;

That is a shame regarding there not having been enough prose written by Tolkien on the other noticeable "standalone" tales in the Silmarillion. Even moreso that Christopher Tolkien has no intention on trying to cobble one up from what there is, though at that age you can hardly blame him. My questions are:

1. Is their enough 'raw material' for the next Tolkien 'heir' to try and attempt it?

2. If so, how 'accurate' do you think it would be, lore-wise? As in is their enough details (dates, names, places, events, characters etc) that JRR himself wrote that would fill a story and all that would need to be done is 'pad it out' combined with the stuff already in the Silmarillion?

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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The very reason I asked this question was for the great discussion that is going on in this thread. The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, The Fall of Gondolin, and The forging of the rings of power ending with Isildur cutting the ring from Sauron at Gladden Fields would be wonderful to have as a one copy story (separately that is to say)---edited of course by a Tolkien Estate editor (who ever that will be in the future---as was stated Christopher Tolkien does not plan to do anything else). I hope that there is enough material to give a redactor of Tolkien's work stories that can be published as he (Tolkien) would have had it done.

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James R Allister
Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Allister,
As you see it is a topic worth discussion.
Whoever is the heir to the Tolkien estate, and if they have a literary streak in them, could on the off chance seek creative license and try to issue some stories in the Silmarillion as "stand alone".
But as my knowledgeable friend Galin points out that is not liable to happen anytime soon. (nice to see you Galin)


I do see a possibility that the stories of The Silmarillion may be put into a serialized form by film makers.  What version of the story and whatever cinematic license they exploit there may be a "Fall of Gondolin" chapter (or even a movie) if the Tolkien Estate could come to agreement.
Of course as we have seen with "The Lord of The Rings" and especially "The Hobbit" there will be drastic revisions; characters added or deleted, new subplots and romantic threads exploited, new actors to be found, and a version that will not cling to the text. Sort of a "Fantasia" treatment.

In other words a lot of stuff just plain invented.


As Galin and mouth of sauron point out ... there is a lot of "stuff" out there in the wind ... also of more importance ... who will hold the reins of the Tolkien estate?  Will he (or she) be driven by protecting their grandfathers (or dare I say great grandfathers) legacy or by a need for financial enhancement or possibly both.

 

I have read the Silmarillion several times and listened several times to an old cassette audio version of the book.
To me, the audio version lends credence to several stories standing alone ... but I don't see it in a "stand alone" format yet.  As Galin and others point out, there are just too many unresolved issues.



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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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1. Is their enough 'raw material' for the next Tolkien 'heir' to try and attempt it?

Good question. It maybe depends upon whether or not one counts the 'long prose versions' of The Book of Lost Tales. That's what Alex Lewis did I'm guessing. One could use the 1920 Fall of Gondolin as a template, despite that A) the style of this version is very different from Tolkien's later style B) there are some ideas in the old tale that were discarded later, others arguably discarded.

And more generally, based on some of the parts of the three tales that Tolkien did update, we can note that what might be a relatively 'short' section of the long prose version in The Book of Lost Tales was greatly expanded upon in the 1950s...

... Turin's time with the outlaws and Beleg is a good example of this: this part of the story was greatly expanded from The Book of Lost Tales version, even if never finished with respect to the actual expansion. The point here is merely (and admittedly obvioulsly): one wonders where Tolkien would have gone in the 1950s with those parts he never got to, despite that you have the early 'template' to work with, so to speak.

 2. If so, how 'accurate' do you think it would be, lore-wise? As in is their enough details (dates, names, places, events, characters etc) that JRR himself wrote that would fill a story and all that would need to be done is 'pad it out' combined with the stuff already in the Silmarillion?      

That's a complicated question and might again hinge upon how people view the early texts. And I would have to do the work of compiling any texts for a theoretical updated version of something (one of the other tales), in order to give a detailed or better informed answer.

Even with The Children of Hurin Christopher Tolkien chose certain ideas over later notions, to help him construct something that allowed him to tinker less with actual phrasing. For instance there is evidence, if brief in nature, that Sador was 'going to be' revised into a being like the later Woses, but JRRT never really wrote a version in which this is true.

I always bring up the Helm of Hador for this example: it's clear that Tolkien intended to have Turin wearing it when he met the Dragon outside Nargothrond for example (and later on too), but if you choose to go with that then you run into the problem of what to do with the Helm in the rest of the story, those parts that JRRT himself didn't really update when imagining the longer history and role of the Helm of Hador.

To take the Fall of Gondolin rather, we basically have:

A) Book of Lost Tales version, 'long prose' but old style (circa 1920)

B) Updated expanded version (early 1950s) given in Unfinished Tales, plus related notes (same source).

And we see that this basically ends with Tuor before he even enters the city, except for the notes.

C) The very late updated version of Maeglin, and notes.

D) Any later, even if brief, mentions that might arguably shed light on something pertinent to the Gondolin tale.

D is rather difficult to quantify -- there are some very brief references in the Tale of Years for example. Or you could build a case for later descriptions of Balrogs affecting the tale of the Fall of Gondolin. Or Hurin's unwitting betrayal, as I mentioned. Stuff like that.

If I recall correctly (going on memory for too much of this!) what we do not have is a short Silmarillion chapter of The Fall of Gondolin written in the 1950s or later. I don't even think we have a Silmarillion chapter in the later 1930s, because Tolkien jumped to the end of that Quenta Silmarillion and left a 'gap' -- from Turin's outlawry to the voyage of Earendil -- a gap that could only be filled by the Qenta Noldorinwa of 1930.

In the 1930s we have the even shorter tradition of The Annals of Beleriand, but we don't have the fall of Gondolin section in The Grey Annals of the 1950s (the updated Annals of Beleriand) -- and it looks like Tolkien was maybe going to abandon the Annals and create a Tale of Years instead (a First Age version), although the Grey Annals had become more 'like' Quenta Silmarillion with respect to fullness of description.

And I'm probably forgetting some things, but hopefully that much is on path at least.

In short: good questions, but for myself... I don't know biggrin

By the way, nice to see you all... although I don't get in here all that much these days!             



-- Edited by Galin on Sunday 7th of December 2014 05:15:58 PM

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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I think most to be said on the subject has been said already. And interestingly, however relevant the story of Maeglin is to the tale of the Fall of Gondolin, it seems it wasn't supposed to be part of The Silmarillion and probably of the long version of The Fall either. Which is a pity.

I realize the discussion here is not of the tale of the Fall of Gondolin per se but on my part I keep wondering if the notion (concerning Idril and Maeglin) that 'the Eldar wedded not with kin so near, nor ever before had any desired to do so' with an earlier (much longer) notion that "the marriages of the Eldar do not take place between 'close kin'...fëar are also akin, and the motions of love between them, as say between a brother and sister, are not of the same kind as those that make the beginning of marriage. By 'close kin' for this purpose was meant members of one 'house', especially sisters and brothers. None of the Eldar married those in direct line of descent, nor children of the same parents, nor the sister or brother of either of their parents; nor did they wed 'half-sisters' or 'half-brothers'. ... 'half-sister' or 'half-brother' had for them a special meaning: they used these terms when both of the parents of one child were related to both of the parents of another, as when two brothers married two sisters of another family, or a sister and a brother of one house married a brother and a sister of another: things that often occurred. Otherwise 'first cousins', as we should say, might marry, but seldom did so, or desired to do so, unless one of the parents of each were far-sundered in kin". Admittedly this was presented (in Laws and Customs among the Eldar) in the context of the concept of rebirth which was later rejected but whether the definition of close vs not-so-close kin was rejected also is not really clear. In the case of Idril and Maeglin, their parents other than Turgon and Aredhel, namely Eöl and Elenwë, were as far-sundered as possible and theoretically the kinship wasn't all that close to become an obstacle to marriage. Yet Idril finds Maeglin's feeling 'strange and crooked'. Very interestingly both of them are said to have mind-reading abilities beyond the usual measure.

Anyway this contradiction (real or imaginary) is hardly a matter to be addressed in any 'stand-alone' version if that is ever to be put together. And apart from that there was some lack of clarity (in late texts) as to who mostly inhabited Gondolin, just Noldor or also many Sindar. Now the matter of Glorfindel can be happily left alone as going far beyond the topic.

Somehow the Fall of Gondolin and related stories are not as popular a subject of fan-fiction as the Lay of Leithian themes are.

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Lórellinë

Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Lorelline wrote: "I think most to be said on the subject has been said already. And interestingly, however relevant the story of Maeglin is to the tale of the Fall of Gondolin, it seems it wasn't supposed to be part of The Silmarillion and probably of the long version of The Fall either. Which is a pity."

But in the early 1950s Tolkien wrote the story of Isfin and Meglin at length (twelves sides of manuscript), and around 1970 an amanuensis typescript was made, which Tolkien used as a basis for further emendation. And at this late date Tolkien noted: "An enlarged version of the coming of Maeglin to Gondolin, to be inserted in FG in its place." Another note: "FG = Fall of Gondolin"

And Christopher Tolkien explained that this note can only be a reference to the abandoned Fall of Gondolin (entitled by Christopher Tolkien "Of Tuor And His Coming To Gondolin" for inclusion in Unfinished Tales), so that the late typescript was made to serve as a basis for further substantial work on that story.

Which is why I set set my example C above apart from other general, late writings or ideas that arguably might impact the Fall of Gondolin long prose version.



-- Edited by Galin on Friday 12th of December 2014 03:17:03 PM

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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 ???

 



-- Edited by Bear on Sunday 14th of December 2014 07:25:44 AM

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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But dear Bear,

Galin's post is exactly to the point of the thread, as mine is not. I sit corrected by him...and you. Indeed I too saw that very statement in the introduction to the Maeglin text in The War of the Jewels. What was I thinking?

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Lórellinë

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We all goof sometime. I am so out of it, that I am not even sure I would qualify to post in this thread.

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