Members Login
Username 
 
Password 
    Remember Me  
 

Topic: Transmission And Authorship

Post Info
Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 563
Date: Apr 26, 2010
Transmission And Authorship

I decided to make a thread concerning the imagined transmission and authorship of the texts, and post some findings in one place (and in a place I can more easily locate by name as time goes by).

One problem here is Tolkien's changing mind. In the early 1950s JRRT still held to the idea that (very generally speaking here) Elfwine, a mortal man from our more recent past, somehow survived a passage to Eressea and learned much lore of the Elves there. His translations into Old English provided the mode of transmission of the tales to our time, through a person who could then translate Old English (Elfwine's tongue) into Modern English, for the modern reader of course.

In the writing systems of Middle-earth it is revealed (Title Page) that The Lord of the Rings has been translated by JRR Tolkien. But how did the texts get into his hands, and who wrote them? Elves? Men? In Myths Transformed we see Tolkien concerned with transmission and authorship, and he published something new for the Second Edition of The Lord of the Rings: 'But the chief importance of Findegil's copy is that it alone contains the whole of Bilbo's 'Translations from the Elvish'. These three volumes were found to be a work of great skill and learning in which, between 1403 and 1418, he had used all the sources available to him in Rivendell, both living and written.'

Here we get Findegil's copy of Bilbo's translations. With respect to the title, I interpret this to mean translations from the Elvish language, not necessarily from pure Elvish tradition, although Elvish traditions can be included of course. Tolkien also published this interesting bit in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil: '...No. 14 also depends on the lore of Rivendell, Elvish and Númenorean, concerning the heroic days at the end of the First Age; it seems to contain echoes of the Númenorean tale of Túrin and Mim the Dwarf.'

Also, I just tripped over this interesting change as well, to Quenta Silmarillion (the LQ2 text): 'Of their lives was made the Lay of Leithian, Release from Bondage, which is the longest save one of the songs of [the Noldor >] Númenor concerning the world of old;...' 


Later still, in note 17 to The Shibboleth of Feanor (written in 1968 or later) it is stated that the Silmarillion is not an Eldarin title or work, but a compilation, probably made in Númenor: '... which includes (in prose) the four great tales or lays of the heroes of the Atani, of which 'The Children of Hurin' was probably composed already in Beleriand in the First Age...' and concludes (concerning the compiled Silmarillion, and the four great tales in prose, and seemingly the account of Feanor and his making of the Silmarils). 'All however are 'Mannish works'.

Tolkien's parenthetical note above 'in prose' is interesting here with respect to the Lay of the Children of Húrin, for Dírhaval wrote in verse and his work was said to be rendered into prose -- by Elfwine according to the 'older' idea -- but a prose version is 'now' possibly made by an unknown Númenórean (Tolkien appears to refer to The Children of Húrin with his 'longest save one of the songs of Númenor' revision to Quenta Silmarillion, though in any case The Shibboleth note has a good chance of being later).

A typescript of Annals of Aman offers the Númenorean transmission as well. Rúmil still makes the Annals, but: 'Here begin the 'Annals of Aman'. Rúmil made them in the Elder Days, and they were held in memory by the Exiles. Those parts which we learned and remembered were thus set down in Númenor before the Shadow fell upon it.' If the Annals were not to survive as texts (replaced by the Tale of Years?) we can at least see the notion concerned and how Elvish memory plays a part. The Elvish memory was apparently amazing:  

'All peace and all strongholds were at last destroyed by Morgoth; but if any wonder how any lore and treasure was preserved from ruin, it may be answered: of the treasure little was preserved, and the loss of things of beauty great and small is incalculable; but the lore of the Eldar did not depend on perishable records, being stored in the vast houses of their minds. When the Eldar made records in written form, even those that to us would seem voluminous, they did only summarise, as it were, for the use of others whose lore was maybe in other fields of knowledge*, matters which were kept for ever undimmed in intricate detail in their minds.'

*Author's footnote

'And as some insurance against their own death. For books were made only in strong places at a time when death in battle was likely to befall any of the Eldar, but it was not yet believed that Morgoth could ever capture or destroy their fortresses.' JRRT Shibboleth of Feanor

Also, Gondor and Arnor can have a part to play. Jumping back to Myths Transformed (Morgoth's Ring) for a moment, Tolkien noted: 'What we have in the Silmarillion etc. are traditions... handed on by Men in Númenor and later in Middle-earth (Arnor and Gondor); but already far back -- from the first association of the Dúnedain and Elf-friends with the Eldar in Beleriand -- blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas.'  Or Tolkien's small slip headed 'Memorandum': 'The three Great Tales must be Númenorean, and derived from matter preserved in Gondor...' where he is (according to Christopher Tolkien) 'presumably distinguishing between long and short forms of the Tales.'


Anyway, there are more references than presented here, but so far the general picture (in my opinion) seems to be that while certain texts were still to be given noted Elvish authors, Bilbo wasn't necessarily working from purely Elvish texts in all cases, but from Mannish versions (in significant enough measure) that ultimately hailed from contact with Elvish minds. Númenor begins to loom large in the picture of transmission.

One text that seems Elvish is the Awakening of The Quendi, imagined as a 'surviving Elvish fairytale' or child's tale mingled with counting lore' which was also stated to have been 'preserved in almost identical form among both the Elves of Aman and the Sindar.'


I note that in the 'Mannish' Silmarillion (as it was to become, that is) that Men awake with the rising of the Sun, which is here the fruit of one of the Two Trees. In the Elvish fairytale however: 'It was still night and clouds were in the sky. But before dawn a wind came, and roused the Elf-men, and they woke and were amazed at the stars;...' or '... and they walked long by day and by twilight in the country about the lake...' In short, in the Elvish tale the Sun existed before the first Elves awoke.



Anyway, what do you think Elrond Halfelven's libraries were like smile





-- Edited by Galin on Monday 26th of April 2010 06:59:12 PM

__________________
Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
Status: Offline
Posts: 2161
Date: Apr 27, 2010
Certainly a 'voluminous' research of your own there Galin!

Just to clarify: The Eldar wrote just a few books in the First Age, and most that were written were presumably destroyed in the sinking of Beleriand. So apart from maybe the odd preserved written work, the tales had to be told to the men of Numenor, and they then created the 'three Great Tales' (I assume these are the Children of Hurin, Of Beren and Luthien and the Fall of Gondolin/Voyage of Earendil, or do they refer to other histories of the First Age?). It was using these texts, along with Elven lore already in Rivendell, that Bilbo constructed his works, one of which becoming known as the Silmarillion?

As for the part about when the Sun was made, the views on the creation of the Sun and Moon seem to be very messy. I personally prefer just to stick with the Silmarillion's account of it, as I assume Christopher Tolkien used that one in particular for a reason. Is there are version that could be considered more accurate (by which I don't solely mean because Tolkien may have thought of it a bit later on). After all, I believe in his later life Tolkien disliked the idea of the Sun and Moon being a Fruit and Flower of the Two Trees as it wasn't scientific enough, but that version seems to be the most 'complete' and widely accepted.

-- Edited by Glorfindel1235 on Tuesday 27th of April 2010 01:09:20 AM

__________________

Utúlie'n  aurë!  Aiya  Eldalië  ar  Atanatári,  utúlie'n  aurë! 
Auta  i  lómë! 
Aurë entuluva!

Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 563
Date: Apr 27, 2010
I'll add part of the Pengolodh 'chapter' here I guess: published in Vinyar Tengwar 48, we find the Synopsis of Pengoloð's Eldarinwe Leperi are Notessi...

'The following account is an abbreviation of a curious document, preserved in the archives of Gondor by strange chance (or by many such chances) from the Elder Days, but in a copy apparently made in Númenor not long before its downfall: probably by or at the orders of Elendil himself, when selecting such records as he could hope to store for the journey to Middle-earth. This one no doubt owed its selection and its copying, first to Elendil's own love of the Eldarin tongues and of the works of the loremasters who wrote about their history; but also to the unusual contents of this disquisition in Quenya: Eldarinwe Leperi are Notessi: The Elvish Fingers and Numerals. It is attributed, by the copyist, to Pengoloð (or Quendingoldo) of Gondolin, and he describes the Elvish play-names of the fingers as used by and taught to children.'

According to author's note three, Pengoloð is an Exile, and is said to have preserved in a memory remarkable even among the Eldar the works (especially of etymology) of the earlier loremasters, including Feanor.

I don't think all the earlier information from Quendi And Eldar need be discarded concerning Pengoloð, with respect to surviving texts at least (in the earlier story he was an Elf of mixed Sindarin and Noldorin ancestry, and born in Nevrast). According to Quendi And Eldar, out of the destruction of Gondolin, Pengoloð: '.... rescued a few ancient writings, and some of his own copies, compilations, and commentaries. It is due to this, and to his prodigious memory, that much of the knowledge of the Elder Days was preserved.'

And also: '... before the overthrow of Morgoth and the ruin of Beleriand, he collected much material among the survivors of the wars at Sirion's Mouth concerning languages and gesture-systems with which, owing to the isolation of Gondolin, he had not before had any direct acqaintance.'

Dírhaval was also said to have gathered tidings and lore at Sirion tidings, as in the last days of Beleriand both Men and Elves came there from various places.

__________________
Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 563
Date: Apr 27, 2010
Glorfindel1235 wrote: 'As for the part about when the Sun was made, the views on the creation of the Sun and Moon seem to be very messy. I personally prefer just to stick with the Silmarillion's account of it, as I assume Christopher Tolkien used that one in particular for a reason.'  

I think the old tale was the only one really available to Christopher Tolkien for the 1977 Silmarillion, in a finished enough state for that project I mean. But also, questions remain as to why JRRT appears to have 'abandoned' the new chronology and details partially represented in Myths Transformed.

At the end of Myths Transformed Text II, Christopher Tolkien basically raises questions even he can't answer: did his father intend to get to the formulation of the new mythology? or did the experimental writing of 'Myths Transformed' show JRRT that the old story was too comprehensive and interlocked 'to withstand such a devastating surgery'? And Christopher Tolkien had earlier raised the very interesting point:

'It is remarkable that he never at this time seems to have felt that what he said in this present note [Text I] provided a resolution of the problem that he believed to exist: 'What we have in the Silmarillion etc. are traditions... handed on by Men in Númenor (...) -- blended and confused with their own mannish myths and cosmic ideas.'

The idea of the Sun and Moon as fruit and flower of the Two Trees is, in my opinion anyway, not less beautiful if it hails from the imagination of Men, and I tend to think that later JRRT came to believe that the resolution could be found in the characterization of the Silmarillion. In this way the old mythology could be retained, or largely retained, but it could be cast in a new light given the framework of the texts. Tolkien wrote an interesting note, which I think falls in line with his later, fairly consistent (if general) casting of The Silmarillion as a Mannish work...

'The cosmogonic myths are Númenorean, blending Elven-lore with human myth and imagination. A note should say that the Wise of Númenor recorded that the making of stars was not so, nor of Sun and Moon. For Sun and stars were all older than Arda. But the placing of Arda amidst stars and under the [?guard] of the Sun was due to Manwe and Varda before the assault of Melkor.' JRRT

'I take the words 'The Wise of Númenor recorded that the making of stars was not so, nor of Sun and Moon' to mean that the making of the Sun, Moon, and Stars was not derived from 'Elven-lore'. Christopher Tolkien, note 2 to Text I, Myths Transformed



That's very interesting, I think smile


-- Edited by Galin on Tuesday 27th of April 2010 10:27:18 PM

__________________
Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
Status: Offline
Posts: 2960
Date: Apr 27, 2010
This thread is really interesting.
Not only from the different perspectives and how they evolved but in how they rise out of Tolkien and his sons work in the "whys" and "whens" that the work occurred.  When we examine and label "the sources" as to their being "Elvish" or "Mannish" and the sudden switch away from the "Elfwine" we may be talking about a transformation within Tolkien's psyche.  Certainly his "real life" experiences may have influenced his choices and how he moved in terms of "transmission and authorship."
My thought is that as he was confronted with his own mortality there is the possibility he moved from the semi-divine "elvish" to more "mannish" roots.  The same might be said in the transitions between "poetry" and "prose".
I think it will take more research on my part to track this down.
Things such as family illness, death of his spouse, the attention from the media in his success, his arguments with the Inklings, his children leaving home, pressure from publishers, his own interest in other areas...these must have influenced his work...especially in the areas of transmission and authorship.

Because of the wonderful listing and quotes that Galin brings to the thread and the many different books I see I do not have them all in my library. But this thread really compels me to expand it.

Is there ever an interview with Bilbo about his sources?
Where did Christopher Tolkien find these notes...in a file cabinet or a waste basket or a pile in between?
Did he and his father ever discuss these changes?
Thank you Galin and Glorfindel for this wonderful thread...
(sigh...I love this place)


__________________

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit
Called or uncalled, God is present

Hobbit youth - Rank 2
Status: Offline
Posts: 38
Date: Jul 28, 2010
Indeed, an interesting thread. I must say that I was entranced at the start by the fact that Tolkien stayed in-character throughout and referred to his works as historical translations. This accords strongly with some recent theoretical physics ideas sometimes referred to as "Many Worlds" or "Multiverse" theory. In such conceptualizations time has a "sideways" dimension or width, and things are different in these parallel universes. The connection is at the sub-atomic level where the quantum timefield may impinge upon such things as brain neurons.

So... if the world of Middle Earth truly exists as a parallel universe somewhere off to the side beyond our peripheral vision... then the existence of Tolkien's work shows that there must be a means of communications.

This is the origin of Shire Post... an interdimensional gateway whereby pen-and-ink messages may be sent and received between our world and Middle Earth. I think that the professor must have made use of an earlier version of this gateway.

__________________
Will Whitfoot
Mayor/Postmaster
Central Post Office
#1 Delving Street (Just by the Inn)
Waymoot, WF, The Shire
Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
Status: Offline
Posts: 2960
Date: Jul 28, 2010
Will,
Have you ever read any Robert Heinlein?
Many of his works deal with the sidrial affect of "Many Worlds" or "Multiverse" theory.
Three I might suggest are "Glory Road", "The Cat Walked Through Walls", and "Time Enough for Love".
Heinlein used the "Multiverse" theory a great deal and also introduced other topics of science and science-fiction which seem prophetic ... such as a "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" ... where man colonizes the Moon and a giant computer comes "alive".
Just a suggestion ... I have really enjoyed Heinlein.
I think you might too.

I am just starting to read a volume of Tolkien's letters and the "Father Christmas" stories he told his children ... fascinating stuff.

Your's was an interesting post.
Bear



__________________

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit
Called or uncalled, God is present

Hobbit youth - Rank 2
Status: Offline
Posts: 38
Date: Jul 28, 2010
Bear:
Indeed I have read everything Heinlein wrote! I recently reread THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS since it is a background piece that his greatest work TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE springs from. The Circle of Ourobouros is intact! In fact I have still in my posession perhaps my most cherished paper artifact, which is a letter RAH wrote to me in 1982 on the topic of the sword "The Lady Vivamus" that he described in GLORY ROAD. His writings were my first introduction to multiverse theory. I have come to regard MV as more than simply a cute idea and convenient plot device. It explains some of the more difficult quantum physics problems such as entanglement and uncertainty.  It may well be true... but difficult to prove.

__________________
Will Whitfoot
Mayor/Postmaster
Central Post Office
#1 Delving Street (Just by the Inn)
Waymoot, WF, The Shire
Tom Bombadil
Status: Offline
Posts: 1886
Date: Jul 29, 2010
Galin, do you have a subscription the " Vinyar Tengwar" ? I do, and if you are interested in Linguistic development, you could join E.L.F. It gives a lot of insight on how the Professor changed back and forth on this as well as in the above.

__________________

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 563
Date: Jul 29, 2010
Thanks Arwen. I do own every VT issue to date, and various issues of PE. I buy them as they become available, and keep an eye on ELF or Lambengolmor for news.

smile

And welcome Will!

__________________
Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 563
Date: Oct 28, 2010
To help make this thread more complete, below I've added a couple of theories that touch upon transmission, taken from another thread here. I'll also add that, considering Charles Noad's idea (below) concerning Elfwine, I've lately considered the question of Tolkien translating Westron (and a bit of other languages) to English, as well as dealing with the ancient scripts.

This seems (to my mind) quite a difficult task even for such a great master of languages like JRRT, and looking at Appendix F 'On translation' I can't seem to find any real indication that Tolkien had help due to another Old English translation existing. It would seem especially notable for JRRT to have 'not mentioned' an Old English translation, given that he explains his own use of Old English in the modern book -- as translation for the tongue of the Rohirrim.


That said, if the idea of finding a book written (in Elvish characters) in Westron -- with Tolkien as translator -- is thought 'too' difficult for some (I'm not expert enough to know just how difficult that task would be), it has been suggested elsewhere (author "Pitchwife") that:
"Perhaps he'd had an experience similar to that of Alwin Arundel Lowdham in The Notion Club Papers, who 'discovered' the languages (and part of the history) of Middle-earth in a series of dreams, before he (=Tolkien again) came across his copy of the Red Book."

Interesting!


_______________

Charles Noad suggested a framework which combines both Hobbits and Ælfwine, but this seems contingent on an idea of two distinct pasts merging at the fall of Numenor (an idea gleaned from The Notion Club Papers).  This could have preserved the old versions of the stories, and Ælfwine: 'He would have known of the Hobbits as they survived in tenth-century Britain, and learning from them about the Red Book and its contents (...), have been inspired by its hints about the histories of the Elves to seek the straight Road to the West, there to learn the lore of the Elves and recover it for the race of Men.' Charles Noad, Tolkien's Legendarium

Veryln Flieger delves into 'what if' Tolkien had used The Notion Club Papers as the mode of transmission all the way back to the 'Golden Book'. If Ælfwine gets to see 'both books' (on the assumption that there are two different books, based on Tolkien's note found in Sauron Defeated), one might contain the older stories, the other could be Elendil's account of the Downfall, and:
'The Reader would encounter the 'faerie' myth by way of a more novelistically conceived work of science fiction which would in turn effect the ethos and spirit of the legendarium contained within both. It would have made the 'Englishness' a genetic -- even psychic -- as well as historic and geographic element in the story. This is a profound change.' V. Flieger, The Artifice, Interrupted Music



-- Edited by Galin on Thursday 28th of October 2010 04:00:53 PM

__________________
 
Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.



Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard